"It's Time To Up Our Game" Theme at VisitPITTSBURGH's Annual Meeting Spotlights Initiatives to Keep Momentum Moving in Right Direction
PITTSBURGH—2016 marked an extremely busy year for meetings, conventions, sports events and tourism in Pittsburgh. At VisitPITTSBURGH’s Annual Meeting today at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, elected officials and senior staff reported positive results from both events hosted in Pittsburgh last year, as well as new convention and event bookings that extend as far out as 2024.
In addition, positive publicity remained extremely strong, after being named among the "World's Best Places to Travel in 2016" by Travel + Leisure and the "No. 1 Food City" in the U.S. by Zagat, the premier rating resource for restaurants worldwide.
"Pittsburgh continues to be recognized as the culturally rich and aesthetically beautiful city that it is," said Craig Davis, president and CEO of VisitPITTSBURGH. "And this, in turn, aides our efforts in selling the city to meeting planners and as a tourist destination."
In 2016, on the meetings and events side of the business, VisitPITTSBURGH's sales team booked 598 meetings, conventions and sports events worth an estimated direct spending of $204.8 million. This is up from 577 events booked in 2015, worth an estimated $156 million. In 2016, the sales team sold 297,906 room nights for 2016 and future years.
Here is a sampling of major conventions, groups and events booked by VisitPITTSBURGH in 2016:
VisitPITTSBURGH's recently formed Sports Development Department – which operates under the SportsPITTSBURGH brand – continues to bring sports-related events into the city.
In 2016, numerous sports events were booked, including:
Atlantic Coast Baseball 2017 Louisville Wood Slugger Wood Bat World Series (2,601 room nights)
In 2016, the convention sales and sports development teams contributed 252,017 rooms to the overall room night consumption for Allegheny County. The 539 meetings, conventions and sports events that were hosted in 2016 attracted 436,562 attendees, which contributed $290.9 million in direct spending to the local economy. This compares to 496 events in 2015 that attracted 298,628 attendees, which contributed $184 million in direct spending to the local economy.
"No question that it was a super exciting year with many stellar events," said Davis, noting the U.S. Open and 2016 Pittsburgh Hoop Group Jam Fest on the sports front, National League of Cities conference and AISTECH 2016 on the convention front, and, on the cultural front, world-class exhibits like "Killer Heels" at The Frick Pittsburgh and "Andy Warhol | Ai Weiwei" at The Andy Warhol Museum.
To keep on top, VisitPITTSBURGH's Annual Meeting theme -- "It's Time To Up Our Game" --will be embraced internally as staff members examine every sales and marketing practice to determine how the organization can enhance its efforts to promote Pittsburgh. VisitPITTSBURGH will incorporate best practices throughout the organization to ensure that it is doing everything it can to keep Pittsburgh as a destination for meetings, conventions, sporting events and leisure travelers, moving forward, advancing the organization's mission.
The "It's Time To Up Our Game" initiative is being implemented just as Pittsburgh starts to experience a lag in the hotel market as demand catches up to the supply of the new hotel rooms that have recently come online. Smith Travel Research – the world's foremost source of hotel performance trends – reported that the percentage of available rooms in Allegheny County grew by 7.4 percent in 2016. While the Average Daily Room Rate remained flat, the Allegheny County Treasurer's Office reported that hotel occupancy tax for 2016 was $34.46 million, up slightly over the $34.3 million collected in 2015.
In other news, VisitPITTSBURGH reported that 2016 marked yet another tremendous year of publicity for Pittsburgh. Last year, VisitPITTSBURGH helped generate more than 1,350 positive story placements. Stories about Pittsburgh as a great tourism destination appeared in national and international media outlets, including The New York Times, USA Today, The Washington Post, NBC Sports, Expedia, CNBC, The Daily Telegraph, U.S. News & World Report, Yahoo! News and on Canadian TV.
On the marketing front, VisitPITTSBURGH's advertising ran in targeted markets, including Cleveland, Columbus, Buffalo, Erie, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., New York City and Toronto. Campaigns focused on family fun, visual arts and festivals. Area attractions tracked nearly 820,000 out-of-town visitors, up by 20 percent over 2015.
As the official tourism promotion agency for Pittsburgh and Allegheny County, VisitPITTSBURGH is dedicated to generating conventions, trade show and leisure travel business for the Pittsburgh region.