The Texas Association of Convention and Visitor Bureaus (TACVB) supports and helps develop the convention and tourism industry in Texas through education and the sharing of ideas. They encourage co-operative action among Texas convention and visitor bureaus in order to grow the convention and visitor bureau industry in Texas.
TACVB was founded in July 1972 by a group of convention and visitor bureau Directors that felt it was time for their own association. Since then, the association has expanded greatly and is now the largest state association of CVB’s in the United States – according to current Executive Director Bridgette Snyder.
“The association helps our members find new ways of marketing, find new ways of doing things, and discover new markets,” says Snyder, who first joined the TACVB in 1996 as a member and Committee Chairperson. “We help our members take what they have and make it better.”
TACVB currently represents 172 Texas CVB’s, eight Oklahoma CVB’s, and two Louisiana CVB’s. They also represent 50 affiliate members that are considered to be suppliers, for a total of approximately 620 individuals.
Seminars and conferences
TACVB provides members with a wide-range of opportunities for information and involvement. Snyder describes their mission as “training and developing CVB professionals,” which they do in a variety of ways. They provide quality education programs, including seminars and conferences, they devise creative destination marketing strategies to stimulate and motivate their members’ sales teams, and they conduct industry trend analyses to help their members make smarter decisions.
Members also receive support through various networking events, including the association’s two conferences – the Annual Conference event in August and the Mid-Winter Education Conference later this month. In the future, the association’s event support will only grow. “Next year we’re introducing two one-day seminars – one in the spring and one in the fall – and it’s a fundamental seminar for those just coming into the industry,” says Snyder.
The TACVB also provides its members with peer-to-peer idea exchanges, tips on increasing market growth through new technology, and “tools to meet the changing demands of planners and tourists to our great state of Texas.” Members also receive education through various LISTSERV’s and online resources that allow them to access key information – such as past conferences and presentations, for example.
“We have to keep the lines of communication open for peer-to-peer networking, and sometimes we get just as much education talking to one another as we do going to listen to a paid speaker,” Snyder says. “Making sure our members can all communicate is vital.”
To complement their expansive online resources, TACVB recently introduced “My TACVB,” which is an online community for their members that contains LISTSERV’s, blogs and an online library resource for them to communicate easier and faster with each other.
At the moment, the main challenges facing Texas Association of Convention and Visitors Bureaus include high gas prices, and ensuring that communities see the value of their convention and visitor bureaus receiving continuing education. “Sometimes our members still have to justify to their city leaders or to their boards why they need to have continuing education,” Snyder says.
“I was looking at conference materials from three years ago and it was an introduction to MySpace. Things change so fast, especially with social media, and we’re bringing in so many people. They have to be educated faster, better and more frequently, as opposed to once a year.”
Another priority for the association is technology. They have to constantly be evaluating how it will impact their members. TACVB is always keeping their eyes on what’s working now, and what is going to be working tomorrow, next week or next year. “It’s vital,” Snyder says. “Google+, is that the next thing? Or is that just going to be out there and over?”
“For our members is there going to be a way to promote their destination or event on Facebook? What’s going to happen next?” she adds. “You also have to be completely mobile, but yet still offer everything else for those people that want to look at a desktop.”
The Texas Association of Convention and Visitors Bureaus is currently in the final planning stages for their upcoming Mid-Winter Education Conference on Jan. 29-31. They are close to making sure everything is finalized and “ready to be put to bed,” Snyder says. They’re also in the planning stages of their upcoming Annual Conference, which will be held from Aug. 6-9 in El Paso.
TACVB is also looking at expanding membership in neighboring states. A recent membership drive in 2012 added many additional members from Oklahoma. “We’re still focusing on Oklahoma, and then we will go off to our other shoulder states,” Snyder says.
Looking ahead longer term, Snyder wants every member bureau to be seen as the tourism and destination authority in their particular city, and have them work closely with economic development and city leaders. “Our focus is helping our members become that voice for their city to work with their leadership and economic development, still stay ahead and keep tourism coming to their city,” she says.