Cheryl DeFrain is the Director, Flint & Genesee Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB). The CVB is one of four business units of the Flint & Genesee Chamber of Commerce.
What is CVB?
The CVB is the Flint & Genesee Chamber of Commerce’s first consumer business unit focused on tourism. The move from a stand-alone organization to becoming part of a chamber of commerce has given the group a renewed sense of purpose to promote Flint and Genesee County to tourists, meeting planners and overnight visitors. According to Smith Travel Research, a company that tracks supply and demand data for the hotel industry, Genesee County tourism in 2012 generated $120 million in economic impact based on 424,008 overnight rooms. This is a 10 percent increase over 2011. My team and I are very proud of this.
What is your primary responsibility?
We collaborate with key stakeholders such as hotels, event planners and residents to market Flint and Genesee County as a desirable destination for group meetings and leisure activities.
What keeps you up at night?
The three challenges that I think about the most are: 1) finding new ways to bring in overnight visitors; 2) getting people right here in the region to be positive about our community and its potential; 3) and the lack of convention space.
What excites you about the job?
I’m excited about selling Flint & Genesee. We have a great product — true strengths and assets such as national caliber medical centers, higher education, arts and cultural amenities. We also have some of the coolest, most fun events and activities that are of interest to individuals and families. We have the largest county park system in the state of Michigan; and I could go on and on. Our challenge lies in getting our story out. We are working on a variety of opportunities to promote the region, but we cannot do it alone. We need help from the community.
How has joining the Flint & Genesee Chamber benefited the CVB?
Quite simply, we have greater access to resources; for example, marketing, public relations, IT, accounting, operations and human resources support. Being part of the Chamber has also opened more doors. Therefore, we have more opportunities to tell people about the services we provide.
What would people be surprised to know about the CVB?
Many people do not realize that our services are free. We work with planners and organizations to hold an event or meeting here in Genesee County free of charge. It’s our job and it’s our pleasure!
What are the top three attributes needed to work for a CVB?
1) Be a “cheerleader” for your community.
2) Be a positive, determined person.
3) Be a creative thinker.