Hear first-hand from meeting professionals the many benefits of working with a premier destination marketing organization like Visit Orlando.

Updated Aug. 25, 2022

Now more than ever, serious meeting and event planners are increasingly relying on destination marketing organizations (DMOs) like Visit Orlando — and for good reason.

For example, meet Penny Key, CEM, meeting & trade show director for the National Wood Flooring Association based in Chesterfield, Missouri. When Key switched her meeting to Orlando from a city that was essentially closed due to COVID-19, she knew she needed help.

“We didn’t want anyone to know we were looking at Orlando so … [Visit Orlando National Accounts Director] Hayat Pronovost went directly to the hotels to check availability so we could stay anonymous,” says Key.

“Hayat also put us in touch with the convention center to make it all happen. We ended up using Hilton Orlando for our host hotel, as well as the Rosen Plaza, Rosen Centre and the DoubleTree by Hilton Orlando at SeaWorld, so there was a range of hotels our attendees could book.

“Our budget was tight so we weren’t planning on doing a site inspection, but Visit Orlando paid for our airline tickets and ground transportation, comped our sleeping rooms, treated us to lunch, and gave us suggestions for our trade show and board event. They even picked us up from the airport.”

Ready to learn more? Watch as Casandra Matej, president and CEO, Visit Orlando, speaks directly to the value of partnering with our company. Then, read on to see the many benefits of working with the experienced, trustworthy professionals at Visit Orlando.

Putting Visit Orlando to Work for You

A recent Destination Analysts meetings research study notes that 71% of the 300 meeting and event planners surveyed use at least one resource offered by convention and visitor bureaus (CVBs) and DMOs. Additionally, 44% utilize CVB/DMO websites, 41% participate in CVB-hosted events (including familiarization tours, aka FAMs), and 41% work with a contact at a CVB/DMO.

Orange County Convention Center - West Building
Orange County Convention Center — West Concourse in Orlando

Those that don’t use a DMO often don’t realize all the services DMOs provide — and some planners don’t realize these services are free.

Linda Adams, chief operations officer at the Orlando-based Florida Nursery, Growers & Landscape Association (FNGLA), was one of those planners. Per Adams, “When I started out at FNGLA in 1984, I didn’t really know what the CVB did and because I was local, I figured it was just as easy for me to call the hotels for our trade show.”

Now, she says, she wouldn’t do a show without the help of Visit Orlando.

“One of the things that’s so important for an association with so many volunteers is making the staff feel special. Before our show in August, Visit Orlando and the Orange County Convention Center hosted a VIP lunch for staff and volunteers. It really makes them feel appreciated in a way that’s meaningful to them.

“Visit Orlando has provided micro sites for our group so attendees know what is going on in the area, and even though I’m local, it’s great to know the staff at Visit Orlando keeps up on all the changes, openings and closings in the area.”

For a smaller meeting the FNGLA does in June, Visit Orlando sent out RFPs to all the hotels. “Just managing the RFPs is such a time saver,” says Adams.

Orange County Convention Center - North/South Building - Night
Orange County Convention Center — North and South Concourses in Orlando

Services offered by Visit Orlando include:

  • Researching availability for the convention center, hotels, venues, entertainment, activities, destination management companies and more;
  • Hosting an in-person or virtual familiarization trip;
  • Developing pre- and post-conference activities, spouse tours and special events;
  • Securing speakers or elected officials to welcome or speak to your group;
  • Providing collateral materials including images of the destination and venues, videos, brochures, and maps;
  • An RFP program that forwards your group’s specifics to hotels and venues that fit your parameters;
  • Offering local knowledge and maintaining strong ties with new and existing venues, hotels and restaurants while staying current on the status of ongoing renovations; and,
  • A constantly updated website offering information on restaurants, venues and more to help promote your meeting or trade show to exhibitors and attendees.

“Visit Orlando was a wealth of knowledge about local restaurants ideal for our board events, and Carolyn Martin, destination services senior manager, even knew the history of Orlando on a personal level,” says Key.

Moving the trade show from one city to Orlando within a few months was nerve-wracking, Key adds, but all in all, the event turned out to be a great success.

“Our exhibitors were happy, our attendees were happy, the hotels really worked and Visit Orlando helped set up everything.”

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