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March 31, 2020

 

Partner Updates

 

From Interim CVB Director, Ron Kuhlman

 

 

Dear Partners,

 

As the spread of COVID-19 continues to escalate, protecting the health of our staff, visitors and community members remains our number one priority. The Virginia Beach Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB) continues to closely monitor the pandemic and its effects on the travel & tourism industry and we have remained in close contact with Virginia Tourism Corporation (VTC), industry partners and city officials. The Virginia Beach CVB is a member in Destinations International, the world’s largest resource for Destination Marketing Organizations and Convention and Visitor Bureaus. They’ve been sharing up-to-date news and factual data from industry partners around the world.

Our goal is to remain transparent with communications and ensure all staff and visitors receive the most accurate information available. Below is another update to a continually improving operation and strategic plan.

 

Sales / Hotels / Events

 

The CVB staff has been meticulously updating documents regarding the status of events and the sales team continues to closely monitor bookings. A total of 68 meetings and events at the Virginia Beach Convention Center have been either canceled or postponed, with 8 rebooking for later in the year and 20 pending rebooking. This is almost a $1.5M loss to convention center FY20 revenues.

From a CVB sales marketing standpoint, our first goal right now is to reschedule and rebook existing business and to maintain relationships with our clients and venue partners through this difficult time. In particular, the Sports Marketing team continues to secure letters of intent and leads for Q3 and Q4 business while being sensitive to global sports business impacts. 

 

Marketing / PR / Social Media

 

While we have paused most of our domestic paid campaign efforts and all international ads in alignment with Virginia Tourism Corporation’s (VTC) paused media strategy, the marketing team continues to post relevant information on www.VisitVirginiaBeach.com and is currently fine-tuning marketing opportunities in collaboration with VTC. The tone on our social media accounts (Facebook, Instagram and Twitter) remains calm, sensitive and reassuring, and updates are provided daily about closings and community offerings. We are receiving leads from national and international media outlets requesting information about virtual tours of our attractions and museums; curbside restaurant pick-ups; “silver lining stories”; and unique ways local businesses are giving back to those in need. We recently created a new dropdown menu item on our restaurant section of our website for takeout offerings. We are in the process of developing a new plan for future media messaging and will be sharing that as soon as possible. 

 

National Travel & Tourism Week Update

 

For the past 30 years, Visit Virginia Beach, in partnership with the VBHA (Virginia Beach Hotel Association) & VBRA (Virginia Beach Restaurant Association), has proudly joined the National Travel & Tourism Week (NTTW) celebration. Our annual awards program and luncheon event, normally held in early May, is the highlight of the year for many local hospitality professionals as they celebrate each other and our industry. Due to COVID-19, this year’s programming has been postponed until further notice. 

 

Projections

 

The CVB is providing Dr. Vinod Agarwal at Old Dominion University data from our research partners, including Smith Travel Research, for a regional tourism industry economic impact/loss Coronavirus study. We are also supporting studies being conducted by VTC. I encourage our tourism partners to participate in these efforts as well.

 

Group Tour

 

Many tour operators that are cancelling spring trips are re-booking for fall.  We are also happy to report that a big majority of the Virginia International Tattoo groups that cancelled are re-booking for 2021. Our student tour operators are taking a big hit, but we are working behind the scenes to develop a comprehensive sales strategy and will share this with at a future Tour and Travel meeting. We continue to run advertising in our group tour publications, but have postponed client e-mail letters until June.

 

International

 

The International market, particularly the French Canadian market, has also taken a huge hit due to the closing of borders. Fortunately, this market travels in late spring, summer and fall.  Advertising has been paused for now, but our hope is to release our 2020 campaign soon. We continue to post on social media and to pitch stories to the press.  Please take this time to update or add your Loonie Saver offers in the Partner Pipeline. 

 

Working for the Future

 

The CVB is working hard for our industry every day. Behind the scenes, we are taking this time to prepare for and launch a new Partner Development program in an effort to continue and strengthen our partnerships in the community. We will be sharing this initiative in future months during our recovery together. I look forward to updating you regularly on these efforts.

 

Join Us Online This Thursday for the Virtual Meeting

 

Please join the Virginia Beach CVB this Thursday at 2pm for a webinar and Q&A session on forecasts and marketing/advertising updates with Virginia Beach CVB Director Ron Kuhlman, Virginia Tourism Corporation Brand Director Lindsey Norment and Virginia Beach CVB VP Marketing Communications Tiffany Russell.

 

Event address for attendees:

https://vbgov.webex.com/vbgov/onstage/g.php?MTID=ee43c6721037ba8dc04dca8a8574db024

Date and Time: Thursday, April 2, 2020 2:00 pm

Duration: 1 hour

Description: Virginia Beach CVB/VTC Joint Marketing Update Webinar

Event Number: 473 573 039

Audio Conference: To receive a call back, provide your phone number when you join the event, or call the number below and enter the access code.
US Toll
+1-415-655-0003
Access code: 473 573 039

 

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Ron Kuhlman

Interim CVB Director

Virginia Beach CVB