(Photo above, the Puerto Rico Convention Center) Meet Puerto Rico kicked off its 2016 Annual Membership Meeting presenting the year in review along with its successes and challenges as well as the indicators of its 2015-2017 Global Innovation & Strategic Plan. In addition, the second institutional Hall of Fame Gilberto “Kiko” Pesquera award recipient was announced.
Peter Hopgood, Chairman of the Meet Puerto Rico Board of Directors stated that, “Our vision remains to position Puerto Rico as one of the preferred group and convention destinations of the Americas,” and continued, “Our Board of Directors has supported Meet Puerto Rico’s strategic plan to be the leading Destination Marketing Organization, promoting our unique group and convention experiences, through branding, selling and partnerships.”
Milton Segarra, President and CEO of Meet Puerto Rico, went over the year in review and launched the continuation of the Innovation & Strategic Plan with the goal of bringing this new year $150 million of economic benefits related to meetings and conventions for Puerto Rico with a 30% in market share. “And we are going to do it differently- it is time for change,” said Segarra.
Segarra continued by acknowledging the challenges faced this past year. “In December 2015 we were 7% ahead of our annual goal and on track to meet it and even exceed it,” he stated. “In the latter months of 2015, the government declared a fiscal crisis and by December 2015, the Zika virus hit us. We immediately responded to our clients’ concerns with accuracy and transparency, through communication and education. We created real time video testimonials, infographics with clear graphics and easy to read information. We closed the 2015/16 year with our sales team and partners generating 88% of our goal for a total of 136,716 room nights and an economic impact of nearly $120,000,000 and an ROI of more than 2,123%. Despite the fact that 35 groups were canceled during the March-May “Zika period” 57 new groups were booked.”
Segarra stressed the importance of the groups and conventions segment explaining how it brings a high direct economic impact per room night. Using the Destination Marketing Association International Event Impact Calculator, developed by Oxford Economics, which measures the economic impact of an event, Meet Puerto Rico analyzed 86 groups. Utilizing data specific to Puerto Rico such as taxes, the DMAI Event Impact Calculator analyzed total spending, attendees, event type, persons per room and length of stay. As all segments of the Meet Puerto Rico market were studied, the results demonstrated an economic impact of $874.00 per room night in the group segment.
Segarra laid out the goals and strategies for 2016/17, which include jumpstarting immediate demand for meetings among Meeting Planners, Third Party Planners, and the C-Suite or the decision makers, increasing awareness of Puerto Rico as a destination for meetings and conventions, counterbalancing negative perception in key markets and assigning more resources to international markets. The plan includes a combination of media buys, strategic implementation of selected social media tactics, and innovative ways to reach a global audience with a digital driven media plan.
An aggressive sales and business model will focus on increasing citywide and convention center bookings, sales team expansion into international markets, increased participation in trade shows, sports shows, client events and sales missions as well as sales promotions.
In conclusion, Segarra ended the presentation with a look to the future – for tourism in Puerto Rico – with an observation and call to action regarding the LUR strategic thinking – Learn/Unlearn/Relearn. He remarked that destinations need to move forward and do things differently. He identified the sharing economy as a key driver of businesses and the importance of new business models. Segarra stressed the fact that, “We need to change our Destination Marketing Model because the world is changing around us.” He continued by stating, “Come January 2017 we will have not only a new government but a Fiscal Board governing the Island, we cannot continue doing the things as we have always done them.”
José “Joe” Rodríguez was named the second recipient of the Gilberto “Kiko” Pesquera Hall of Fame. The award was created to honor individuals who have shown a firm commitment to the development and enhancement of the groups and conventions tourism market in Puerto Rico and who have positively impacted the global awareness of Puerto Rico as a meetings destination. The award also honors those who have positively changed the future of marketing the destination. José “Joe” Rodríguez, President of RST Puerto Rico/Rico Sun Tours a DMC Network Company, has had a long illustrious career in the tourism industry.
Meet Puerto Rico is a non-profit organization established rn 1962 to drive meetings, conventions, trade shows and incentive groups to Puerto Rico. With offices in San Juan, Meet Puerto Rico strengthens Puerto Rico’s competitive position in the Americas and abroad by increasing awareness of the Island’s outstanding meeting facilities and services, and produces approximately $100 million to the local economy. For more info, visit www.meetpuertorico.com.