There are a lot of decisions involved in planning a conference, meeting, or group event. Choosing the right meeting space, team building activities, food, and ultimately, the right destination can be incredibly overwhelming! Fortunately, Visit The Woodlands’ Sales Team is here to help take the pressure off of meeting planners. We talked to Josie Lewis, Director of Sales, to learn more about how she and her team help meeting planners develop successful events and generate a large economic impact in The Woodlands.
Visit The Woodlands' Sales Team with SmartMeetings Platinum Choice Award
Left to Right: Ashley Fenner, Josie Lewis, and Julie Quinn
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN WITH VISIT THE WOODLANDS?
I’m in my seventh year of working with Visit The Woodlands. I started out in hotel operations, then hotel sales, and then I entered into the Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) world. I started out in a servicing coordinator position and have moved up over the years. I’ve enjoyed every step!
WHAT IS THE MOST REWARDING PART OF YOUR JOB?
The most rewarding part of my job is knowing that what I do day in and day out is positively impacting the destination I love and care about. Instead of impacting just one hotel property, I get to make an impact on The Woodlands as a whole and all of our 14 hotel properties. That, along with the relationships I've developed over the years, is so rewarding. The people in this industry are an amazing community.
Conference at The Woodlands Waterway Marriott Hotel & Convention Center
WHY ARE MEETINGS VITAL TO THE WOODLANDS?
It supports our local businesses and brings in a significant amount of sales tax and hotel occupancy tax dollars, which gives more opportunity for The Woodlands to develop. The more people we have coming in and spending money at our local businesses and attractions, the more that we are able to attract new businesses and create a better quality of life for our residents.
WHAT IS GLOBAL MEETINGS INDUSTRY DAY, AND WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?
Global Meetings Industry Day (GMID) is an international day of advocacy highlighting the impact meetings and events bring to a destination. This year it falls on March 30, and our team is using this opportunity to push the critical message that Meetings Matter. In 2022, over 2,050 professional meetings and events took place in The Woodlands, which brought in $21.6 million in total room revenue.
Conference Attendees at The Westin at The Woodlands
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF WORKING WITH A CVB?
Visit The Woodlands becomes an extension of the meeting planning team from the very beginning of the planning process all the way through the day of the event. We help with RFP distribution, site tours, finding the right vendors, resolving problems, and servicing the event with everything from welcome bags to welcome booths, depending on group size.
We’ll even do unique servicing opportunities, like the Food Truck Village at the Lunar Planetary Science Conference, and we have a Supplier Directory on our website that helps meeting planners find vendors for transportation companies, caterers, and offsite team building activities. We're a resource for meeting planners who want to bring their group to The Woodlands, and we'll work closely with them to make sure they find the right venue and have all the tools they need to make their event amazing.
Photo Courtesy: D. Jones Photography
HOW DOES THE SHOW YOUR BADGE PROGRAM BENEFIT BUSINESSES AND CONFERENCE ATTENDEES?
This program is set up for our attendees at group events in our hotel properties, and it gives them a discount or perk at participating Show Your Badge businesses. For the business, this is an easy way to promote themselves and help drive conference attendees to their businesses. Servicing opportunities like Show Your Badge are offered to any groups who book at our hotel properties. If you want to learn more about this program, contact Julie Quinn, our Servicing Specialist.
HOW MANY TRADE SHOWS DOES THE SALES TEAM ATTEND EACH YEAR?
We attend 12 to 16 trade shows a year. When we’re there, we have one-on-one appointments with meeting planners, and at a successful trade show, we’ll have about 30 appointments scheduled. We meet with about 500 meeting planners a year this way. We also go to networking events and team building activities at trade shows to talk to new meeting planners who don't have a one-on-one appointment with us.
In addition to trade shows, we’re also going to industry events to promote The Woodlands, like Meeting Planners International (MPI). There’s a Houston chapter and a Hill Country chapter that brings a community of meeting professionals together for great education and networking events. I’m on the Board of Directors for the Houston chapter of MPI, and I’ve made a lot of great connections with meeting planners, vendors, and other CVBs this way.
Josie Lewis and Ashley Fenner at Connect Marketplace, a National Trade Show
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO REPRESENT VISIT THE WOODLANDS AT TRADE SHOWS?
This is a big piece that a lot of our community members don’t see – most of what we do is out of market, because we need to go out to where the meeting planners are in order to promote The Woodlands as a destination for meetings and events. We have a beautiful, amazing destination, and incredible hotel options. We need to go and tell that story to meeting planners so that they think of us when they’re sending out their RFP in the future.
WHY SHOULD SOMEONE WHO LIVES IN THE WOODLANDS CONSIDER PLANNING THEIR NEXT CONFERENCE OR GROUP EVENT HERE?
When you bring your conference or group event to your hometown, you get to show off the community that you care about, love, and believe in. On top of that, you are bringing a big economic impact to the area that will benefit your own community. It really comes back to advocating for your hometown.
If you’re gathering information for the decision-makers at your company, we can come in and pitch our destination on your behalf (or your meeting planners’ behalf). We can also create bid proposals that help give leadership a better understanding of the destination with key information, photos, and videos.
HOW CAN THE COMMUNITY LEARN MORE ABOUT WHAT YOU'RE DOING?
Tune into Visit The Woodlands Board Meetings and look at our monthly reports, both on our website. You can also sign up for our meetings email and follow us on LinkedIn at @VisitTheWoodlands.
Photo Courtesy: D. Jones Photography
Interested in working with Josie to bring your conference to The Woodlands? Fill out the RFP Submission Form, and she'll reach out to you with next steps.