PITTSBURGH - At its 2014 Annual Meeting held today at the Wyndham Grand Pittsburgh Downtown Hotel.
VisitPITTSBURGH officials emphasized the economic impact of travel and tourism, highlighting the fact that the travel and tourism industry in Allegheny County generated $5.5 billion in spending, supports 39,000 jobs and creates nearly $340 million in tax revenues.
Craig Davis, VisitPITTSBURGH president and CEO, announced that the VisitPITTSBURGH convention sales team booked 590 meetings and conventions for 2013 and beyond. This compares to 576 meetings and conventions booked in 2012. The team sold 252,249 room nights for 2013 and future years. 2013 bookings represent an anticipated direct spending totaling $201 million.
Here is a sampling of major conventions, groups and events booked by VisitPITTSBURGH in 2013:
When comparing the number of room nights VisitPITTSBURGH sold for 2013 to the total number of room nights occupied in the Downtown Pittsburgh market in 2013, the VisitPITTSBURGH sales team was responsible for 18 percent of the hotel rooms sold.
"VisitPITTSBURGH is an economic development agency. Our focus is sales, marketing and public relations," said Mr. Davis, to a sell-out audience of 460 attendees. And, while Mr. Davis stressed that VisitPITTSBURGH doesn't take credit for all of the visitor spending numbers, he emphasized that the results rely on numerous factors, including market conditions, growth in the industry and efforts of hundreds of hospitality and meeting industry partners.
"Tourism really does build community," said Mr. Davis. "In practical terms, visitors bring dollars. They spend money in our hotels, restaurants, shops, cultural attractions and more. And they bring validation, too. We must be doing something very right to draw more visitors than our competitors."
Pittsburgh hotels continued to perform at an exceptionally high level. According to Smith Travel Research, the world's foremost source of hotel performance trends, the Pittsburgh market experienced the highest occupancy rate within our competitive set for the fifth consecutive year. Pittsburgh also again outperformed the national averages for occupancy, average daily rate and revenue per available room.
In other big news, a rebranding initiative was launched after an in-depth market analysis was conducted from inside and outside the box. Following the research phase, the strategy and creation of the new brand for both Pittsburgh tourism and VisitPITTSBURGH were put in place. Community input was sought, a tagline developed and a logo created.
"We embraced our history and recognized the transformation that has occurred in Pittsburgh with the new tagline: ‘Pittsburgh. Mighty. Beautiful.,'" explained Mr. Davis. The icon in the logo represents strength; the colors, sustainability; and the curves, architectural assets. Going forward, the new brand will be incorporated into VisitPITTSBURGH's marketing programs, advertisements, publications and more.
The entire region also benefited from VisitPITTSBURGH's aggressive public relations efforts. In 2013, VisitPITTSBURGH hosted 79 travel writers/broadcast media, which resulted in more than 1,600 story placements and $6.3 million in advertising equivalency value.
On the tourism front, VisitPITTSBURGH continued to market Pittsburgh through a variety of successful advertising campaigns - Pittsburgh is Performing, Pittsburgh is Visual, Kidsburgh, The Rubber Duck Project and Holiday Happenings, among others. All told, VisitPITTSBURGH placed ad buys valued at $1.5 million through direct mail, print, TV, web, billboard, radio and video advertising and other promotions. Volume of visitors tracked from our two targeted markets in Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio, was up 11 percent and 17 percent, respectively.
VisitPITTSBURGH is the official tourism marketing and promotion agency of the Pittsburgh region. The organization is dedicated to generating conventions, trade show and leisure travel business for the Pittsburgh region.