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Saturday, Jun 3, 2023

The LA Convention and Visitors Bureau has Launched Two Intiatives To Boost Tourism in the Valley

L.A. Inc. The Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, has recently hired a sales manager who will focus exclusively on small meetings that are typically held at Valley hotels and launched a new partnership with JetBlue Airways to lure more corporate travelers to the area. JetBlue began daily flights from Burbank’s Bob Hope Airport to New York City in May. Christopher Heywood, a communications manager for L.A. Inc., said the sales manager in charge of attracting small meetings would be focusing on regional associations that are too small to book a large meeting space like the Los Angeles Convention Center, but could use space at one or two smaller facilities. The Valley, Heywood said, is an ideal setting for this type of “backyard business.” L.A. Inc.’s partnership with JetBlue Airways is aimed at capturing that corporate market. The group will be working with JetBlue’s west coast representative to steer more passengers, coming in on four daily flights from New York City, toward Valley hotels. The efforts further a campaign that started this past spring, which was partly a response to Councilwoman Wendy Greuel’s suggestion that the Valley break away from L.A. Inc. to set up its own tourism office. “We had a couple of meetings with her during that time, and obviously we’re not a proponent of breaking our organization into different areas of the region,” said Christopher Heywood, a manager of corporate communications for L.A. Inc. “Different offices operating on their own would have fewer resources, financial and otherwise, as opposed to us promoting the brand known around the world as L.A.” Elizabeth Kaltman, spokeswoman for Greuel, said the City Council committee through which the resolution has passed through has since been disbanded, and the effort to establish a Valley office is therefore on hold. “LA Inc. has really intensified their marketing efforts toward the San Fernando Valley. Wendy’s anxious to see what the results of that marketing campaign will be,” said Kaltman. “She’ll then determine what should be pursued.” Adrian Larick, director of sales at Sheraton Universal Hotel in Universal City, said LA Inc.’s efforts are noticeable. ‘They do really take the Valley into consideration and they certainly bring stand-alone business into the city,” said Larick. “When there’s city-wide business, we are included in that. . .We definitely feel we get the proper recognition.” Heywood said the group has also increased its efforts to bring leisure travelers to the Valley. “Half of LA’s domestic visitors drive into Los Angeles,” he said. “This past summer we did a very comprehensive advertising blitz, we advertised in the San Diego Union Tribune and the San Francisco Chronicle.” “People driving into Los Angeles tend to stay in the Valley,” he added. “People like the movie studios out (in the Valley), they can go to set tapings. For us not to include the Valley in our marketing would obviously not be smart.” LA Inc.’s efforts have been helped by a general revival in the hospitality industry, the benefits of which have been felt in the Valley. In June, PKF Hospitality Research reported that the average occupancy rate at Valley hotels was 83.86 percent, a 5.5 percent increase over last year, and the average room rate increased by 5.8 percent to $111.73. L.A. Inc. began its campaign earlier this spring by conducting a phone sales blitz aimed at attracting attention from meeting planners across the country. So far, Heywood said, it’s difficult to say how effective the pitch was. “We generated a lot of leads, which is kind of a good measure of our success,” Heywood said. “Any time you take a group of people and launch a targeted effort to connect with them, the more likely they are to think about the region you’re promoting the next time they’re considering a meeting.”

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