Hotel Online  Special Report


John Marks to Retire as President/CEO of San Francisco Convention
& Visitors Bureau; 18 Years with SFCVB to End June 30, 2006
December 14, 2005 - John A. Marks has announced that he will retire as President and CEO of the San Francisco Convention & Visitors Bureau (SFCVB), effective June 30,2006.  

Marks was appointed president and CEO of the San Francisco Convention & Visitors Bureau in September, 1987.  The Bureau, founded in 1909, is San Francisco's official visitor promotion agency, working to enhance the city's economy by promoting and selling San Francisco as a site for conventions and trade shows and as a destination for pleasure travelers. With 1,700 members and an annual budget of $14 million, the Bureau is one of the largest membership-based tourism promotion agencies in the country and employs a staff of 70.

"John Marks' expertise in destination marketing mirrors San Francisco's standing as the world's preferred city for tourism and convention bookings," said Rick Swig, 2005/2006 SFCVB chairman and president of RSBA & Associates.  "The quality of John's leadership has been a perfect match to the task of selling this remarkable place.  Finding the right person to fill his shoes presents a significant challenge."

Under Marks' administration, the SFCVB achieved many triumphs and weathered a variety of tribulations. When Marks took office in 1987, hotel occupancy was 73% at an average rate of $85.  In that year, 12.8 million people visited San Francisco.  Today, Marks anticipates ending 2005 with occupancy at 76% at an average rate of $160.  San Francisco will have welcomed more than 16 million visitors who will have spent $6 billion in the city.  

In 2005 alone, the Bureau will book more than 2 million confirmed group room nights for future years.  

In 1989, the SFCVB lead the city's recovery efforts following the Loma Prieta earthquake, earning numerous accolades for its innovative and pro-active crisis management approach that rapidly restored hotel occupancy and convention booking levels. Moscone Center was expanded twice in the past 18 years, with Moscone North opening in 1992 and Moscone West opening in 2003.  Both expansions were major community initiatives and both have brought millions of dollars of revenue into the city.

In response to the terrorist attacks and economic downturn of 2001, the SFCVB created two signature events that continue to be successful and popular:  Dine About Town, the month long prix fixe dining promotion held each January and San Francisco Crab Festival, celebrated throughout the city in February.

In 2002, Marks helped to create the Emerald Bowl, which brings top college football teams and their supporters to the city during the week after Christmas.   He continues to serve as the Bowl's Chairman. Indicative of San Francisco's status as "Everybody's favorite city," San Francisco has been named "Best US City" by the readers of Conde Nast Traveler magazine for the past 13 consecutive years.

The SFCVB has won the annual Pinnacle Award from Successful Meetings magazine for the past 17 years.  In 2005, the Bureau received the Gold Service Award from Meetings & Conventions magazine for the 18th time.   

Marks is a Past National Chairman of the Travel Industry Association of America (2003) and its Foundation (1995-1997).  He was a founding member of the California Tourism Commission (1998-2003), and is Past President of the California Travel Industry Association (1999-2000).  He served as Chairman of the International Association of Convention & Visitor Bureaus  (1988-89), was Vice-Chairman of the American Society of Association Executives (1996-97) and served on the Board of the Professional Convention Management Association Foundation (1992-1993). Marks served as a Trustee of Golden Gate University (1995-2002).  He is a member of the Board of the Bay Area Sports Organizing Committee and is a Life Director of the annual Fiesta Bowl in Phoenix, Arizona.  He served on the Board of the San Francisco Zoo for ten years (1992-2002).  He is currently Co-Chair of the US/Japan Tourism Export Expansion Initiative.

In 2005, he received the Peter Goldman Award of Excellence from the San Francisco Hotel Council, which is presented annually to an outstanding leader in the hospitality industry.  In 1994, he was presented the first City Ambassador Award by the Northern California Concierge Association. A sought after speaker, he was twice named as one of the 25 Most Influential People in the Meetings Industry by Meeting News magazine.  He received the 1998 American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) Key Award, the highest award in association management, for outstanding achievements and leadership.

From 1982 until his appointment to the San Francisco Bureau, Marks was President and CEO of the Phoenix & Valley of the Sun Convention & Visitors Bureau.  Prior to 1982, he held posts as chief executive of the Arizona Office of Tourism, the Scottsdale Chamber of Commerce and on the staff of the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce.

A native of San Francisco, Marks graduated from the University of the Pacific in Stockton, California with a bachelor's degree in communications.  In 2005, he was named a Distinguished Alumni by the university.

In a letter to the SFCVB membership Marks said, "I have enjoyed 18 exciting and rewarding years with the Bureau, and more than 37 years in the tourism industry.  After spending five years promoting Arizona, I was extremely fortunate to be invited to return home to lead the San Francisco Convention & Visitors Bureau." 

"The Bureau is on solid ground today...the result of a very dedicated and highly professional staff working hand-in-hand with our volunteer leadership and 1700 member firms," Marks added.  

"I am looking forward to spending more time with Marty, my wife of 41 years, our two children and three grandchildren who reside in Roseville, CA and Tucson, AZ.  However, I have no intention of remaining idle in the future.  I plan to put my experience and contacts to good use," he said.


  Laurie Armstrong
Vice President, Public Relations
San Francisco Convention & Visitors Bureau
201 Third Street, Suite 900
San Francisco, CA 94103
Phone (415) 227-2603, Fax (415) 227-2668 

Also See: The San Francisco Convention & Visitors Bureau Books 2,229,979 Room Nights (925 Convention Groups) Over the Next 16 Years / September 2005
San Francisco Convention & Visitors Bureau Appoints 2005-2006 Board of Directors; Rick Swig of RSBA & Associates Installed as Chairman / June 2005


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