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Mar 26
Empire Promos for Promotional Products for your Next Tradeshow, Expo, or Meeting

You should never exhibit at a tradeshow or expo empty-handed. You should always have a promotional item to give away to the attendees to elicit warm & fuzzy feelings about your company and to help remind them of you after they go home. The potential promotional items you can give away are many, and one of the best places to get them is EmpirePromos.com.

A pen with your logo on it? A golf ball with your logo on it? A t-shirt? A stress ball? Even bottled water? All of these promotional products are available at Empire Promos. They have been in business for almost 25 years (since 1984), and have Empire%20Promos%20logo.JPG established themselves as one of the premiere suppliers of promotional gifts in the industry, both online and as a traditional brick & mortar promotional products agency.

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May 24
Relax from Conventions thru Holidays via OTBeach.com
I think it is safe to say that conventions are tiring and hard work. Even if you’re just attending—not an exhibitor—it still takes a lot out of you… long days of walking, listening, conversing, standing, networking, learning; it takes its toll, especially if you’re attending a few conventions a month throughout the year. A perfect solution to relieve the stress of the busy convention life is to take a break once in a while—go on holiday! OTBeach.com offers many all inclusive holiday packages.

OTBeach.com is a UK-based travel agency that offers tons of cheap holiday deals to destinations throughout Europe and beyond. On OTBeach.com you book hotels, book flights, look into skiing & snowboarding, and find a bunch of other holiday extras such as airport services, insurance, and car hire. Basically, they can book your entire holiday. OTbeach_logo.gif

OTBeach gives you multiple ways to contact them, aside from just their website. You can contact them in the United Kingdom by post, by telephone, or by email. They also offer additional help and information through their FAQs page, which I encourage you to read through to make sure you properly educate yourself on all the details of your OTBeach holiday.

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Apr 24
CVB News: St. Petersburg/Clearwater
The St. Petersburg/Clearwater (Florida) CVB can be congratulated on two counts, according to a news article dated April 11, 2006 at TravelDailyNews.com.  The first point is that, according to a survey distributed by the CVB to more than 200 local purveyors of travel and tourism services, the CVB has a 90.8% overall satisfaction rating.  The more important point, to my mind, is that the CVB cared and dared to ask, "How are we doing?"  Is this common practice in the industry?  Let's hope so.

Now all that's missing is a survey that asks visitors and convention-goers, "Did you come here because of something we did?"
CVB News: Savannah Highlights History
This is the beginning of a new series, more aptly named "CVBs in the News".  I'll be watching the Web for articles about CVBs and cataloguing them here, with my comments when appropriate.

Our first item comes from the website of WTOC-TV of Savannah, Georgia, and is dated April 14, 2006.  The short story tells that Savannah, long billed as Georgia's First City, hired Anderson Communications to create a new advertising banner for the city.  And the winner is: "Savannah, Est. 1733".  

I like it.  The aim is to emphasize the historical aspect of the city, and I think this says it well.  Americans are impressed with anything that dates back before Independence, and when we think of the Deep South, images of plantations come to mind.  This wraps such thoughts in a package that says, "Come see Savannah."  Others might tout progress and modernity; Savannah has chosen charm.  And the spokesperson for the Savannah CVB is Whip Triplett.  Beat that!
Mar 29
Web Tweak: San Jose (CA) CVB
Now we're getting somewhere!  The website for the San Jose (California) Convention and Visitors Bureau openly welcomes visitors and conventions.  This is the first site I've found to do so.  Still, I wish that the welcome were the head title, and not "Access San Jose".  On the whole, it is well designed to do the work of a CVB site.  The optical flow leads the viewer to the buttons and links that serve a potential client.

As a CVB site, it loses its focus a bit when it aims its first pass-through link to "Visitors and Residents".  But then, it has bitten off something bigger than a CVB site should; it's "Access San Jose", including info that residents can use to better enjoy their community.  That's admirable, and if the community doesn't have another entity to praise itself and sell itself to the local citizenry, I guess I can understand the one-stop uber -site.  Otherwise, they ought to let the city speak to its residents on one site, and the tourism people speak to potential visitors on another site, while the CVB sells hotel rooms and convention services on yet another (true and dedicated) CVB site.

I'll harp on this all across the continent.
Mar 27
Santa Barbara CVB
The website of the Santa Barbara Conference & Visitors Bureau & Film Commission (an interesting addition) is colorful and inviting to look at.  The organization of the site is not so inviting.  Why should a visitor have to click on a link--even if it is the first link--to get to the "Welcome" page?  Isn't that what the homepage is supposed to be?  It's like dangling a hook in the water with a note saying that the bait is in the boat. 

The click-through images on the homepage are probably meant to be teasers, and that ain't right.  They should be very clear in what they lead to.  One is "Car Free".  Is that meant to appeal to anti-car environmentalists, or does it meant you can use a car for free while there?  You won't know until you click.  I clicked.  It refers to public transportation and other ways to live without the stresses of driving.  Another is "Santa Barbara Golf": self-explanatory.  Another is "Get Fresh".  Fortunately, the photo link shows fruit and seafood, so we understand that one.  Finally, there is "Sideways in Santa Barbara".  I didn't click through, but the alternating images are a colorful shot of people drinking wine and a black-and-white drawing of people inside a wine bottle.  With those 2 clues and the title, I have to suppose it's a warning against drunken behavior.

In short, the Santa Barbara web presence makes the visitor dig for info, and that's not good.
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Mar 24
Web Tweak: Los Angeles CVB
When it comes to wooing visitors to Los Angeles, there are a lot of fingers in the pie.  The chief site is that of the LA CVB itself, but others almost crowd it out with invitations to specific suburbs, to amusement parks, to Hollywood adventures, and more.  All the CVB site has to do is say, "Bring your event to LA."  Unfortunately, it doesn't.  Instead it says that LA is the event, and that you should come see it.  You can get easily to the deeper pages designed specifically for "Meeting Professionals" and "Travel Professionals", but they aren't highlighted.  It stresses glamor and forsakes business, research, academics...

Reading all my Web Tweak entries, you'd think that almost all CVB sites are missing the point that inviting hundreds at a time ought to be the focus of a CONVENTION and Visitors Bureau.  And you'd be right.  I once saw a cartoon in Life magazine.  It showed an old Western town, but with obvious signs that this was an Indian town, and not a cowboy town.  The biggest give-away, and the joke, was that the movie house marquee read "Now Showing: TONTO and the Lone Ranger".  That's what I keep seeing on CVB sites" "Now catering to VISITORS and Conventions".
Mar 18
Web Tweak: San Diego CVB

Today I review the website of the San Diego CVB, or should I say, the San Diego VB?  It's hard to find anything on their home page about conventions or conference planning.  It's a tourist-oriented site with a little dropdown box under the title "BUSINESS SERVICES"  that offers links to information for A) Visitors (overkill, or a logic loop?), B) Meeting Professionals (at last), C) Media, etc.

PRO: Prominent Web position.  Search for "San Diego" and "visit" or some other similar term, and it will show up among the first results.  A pretty page, and inviting to tourists.

CON: "a day of everything and nothing": What does that mean?  And who cares how many square miles there are in the county?  And, is it a plus to tout yourself as California's 2nd largest city?  Why not use that banner space for something more appealing than a confused encyclopedia entry?  Something like, say, "Come to San Diego.  You'll love it!

CON: As I mentioned above, if I were looking at the CVB site for information about possibly holding a business conference there, I'd have to go digging.

Mar 17
Web Tweak: Tucson CVB
The Tucson CVB can be found at two websites: one named VisitTucson.org, apparently to catch the Web-browsing tourist, and the other named TucsonCVB.com.  Once you get past the name, it's the same site.  I visited the sites and rummaged through the linked pages.  Here's what I found.

PRO: Simplicity.  The page is dominated by a picture of a bright green golf course set against the rugged, purple beauty of the desert mountains.  This picture is worth a thousand words.
PRO: The linked ("daughter") pages go deep and offer tons of information and links.

CON: The only place it plainly says "Come" is in Spanish.
CON: Like so many CVB sites, this one suffers from the schizophrenia of trying to serve both visitors and conventions.  True, a site built to attract conventions would need to tout the area's wonders as it would for potential tourists, but not so prominently.  Also true, a tourist-focused site should include a link to the convention-focused site, but only a simple link.  The two types of readers are very distinct.  Why not use the two separate Web addresses for two distinct sites?
CON: The small print under the topic headings is really small.  Better to just put a few teaser words and invite the reader to click through the image or link to learn more.
Mar 16
Web Tweak: Phoenix CVB
This is the first of what I call Web Tweaks, being candid critiques, with praise where deserved, for the websites of CVBs across America and perhaps around the world.  I have decided to start near home, with the Phoenix, Arizona CVB. 

PRO: First Impressions -- It has all the right things in all the right places.  It never exactly says, "Come to Phoenix", but the implicit welcome is clear.  The 8 categories are well presented.  It's not the CVB's fault that the industry hasn't yet decided that it can't be both Welcome Wagon for new move-ins and sales office for conventions and tourists.  Somewhere along the line, the move-ins have to be left to the realtors.

CON: Two phrases alternate across the top: "Discover the desert you never knew." and "The desert is a myth."  Those are fine for someone looking for the desert--though a bit uninviting to any who are already familiar with it--but how about the visitor who doesn't care about the desert and just wants a quality business conference?

CON: The page spills off the bottom of the screen.  Make the home page fit the screen.  Say less.

CON: Everyone is white, except a few Hispanic performers.  That says something you probably don't want to say.

CON: Where are the Suns, the Cardinals, the Diamondbacks, the Coyotes, ASU, and more?  Many business travelers can't get out of the heart of town or even explore the neighborhood, but they know they'll find excitement at a game.

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