Tag Archives: Arizona Lodging and Tourism Association

Hiking Adventures - EAZ Fall-Winter 2012

Increasing tourism shows importance of Arizona’s brand

The latest data on Arizona’s tourism industry says that business is on the upswing, which is good news for a state looking to put the Great Recession in its rearview mirror.

According to the Arizona Office of Tourism, the number of people visiting Arizona has surged back to pre-recession levels, providing a much needed injection of adrenaline into Arizona’s economy.

When we talk about promoting “base” industries in Arizona, look no further than tourism, which is the ultimate export-oriented industry. According to AOT, visitors to Arizona brought with them nearly $20 billion in direct spending last year on things like hotel rooms, meals and attractions.

That’s big money, and the nearly 200,000 jobs the industry supports are critical to keeping Arizona’s economy humming, which is why protecting Arizona’s brand is so important.

When there are state controversies, it makes it more difficult for our convention and visitor bureaus to succeed. There is no better place than Arizona for events and vacations, but there is fierce competition among the states for conventions and retreats.

Fortunately, the work of leaders like AOT Director Sherry Henry, Chamber board member and Arizona Lodging and Tourism Association President Debbie Johnson and Phoenix Convention and Visitors Bureau President Steve Moore has put one of our state’s most important job generators on solid footing.

What’s exciting is, as Director Henry told Capitol Media Services earlier this week, we still have room to grow. As Americans and international visitors (our neighbors in Mexico are our number one source of international visitors, Canada is number two) shake off the recession rust, more people are traveling. Attending the recent Governor’s Conference on Tourism gala dinner, I was struck by the level of talent possessed by the individuals assembled in the room who are so committed to growing the state’s profile and keeping Arizona at the top of the list for places people want to visit.

Next year is shaping up to be a big one for the state’s brand. The Super Bowl is coming to University of Phoenix Stadium for the second time (and to Arizona for the third time), and, thanks to leaders like Michael Bidwill, the NFL is bringing the Pro Bowl, too. Throw in the Waste Management Phoenix Open and Spring Training, and the state is poised to break visitor records. Don’t be surprised if your relatives in Minnesota, where AOT is ratcheting up its marketing efforts, call looking for vacation ideas when they’re snowed-in as they watch the best in football, golf and baseball enjoy our gorgeous weather.

I’m convinced that tourism plants the seeds for future business opportunities. My first exposure to Arizona was as a tourist. Years later, when I escaped the freezing cold of Ithaca, New York to head to Arizona to check out law schools, I was hooked. Wherever and whenever I go outside the state, I’m heartened that Arizona is regarded as such an attractive destination. Business executives around the country tell me about golf trips and the visits to the resorts that they’ve made here. Earlier this week when I was in Denver, someone wanted to talk Spring Training. Half a world away in Israel a few weeks ago, in between my snorkeling expeditions, people shared with me their stories of visiting the Grand Canyon.

But tourists and convention planners have plenty of choices of where to spend their dollars. All of this is a good reminder that we all need to be vigilant about our profile outside our borders.

Glenn Hamer is the president and CEO of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry, which is committed to advancing Arizona’s competitive position in the global economy by advocating free-market policies that stimulate economic growth and prosperity for all Arizonans.

sales

HSMAI helps hospitality industry fuel sales

Like most industries, hospitality took a hit during the economic downturn, but the Arizona travel industry started to recover in 2010 and pumped $18.3 billion in direct travel spending into Arizona’s economy in 2011.

Helping fuel that economic engine is the Arizona chapter of the he Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International (HSMAI).

“HSMAI’s mission is to provide hotel professionals and their partners with the tools, insights, and expertise to fuel sales, inspire marketing, and optimize revenue,” says Joanne Winter, executive director of HSMAI Arizona. “HSMAI is committed to growing business for hotels and their partners, and to be the industry’s leading advocate for intelligent, sustainable hotel revenue growth.”

HSMAI is not new to Arizona’s tourism scene. The Greater Phoenix Chapter was incorporated as a chapter in 1968 and merged with the Southern Arizona Chapter in 2005 to become the Arizona Chapter. The united force has worked well as the 250-member Arizona Chapter has grown to become the second-largest chapter in the U.S. and was honored in 2011 as International Chapter of the Year.

“Our chapter offers members a variety of benefits, including monthly education programs targeted specifically to the sales and marketing and revenue management professional, a variety of networking and fundraising events, leadership development training and community service volunteer opportunities,” Winter says. “The bottom line: We want HSMAI to provide our member companies with added and measurable value.”

That measurable value is exactly what HSMAI leaders say differentiates the nonprofit organization — whose core members are hotel sales and marketing professionals and their partners: CVBs, attractions, restaurants and suppliers to the industry — from other tourism-boosting organizations.

“We serve our members through a comprehensive online Knowledge Center and face-to-face and online educational programs and events,” says Bob Gilbert, CEO of HSMAI Americas. “Our HSMAI University produces between 30 and 40 webinars annually and administers four certification programs for industry professionals. We are the only nonprofit association dedicated to this educational mission with a hotel target audience.”

Like every other industry that is constantly evolving and growing, HSMAI has kept its finger on the pulse of the business to adapt and change with the economy and with the times.

“There is a lot of pressure to deliver increased member value for all not-for-profit associations,” says Fran Brasseux, executive vice president of HSMAI Americas. “HSMAI got out in front of that changing environment  nearly two years ago and  held numerous stakeholder focus groups to review our member value proposition, and our industry relevance. We listened, we asked questions, and we acted. We reset our mission statement and redesigned our logo.  We wanted  to ensure it represented  not just who we are, but what we do.”

From those meetings came HSMAI’s mission statement: HSMAI is committed to helping hotels and their partners fuel sales, inspire marketing and optimize revenue.

“In line with the new mission, we laser focused our member e-newletter to increase its frequency and  focus its content on three key areas – sales, marketing and revenue management,” Brasseux  says, “and late last year we also completed a complete makeover and redesign of our hsmai.org website and the HSMAI Foundation Knowledge Center. The work is not done – it is on-going, and the member feedback is excellent, with membership growth, higher program participation and new partners.”

Gilbert says the Arizona Chapter has been producing educational programs for its members for more than 40 years.

“We believe that chapters can produce programs that leverage the interdependence of all those in a market that depend on the inbound corporate, leisure and group traveler,” he says. “Chapters can focus on very specific needs and emerging trends which will help the industry be better equipped to gain more market share and revenue. The hospitality business has been experiencing significant shifts in how hotel business in sourced and how consumers select destinations and hotels for all types of travel. HSMAI is committed to helping sales, marketing, and revenue management professionals stay abreast of the emerging changes and best practices that will enable their success.”

As HMSAI strengthens the knowledge base and performance of its members, the Arizona Chapter is also realizing that there is strength in number, joining forces with other industry groups to build on the state’s success in tourism.

“As a member of the Arizona Lodging and Tourism Association (ALTA) and the Arizona Event Industry Alliance (EIA), HSMAI has the opportunity to work with other state-wide meeting, tourism and hospitality industry associations in giving the industry more strength and unity,” Winter says. “Working together, we all make a difference and have a bigger voice.”