Some of the largest conventions served in 2000 included the Service Employees International Union (5,000 attendees) and the Association of American Geographers (3,600 attendees), without a convention center, which was in the process of being torn down.
The Convention Services team won its eighth consecutive Pinnacle Award from Successful Meetings magazine and its sixth consecutive Gold Service Award by Meetings and Conventions magazine this year as well.
To help ring in the new millennium, the Bureau launched a new visitpittsburgh.com web site on October 10, 2000. The site was more interactive and offered customers the ability to buy hotels and attraction tickets on line directly from the CVB.
"Pittsburgh Shines," a cultural tourism campaign, got in full swing on April 5, 2001 with the opening of the Carnegie Museum''s "Light" exhibition. The campaign, created to attract cultural tourists to Pittsburgh, generated more than $11 million in direct spending for the region. Also in 2001 the Bureau also unveiled its "Bring It Home" program, on July 11, at PNC Park. The campaign encouraged Pittsburghers to help bring meetings and conventions to their hometown.
Cultural Tourism launched its "Kidsburgh" campaign with eight area attractions in 2002. The department sold 4,590 tickets, raised $1.6 million and spent $792,000 in marketing dollars on the region''s cultural attractions. The Kidsburgh campaign alone generated more than $19 million in direct spending in the community.
The GPCVB ran a co-promotion with the USAirways that same year, hoping to help the struggling airline (and the travel industry in general) after the 9/11 attacks. The campaign was called "dot com and go." More than 5,000 flights to Pittsburgh were purchased as a result of the campaign.
Twenty eight conventions were held in the new David L. Lawrence Convention Center in its first year, 2003. These combined meetings generated $63.2 million in direct spending. In 2003 alone, 340 conventions were booked for that year and beyond.
The slogan: "Pittsburgh. Where It All Comes Together" was created by the Bureau''s new ad agency, Blattner Brunner and a new toll-free phone number for ordering getaway packages, 1-877-LOVE-PGH was introduced. You can still call that number for information or to book a great getaway to Pittsburgh! In 2004, Strategic Advisory Group reviewed convention and group sales efforts. Customers bestowed a 4.7 rating out of 5 for the GPCVB''s sales and service excellence. Way to go team!
The Tourism Department and Office of Cultural Tourism merged to create the Tourism and Cultural Heritage Department. As a result $1.3 million in advertising and marketing support was provided to member attractions and hotels. This year also saw the beginning of another website overhaul, to be completed in 2005, with cvbTV as the Bureau''s new web provider. In the summer of 2005, marketing planning, advertising production and media buying were removed from a traditional for-profit ad agency and brought in house, allowing the Bureau to do more to generate leisure and convention travel to the city.
Several major conventions were held in Pittsburgh this year, through the help of the GPCVB, including the National Senior Games (a.k.a. the Senior Olympics) in June and the GITGO Bassmaster Classic in July.
At the end of 2005, with partners in the PA Tourism Office, PennDOT and Pittsburgh and Its Countryside marketing consortium, the GPCVB held a ribbon cutting at its newest Welcome Center on the Pennsylvania Turnpike. On May 31, 2006, the GPCVB announced that it was changing its name to VisitPittsburgh. After surveying over 4000 constituents, the name VisitPittsburgh came out as the most viable name that resonates with people. Board Chairman, Jeff Letwin, President and CEO Joe McGrath and Executive Director of Marketing + Communications, Beverly Morrow Jones made the announcement to the media.
Only a few months before that, the organization amended its bylaws to change its organizational model from a membership-based company to a partner-based one. The name of the department changed from Membership Department to Partner Development Department.
With the first decade of the new millennium a little more than half way over, VisitPittsburgh is showing it has what it takes to make Pittsburgh one of the greatest tourist and convention destinations for the 21st century. Why not take a look at some other events that have happened in the new century so far!
Other Important Events in the 2000s
- 2000: The new PPG Aquarium at the officially opened in June.
- 2000: The closest presidential election in history took place on November 7.
- 2001: The attacks on the World Trade Center occurred on September 11, an event no American will ever forget.
- 2002: The CBS Early Show visited Pittsburgh in October.
- 2003: The new David L. Lawrence Convention Center opened its first phase in April. In November of that year the center received certification making it the largest green building in the world.
- 2004: Gas prices rose just as the tourism season began. The Pittsburgh CVB reacted by promoting one tank travel in targeted driving markets.
- 2005: A unique promotion of the GPCVB was the World's Largest Terrible Towel Wave, held in conjunction with the Pittsburgh Steelers NFL playoff victory over the New York Jets on January 15. Coverage and participation in the wave occurred around the globe, with assistance from local public relations firm, Markowitz Communications.
- 2006: The Pittsburgh Steelers capped off a winning 2005 season by defeating the Seattle Seahawks 21-10 to become Super Bowl XL Champions. On February 6, the City of Pittsburgh welcomed home their team with a victory parade attended by 250,000 fans. The Bureau handed out placards saying "Thanks, Champs."
- 2006: In September, newly elected Mayor Bob O'Connor passed away and was succeeded by Luke Ravenstahl, former Pittsburgh City Council President. Mayor Ravenstahl's young age secured him an appearance on the David Letterman Show.