Black Meetings and Tourism

July/Aug 2011

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PUBLISHER’S MESSAGE I’ Sain and Allen, along with their Orlando partners like Disney, have gar- nered a huge ROI, putting heads in beds, and dollars in the bank. And though Orlando may be the first destination to top the 50 million- visitor mark in one year, they are by no means alone in their strategy to go after meetings, conventions and leisure travel business from all industry segments with renewed energy and gusto. For instance, a perfect example of a destination that has generated new and improved business during an economic downturn is Toronto, thanks to the forward thinking president and CEO of Tourism Toronto, David Whitaker. If you went to any major trade show during 2010, you were more likely than not to see Tourism Toronto reps working the crowd, and usually, Whitaker was there himself, leading the charge. Again the results of such concerted efforts were well rewarded, with Toronto enjoying a record year in 2010. The city’s hotel occupancy rates dramatically increased 9.7 percent to 68.3 percent, and visitor spending totaled $4.5 billion in the Toronto region across a range of businesses and activities. Many other destinations have consistently recorded good numbers, d like to personally congratulate Gary Sain, president and CEO of Visit Orlando, as well as Jessie Allen, GM of the Orange County Convention Center, and their respective outstanding teams, for the fine work they have done promoting their city this past year. Through their efforts,Orlando has become the first U.S. destination ever to top 50million visitors in a single year. To be more precise, a whopping 51.455 mil- lion travelers descended on Orlando in 2010, up 10.5 percent from the previous year’s 46.6 million.This included increas- es across the board in the international, domestic, business and group travel sec- tors. In my opinion, this is quite significant. While so many others in our industry have chosen to tread cautiously during tough economic times, the movers and shakers inOrlando have taken the oppo- site approach, aggressively reaching out to all market segments, including the African-American niche. The efforts of even during difficult times, because they too have remained proactive in targeting all market segments. Take Miami as another example. Yes they have a great visitor product, but if they aren’t out in the marketplace com- peting for your business, who will know about it? And if Greater Miami CVB president and CEO Bill Talbert is anything, he is definitely compet- itive. A soft spoken and gracious gentleman he may be, but competitive as they come. Not a week goes by that I don’t receive a press release touting Miami’s varied and sundry accomplishments, like one I received in May that boasted their #1 ranking in hotel room occupancy, and another that same month reporting on record arrivals at Miami International Airport. Then there’s the Greater Birmingham CVB, that has a sales and mar- keting staff that would make any destination proud, with industry vets like Michael Gunn, vice president of Sales, Sarah Hamlin, vice president of Tourism, and Dilcy Hilley, vice president of Marketing, promoting the city’s many attributes. This dynamic team has helped grow their share of the meetings and travel market, including increased business among African-American planners, because of the superior level of service they provide, and once again, their consistent outreach to all market segments. Those destinations that have been mentioned here, as well as others (like the Philadelphia CVB, Baltimore Area CVA and Macon-Bibb County CVB, for instance) that space would not permit us to include, have a common thread weaving it’s way through all of their marketing pro- grams. They are inclusive of all market segments, are decidedly proactive and not reactive, and have all enjoyed a healthy return on investment. There are, however, far too many destinations that don’t seem to rec- ognize the value of the African-American meetings/travel segment, invest- ing little if anything in this market niche, or in the worse case scenario, ignoring it altogether. The good news is that it’s never too late to stop leaving money on the table, and begin to strategically target this $56.3 billon dollar and growing market. Are you up to the task? Solomon J. Herbert Publisher/Editor-in-Chief E-Mail: BM& Black Meetings & Tourism is published bi-monthly by SunGlo Enterprises, 20840 Chase St., Winnetka, CA 91306-1207 •Telephone: (818)709-0646/Fax: (818) 709-4753 Copyright 2011 by SunGlo Enterprises. All rights reserved. Single Copies, $6.00 Subscriptions $45.00. Postage Paid at Pasadena, CA. •Postmaster send address changes to Black Meetings & Tourism, 20840 Chase St., Winnetka, CA 91306-1207. 4 Black Meetings & Tourism July/ August 2011:

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