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Donning a crazy, orange-and-blue wig and Illini hat, he’d pose with pom-poms, shouting “Game face! Having known him in the field for years, Robison says Peoria will benefit greatly from Hatfield’s ability to create a lasting impression.

But it’s far more than just a laugh, he suggests.“It’s an investment on our part to go to these shows, and we need to be responsible with the money we’re spending,” he notes.

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If there is mutual interest, “dates” are arranged by the conference organizers.

That’s when the real research begins, Hatfield explains, as the PACVB team reviews the profiles of who they’re about to meet in an effort to eliminate any element of surprise. and check our database to see who has had contact with them,” he says.

Prior to each conference, Hatfield and his team create a profile for Peoria, including available dates, community amenities, facility features, total number and types of hotel rooms, available restaurants, meeting spaces, city demographics, parking, nightlife options and other minutiae designed to sway even the most “bridezilla” of event planners.

Before a show, providers can peruse the suppliers’ profiles, while suppliers check out the providers.

Each courtship begins with a fair share of reconnaissance—a profile match-up of sorts, explains Hatfield.

But there’s really nothing romantic about the intensity of the chase.

It’s also a membership-based destination marketing organization, promoting local businesses and services through a variety of mediums, all in an effort to sell Peoria.

Attending trade shows is the easiest way to meet the most meeting planners from outside the area as possible, explains Cory Hatfield, director of sales. is bring people’s money from outside the area to spend it in the community.“The economic impact of 1,000 people coming to a community is substantial,” he adds, “so getting [even] one booking from these shows is great.” He cites how a three-day conference for 1,000 people can equate to 3,000 hotel rooms booked and 9,000 meals prepared in the city.

The process involves comparing available and desired dates, confirming the availability of specific hotel and restaurant requests, and matching meeting space to capacity needs in a jigsaw puzzle-like mission of matchmaking.“If there are specific ties to the community—whether it’s CAT or [a fraternity] at Bradley—we try to become knowledgeable about that,” explains Hatfield, “so we can carry on our six-minute conversation about why they should choose Peoria.” This methodical process informs each face-to-face encounter, helping to make the best use out of such a short meeting.“You don’t want there to be that awkward silence, like ‘Okay, so what do you do? ’” says Robison.“We [already] have that information,” Hatfield adds, “so we’re not going to waste their time saying [something like] ‘Oh, so you have a fall meeting?

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