Creating Destination Site Visits That Are Curated Experiences

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<span>Creating Destination Site Visits That Are Curated Experiences</span>

Selecting the right destination is vital to event success, and the destination selection site visit is an invaluable part of that process. Explore Branson recognizes that and has implemented a site visit program that builds a mutually beneficial relationship between the Destination Organization and the Event Strategist.

The Challenge

Sometimes, Event Strategists can have preconceived notions of a destination. That was the case with Branson, Missouri. The Destination Organization, Explore Branson, needed to bring in Event Strategists to experience Ozarks hospitality for themselves and see in person why they should book Branson.

“I think it’s made a world of difference.”

- Samantha Gutting
Senior Vice President & Chief Sales Officer
Explore Branson

The Solution

Explore Branson started an individual site visit program in 2023. As part of the program, qualified Event Strategists are invited to Branson for a three-day, two-night visit to tour the convention facilities and hotel properties that interest them the post, explore off-site venues and popular area attractions, and have valuable and intimate networking opportunities with local industry partners. Each qualified Event Strategist receives complimentary airfare, hotel accommodations, ground transportation and dining for hosted meals. The program is marketed through email and digital and social media.

When the Event Strategist arrives for the site visit, the Explore Branson team picks them up from the airport for a specially curated experience. Explore Branson ensures the site visit includes everything the Strategist is interested in, as well as only-in-Branson experiences and event opportunities they weren’t even aware of.

“It's just a very curated experience for each planner, each buyer that comes in, and I think that's really the key. We take it very seriously. Everybody on the team will help. It's not just a one-person thing, and I think people really feel the camaraderie and just the general hospitality and care from everybody in the community and everybody here on the team.”

- Samantha Gutting
Senior Vice President & Chief Sales Officer
Explore Branson

Following the site visit, when the Event Strategist books, there’s also a follow-up incentive program that gives a check back to the Strategist, if the event meets the criteria, to use however the Strategist wants—whether to cover transportation, a speaker or a golf outing.

While some Event Strategists only need to visit the destination once, Explore Branson will also bring many back multiple times depending on the window from booking to the event date to provide support and work with them to drill down planning details and formulate strategies to build attendance and create a sense of belonging for all.

From the initial destination site visit to event actualization, the entire CVB, including the Destination Services team, continuously communicates and stays close with the Event Strategist throughout the meeting planning process to ensure the Strategist is comfortable with all partners— including the hotel, convention center and attractions—building trust along the way. This process is anything but just checking boxes. The cohesive community effort provides the Strategist with a genuine level of service and support to make the event successful. 

The Results 

Explore Branson’s individual site visit program has received immense support and garnered success for the Destination Organization. Since starting the program, Explore Branson has had more than a dozen site visits, and almost all the Event Strategists who visited have booked. Explore Branson also has a very high rebook percentage. And Branson has broken its stereotype, surprising Strategists by showing them that it is a unique meeting destination and that they can’t find what Branson offers anywhere else.

“Most of the feedback we get is: ‘Literally, I had no idea. I had no idea. You know, before we got here, we were thinking, why Branson? And now that we're here, it's, like, oh, my gosh, why not Branson? I mean, we just had no idea all that you have to offer.’ And it’s not just for one demographic. We really hit on all the demographics.”

- Samantha Gutting
Senior Vice President & Chief Sales Officer
Explore Branson

Connect with Branson to learn more about site visit planning. 

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View Destinations International’s comprehensive resources on site visit planning.

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