Wednesday, July 30, 2014 - 10:15am
(Baltimore, MD) – Visit Baltimore President and CEO Tom Noonan shared convention and leisure sales and marketing results from fiscal year 2014 with members of the industry during Visit Baltimore’s annual business meeting at the Hilton Baltimore today.
According to data from Longwoods International, Baltimore welcomed 23.9 million visitors in calendar year 2013. These visitors generated a record $5.15 billion in direct spending, contributing $629 million in state and local taxes. To accommodate this increased demand, the tourism industry also expanded its workforce to 80,400 jobs worth $2.5 billion in personal income.
Visit Baltimore booked 370 total conventions, meetings and tradeshows in fiscal year 2014, generating 461,247 future hotel room nights with an economic impact of more than $241 million. This marks six consecutive years of record-setting sales with bookings between 450,000 to 500,000 future room nights annually. The Visit Baltimore sales team, in partnership with the Baltimore Convention Center and downtown hotels, also drove short-term bookings to Baltimore. Included in this year’s future room night totals were 209,523 room nights for 2014 through 2016, helping to solidify the base of convention business for the immediate future. This year’s results continue to place Baltimore ahead of the competitive set in both booking pace and conversion of leads into definite business for the city as far out as 2021.
Additionally Visit Baltimore continued to invest in new sales and marketing initiatives designed to increase the city’s competitive position and attract additional visitation in fiscal year 2014. Key highlights included:
•Introduced a cutting-edge version of Baltimore.org complete with responsive design, parallax scrolling, SmartContent® technology, improved navigation and enhanced member profile pages.
•Created a new logo with associated color palette and branding elements.
•Launched Absolutely Febulous, which combined the offers of Museum Week, Restaurant Week and Hotel Week into 10 days of savings to drive business during February.
•Held first annual family reunion expo with greiBo Media that drew more than 1,700 guests and 35 exhibitors and sponsors.
•Commemorated the 10th anniversary of the Baltimore Visitor Center with the development of a new immersive video – “The Baltimore Experience” – integrating multiple 3-D screens and digital projection that reflect the city’s evolving tourism landscape.
•Developed and promoted Baltimore’s Star-Spangled Summer, highlighted by the experiential Fort! Flag! Fire! promotion at Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine, to capitalize on interest in the bicentennial of the War of 1812 and the 200th anniversary of our national anthem.
•Attended annual meetings for 22 of top citywide prospects and conducted 26 marketing meetings with convention customers to help build attendance and enhance the convention experience.
•Generated $21.9 million in advertising equivalency through public relations efforts including coverage on the “Today Show,” “CBS Sunday Morning,” USA Today, National Geographic Traveler, Cosmopolitan for Latinas, AAA World, Foders.com, Passport Magazine, Huffington Post, Upscale Magazine, Globe & Mail, CNN.com and Travel & Leisure, to name a few.
Several awards were given as part of the program to recognize special achievements in Baltimore’s tourism industry and outstanding contributions to the city’s economic growth as a destination for visitors.
•The William Donald Schaefer Baltimore Tourism Visionary Award was presented to the Baltimore Orioles. The Orioles’ home baseball games are one of the single largest drivers of hotel occupancy in Baltimore. A recent hotel compression study found that when the Orioles are in town hotel business flows not only into the city but all the way to the Eastern Shore, driving significant and sustained visitation into the entire region.
•Customer of the Year was presented to US Lacrosse for ongoing commitment to its hometown of Baltimore. US Lacrosse met in Baltimore from 2009-2011 and is committed to return to the city from 2015-2017 bringing…… decision to host its annual meeting in Baltimore again in 2015, 2016 and 2017 and support in bringing lacrosse championships and tournaments to its hometown.
•Baltimore Salesperson of the Year was awarded to John Tiffey, director of sales and marketing at the Hotel Monaco, for his unwavering partnership. From hosting travel writers to creating hotel products tied to leisure marketing promotions, his dedication to not only meeting but surpassing customer needs results in a positive experience for his guests and creates the best possible impression of Baltimore.
•Charlyene E. Grimes Customer Service Award was given to Charles Myers, vice president of Guest Services at the National Aquarium. For the past 22 years, Myers had led by example, welcoming guests personally and transforming the guest experience through his understanding of what makes a visit to the aquarium remarkable and then making it happen.
Noonan also reviewed several organizational initiatives for fiscal year 2015 including: historic milestones for city arts and cultural institutions; the 150th anniversary of Maryland’s abolishment of slavery with Jubilee 1864; a new three-city sales partnership; the launch of a new experiential product; and the formation of a Visit Baltimore Education and Training Foundation.
Full details of Visit Baltimore’s fiscal year 2014 results and fiscal year 2015 initiatives can be found in the Fiscal Year 2014-15 Annual Report and Business Plan, available online at baltimore.org/annualreport
Visit Baltimore is the official sales and marketing organization for Baltimore that generates economic benefits for stakeholders through the attraction of convention, group and leisure visitors. For more information, please visit www.baltimore.org.
Vice President of Communications