Tag Archives: rachel sacco

HSMAI - Tourism

Female leaders rise up in Arizona tourism industry

It might surprise people to know that tourism generates more money for Arizona than aerospace, agriculture, microelectronics and mining.

And leading that $20-billion-a-year economic juggernaut are a bunch of women.

Debbie Johnson is president and CEO of the Arizona Lodging & Tourism Association, Sherry Henry is executive director of the Arizona Office of Tourism and Jay Parry is CEO of the Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee. In addition, women lead three of the state most important and influential convention and visitors bureaus — Rachel Sacco in Scottsdale, Heidi Hansen in Flagstaff and Lorraine Pino in Glendale. On top of that, Cristin Barr of the Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain is president of the Arizona Sunbelt Chapter of Meeting Professionals International; and Lynn Casebere, director of Catering at The Clubhouse at Tonto Verde, is president of the Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International Arizona Chapter.

“HSMAI’s leaders have broken though the glass ceiling,” Casebere says. “There are 30 chapters in the Americas Region and 24 of them have female presidents, which is something to be proud of.”

Casebere expects to see even more women take leadership roles in the hospitality industry because female enrollment is increasing in hospitality schools around the country.

“We have a lot of strong female leaders in our state and think the tourism industry falls in line with what else is going on in our state,” Johnson says. “Arizona has some great examples of strong female leaders on both the political and business arenas. I think the tourism industry emulates that.”

But how did it happen? How did women come to dominate what was once a male-dominated industry in Arizona?

“Tourism offers a variety of tremendous opportunities such as flexibility, rapid career growth, continuing education opportunities and community involvement, all of which make this industry attractive for women,” Henry says. “Because of the career range of this industry, there are myriad opportunities for upward mobility. Most of the women in today’s tourism leadership began their careers either at an entry level position or in mid-level management. It was their dedication, passion, collaborative skills and the genuine focus on the customers’ needs, both externally and internally, that brought these women into leadership roles.”

Pino said one thing that has helped women get a leg up in the industry has been education. Seeing the value of tourism as one of the state’s biggest revenue generators, many Arizona colleges now offer degrees in hospitality, opening the door for stronger career opportunities.

“What the tourism industry really offers is transferable skills,” Johnson says. “If you’re willing to work hard, learn all aspects of the industry, you will be able to use those accumulated skills as you work your way up the ladder.”

Despite the differences between the genders, industry leaders says the qualities that make women effective leaders are not unlike the characteristics that make many men effective leaders.

“If you’re passionate about what this industry means to Arizona and want to see it succeed, then you’ll be an effective leader within it,” Henry says. “Women do have the added bonus of being nurturers by nature. Tourism is an industry where we take care of guests, offer industry comforts and provide the ultimate travel experience. It’s very similar to what women already do for families and friends, so this industry seems to be a very natural fit for many women.”

The professional growth opportunities, as well as the flexibility of the industry that contributes to work-life balance, makes this industry a solid career path for women, Henry says. Additionally, there is essentially a place in the hierarchy for every skill set available, which is also very appealing for women.

“The anecdotal stories about someone starting their career as a room attendant and working their way up to general manager are true,” Henry says. “Even my own story begins with me starting out as a carhop and working my way up to becoming the director of the Arizona Office of Tourism. If you have the passion for the industry there are virtually no limitations to what you can achieve.”

As tourism continues to be an economic engine for Arizona, today’s leaders say there will be event more opportunities for women to take on leadership roles in the industry.

“We are fortunate to have dedicated tourism leaders work together to deliver the passionate and caring spirit of the hospitality industry,” Pino says. “The women who have risen to key positions have set the bar and also opened doors for the next generation.”

Greasewood Flat

Plans secure Greasewood Flat’s future in Scottsdale

In 1981 an acclaimed band named “The Clash” rocketed up the music charts with a hit called “Should I Stay Or Should I Go?”  It’s the kind of song that’s likely played a lot at Scottsdale venerable watering hole Greasewood Flat over the years.  And it’s the kind of question that has plagued the family that’s owned it in recent years due to acute federal tax issues following the passing of family patriarch “Doc” Cavalliere several years ago.

Thanks to a conscientious Scottsdale-based company and the Cavalliere family the answer to The Clash’s question, and the future of Greasewood Flat is . . . both, bringing good news to concerned heirs and customers.

“It’s been a long journey but what a terrific result,” said George Cavalliere and son of Doc who owns the current 42-acre property with siblings.  “This vision is what our family wanted and we found a partner to help get us there,” he said.

The joint agreement between the family and Taylor Morrison Homes calls for the existing experience to remain in its current location for at least one year and likely longer until Greasewood is relocated to a more authentic, rural location to the north in Scottsdale.  That 120-acre property is also owned by the Cavalliere family and abuts the McDowell Sonoran Preserve.  Members of the family will also build homes on the new site, as they have at the existing one.

“When we started Greasewood Flat we were out here by ourselves.  But development has encroached on our experience causing us to lose some of the truly Western experience.  That can’t happen at our other property that abuts land that will be preserved forever thanks to the generosity of Scottsdale taxpayers,” Cavalliere said.  He said kitchen equipment has already been purchased for the new location.

As planned there will be no gap between when the existing Greasewood Flat relocates and when the new one also owned by the family will be up and running.  City approvals for both parcels will be pursued later this year with the current 42-acre site renamed after the Cavalliere family for the redevelopment.

“This is truly the best of all worlds. We are thrilled for our customers and long-time employees. We weren’t forced to lose our property due to the inheritance tax issues that would have meant closure for Greasewood and we worked with a great Scottsdale-based company to smartly redevelop our existing site as well as work with us to plan and relocate to our new site that will generate revenue allowing us to build a great new Greasewood at a great new site,” Cavalliere said.

To celebrate the happy news a celebration is being planned for the spring.

“With so much uncertainty in recent years about one of our tourists favorite stops the certainty of Greasewood Flat surviving and thriving within Scottsdale for years to come is terrific news for our tourism efforts,” said Rachel Sacco, the long-time CEO of the Scottsdale Convention & Visitor’s Bureau.

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