How One CVB Is Helping Meeting Professionals by Leading With Empathy-Driven Communications

March 30, 2020
Palm Beaches

With travel slowed nearly to a halt around the world, this isn’t an easy time for anyone, let alone destination management organizations. While there is a silver lining to come, says Don Welsh of Destinations International, for now, CVBs around the country are doing what they can to assuage meeting planners’ fears by coming up with solutions for cancelled or postponed events and being a support system for destination partners.

Nowhere is this more evident than in Florida’s Palm Beach County, where Discover The Palm Beaches is focused on an empathy-driven communications plan to help event professionals logically move forward and look ahead to a brighter future during this stressful time. Kelly Cavers, senior vice president of group sales and destination services, explains the CVB’s strategy and how it’s working.

Kelly CaversHow is your destination managing major event and conference cancellations right now?

Our group sales and destination services teams have been regularly communicating with event hosts, our convention center and hotel partners, to ensure everyone is equipped with the latest destination-specific information. For clients who have events booked in the near future, we’re assisting them through the process of canceling or postponing to later this year or further out. This was our approach even before any COVID-19 cases were confirmed in Florida.

Through what channels have you primarily been communicating?

Phone calls and video conferences continue to be our preferred methods of communication. When necessary, we’ll follow up with an email that includes additional resources of information. All hands from our group sales and destination services teams, as well as our community partners, are on deck supporting groups. This is a joint effort to not only communicate updates but to identify solutions.

Are the Palm Beaches experiencing any strain from groups rebooking for this fall?

We’ve definitely seen an increase in business for this year’s third and fourth quarters, although opportunities do remain. Flexibility helps tremendously [when finding dates to rebook]. Having wiggle room when it comes to event details such as the venue, dates, space or length of program makes it easier for planners to reschedule events while navigating shorter windows of availability.

How can CVBs serve as a resource to event planners concerned about rescheduling events when so much uncertainty around the current situation remains?

Preparing for possible scenarios is key. We’ve been working with our hotel partners to make sure we have open dates that can support the rebooking process. In addition, we’ve held several conference calls to update our community partners on DTPB’s current status regarding bookings, marketing and communication initiatives. We’re also encouraging meeting planners to use our Emergency Management Toolkit – specific to groups, meetings and events – as a guide on where to obtain information during and after this crisis.

How are you remaining sensitive to the current environment while still planning ahead for future business, to avoid a lag later?

Our sales approach has been in line with DTPB’s wider strategy to remain sensitive to residents and potential visitors, and focus our efforts on supporting scheduled groups and our community partners – from Boca Raton to Jupiter and Tequesta. We continue to secure new business for future years while proactively working to secure new dates for groups that need to postpone or cancel. [As a CVB], we want to understand what [meeting planners’] new needs are from a financial standpoint; reinforce their confidence in us, through resources such as the emergency management toolkit; and ensure they have the most up-to-date city, county and state information to make the best decision for their group. Also, our organization continues to promote ways residents and visitors can support local businesses [by sharing] virtual experiences that not only serve as daydreaming material but may also inspire future visitation.

Are there any success stories that have come from your destination recently, despite the COVID-19 situation?

We had our customer advisory board in town at the early onset of the outbreak before any cases were confirmed in Palm Beach County. Having the opportunity to leverage their expertise (the board comprises leaders from international medicine and life sciences associations, association management organizations and corporations that represent Fortune 500 companies, among others) allowed us to establish a thoughtful, dedicated communication strategy and provided insight into the information meeting planners were seeking as developments unfolded. We’ve also created FAQ sheets by curating questions from meeting planners and sourcing information from Florida’s Department of Health and the CDC, which have amplified our ability to answer technical questions in our regular communication with meeting planners.

 Additionally, our team has initiated informational meetings, including one led by Palm Beach County Health Department director Dr. Alina Alonso, who educated representatives from local hotels, restaurants and entertainment venues about the virus. Having this insight and guidance from experts allowed us to share more accurate, thorough information on the state of our destination. [See Discover The Palm Beaches COVID-19 research page here.]


We’d love to know: How are other CVBs taking this time to support meeting planners and their destination partners? Share your stories with us by emailing

Add new comment

Partner Voices
One of the most iconic names on the Las Vegas Strip just got an upgrade. Mandalay Bay has everything that your business needs from a refreshed convention space designed to inspire productivity and creativity, to an impressive selection of world-class restaurants and amenities. If you're looking for a venue that's both inviting and innovative, you have to be here. New Wave Experiences Mandalay Bay continues to invest in a new wave of enhancements both in the convention space and within the resort as a whole. New restaurant openings including Orla by Michael Mina, drawing inspiration from the award-winning chef’s childhood in Egypt and with flavors and décor inspired by the spices found in markets common to coastal Mediterranean towns, as well as Caramá by Wolfgang Puck, bringing the essence of Italy and spirit of Wolfgang into one concept, are recent additions. The Four Seasons Hotel Las Vegas also experienced a recent remodel of all 424 rooms. Swingers, a high-end, adults-only golf and entertainment concept will debut in Fall 2024. Enhanced Technology Creating a truly effective conference venue requires careful thought into what a business needs: the right technology, capacity, and inspiration to bring ideas to the next level. As part of the resort’s refresh, Mandalay Bay implemented state-of-the-art technology upgrades, installing cutting-edge Cat6A Ethernet cabling throughout the convention center. This advancement doubles the frequency of data transmission, enabling lightning-fast speeds up to 9400% faster. The convention center now boasts 11 dynamic digital walls, spanning up to 24' x 13', strategically positioned for brand placements, sponsorships and targeted event messaging. Additionally, attendees can benefit from 20 double-sided 55" mobile flexible display units, facilitating effortless navigation to meeting rooms and events. RFID locks were installed on all meeting room doors, and over 200 motion detection cameras have been placed throughout the space. Refreshing New Design & Fine Art The newly remodeled convention space provides a bright and vibrant atmosphere that complements Mandalay Bay's tropical-inspired brand. Featuring white-washed walls and ceilings adorned with bold floral patterns in cerulean and coral tones, the space is complemented by warm walnut accent walls. In addition to the redesign of all pre-function spaces, meeting rooms and ballrooms, Mandalay Bay's 1 million square feet of exhibit space has undergone a rejuvenation, including new paint, covered pillars and relocated strobe lights. Sustainable Spectacles Mandalay Bay is committed to Focused on What Matters and creating more responsible meetings. Refillable water stations all available around the resort, cutting unnecessary plastic usage from single-use bottles. The Mandalay Bay campus’ recent upgrades represent a bold step forward in redefining the Las Vegas experience. With a focus on innovation, sustainability, and unparalleled service, Mandalay Bay sets a new standard for excellence in business hospitality. Whether you're seeking cutting-edge conference facilities, world-class dining options, or simply a luxurious retreat, an unparalleled meeting experience awaits.