Hotel Online  Special Report

 Big Tribute Planned for John Marks, the Retiring President
of the San Francisco Convention & Visitors Bureau
Former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown Called Marks
 "the Best CVB CEO in the Country - Bar None"  
June 2 Tribute "On The Grass, Under The Stars" to Feature Many Special Guests

May 3, 2006 - In honor of John A. Marks' 19 years selling "Everybody's Favorite City," a "Thank You John" evening is being planned for Friday, June 2, at AT&T Park, 24 Willie Mays Plaza.   All proceeds will benefit the SFCVB Education & Research Foundation, a 501[c]3 organization.  
Marks will retire on June 30, 2006 as president and CEO of the San Francisco Convention & Visitors Bureau (SFCVB).
Many special guests will make appearances in this tribute to the man that former San Francisco Mayor Willie L. Brown, Jr. called "the best CVB CEO in the country - bar none."  
The evening will be held "on the grass, under the stars," with a reception at 6:30 pm and dinner at 7:30 pm.  Bob Sarlatte will be the master of ceremonies.  Dick Bright and his Orchestra will provide musical entertainment.
The Honorary Committee is made up of Mayors Art Agnos, Willie L. Brown, Jr., Frank Jordan and Gavin Newsom. The event co-chairs are Pat Gallagher, president of Giants Enterprises and Rick Swig, president of RSBA & Associates and 2005/2006 SFCVB chairman.
Tables of 10 are $2,500 for "John's Friends," $5,000 for "John's Good Friends" and $10,000 for "John's Best Friends."  Individual seats are available for $250.  All donations are tax deductible. To purchase tickets and for event information, telephone 415-227-2626 or e-mail [email protected].
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 tradeshows 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. 
Founded in 2003 by the SFCVB, the SFCVB Education & Research Foundation is a 501 [c] 3 charitable foundation created to ensure that the hospitality industry continues to thrive by producing educational events, providing scholarships and commissioning research. 
Under Marks' administration, the SFCVB achieved many triumphs and weathered a variety of tribulations.
When Marks took office in 1987, hotel occupancy was 73 percent at an average room rate of $85.  In that year, 12.8 million people visited San Francisco. Occupancy in 2005 was at 76 percent at an average room rate of $153 and San Francisco welcomed more than 16 million visitors who spent $6 billion in the city.  In 2005, the Bureau booked 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 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(tm), the month-long prix fixe dining promotion held each January and the 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).  He was co-chair of the US/Japan Tourism Export Expansion Initiative (2003-2006).
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, AZ.  He served on the board of the San Francisco Zoological Society for 10 years (1992-2002). 

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, CA with a bachelor's degree in communications.  In 2005 he was named a Distinguished Alumni by the university.
"I have enjoyed 19 exciting and rewarding years with the Bureau, and more than 37 years in the tourism industry," Marks said.   "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 1,700 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.
For more information about the San Francisco Convention & Visitors Bureau, call 415-974-6900 or visit

Laurie Armstrong
Vice President, Public Relations
San Francisco Convention & Visitors Bureau
201 Third Street, Suite 900
San Francisco, CA 94103
Phone (415) 227-2603, Mobile (415) 290-6830, Fax (415) 227-2668
[email protected]
Also See: John Marks to Retire as President/CEO of San Francisco Convention & Visitors Bureau; 18 Years with SFCVB to End June 30, 2006 / December 2005

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