Over the past several months, I have spoken with dozens of leaders in the local hospitality industry, including Charles Drury, Robert Bray, Bob O'Loughlin, and Kim Tucci. Their remarks were consistent: the St. Louis region has a lot to offer tourists and business travelers, but we can do a whole lot better at selling ourselves and providing a great experience for visitors.
Together with St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley, I recently asked Convention& Visitors Commission president Carole Moody to produce a plan to increase sharply the number of meeting, convention, and major sporting event room nights that are generated in our region.
I have been asked whether a higher target is reachable. To me, that question is beside the point. If we don't expect much, we won't get much.
I am still reading a draft of Carole's plan, but here are some of the highlights:
- CVC will increase and reorganize its sales team- adding new staffers, setting higher targets, and revising compensation programs.
- CVC will market St. Louis more aggressively to the region's own companies and institutions.
CVC will spend more time meeting with - and talking to - the people who book meetings and conventions here.
- CVC will work with the new planned Celebration Center to develop new citywide and regional events to enhance visitors' experiences of St. Louis.
Charlie and I believe that everyone has a role. The City, for example, is working to revitalize Downtown, create exciting destination entertainment attractions throughout the City, and improve the customer experience at Lambert Airport. And, if you are planning a business meeting, I hope will consider holding it in your hometown.
As always, I welcome your thoughts.