PITTSBURGH, March 13, 1998 - The Greater Pittsburgh Convention Visitors Bureau (GPCVB) held its 62nd Annual Meeting on March 12th at the Carnegie Science Center where the Bureau presented its year-end report to its board of directors and membership.
"A recent study by the U.S. Travel Data Center, released by the state's Department of Community and Economic Development in February of this year, indicated that the travel and tourism industry is growing at a significant rate -- Pennsylvania and Pittsburgh are definitely part of that surge," said Dave Geisinger, Chairman of the Greater Pittsburgh Convention Visitors Bureau's Board of Directors. "Philadelphia attracted $2.8 billion in traveler spending, while Allegheny County attracted $2.7 billion, marking a six percent increase over 1995 for our county. This kind of success is a group effort on the part of our region's travel and tourism industry, and the Bureau played a role as leader and partner to build 1997 into a year filled with success and recognition."
In 1997, the tourism department continued its focus on domestic and international group markets. It hosted familiarization tours for 317 decision-makers of group travel itineraries that included travel agents and tour operators, a 12 percent increase over last year. Weekend packages sales realized a 19 percent increase over 1996. The Bureau responded to an impressive 166,052 visitor inquiries in 1996, a 36 percent increase over the previous year.
Destinations, the official publication of the American Bus Association, recognized the tourism department twice in 1997. In its annual poll of members' preferences the GPCVB came in second to all other convention and visitors bureaus in the nation for its outstanding service to groups, and it awarded the GPCVB's Group Tour Guide first place in its contest for best group tour manual. This is the second time in the three year history of the contest that the Bureau took top honors.
Partnering with members of the city's hospitality community and member
attractions, convention sales hosted a record number of meeting planners
-- their number equaling more than one per day. Conventions sales worked
with the mayor's office to secure the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, an international
conference booked for June of 1999. Building off of the success of the
Council of Engineering and Scientific Society Executives 1997 Annual Conference,
convention sales acquired the following bookings as a direct result of
that convention: Association for Computing Machinery, 1999, attendance
2,600; AACE International, 2001, attendance 500; American Society of Mechanical
Engineers, 1998, attendance 450; Institute of Electrical and Electronic
Engineers, 2002, attendance
The convention services department -- the Bureau team who takes over once a convention has been booked to arrange everything from registration personnel to peanuts for pet mascots -- received well-deserved recognition for its high standard of quality service. For the fifth consecutive year, professional meeting planners and other readers of Successful Meetings magazine honored the Greater Pittsburgh Convention Visitors Bureau's convention services team with the "Pinnacle Award." In addition, the Bureau captured for the third consecutive year both the Corporate and Incentive Travel magazine's "Award of Excellence" and the Meetings and Convention's 1997 "Gold Service Award."
Several of the most recent and successful meetings and conferences to enjoy Pittsburgh's hospitality were the AFL-CIO (3,500 attendees), the American Society for Nondestructive Testing (2,000 attendees), National Science Teachers Association (3,500 attendees) and the NAACP (12,000 attendees).
"When the Bureau teams with Pittsburgh's hospitality community to secure prestigious conventions such as these, we do more than fill hotel rooms and cash registers," said Joe McGrath, president and CEO of the GPCVB. "We present our community with the opportunity to open one-on-one dialogues with national figures, such as the President of the United States, that can result in grants, aid for environmental projects and tax-law adjustments. And, in recent years, virtually every visit the President has made to our region has been in association with a major convention."
One of the major thrusts of the communications department is generating print and broadcast coverage for our region. Working with international, national and regional media in 1997, the combined results of broadcast and print media impressions in publications such as the Washington Post and Chicago Sun reached a total of 30 million readers, listeners and viewers.
Communications also oversaw advertising campaigns in key consumer markets such as Columbus, OH and Erie, PA, capitalizing on a 63 percent conversion ratio on advertising inquiries (63 percent of the people who saw an ad and called for information actually visited Pittsburgh).
The communications department also involves itself in various initiatives to help disseminate information on the impact of travel and tourism to our region. It hosted industry spokesperson and consultant, Alf Nucifora, to help industry professionals better understand the challenges facing our region, and it acted as a liaison between the Bureau and McKinsey and Co., supplying critical information and personnel support during the preparation of the McKinsey Report.
"The CVB stepped-up-to-the-plate to partner with the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance, dedicating personnel and resources to McKinsey Company in their preparation of a marketing strategy and action plan for our region," said Geisinger. "The study acknowledged the remarkable return on investment the convention and meetings industry provides to the region, delivering $185 million in direct economic impact for a marketing investment of less than $5 million, and it reinforced the region's need for a stronger convention and meetings product."
The Bureau enjoyed new acclaim from the Travel Industry Association of America (TIA). The TIA named the Bureau one of the 1997 winners of the widely-recognized and highly prestigious Odyssey Award in the category of Education and Training for its Minority Associates Career Program which places full-time, salaried summer interns at local hotels and attractions and encourages minorities to explore careers in the travel and tourism industry.
Communications also coordinated the redesign of the Bureau's official web site which directly targets the Bureau's four primary customers -- meeting planners, tour operators, travelers, travel agents -- with specific information paths that invite personal contact across the breadth of the Internet's influence.
With the opening of the Bureau's official web site in November at http://www.pittsburgh-cvb.org, membership provided Bureau members with the vehicle for advertising on the Internet. This new advertising opportunity expanded membership value and created additional marketing venues for members, only one of the reasons 100 new members were attracted to the Bureau in 1997.
Membership and in-kind services generated $695,081 in total revenues. Membership also worked to identify pertinent issues facing the city's travel and tourism industry. It delivered programs educating members on such issues as diversity by conducting a two-day diversity training workshop for management and front line staff of member hotels and other industry professionals.
Working as a steadfast partner with local government, civic leaders, and industry stakeholders, the GPCVB has led efforts in 1997 to ensure that southwestern Pennsylvania's travel and tourism industries thrive and its cultural venues multiply.
The mission of the Greater Pittsburgh Convention and Visitors Bureau is to create revenue and jobs in Allegheny County and the City of Pittsburgh by generating convention, trade show and leisure travel business.