Tag Archives: convention and visitors

Civic Space Park - AZ Business Magazine Sept/Oct 2010

Local CVBs Sound Off On Boycotts And Why Arizona Is Still A Top Meeting And Travel Destination

It’s no secret that the meetings industry, and travel in general, has taken quite a few hits in Arizona over the past few years. As a result, local convention and visitors bureaus — the ones who promote travel to and meetings in the state — have had to overcome new obstacles in their quest to make the Valley a top destination spot.

Steve Moore, president and CEO of the Greater Phoenix Convention and Visitors Bureau (GPCVB), notes that while room night consumption was up nearly 11 percent from January through May (versus those same months last year), future business-lead production since this past May has dropped to 40 percent below the year-over-year pace.

“And remember,” he adds, “we were in a severe recession and also a key target of the (corporate meetings backlash) last year.”

While the corporate meetings backlash has abated, the state’s tourism industry was hit again this spring when the state Legislature passed, and Gov. Jan Brewer signed, the nation’s toughest immigration law, SB 1070. The media firestorm that ensued caused cities, companies and individuals to boycott doing business in and traveling to Arizona.

Stephanie Nowack, president and CEO of the Tempe Tourism Office, is aware of just two groups that decided not to meet in Tempe due to the immigration law. However, the combined economic impact of those cancellations was a loss of $385,000 to the city.

Pam Williams, CTA, convention sales manager for the Mesa Convention and Visitors Bureau, notes that the immigration law may be having a greater negative impact than can be seen on the surface.

“We have had a few groups express their concerns about this bill, and some organizations have specified that their group will not be considering Arizona as a destination in the near future for their conferences and meetings due to SB 1070,” Williams says. “However, industrywide, it’s the meetings we don’t know about that have silently chosen to exclude Arizona on their RFPs and short lists that will have the greatest impact. This will make calculating the monetary effects to our industry next to impossible.”

But, believe it or not, there is some good news to report on the tourism front. According to Rachel Sacco, president and CEO of the Scottsdale Convention and Visitors Bureau, “Scottsdale’s January through April 2010 occupancy and revenue per available room (is) ahead of last year … This past year, 50 percent of our meetings leads were for new business.”

In addition, a Metropoll XIII study, conducted by the market research firm Gerald Murphy and Associates, recently found that “meeting planners rank Scottsdale first for its romantic atmosphere, friendly residents, green policies, outdoor recreation, and great shopping and restaurants.”

The positive outlook is not contained in Scottsdale, but is being felt all over the metro area.

Moore notes that “the GPCVB typically books between 600,000 to 700,000 hotel room nights per year, and last fall we doubled our meeting planner fly-ins, targeting those groups with a peak block of 200 rooms. Most were over 1,500 rooms on peak, and we were very successful in showcasing the ‘New Phoenix,’ as too many planners had not been to our destination in many years.”

Over in Tempe, voters recently approved Prop. 400, which increased the bed tax by 2 percent.

“It is our job to promote the area and drive traffic to Arizona,” Nowack says. “With this additional funding, we’ll be able to put into place a strategic initiative to market the area in a consistent and positive way.”

Nowack also is proud to announce a new event in the Tempe/Scottsdale area, the Women’s Half Marathon. It will begin in Scottsdale and end at Tempe Beach Park, and is expected to draw 5,000 participants on Nov. 7. Nowack says the event is “a perfect example of new business still looking to Arizona.”

“They chose us because of our knowledge, experience, and success hosting events,” she adds. “We are known for hospitality.”

It is this local hospitality that Nowack would like to remind meeting planners of when it comes time to schedule their travel and events.

“(The immigration law) has given us a challenge to rebuild Arizona’s brand,” she says.

But Moore says this may be easier said than done.

“Because our hard-earned brand has somewhat been hijacked, this effort will take longer than many suspect,” he says. “Substantial marketing resources from both the public and private sectors must be enhanced and maintained. Tourism/meetings (have) been impacted far more than any other sector in the state, and our industry needs to create a compelling reason for the state’s business leadership to better appreciate how visitors and conventions impact them.”

Arizona Business Magazine Sept/Oct 2010

AZ Sunbelt MPI Chapter

MPI Is A Handy Resource For Professionals Throughout The Meetings Industry

Meeting Professionals International has 70 chapters worldwide with 24,000 members who service and support the meetings industry. The Arizona Sunbelt Chapter’s membership currently stands at 532, and is comprised of meeting planners and suppliers who partner to organize and serve the meetings industry across the globe.

With statistics like that, who could doubt the importance and value of MPI as a resource for those in the industry? Not its members, that’s for sure.

Mark McMinn, CMP, director of sales for the Tempe Convention and Visitors Bureau and vice president of finance for the Arizona Sunbelt Chapter, has been associated with the organization for 20 years and a member of the local group since 2001.

In that time, he has experienced first-hand the resources the group offers. He says “education, relevant content to the industry and career advancement and knowledge, marketplace connections to further my business contacts and sales, and being in a community of like-minded professionals and people who understand what you do, and who want to make sure you are successful in the marketplace” are some of the most important aspects of his MPI membership.

Regarding resources, McMinn points to MPI’s directory, available online and in print, as a great place to find a member.

“After you have found us, give any one of the members a call and doors are opened for you,” he says. “A wealth of information can be gained through one phone call or e-mail. It’s the power of connection. There are many resources that can be found at MPI: best practices, forms, directories, books and publications, speakers, subject matter experts, legal advice, discounts, and so much more.”

Beyond that, McMinn says education is MPI’s best resource.

“You can learn so much from our education resources online and at a monthly chapter meeting or at one of our fantastic conferences,” he says.

McMinn adds that with MPI “you are connected to so many professionals like yourself that you are instantly able to get what you need, when you need it from some of the finest professionals in the meetings business.”

Beth Longnaker, site selection specialist with Scottsdale-based Hospitality Performance Network and vice president of membership for MPI’s Arizona Sunbelt Chapter, is all about helping MPI members maximize their memberships and make the most of their involvement with the organization. She even developed the global development committee and has been active on various other committees during the course of her membership.

She agrees that the education aspect is a great tool MPI members can take advantage of, including earning accreditations and certifications within specific specializations.

Longnaker says networking, industry discounts and the MPI global directory are some of the most beneficial resources MPI has to offer, even though, in her opinion, the latter does not get utilized as often as it should.

“People don’t use the directory enough and they don’t use their references enough,” she says. “They need to utilize those connections.”

In addition to the online directory, Longnaker cites as wonderful resources some of the online programs available via the international Web site.

“There are subject boards, special interest groups and programs,” she says. “You can go on and gain knowledge of current trends, and you can ask questions and get honest answers because there are more than 20,000 professionals around the world from which to get feedback.”

Longnaker believes there is always an opportunity to learn something new within the forum of MPI, because it constantly presents new products and tools to help its members keep on top of current trends.

As a site selection specialist, Longnaker acts as a liaison between her client and the hotel they are negotiating a contract with, and she finds the knowledge she gains via MPI invaluable.

“My goal is to present the most beneficial contract for all involved,” she says.

MPI has given Longnaker the tools to offer her clients better opportunities.

“I have the personal knowledge to make qualified referrals and it offers a validity in my profession,” she says.

McMinn encourages MPI members to take full advantage of all the resources available to them.

“Use your membership to the fullest and you have the meetings industry at your fingertips,” he says. “It’s like having a secret handshake … but there is no secret.”

www.exploretempe.com
www.hperformance.com