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CVBs understand community involvement

By Kathryn Mehl, courtesy Destination East Point

Convention and visitors bureaus, or CVBs as they are often called, are always busy attracting visitors to their cities so they can show off the amenities their areas offer. But staff members at the CVBs also have generous hearts.

Last year, staff at the Pensacola, Florida, CVB worked alongside 300 other tourism professionals from 80 different companies who descended on their city in a frenzy of activism. Volunteers completed two major restoration projects at significant historical sites.

“The people of the organization Tourism Cares paid their own way and donated their time. They improved the Pensacola Lighthouse, built in 1859, and planted seeds to grow native grasses along the shoreline in Bayview Park,” reported Lori Coppels, group tour sales manager, Pensacola Bay Area CVB.

Specifically, helpers painted the lighthouse interior – 23 rooms — and 4,000 feet of fencing outside. They also cleared brush from an area and laid 1,800 square feet of sod.

“It was nice to see our community involved too. It just wasn’t out-of-town people, but locals were excited to join in,” said Coppels.

In New York, the Albany County Convention and Visitors Bureau participates with nonprofit organizations such as the regional food bank during the holidays, collecting cash, food or household items.

“Last year, we collected 350 pounds of food from our hospitality community of hotel general managers and directors of sales,” said Schuyler Bull, the CVB’s marketing manager.

The CVB staff is involved in 30 professional and community boards and associations in Albany and the Capital District. That makes them better travel counselors.

“We make connections with people in and out of our industry. When a group wants to come to Albany, we’re able to contact those connections to provide the group with information they want, as fast as possible.”

East Point, Georgia, is a city inside Metro Atlanta near Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, the world’s busiest. This historic city isn’t big enough for its own CVB, so the Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau provides support services and volunteers.

The “East Point Team” focuses on youth, staging book drives for students and working alongside children to clean up their school buildings. CVB staff members also join local chambers of commerce and service clubs like Rotary. The team lends marketing and staff support for events like Salute the Red, White and Blue, the area’s oldest and largest July Fourth celebration; Destination East Point, an annual fall street festival; and Taste of East Point, a food and art festival that spotlights local dining.