Author Archives: Geri Koeppel

Geri Koeppel

About Geri Koeppel

Geri Koeppel is a freelance writer who has contributed to numerous publications in the Phoenix metro area. She specializes in food, drink, travel and business, but there are few subjects she hasn’t covered in her career. When she’s not writing, she enjoys hiking on South Mountain, riding her Electra Red Betty beach cruiser around Ahwatukee and spending time in San Francisco.

Flagstaff, Scottsdale CVB - AZ Business Magazine January/February 2012

Flagstaff And Scottsdale CVB See Solid Returns On Investment

Flagstaff Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Scottsdale CVB see dividends from marketing dollars spent

The old saying, “You have to spend money to make money” is especially true in the case of Arizona tourism. Two cases in point are the Flagstaff and Scottsdale Convention and Visitors Bureaus (CVBs). They can quantifiably demonstrate that investing in tourism creates a return.

“We’ve always done a good job of marketing Scottsdale,” said Rachel Sacco, president and CEO of the Scottsdale CVB. “We know it’s the right message because visitors are responding.”

The Scottsdale CVB’s 2010-11 annual budget is $9.7 million and generates $31 in economic impact for every $1 invested in the organization. The Flagstaff CVB has a budget of $1.5 million and helps spur an economic impact of $501 million for the region.

Much of the funding for tourism marketing comes from visitors themselves.

In March 2010, Scottsdale voters passed a 2 percent increase in the city’s bed tax, bringing it to 5 percent. This, combined with an increase in occupancy, led to a 79 percent jump in bed-tax collections from 2009-10 to 2010-11. Half of the new monies support capital projects and special events; the other half supports marketing efforts.

In Flagstaff, the CVB is a division of the city and is fully funded by a portion of the 2 percent “BBB” tax, which stands for “bed, board and booze,” or hotels, restaurants and bars. It generates roughly $5.2 million, and the CVB gets 30 percent of that. The city council allocated an additional $250,000 in marketing dollars to the CVB from March to June 2009 from the city’s Economic Incentive Fund. Flagstaff CVB director Heather Ainardi said that investment helped Flagstaff see a slight bump in April and May of 2009 and prevent big tourism losses in the long run.

“When the rest of the state had double digit declines (in tourism indicators),” Ainardi said, “we were only having minor 2 to 3 percent drops.”

Average daily rates from hotel bookings and revenues per available room were up in 2011 in both Flagstaff and Scottsdale. Occupancy also was up in Scottsdale. And independent studies showed 91 percent of all people who received a Scottsdale visitors guide either made a booking or visited Scottsdale within the next year. Sacco attributes the high number to target marketing.

First, they pinpoint areas that have always had a high interest in Scottsdale: chilly places such as Canada, Minnesota, San Francisco, Chicago, Denver and parts of the East Coast.
Second, they invest in knowing their customers: What do they read? Which activities do they like?

“We won’t send someone who’s interested in art a message about sports” and vice-versa, Sacco said. “We know what messages resonate with them.”

As one result of this targeting, sports bookings have increased 160 percent, she added. Groups and meetings contribute $64.8 million in economic impact.

The Scottsdale CVB should see their budget increase further this coming year to $10.5 million, which hopefully will mean even more of an uptick in tourists.

“The less ability we have to communicate to visitors why they should come here, the less revenue that is brought in,” Sacco said.

For more information about the Flagstaff CVB or the Scottsdale CVB, visit the following links:

flagstaffarizona.org
scottsdalecvb.com

Arizona Business Magazine January/February 2012

Tourism Industry - AZ Business Magazine January/February 2012

Arizona Tourism Industry Has A Billion-Dollar Impact On Economy

Economic engine: Arizona tourism industry packs an economic punch of $17.7 billion yearly

Tourism is one of the largest industries in Arizona, but it isn’t just about hotels and golf courses.

Its direct economic impact of $17.7 billion has helped keep the state afloat during some of its darkest economic days, and the ripple effect is even greater. Those dollars spill over to a host of businesses, from the farmers who supply produce to the hotel restaurants to the car dealers who sell vehicles to the banquet servers. They also help keep our police officers and firefighters on the streets, thanks to tax revenues.

“That trickle-down money does affect everyone who is a citizen of Arizona, to some degree,” said Sherry Henry, director of the Arizona Office of Tourism.

And the money keeps coming, thanks to nearly 37 million overnight visitors annually.

“It’s so important to recognize the tourism industry is always here,” Henry said. “Even in recessionary times, people are still traveling.”

Tourism spending was up 7.9 percent in Arizona from 2009 to 2010 and has increased 25 percent since 2000. Overall, it’s still down 7 percent from its heyday of 2007, but most other indicators are moving in the right direction: Tax revenues, occupancy rates and demand are all up from 2009.

“It’s not that we don’t feel the effects of the recession,” Henry said, “but we’re still in the game.”

While the state has lost 11 percent of its tourism jobs since its high of about 173,400 in 2007, the industry still brings in $48 million a day. Tourism is the number one export industry in Arizona.

One way that benefits every resident directly is when the tax bills come. Taxes from tourism generate $1.3 billion in local and state revenue, which pays for everything from public safety to parks to libraries.

“When you look at the taxes generated, (tourism) saves every Arizona resident $1,000,” Henry said. Her agency, which was created in 1975, is responsible for marketing the state as a whole with multiple programs: advertising, public relations, community outreach, trade and media, and digital and social media, to all domestic and international visitors.
“(Travelers) have a lot of choices, so it’s important your destination stays in top of mind,” Henry said.

Part of the money for tourism outreach comes from tribal gaming. In the fiscal year ending June 30, 2011, tribal gaming revenues contributed $5.5 million to the state’s Tourism Fund. That comes from the $79 million total they deposited to the state, with another 12 percent of their annual revenue of almost $1.7 billion going to cities, towns and counties.

In addition, said Melody Hudson, public relations manager for Gila River Gaming Enterprises, “We have a deep and wide reach as far as our philanthropic activities, too.”

Tourism weaves through the fabric of our economy in ways that aren’t always obvious. Jesse Thompson, director of sales and marketing for the Hotel Valley Ho in Scottsdale, gave a list of local businesses that the hotel supports. Zuzu, its on-site restaurant, gets a good deal of its ingredients from local purveyors such as Red Bird Farms, McClendon Farms, Duncan Farms, Crave Artisan Ice Cream and Hickman Family Farms. Audio-visual contractors, limo and taxi drivers, independent conference planners, beverage distributors, decorators, and even the company that launders their linens – sheets, towels, tablecloths, spa robes – would all be affected if business dropped.

However, Thompson is proud that revenues at the 230-room Hotel Valley Ho increased 21 percent in 2011 over 2010, and he expects an 8 percent bump from 2011 to 2012. None of the 240 to 250 employees has been laid off in six years, despite the downturn. He attributes the increase in going after more group bookings.

Another way tourism boosts Arizona’s entire economy is by making the state not only an appealing place to visit, but to live. People might come to see auto shows, sporting events or festivals and decide to make a permanent move.

“People who visit Arizona often fall in love with Arizona and plot ways they can come to work here or bring their businesses,” said Glenn Hamer, president and CEO of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry. “It’s a gateway opportunity to sell the state of Arizona.”

Because the business community recognizes the importance of both visitors and tourists who become permanent residents, they work to bring major events such as the Super Bowl to the state. Hamer calls it a “showcase for our state.” In addition, the Super Bowl generated $500 million in economic impact in 2008. He expects the number to be at least that much when the Super Bowl returns to the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale in 2015.

The business community also supports sports tourism in general, including spring training baseball, college football bowl games, the baseball All-Star game in July 2011, the NBA All-Star game in 2009, and amateur events such as marathons, triathlons, bicycle tours and student sports meets. And it pushed for the 2008 expansion of the Phoenix Convention Center, now one of the top 20 such venues in the nation.

“Our convention business is an important part of our tourism economic engine,” Hamer said.

Unlike other industries such as manufacturing and technology, Hamer said, much of the tourism industry can’t be automated or outsourced. And thanks to the state’s natural and man-made attractions, it appears to be an industry that’s sustainable.

“Arizona as a whole relied so much on construction,” said Heather Ainardi, director of the Flagstaff Convention and Visitors Bureau, “and in the next 10 years, tourism is going to be one of the drivers of Arizona’s economy.”

Arizona tourism industry: Economic impact of major winter Valley events

College football bowl games
(Fiesta Bowl, BCS national title game and Insight Bowl)

Economic impact: $354.6 million in 2010-11
2010-11 attendance: nearly 200,000 at all three games

P.F. Chang’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon

Economic impact: $59 million
2011 attendance: about 30,000 runners

Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show

Economic impact: $52-58 million
2011 attendance: about 250,000

Cactus League baseball

Economic impact: $360 million
2011 attendance: More than 1.47 million

Waste Management Phoenix Open

Economic impact: $180 million (estimated from 2008, when attendance was 538,356)
2011 attendance: 365,062 (event impacted due to weather)

Arizona Business Magazine January/February 2012

 

10 Re-careering Tips - AZ Business Magazine November/December 2011

10 Re-careering Tips

10 Re-careering Tips:

1. Check out the hot — and not-so-hot — fields.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics gives indications of which fields expect to grow versus lose jobs, so keep that in mind when you’re deciding whether or not to become a social worker (should be a good bet) or a television anchor (not so much). But don’t throw a dart and pick a so-called hot job. Read on.

2. Don’t start from scratch.

Re-careering doesn’t have to mean throwing out your years of work experience. If you’re an IT professional laid off from a tech company, you don’t have to become a nurse. Brush up on privacy law, network security or database management, and apply with a health care organization.

3. Follow your heart.

Biotechnology might be the next big thing, but if you find it boring, don’t bother. One of the best predictors of success in a field is your passion for it. Good engineers of any type are usually in demand; mediocre ones are rarely in demand. What interests you?

4. Take into account the work environment and physical requirements.

Do you work well when the pace is fast? Or do you prefer to be introspective and analytical? Do you despise being on your feet all day, or are you miserable sitting in a cube?

5. Do a 360-review.

Call upon peers and colleagues — both former supervisors and employees — to assess your strengths and weaknesses. You might be surprised what others say are your best (and worst) qualities, and what you uniquely bring to a position.

6. Network, network, network.

Whether it’s getting to know fellow students, impressing an instructor, volunteering or doing an internship, it’s essential to make connections with people who can help you with your goals.

7. Seek professional help.

Maricopa County Community Colleges’ career centers are free and open to the public.

8. Go back to school.

It can be as simple as taking one course to earning a certificate or a degree.

9. Look for financial assistance.

Subsidized loans, Pell grants and scholarships are available, especially if you’ve lost a job. Even small scholarships add up. Call professional organizations in your field of interest and check the library for lists of scholarships many people don’t even know exist.

10. Differentiate yourself.

Instead of just earning a teaching degree, look into certificates such as English immersion or special education to make you more marketable and malleable.
[stextbox id="info"]

Re-careering tips sources:

Joe Patterson, assistant vice president and executive director of Thunderbird Online at Thunderbird School of Global Management; Ruthie Pyles, director of M.B.A. recruitment and admission, the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University; Scott Schulz, director of career and employment services at Glendale Community College
[/stextbox]

Arizona Business Magazine November/December 2011

 

Re-careering - AZ Business Magazine November/December 2011

Unemployed Workers Become More Competitive, Re-careering

Re-careering vs. Education: Unemployed workers can go back to school or re-shape their skill to enhance job prospects

When Ronald Schilling, 54, of Black Canyon City lost his job as a truck driver in July 2008, the future looked bleak.

“I just didn’t see myself at the age I am, getting a job driving a 12-foot box truck and busting my butt for $8 or $9 an hour,” he says.

His uncle suggested he go back to school. Now, Schilling is in the honors program at Glendale Community College with a 3.9 grade point average and is on track to enter nursing school.

Schilling is one of a growing number of returning students who are re-careering after losing jobs, and many are getting training and education to increase their chances in the competitive job market.

Mature students are on the rise in higher education. Between 2000 and 2009, the enrollment of students under age 25 increased by 27 percent, but enrollment of ages 25 and up rose 43 percent, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

The majority of online students at Thunderbird Online are ages 38 to 42, says Joe Patterson, assistant vice president and executive director of Thunderbird Online at Thunderbird School of Global Management.

Still, the idea of going back to school can be daunting, especially because of time and cost. Tuition can range from $299 for a two-week bartending course through ABC Bartending and Casino School in Tempe, to more than $86,000 for a 60-credit master’s degree in business administration degree from Thunderbird.

One way to mitigate the cost, say those in higher education, is to take non-degree courses. This can keep up your skill set to ensure “life employability,” said Scott Schulz, director of career and employment services at Glendale CC, one of the Maricopa County Community Colleges.

Online programs allow students to take classes when it’s convenient, and offer accelerated degree programs. Thunderbird Online offers executive certificates for three eight-week accredited non-degree classes, all the way to a full M.B.A in a year. The W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University offers multiple ways to earn an M.B.A., including online.

No longer is there a stigma to online education, Patterson says. Even top-tier universities such as Stanford and Cornell offer e-learning.

Whether on campus or online, academic classes are more than ivory tower ideas.

Instructors usually are also connected to and working in their industries, so they not only know what’s needed in the job market, they can make important referrals. Networking with other students is essential, too. You never know who might pass along that integral inside job tip.

Volunteering is another way to get a foot in the door. Schilling, the trucker-turned-nursing student, volunteers each week at John C. Lincoln Deer Valley Hospital in Phoenix. And Mark Scarp of Scottsdale, a newspaper columnist who was laid off in January 2009, parlayed his 20 years of volunteering with the Society of Professional Journalists into a job as membership director with the Society of American Business Editors and Writers.

While it’s a good idea to invest in continuing education, career counselors say to assess your strengths, weaknesses, passions and goals first, and keep in mind the idea of career management rather than simply career advancement.

“I think we’ve all heard the term ‘climbing the career ladder,’” Schulz says. “I think what it’s changed to is a career lattice or career web. It’s not as linear. You may have to move sideways or diagonally to get to that next opportunity.”

[stextbox id="info"]

Where to take classes if you’re considering re-careering:

Anthem College, (602) 279-9700, www.anthem.edu
Apollo College, (602) 864-1571, www.apollocollege.edu
Arizona State University, (6020 496-INFO, www.asu.edu
Collins College, (602) 997-2166, www.collinscollege.edu
DeVry University, (602) 870-9222, www.phx.devry.edu
Grand Canyon University, (877) 860-3951, www.gcu.edu
Maricopa County Community College District, (480) 731-8000, www.maricopa.edu. Campuses include Chandler-Gilbert Community College; Estrella Mountain Community College; Glendale Community College; GateWay Community College; Mesa Community College; Paradise Valley Community College; Phoenix College; Rio Salado College; Scottsdale Community College; and South Mountain Community College.
Northern Arizona University, (800) 426-8315, www.nau.edu
Midwestern University, (623) 572-3215, www.midwestern.edu
Thunderbird School of Global Management, (602) 978-7000, www.thunderbird.edu
University of Arizona, (520) 621-3237, www.arizona.edu
University of Phoenix, (866) 766-0766, www.phoenix.edu
Western International University, (602) 943-2311, www.west.edu

[/stextbox]

Arizona Business Magazine November/December 2011