With a nod to Sir Paul McCartney, you have to admit it’s getting better. It’s a little better all the time. That’s Pittsburgh today: Getting better all the time.
At VisitPITTSBURGH’s Annual Meeting held at the Westin Convention Center Pittsburgh, elected officials and senior staff highlighted many of the accolades that the city of Pittsburgh garnered recently. They celebrated the collective achievements in marketing and selling Pittsburgh as a great destination for meetings, conventions and tourism.
“It’s clear that Pittsburgh’s time has come,” said Craig Davis, president and CEO, VisitPITTSBURGH, the official tourism promotion agency for Pittsburgh and Allegheny County. “What better city to live, work and visit, and to celebrate what it is today – Mighty. Beautiful. Recognized.”
From Condé Nast Traveler’s “Top 15 places to go in 2015” and the Huffington Post’s “Coolest American city you haven’t been to” to the Travel Channel’s “Best all-American vacation for 2014,” people from around the world are recognizing the wonderful assets the city has to offer.
This recognition is paying off. The VisitPITTSBURGH convention sales team booked 533 meetings and conventions for 2014 and beyond, which is worth an estimated direct spending of approximately $218 million. The team sold 271,022 room nights for 2014 and future years, and contributed 228,660 rooms to the overall room night consumption for Allegheny County last year.
Here is a sampling of major groups that booked meetings, conventions or events for 2014 and beyond:
- National League of Cities (2016; 16,791 room nights)
- Anthrocon (2017; 6,365 room nights)
- Catholic Charismatic Renewal (2017; 5,400 room nights)
- National Collegiate Athletic Association (2018; 3,808 room nights, excluding fan room block)
- National Society of Black Engineers (2018; 10,750 room nights)
- Emergency Nurses Association (2018; 9,885 room nights)
- American Trucking Associations (2019; 5,540 room nights)
- Geological Society of America (2023; 7,973 room nights)
Pittsburgh hotels continued to perform at a high level. According to Smith Travel Research, the world’s foremost source of hotel performance trends, the Pittsburgh market outperformed the national averages for occupancy, average daily rate and revenue per available room.
“VisitPITTSBURGH is an economic development agency. Our focus is sales, marketing and public relations,” said Davis, to a sell-out audience of nearly 500 attendees.
And, while Davis stressed that VisitPITTSBURGH doesn’t take credit for all of the visitor spending numbers, he emphasized that the bottom-line results rely on numerous factors, including market conditions, growth in the industry and efforts of hundreds of hospitality and meeting industry partners.
The entire region also benefited from VisitPITTSBURGH’s aggressive public relations efforts. In 2014, VisitPITTSBURGH hosted 133 travel writers/broadcast media, which resulted in more than 1,118 story placements and $16.6 million in advertising equivalency value.
On the tourism front, VisitPITTSBURGH continued to market Pittsburgh through a variety of successful advertising campaigns – Pittsburgh is Performing, Pittsburgh is Visual, Kidsburgh, Mighty. Beautiful. Pittsburgh., Outdoor Adventure, Hola! Pittsburgh/El Gran Combo, and Holiday Happenings, among others.
All told, VisitPITTSBURGH placed advertising valued at $2.4 million through direct mail, outdoor/signage, print, TV, web/mobile, radio and video advertising and other promotions. Most of these campaigns were targeted in Erie, Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio – which represented 22 percent of total inquiries. Additional targeted markets included New York City, Washington, D.C., Toronto, Buffalo and Erie, Pa. Visitor volume increased from targeted media markets by 10 percent.
“We have built a reputation in Pittsburgh for collaboration and hard work – and we’re being recognized for holding successful events,” said Davis. “And now, more than ever before, we’re being touted as a wonderful tourist destination. And, it’s only getting better!”