The San Diego Tourism Authority (SDTA) held a phone call for almost 500 of its Members and community partners to detail the current state of the local industry and to detail the organization’s efforts to partner and support the industry as it works through this unprecedented crisis.
Here is a brief recap of the call:
Joe Terzi, SDTA President and CEO
- SDTA is committed to taking a leadership role to help the San Diego tourism industry move through this challenging time.
- Last Friday SDTA took the difficult step of furloughing a majority of the SDTA’s staff – 49 employees – to ensure we have the resources to begin recovery efforts when the time is right.
- Core staff remain to continue to operations in all departments to ensure the organization is ready to ramp up when market conditions dictate.
- SDTA was also able to cut almost $8 million out of its advertising/marketing spend to conserve resources.
- SDTA is working closely with the San Diego Tourism Marketing District (SDTMD) and believes SDTMD will allocate whatever resources are available to drive visitation to the market. SDTA estimates there could be between $20 and $25 million to market San Diego.
Kerri Kapich, SDTA COO
- SDTA continues to track local data and is partnering with others to provide the latest industry research through SDTA’s CONNECT blog. This information is available as a resource to the entire community.
- SDTA is conducting a business status survey so it can better understand which businesses are open, suspended or closed. Please make sure to fill out the survey as the SDTA wants to continue to direct customers to open restaurants, wineries, breweries and other essential businesses.
- We continue to update our CONNECT blog with timely, relevant information and resources from a wide variety of local, state and federal resources and those efforts are detailed in the Stronger Together corporate communications toolkit.
- SDTA’s consumer communications team is also reaching out to future travelers with its “We’ll Keep San Diego Warm for You” campaign and its accompanying hashtag #WithLoveSanDiego as detailed in this toolkit.
- As it stands now, the plan is to begin marketing in drive markets starting July 6, but that could change depending on how the COVID-19 crisis continues to unfold.
Margie Sitton, Senior Vice President of Sales and Services
- Four national sales directors are in place to field calls and respond to leads, and the good news is that they continue to be busy.
- Most of the leads so far are for the fall of 2020 or the first half of 2021, which is a promising sign.
Rick Outcalt, Senior Vice President of Citywide Sales
- The Convention Center is closed for business but the east side near the Hilton Bayfront it being used to help house the homeless to halt the spread of COVID-19.
- There are still three conventions scheduled for June, but it is too early to tell if they will be able to happen. A complete list of events and cancellations is here.
- Citywide bookings are up from the previous years, and citywide sales staff are working with seven potential clients for conventions that would occur in 2021, 2023 and 2024.
Question & Answer Session
Q: What assistance is SDTA providing Members?
A: SDTA is keeping Members apprised of business support available through CONNECT blog posts, sharing weekly updates. The SDTA will also hold additional calls and virtual meetings as the situation unfolds, planning for recovery with an eye to drive business back into the market
Q: What is SDTA budgeting for a decrease in assessment revenue?
A: At this point, it is still too soon to give an exact number.
Q: When will group business and travel will resume? How and when can visitors from other states travel to San Diego? Do you have any guidance on continued social distancing once meetings resume?
A: This obviously is an unknown and will depend on guidance from public health officials on what they to be safe when activities resume. It is reasonable to assume things will be different and start in a phased manner. On April 2, the County of San Diego updated its guidance and now requires team members in businesses that sell or serve food to wear a cloth mask. This is limited to team members with direct interaction with the public, not back of the house employees. Guidance is only for establishments selling food, not applicable to hotels or other business categories.
Q: How can we integrate web-based and self-guided tours in various locations?
A: Many members are already implementing virtual activities, and you can see many of them highlighted on our blog posting at blog.sandiego.org