Tag Archives: hospitality

Cole Johnson appointed to Department of Labor pilot program council

Cole Johnson

Cole Johnson

Cole Johnson, president of Paul Johnson Drywall, was tapped to serve on the business advisory council for a new pilot program called the Employee Misclassification Compliance Assistance Program (EMCAP), which is being initiated by the Department of Labor’s Phoenix District Office of the Wage and Hour Division (DOL). Johnson was asked to serve as a representative of the construction industry. Other industries being targeted include hospitality, janitorial, food service and security.

EMCAP was developed by the DOL, in cooperation with the business advisory council, which is comprised of business leaders from various industries. The program is designed to address the growing issue of worker misclassification, which the DOL identified as a trend arising from the business practice of utilizing independent contractors and other contingent workers opposed to hiring employees, thus improperly classifying workers. To address issues arising from this business practice, the DOL launched a five-year Misclassification Initiative in 2011.

In order to provide a mechanism for companies that may have erred in their classification of workers that allows them to address the issue without creating the potential for further exposure with DOL, the group established the EMCAP pilot program in Arizona. EMCAP intends to increase compliance, while providing employers with an opportunity to conduct a self-audit. Employer requests to participate in this program will be accepted from October 1 until November 28, 2014.

In May 2014, Paul Johnson Drywall (PJD) president Cole Johnson began initial collaborations with the DOL by implementing its classification initiative. As a result of this effort, PJD reactivated 1,325 workers as W-2 employees and hiring 627 new employees, taking the firm to nearly 2,000 employees.

red-header-2014

RED AWARDS 2014: Best Hospitality Project

On Feb. 26, AZRE hosted the 9th Annual RED Awards reception at the Arizona Biltmore in Phoenix to recognize the most notable commercial real estate projects of 2013 and the construction teams involved. AZRE held an open call for nominations and more than 100 projects were submitted by architects, contractors, developers and brokerage firms in Arizona. Click here to view all 2014 RED Awards Winners.‎


Vee Quiva Hotel & Casino
Developer: Gila River Indian Community
Contractor: Tutor Perini Building Corp.
Architect: Friedmutter Group
Project Manager: Parsons-Tynan Group
Size: 760,000 SF
Completed: July 2013

vee-quivaVee Quiva Hotel & Casino is a goliath in the desert, bringing a Las Vegas quality casino and hotel to Arizona. The property is energy efficient, with lighting systems that are programmed to detect movement and adjust accordingly. The floors ventilate clean air into the casino, keeping the air fresh without using excessive amounts of energy. The casino used local concrete and aggregate products, and native plants were used for the landscaping in order to reduce water usage on the property. The biggest energy efficient feature in the new casino is the environmentally friendly electrical, plumbing and mechanical system on-site. The water is chilled and heated with energy efficient units that supply the casino and hotel with water.

pool

AzLTA honors 'Stars of the Industry'

The shining stars of the hospitality and tourism industry were celebrated at the annual Arizona Lodging & Tourism Association’s (AzLTA) Stars of the Industry awards luncheon, held last week at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess Resort.

The Stars of the Industry award was created more than 40 years ago by the American Hotel & Lodging Association to recognize outstanding accomplishments in the lodging industry. While the categories have evolved over the years, the concept is still the same: to honor lodging and tourism employees who best symbolize the quality service of the industry.

The 2013 Stars of the Industry Winners

Outstanding Employee of the Year: Jarrod Voeller, Door Captain, Fairmont Scottsdale Princess

Outstanding Manager of the Year: Michael Cairns, Executive Chef and Director of F&B, Montelucia Resort & Spa

Front of the House Manager of the Year, Small Property: Kim Cole, Director of Public Relations, Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale

Front of the House Manager of the Year, Large Property: Thomas Williams, Director of Guest Services, Fairmont Scottsdale Princess

Heart of the House Manager of the Year, Small Property: Robin Younger, Director of Housekeeping, Royal Palms Resort and Spa

Heart of the House Manager of the Year, Large Property: Eddie Zrimsek, Assistant Spa Director, Montelucia Resort & Spa

Food & Beverage Employee of the Year, Small Property: Dusty Cox, Server, The Hotel Congress

Food & Beverage Employee of the Year, Large Property: Peter Genovese, In-room Dining and Pool Server, The Phoenix Marriott Tempe at the Buttes

Guest Service Employee of the Year, Small Property: Jason Kennedy, Bellman, The Boulders

Guest Service Employee of the Year, Large Property; Otto Valdez, Guest Services Supervisor, Tempe Mission Palms

Housekeeping Employee of the Year, Small Property: Lucas Alonzo, Houseperson, Hilton Scottsdale Resort & Villas

Housekeeping Employee of the Year, Large Property: Nilda Staniscia, Uniform Attendant and Seamstress, Montelucia Resort & Spa

Property Achievement awards in five categories were also announced at the event. These awards highlight programs that showcase the involvement of multiple employees and departments which go above and beyond to build a better community internally and externally.

Community Service: Arizona Biltmore

Guest Relations, Lodging: The Boulders, “True Waldorf Committee”

Guest Relations, Tourism: Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, “The Navigator Program”

Special Event, One Time: W Scottsdale, “CHILL”

Special Event, Ongoing: The Phoenician, “Discover the Phoenician with Phoe-Phoe and Friends”

Special Event Ongoing, Tourism: Phoenix Chapter of the Hotel Sales & Marketing Association, “Chinese Auction”

Good Earthkeeping Award: Loews Ventana Canyon Resort

Restaurant Industry

HSMAI prepares next generation of hospitality leaders

To create the perfect meal, preparation is key. The same might be said for creating the perfect employee in the hospitality industry.

“Though some things like a friendly smile and a well-prepared meal will never change, the hospitality industry has gone through major changes in last few years,” says David R. Landau, program chair for Hospitality and Restaurant Management at Le Cordon Bleu College in Culinary Arts in Scottsdale. “Guest expectations have changed. We are seeing a more food knowledgeable and casual-minded guests. The industry has changed and hospitality education has changed along with it.”

Landau says today’s hospitality industry workers need be comfortable with technology, from creating a profit  and loss statement in Excel or creating a training program in PowerPoint to being familiar with point-of-sale cash registers. To prepare the next generation of hospitality industry leaders, the Arizona chapter of the Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International (HSMAI) is partnering with colleges and universities to stress the importance of education and training for the future of the industry. HSMAI’s impact is already being fealt. Arizona State University, Northern Arizona University and Scottsdale Community College are all offering classes in hospitality sales.

“Our core curriculum focuses on a diverse range of topics in hospitality; guest services management, marketing, information systems, human resources, accounting, food production and beverage management, property management and industry law,” says Janelle Hoffman, professor in the Hospitality & Tourism Management Program at Scottsdale Community College.

Hoffman says changes in hospitality educations have been influenced by technological advancements, the evolution of customer relationship management programs, societal marketing approaches, sustainability issues and international growth.

“I stay current in my research area of hospitality group sales,” says Richard McNeill, a professor at the School of Hotel & Restaurant Management at Northern Arizona University. “Just this semester, I have integrated new research findings into my classes — for example, the rising power of third-party intermediaries and disruption on traditional selling methodologies. My sales classes involve B2B selling since group salespeople are involved with big-ticket items. It’s not unusual for a meeting or group to bring $300K revenue to a hotel.”

In addition to keeping a eye on the pulse of current trends like McNeill does, Hoffman says the changes in the hospitality industry that have had a biggest impact on education include:
• Every sector of the industry is reliant upon the efficient use of technology. Reservation systems, point of sale, property management and in-room technology are just a few areas in which the implementation and effective use of both custom and pre-designed software make a vital contribution to customer service, employee satisfaction and monetary success.
• Today, customer relationship management (CRM) programs that add value to the product and service are extremely beneficial to cultivating the life-time value of our patrons.
• Understanding how new approaches in areas of societal marketing and sustainability are trending in a response to customer demands and how these efforts assist us differentiating our products and services.
• The hospitality industry works in a global environment. In the last 10 years, new places have opened up to travel and development, providing new opportunities to international employment and community growth.
• The hospitality and tourism industry is one of the world’s largest employers.

“Many years ago, if you worked hard, you could work your way up in this industry, but times have changed,” Hoffman says. “Everyone is still working hard, but education has assisted in professionalizing the service industry. An individual’s education is something that can never be taken away and helps differentiate them in a competitive professional environment.”

Hoffman advises today’s aspiring hospitality industry to try to understand how diverse the industry has become and identify your specific area of interest. Also, it’s important for students to have real work experience in the area of customer service to balance the concepts and skills they will be exposed to in the education experience.

“Work experience is what employers are looking for,” says Lynne Wellish, an adjunct faculty member in the Hospitality College at Scottsdale Community College. “Find a mentor in the industry and start building a network of contacts. Meet other students in your classes and nurture your relationships.”

As hospitality education grows and is offered as a program of study by more schools, educators say the bar for the industry’s workforce will be raised.

“The hospitality profession will grow in respectability as more individuals see it as a career choice not just a job,” Landau  says. “I also believe for those looking to enter the industry or for professionals who are already there, online education will provide the pacing and flexibility to meet the needs of these learners.  At Le Cordon Bleu, we work closely with our advisory boards on the local and national level to identify what skills employers want our graduates to have. So it works both ways: the industry informs education and vice versa.”

LOOKING TO HIRE?

Az Business magazine asked Arizona educators what advice they would give to hospitality industry employers who are looking to hire new workers.
Jessica Shipley, academic advisor in the School of Hotel and Restaurant Management, Northern Arizona University: “Take chances on students. If employers took more risks in hiring someone who didn’t necessarily have a lot of experience, but the student showed the employer that they were outstanding in other areas, they might be surprised by how well that student ended up being a good fit for their company.”
David R. Landau, program chair for Hospitality and Restaurant Management at Le Cordon Bleu College in Culinary Arts in Scottsdale: “Don’t wait for graduates to knock on your door. Go to the source; contact an accredited culinary and hospitality school. We have a career services office that exists for employers to reach our student and graduates. Put new hires at ease; help that recent graduate see how their entry-level position is part of the overall mission. In order to be motived to succeed, Gen Y and Millennial workers need to know how their job is important.”
Janelle Hoffman, hospitality program advisor, Scottsdale Community College: “Look to hire a hospitality student, someone who has already made a commitment to the industry. Also, take good care of your team members. Word of mouth in our industry is strong. Happy employees create happy customers.”

economy

Arizona Could Hit Full Economic Recovery in 3 Years

We’re finally on the path to full economic recovery, and Arizona may get there in about three years. That’s the main message from experts who spoke today at the 49th Annual Economic Forecast Luncheon co-sponsored by Arizona State University’s W. P. Carey School of Business and JPMorgan Chase.

About 1,000 people attended the event at the Phoenix Convention Center, where economists painted a generally brighter picture for 2013.

“As of September, Arizona ranked fifth among states for job growth, and the Phoenix area was fourth among large metropolitan areas,” said Research Professor Lee McPheters, director of the JPMorgan Chase Economic Outlook Center at the W. P. Carey School of Business. “Arizona is expected to add 60,000 jobs in 2013, led by professional and business services, retail, hospitality and health care. We should finally dip below 8-percent unemployment in 2013 — down to 7.6 percent.”

McPheters added, as long as the national economy doesn’t drag us down, Arizona may see 2.5-percent growth in its employment rate next year. The state had 2-percent growth this year. Despite the jump, Arizona has gained back less than a third of the jobs it lost during the recession. McPheters believes it will take another three years to return to pre-recession employment levels.

In 2013, McPheters expects improved 5-percent growth in personal income, up from just 4 percent this year. He projects retail sales will go up 6 percent, from 5 percent this year. He expects Arizona’s population to rise 1.5 percent, and he believes single-family housing permits will shoot up a whopping 50 percent, with the local housing market now on the mend.

Both McPheters and Beth Ann Bovino, deputy chief economist at Standard & Poor’s, hinged their forecasts on whether the national economy can really pull forward; otherwise, Arizona will go down, too. The biggest question out there is whether Congress can avoid the “fiscal cliff” – where automatic spending cuts would kick in, just as various tax cuts expire. Bovino says that could plunge the United States back into recession and push national unemployment back above 9 percent by the end of the year.

“If we can avoid the fiscal cliff, then it looks like the economy could finally be in a self-sustaining recovery,” said Bovino. “We expect this year’s gross domestic product (GDP) to hit 2.1 percent, stronger than previously projected. For 2013, we’re looking at about 2.3 percent. Reports also show a stronger jobs market and signs that households are willing to buy big items, such as cars and homes.”

Bovino adds the U.S. unemployment rate was at 7.9 percent in October, and she sees signs more people are joining the workforce and getting jobs. However, she says the labor participation rate is still near a 30-year low, meaning more people will still be coming back to the workforce to look for jobs, keeping the unemployment rate low for a quite a while. Despite this, Bovino expects the national unemployment rate to drop to 7.6 percent next year.

She also has a good outlook for the national housing market, with housing starts already up 45 percent this September over last September. Bovino referenced a report that 1.3 million homes rose above water – with the value going higher than what was owed – in the first half of this year alone. She expects residential construction to go up almost 19 percent in 2013.

In the financial sector, Anthony Chan, chief economist for private wealth management at JPMorgan Chase & Co., says corporations remain flush with cash. They’re waiting for some clarity on where the market will go as a result of the fiscal-cliff situation and other factors.

“U.S. corporations are reluctant to go through global mergers and acquisitions or make big investments until they have a clearer picture,” said Chan. “Corporations are keeping high cash balances, in order to deal with the uncertainty. They’re making near-record profits in some cases, and many values on the stock market look good. However, everyone’s waiting to see what will happen.”

He said high-yield investments, such as bonds, and gold remain relatively attractive. The U.S. dollar keeps falling against currencies from emerging markets, as monetary agencies work through different strategies of dealing with the rough economy.

In the local housing market, Elliott D. Pollack, chief executive officer of Scottsdale-based economic and real estate consulting firm Elliott D. Pollack and Company, also drew some conclusions.

“Even though about 40 percent of Arizona homeowners are underwater on their mortgages, we’re starting to see a recovery,” said Pollack. “The single-family-home and apartment markets look great. Industrial real estate has improved quite a bit. Only office and retail have quite a way to go.”

Pollack adds new residential foreclosure notices are down almost 70 percent from the peak in 2008. Phoenix-area home prices are up more than 35 percent over last year. New-home sales are also doing well, with 67 percent of the local subdivisions active today projected to be sold out in less than a year. Builders are going to have to work to meet the demand, with less land and labor available.

Pollack sees a strong rental presence, with about 22 percent of local single-family homes being used as rentals right now. That’s up from less than 12 percent just a decade ago. Landlords appear to be buying up many single-family homes, and more people are moving to the area.

“In the absence of a fiscal cliff, things should continue to improve over the next several years,” said Pollack. “By 2015, things should be normalized. As I like to say, we’re only one decent population-flow year away from the issue being resolved.”

More details and analysis from the event, including the presentation slides, are available from knowWPCarey, the business school’s online resource and newsletter, at http://knowwpcarey.com.

recovery sign

ASU Experts: Economy Rebounds, But Is Still Years From Full Recovery

Despite positive growth, full economic recovery is still two years away for the nation and at least three years away for Arizona. That message was delivered today by top economists from the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University. The experts spoke at the annual Economic Outlook Luncheon sponsored by the Economic Club of Phoenix.

“Arizona lost 314,000 jobs during the recession, and we’ve only added back around 25 percent of those,” explained Research Professor Lee McPheters, director of the JPMorgan Chase Economic Outlook Center at the W. P. Carey School of Business. “We’ll probably pick up about 48,000 jobs this year in the state, but it will be three to four years until we can expect to see full recovery.”

McPheters says Phoenix is on its way to a significant rebound, having ranked No. 4 among the nation’s large cities for total job growth from March 2011 to March 2012. Arizona is already back to its position as a Top 10 job-growth state, ranking No. 8 for the same time period. Health care and hospitality are two of the fields doing relatively well in the recovery here.

“Arizona’s recovery will be slow, but it appears sustainable as long as the U.S. economy stays on track,” said McPheters. “Businesses should plan now for long-term improvement.”

Nationally, McPheters says the country has already gained back 40 percent of the 8.9 million jobs it lost during the recession.

However, Robert Mittelstaedt, dean and professor of management at the W. P. Carey School of Business, said, “Many experts are still looking at the national-debt situation as an issue. April was the first time since September 2008 that we’ve had a monthly surplus, and that is not likely to be repeated anytime soon.”

Mittelstaedt points out that the recent peak for the U.S. deficit was 10.1 percent, which happened in 2009. The last time the national debt was at that level or worse was all the way back in 1945.

Professor Dennis Hoffman, director of the L. William Seidman Research Institute at the W. P. Carey School, gave an analysis of the state’s budget situation. He says taxes on individuals are relatively low in Arizona, and the public pensions are generally solvent. Also, the recent upswing in the economy has helped provide some stabilization for incoming state revenue, even though tax collections as a share of income have continued to fall for years. However, the current clarity in the fiscal picture will start to get cloudy again.

“Next year, the temporary sales tax will expire, and within five years, the Arizona corporate income-tax rate will be about 30 percent lower than it is today,” explained Hoffman. “This presents some fiscal challenges that will have to be managed.”

As for the housing market, Mike Orr, director of the Center for Real Estate Theory and Practice at the W. P. Carey School, delivered some good news for hard-hit homeowners.

He said, “Home prices are on the rise in the Phoenix area, and we expect that trend to continue.”

The median single-family home price already went up more than 20 percent from March 2011 to March 2012. The bounce was from $112,000 last March to $134,900 this March.

“Most homes under $250,000 are attracting multiple offers within a couple of days, and there are far more buyers than sellers,” said Orr. “We’ve also seen a big shift in the types of transactions in the market from a focus on lender-owned home sales to a rise in normal resales, new-home sales, investor flips and short sales.”

The number of foreclosures completed this March was down a whopping 60 percent from last March. Also, the number of delinquencies on loans – those who are behind on payments, but not in foreclosure – is down 51 percent. All of this means the supply of lower-priced homes in the area is down to less than a month’s worth of inventory, and new-home construction is cranking up to try to help meet the demand.

Today’s Economic Outlook Luncheon was held at the Westin Kierland Resort & Spa in Scottsdale. The Economic Club of Phoenix hosts the Economic Outlook Luncheon every spring, as one of its opportunities for Valley business leaders and others to network and engage. The club was founded by a group of prominent business executives called the Dean’s Council of 100, in conjunction with the W. P. Carey School of Business. More information about the club can be found at wpcarey.asu.edu/ecp.

people gambling - AZ Business Magazine Sep/Oct 2010

New Resorts Are Sprouting In The Valley Despite The Shaky Economy

Arizona touts dozens of breathtaking resorts with countless amenities, but there’s still room for more. The Wild Horse Pass Hotel & Casino in Chandler opened its doors in October 2009, and Talking Stick Resort in Scottsdale opened this past April. What makes the opening of these two new resorts all the more remarkable is that they happened during the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.

Of course no one plans to open a hotel in a tough economy, but who could have predicted this level of devastation a few years back? However, Harold Baugus, CEO of Gila River Gaming Enterprises, the driving force behind the Wild Horse Pass Hotel & Casino, is not one to be easily deterred.

“We determined long ago that we needed a better, more sophisticated and more advanced product offering more entertainment value and better food and beverage for our clients,” he says. “In 2005, we started the process, and at that time the economy was on the upswing … but it doesn’t drive what we do. We wanted to build this product for the future of the community. The economy didn’t really play a factor.”

Steven Horowitz, director of sales for Talking Stick Resort, says the venture has proved successful so far, even in this economy.

“Hospitality demand was at its lowest during the majority of our building phase,” he says. “We were due to open when the economy would hopefully begin the cyclical upswing. That has been the case.”

Developed by the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, Talking Stick encompasses a 240,000-square-foot casino in a 15-story tower that houses almost 500 rooms.

Despite early encouraging signs, Horowitz does think people are continuing to be very careful about how they spend their money.

“While we feel like Talking Stick Resort is opening as the economy is beginning to rebound, some of the initial challenges during recovery would be the lack of demand for resorts, and the overall economic downturn in gaming,” he says. “For obvious reasons, people have been very careful about their discretionary income, and entertainment, until recently, hasn’t been top priority.”

Baugus says his property is competing for all discretionary dollars, not just those targeted to other hotel properties.

“We have created an overall entertainment experience for those with complete discretionary income,” he says. “We are not necessarily concerned with other facilities or casinos, but rather if people are going to take those dollars to a ballpark or the movies.”

These properties offer guests a laundry list of entertainment and luxury options. Besides gaming and lounges, Talking Stick has its signature restaurant Orange Sky, multiple pools, and entertainment venues.

“We are truly an all-encompassing entertainment destination. A guest literally does not have to leave the property,” Horowitz says.

Baugus also is proud of the options and amenities available at Wild Horse Pass Hotel & Casino. The 10-story property has 242 hotel rooms with a 100,000-square-foot casino. It also boasts a range of dining options, including the area’s only Shula’s Steak House; a 1,400-seat entertainment venue; the AiRIA nightclub; and pool parties.

“We’ve tried to offer something for every demographic,” he adds.

The two resorts also offer plenty of meeting space for corporate or organizational gatherings. Talking Stick has 100,000 square feet of indoor/outdoor meeting and banquet space; Wild Horse Pass Hotel & Casino has about 12,000 square feet of meeting space.

Along with providing world-class amenities and entertainment, the actual construction of these facilities has given the local economy a much needed boost. The opening of Wild Horse Pass Hotel & Casino added about 500 jobs. During construction, 1,000 workers a day were employed to complete the facility. Talking Stick Resort added 600 jobs to the economy when it opened, and employed hundreds of additional workers during its construction phases, as well.

Both Baugus and Horowitz are pleased with the resorts’ initial numbers and neither is letting the summer heat slow down that momentum. Talking Stick Resort offers regular gaming promotions and a concert series. Wild Horse Pass Hotel & Casino has kicked off a comedy series for the summer, pool parties and golf specials.

The Valley’s resorts are often ideal places for staycations during the summer, and both properties appear to be generating interest from the locals.
“There are so many facets of Talking Stick Resort that you just can’t see or get anywhere else, and that naturally sparks interest from folks both locally and those who are out of town,” Horowitz says.

Baugus adds: “We have had a tremendously positive response and have already seen repeat business. People were pleasantly surprised with the opening. They were not expecting this level of quality.”

    If You Go:
    Wild Horse Pass Hotel & Casino
    5040 Wild Horse Pass Blvd., Chandler
    800-946-4452



    Talking Stick Resort
    9800 E. Indian Bend Road, Scottsdale
    480-850-7777

Arizona Business Magazine Sept/Oct 2010

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

87813512

Arizona’s Unemployment Rate Climbs In August

Despite some gains in the governmental sector, the state’s unemployment rate for August rose one-tenth of a percent to 9.7 percent as private sector hiring was flat, according to the Arizona Department of Commerce. Usually, Arizona’s economy generates jobs in August, but last month only 28,000 jobs were created. That was still better than August of 2009.

Most of the seasonal job gains were the result of local schools bringing on 26,000 positions for the start of the academic year. State education added 7,000 jobs, with losses in other government agencies offsetting some of the gains.

The private sector posted gains in five sectors and losses in five sectors for a net decline of 800 jobs. Of the state’s 11 industry sectors, government posted the largest job gains at 29,000. Educational and health services followed government, adding 3,000 jobs. Construction continued to add jobs in August, generating 1,900 and giving the industry a net gain through the first eight months of the year.

The Commerce Department reports that, “Construction employment trends in 2010 indicate stabilization in the industry after 28 months of continuous losses.”

Other sectors creating jobs in August were: professional and business services (1,800); trade, transportation and utilities (1,100); and natural resources and mining (100). The sectors that lost jobs last month were: information (500); financial activities (800); manufacturing (1,400); and other services (2,000).

Leisure and hospitality lost 4,000 jobs last month, which the Commerce Department called “unusual.” With the winter tourism season generally starting after Labor Day, hotels and resorts in the state traditionally tend to ramp up hiring in August.

Year-over-year, the jobless situation in Arizona continues to show improvement. Total nonfarm employment last month was down 0.1 percent. In August 2009, it was down 8.3 percent. Compared to August of last year, four sectors registered year-over-year job gains last month. The professional and business services sector was up 8,200 jobs; trade, transportation and utilities was up 7,700 jobs; educational and health services had a gain of 7,100 jobs: and natural resources and mining posted gains of 1,000.

Around the state, only the Phoenix and Tucson metro areas held steady with their unemployment rates. Other major metro areas in the state posted increases in joblessness. Here’s a look at unemployment around the state:

Phoenix Metro: 8.8%
Tucson Metro: 8.7%
Yuma Metro:    23.7%
Flagstaff Metro:   8.0%
Prescott Metro:   10.2%
LHC-Kingman Metro: 10.9%

E012850

Greater Phoenix Economic Forecast 2011: “Painfully Slow”

The economy may be better in 2011 than it was in 2010, but the road to full recovery will remain long and full of potholes. But hey, it could be worse. It could be 2009.

That’s according to economist Elliott D. Pollack, CEO of Elliot D. Pollack & Company. Pollack was speaking at the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce’s Economic Outlook 2011 breakfast today at the Arizona Biltmore Resort & Spa.

Pollack said population growth in the Valley should settle at 1 percent this year and rise to 2 percent in 2011. Net job growth will contract by 1 percent in 2010 and climb by 2 percent in 2011. Retail sales will increase 1 percent this year and rise by 8 percent next year. Building permits will increase by 20 percent in 2010 before jumping 50 percent in 2011.

In summarizing his 2011 forecast for the Valley, Pollack read a laundry list of good news and bad news:

  • The housing market is at or past bottom, but there are many negatives still trumping a full recovery, most notably slower migration flows.
  • The commercial real estate market is at or past bottom, but recovery will be slow and “take a long time.”
  • Sales tax revenues are no longer falling, but they aren’t growing quickly enough to fix the state’s battered budget.
  • Retail sales have past bottom and there is pent-up demand among consumers, however, those same consumers are still so worried about personal debt that they will continue to curb spending, thus thwarting a big recovery.

While Pollack said the Valley’s economic recovery will be “painfully slow,” he points out that a recovery is indeed underway. For example, the state’s standing in employment growth compared to the rest of the nation is gradually improving — but only after a precipitous decline. In 2006, Arizona ranked second in the nation in job growth; that dropped to 22nd in 2007; 47th in 2008; and 49th in 2009. Up to July of this year, the state had moved up to 42nd in job growth.

Another indication that the Valley’s economy is showing improvement is in the number of economic sectors that have shown net job gains. Of the state’s 12 major economic sectors, five have shown net job gains so far this year (education and health services; trade; leisure and hospitality; professional and business services; other services). That compares to the same time last year, when no economic sectors reported net job gains.

But, Pollack pointed out again, the Valley and state can’t expect the robust and recoveries that have accompanied past recessions.

He says the Valley’s housing market continues to be weighed down by:

  • Weak job growth
  • Tough underwriting standards
  • Negative home equity
  • Loan modification failures
  • High foreclosures
  • Option ARMs (adjustable rate mortgages) peaking in 2011

In terms of equity, 51 percent of houses in the state have negative equity. The national average is 23 percent. Such negative equity severely curtails people’s ability to buy and sell homes. In addition, supply still outstrips demand in the single-family home market, with an excess inventory of houses somewhere between 40,000 to 50,000 units, Pollack said. A balance between supply and demand will not be fully achieved until about 2014, he added.

The picture is bleaker for the commercial real estate market, with delinquencies on loans still very high. In the office market, Pollack cited forecasts from CB Richard Ellis that said vacancy rates would peak at 25.6 percent in 2010 before dropping to 23.9 percent in 2011. As Pollack pointed out, there currently is no multi-tenant office space under construction in the Valley. In fact, he expects “no significant office building in Greater Phoenix for the next five years.”

Industrial space vacancy rates are faring only slightly better, with CB Richard Ellis predicting year-end vacancy rates of 16.4 percent for 2010 before falling to 15.2 percent in 2011. As for the retail market, the vacancy rate will rise to 12.3 percent in 2010 and hit 12.9 percent in 2011.

For office, industrial and retail commercial real estate, Pollack said he did not expect vacancy rates to reach normal levels until 2014-2015.

Still, Pollack maintained that the economic outlook for the Valley “remains favorable,” thanks to the recovering national economy, increased affordable housing in the Valley, a rise in single-family home building permits, unemployment bottoming out, consumer spending improving and continued problems in California.

Phoenix-area employment picture for the fourth quarter of 2010 appears positive

Survey: Valley Companies Plan To Hire More Employees This Quarter

The Phoenix-area employment picture for the fourth quarter of 2010 appears positive, as hiring is expected to increase slightly, according to the latest Manpower Employment Outlook Survey released today.

Between October and December, 15 percent of the companies interviewed plan to hire more employees. For the same period, 9 percent expect to reduce their payrolls. About 74 percent say they will maintain current staffing levels and 2 percent are not certain of their hiring plans.

Figures for the Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale area point to a net employment outlook of 6 percent, according to the survey, making the Valley employment outlook a bit brighter compared to the rest of the nation and the rest of the state.

“Employers are more optimistic about hiring plans for the final three months of the year compared to (the third quarter) when the net employment outlook was 2 percent,” says Frank Amendariz Arizona regional director at Manpower. “Employers expect a much faster hiring pace compared with one year ago, when the net employment outlook was minus 4 percent.”

According to the survey, prospects in Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale are particularly strong in durable goods manufacturing, information, financial activities, professional and business services, and leisure and hospitality.

Hiring figures for the rest of the state show a mild increase as well, according to the survey.  For the fourth quarter of the year, 14 percent of the companies interviewed plan to hire more employees, and 10 percent expect to reduce their work force. Another 73 percent say they will maintain current staffing levels and 3 percent are uncertain of their hiring plans. The state’s net employment outlook is 4 percent.

“Employers expect to slightly slow down the hiring pace compared to (third quarter 2010) when the net employment outlook was 6 percent,” says Sunny Ackerman, a spokesperson for Manpower.

Nationally, of the more than 18,000 employers surveyed, 15 percent anticipate an increase in staffing, and 11 percent expect a decrease for a net employment outlook of 4 percent.

As The Valley And State’s Hospitality Industry Has Grown So Has Its Contribution To The Economy

As The Valley And State’s Hospitality Industry Has Grown So Has Its Contribution To The Economy

Tourism is a vibrant and diverse industry, and I have been fortunate to be part of it for the past 25 years. This exciting industry encompasses culture, history, natural wonders, state parks, sports, resorts, spas, restaurants and shopping. And it’s supported by a variety of other industries such as laundry services, food services and transportation — all of which help to keep Arizona’s economy moving forward. As one of the state’s major economic generators, contributions by the travel and tourism industry have been immense. In 2007, more than 35 million visitors traveled to the Grand Canyon State and contributed $19.3 billion to the state’s economy. Additionally, tourism has generated millions in tax revenue and has employed directly and indirectly thousands of residents. 

Twenty-five years ago, tourism wasn’t nearly as lucrative. There were fewer than 20,000 hotel rooms throughout the Valley, and no spas. Visitors came to Arizona because of its scenic beauty and outdoor adventures. But the Valley, more often than not, served as a gateway to other Arizona communities and attractions. Phoenix was rarely seen as the “main” attraction for a family vacation. In 1984, Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport had only two terminals available for travelers. The freeway infrastructure consisted mainly of the I-10 and I-17 freeways. And the Phoenix Suns were the only major professional sports team playing in the Valley.

However, because of the dynamic growth and development of the Valley, we have been able to greatly expand our tourism marketing efforts. In addition to the state’s signature beauty, outdoor adventures and Wild West history, we now market arts and culture, culinary opportunities, resorts with spas, and plenty of great shopping.

What the Valley now offers has helped define the Phoenix area and Arizona as premier travel destinations. To accommodate the growing number of domestic and international travelers, the airport has added Terminal 4, increasing passenger traffic to 40,000 travelers annually. The addition of the loops 101 and 202 has eased traffic, and the Valley now boasts 55,000 hotel rooms. The new Phoenix Convention Center has more than tripled in size, expanding from 300,000 square feet to an incredible 1 million square feet, allowing for more conventions to take place. 

The Phoenix Suns now have plenty of company — the Arizona Cardinals, the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Phoenix Coyotes — that bring visitors to the state. We have also become a featured destination on the national sports scene by hosting two Super Bowls, Cactus League spring training, the FBR Open and the Fiesta Bowl, including the Bowl Championship Series.

While we can be proud of the way tourism has evolved, like many other industries we have been hit with challenges. As a result of the struggling economy, people are traveling less. The unfortunate misconception about corporate meetings and events has had a negative impact on the industry, as well. However, it’s important to understand that although people are traveling less they are traveling closer to home, giving us opportunities to promote the wonders of Arizona to our own residents and neighbors. 

The tourism industry is resilient and will continue to be so. It is the only export industry that drives revenue to all 15 Arizona counties, and is second only to microelectronics in generating earnings that benefit Arizona’s residents. The earnings generated from tourism are spread throughout the state and have shown consistent growth, helping to create a stabilizing effect on the Arizona economy. It’s vital to our economy to continue promoting Arizona as a vacation destination.

We are fortunate to live in such an incredibly diverse state with breathtaking scenery, culture and heritage, sports, fine dining and shopping. It’s what people from thousands of miles away want to experience.

Tourism Honoree Southwest Airlines Best of the Best 2009

Best of the Best Awards 2009: Tourism

Tourism Honoree: Airlines Serving Arizona

Southwest Airlines

Southwest Airlines - Best of the Best Awards 2009 presented by Ranking Arizona

Photograph by Duane Darling

It all began on a cocktail napkin more than 38 years ago. Attorney Herb Kelleher and businessman Rollin King sketched Southwest Airlines’ original route structure connecting Dallas, Houston and San Antonio, which officially created the low-fare category in the airline industry. Today, Southwest has become the nation’s largest airline in terms of domestic passengers enplaned, serving 65 airports in 33 states. Southwest provides more than just air travel to the communities it serves. By attracting new customers with low fares and high frequency, Southwest creates jobs for residents and revenue for the airports and cities it serves — a phenomenon dubbed “the Southwest Effect.” Southwest has been a maverick in the industry and a model for excellence in American business.

Guided by visionary leadership, Southwest has managed to remain profitable through some of the country’s most turbulent times.

3800 E. Sky Harbor Blvd., Phoenix
800-I-FLY-SWA
www.southwest.com

Year Est: 1982
AZ Staff: 4,000+
Parent Company HQ: Dallas, Texas
Destinations out of AZ: 64


Tourism Finalist: Meeting/Convention: 43,999 SQ FT or less

The Ritz-Carlton Phoenix

The Ritz-Carlton Phoenix is the premier luxury business hotel in Arizona, acclaimed for its warm hospitality and impeccable, personalized service. More than 20,000 square feet of meeting and event facilities accommodate groups from 10 to 500 guests. The 14 meeting rooms and outdoor Poolside Terrace create an ideal setting for events.

2401 E. Camelback Road, Phoenix
602-468-0700
www.ritzcarlton.com


Tourism Finalist: Resorts/Hotels: 184 rooms or fewer

Royal Palms Resort & Spa

Nestled at the base of Camelback Mountain, Royal Palms Resort and Spa is a Spanish Mediterranean-style estate that offers 119 guestrooms, casitas and suites. The Royal Palms combines the graciousness and sophistication of a Mediterranean villa with the intimacy and privacy of a secluded retreat. With its unique ambience, stone fireplaces, and mountain views, the resort offers the award-winning T. Cook’s restaurant, Mobil Four-Star Alvadora Spa and more than 20,000 square feet of meeting space.

5200 E. Camelback Road, Phoenix
602-840-3610
www.royalpalmsresortandspa.com


Best of the Best Awards 2009 presented by Ranking Arizona