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Developing Creative Campaigns and Incentives to Help Planners Bolster Attendance

Q&A with Dawn Jackson, Group Sales Manager, Kalispell Convention & Visitors Bureau 

Kalispell, Montana is one of those places that literally looks like a postcard from almost any angle. As the gateway to Glacier National Park and Flathead Lake, meeting attendees will be inspired throughout their stay. And with over 1,700 rooms and 65,000 square feet of meeting space, it’s an ideal spot for a meeting or event. Today we hear from Dawn Jackson, Group Sales Manager from Kalispell Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB) about what’s new in the destination, how they help to promote events, and what planners are surprised to learn about Kalispell.

What makes Kalispell a great meeting destination? 

DAWN: The location is ideal.  Located between Glacier National Park and Flathead Lake, Kalispell combines genuine hospitality, affordable variety, modern amenities while preserving its small town, old-west charm.

Additionally, there are quality meeting facilities with easy access to vast, spectacular, unspoiled nature.  The hotels glow with Montana’s special brand of Western hospitality along with modern conveniences.  Properties vary from large convention and event spaces to smaller properties with high levels of customized service.

What is the one thing planners are always surprised to learn about the Kalispell area?

DAWN: For those familiar with Montana, they are pleasantly surprised with the amount of meeting space, unique venues and professional services Kalispell has to offer. The planners that are not as familiar with Montana are also surprised by the number of direct flights available from major U.S. cities.   

What might we find you enjoying in the destination on your day off? 

DAWN: I enjoy riding my bicycle on any of the vast number of bike trails we have.  Regardless of where you live there is always a nearby entrance to one of the trails.  We are able to ride into bordering towns, through wilderness areas and neighborhoods, without the worry of heavy traffic.  There isn’t a path out there that doesn’t have magnificent scenery.

A special treat is a spring ride on the iconic Going to the Sun Road in Glacier National Park, which is a must for any bike enthusiast.  The road typically opens late June, so there are no worries of traffic and the scenic backdrop is spectacular to say the least.

What advice would you give to a planner who hasn’t worked with a CVB before?

DAWN: Leverage the knowledge of the area and trusted relationships the CVB has developed. Often times a CVB can recommend event sites and unadvertised activities the general public isn’t aware of.  They can also recommend accomplished local experts in a variety of professions who can be a valuable resource or speaker for their conference.

What do you see trending in the meeting’s market? How is your CVB proactively addressing this trend or staying current?

DAWN: One trend I see is that CVB’s are developing more campaigns and incentives to help planners achieve attendance and pre or post stays.

For attendance promotion the Kalispell CVB has offered early bird registration prizes.  We also produced a video of the actual drawing, using our CVB representative and a local vendor to announce the winner, welcome the group, and promote things to do in the area during their stay.  The video was promoted through  both the CVB and the conference websites and social media. It was a very successful promotion.

How does a planner benefit from consulting with you prior to sending out their RFP?

DAWN: When a planner contacts the Kalispell CVB, an experienced CVB representative will ask a lot of questions.  With the right questions, we can dial-in on the big picture of what a group needs and address or help solve past challenges. Working with a CVB can eliminate research time for the planner and give them the ability to focus on the goals of their meeting.

What’s the latest news, developments, or events in your destination you’d like to share with planners?  

DAWN: Country Inn and Suites will open early spring of 2018.  The new hotel will have 100 rooms and 2,000 square feet of meeting space.  Following the opening will be a restaurant and casino addition. The location of this hotel is next to Glacier Park International Airport and only 15 minutes from downtown Kalispell.

Breweries and distilleries compliment the local culture to any city or town and Kalispell is no different.  In addition to our existing downtown local favorite, Kalispell Brewing Company, the downtown will be home to two new breweries and a distillery in  2018.  SunRift, Bias brewing will add to the hops scene as well as Viyalla Distillery.

What differentiates your destination from your competitive set?

DAWN: If one word could describe it I would say authenticity.  That authenticity can be seen in the natural beauty that surrounds our area and the way our hospitality partners genuinely go above and beyond to make sure visitors have the best experience possible.

Plan your next meeting in Kalispell. Learn more here.