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The San Francisco Convention & Visitors Bureau Celebrates 100th Annual Luncheon

The San Francisco Convention & Visitors Bureau celebrated its 100th Annual Luncheon on July 6 at a luncheon attended by nearly 1,000 people at Moscone West in San Francisco.


Centennial Project strategic plan, Pow Wow 2011 highlighted for the year ahead. Proposed Hotel Tax increase criticized by Mayor and Bureau CEO

July 7, 2010 — The San Francisco Convention & Visitors Bureau (SFCVB) celebrated its 100th Annual Luncheon on July 6 at a luncheon attended by nearly 1,000 people at Moscone West in San Francisco.

Mayor Gavin Newsom delivered the opening remarks, congratulating the organization on its longevity and success in promoting San Francisco as a travel destination and leading the City’s largest industry. Citing San Francisco’s run of 17 consecutive years winning Conde Nast Traveler’s Readers Choice award for best U.S. destination, he said “I’m here to tell you that San Francisco will be an award-worthy destination for the next century too.”

Both Mayor Newsom and SFCVB President and CEO Joe D’Alessandro spoke against a possible two percent increase in the Hotel Tax that is proposed for the November ballot.

“This measure would give us the highest room tax of any city in our competitive set. Independent research shows that it would result in fewer visitors,” D’Alessandro said. “What the potential measure really is though, is a jobs killer. Preliminary estimates indicate that this measure would result in the elimination of more than 2,000 mostly union jobs. It would eliminate more than $75 million in wages in the city and reduce hospitality related employment by 3%. That also translates into less spending in your businesses and less tax revenue for the City.”

“It is a poorly thought out idea, in fact it is a dangerous one,” D’Alessandro continued. “The best way to ensure that San Francisco’s tax base grows – is to ensure that our economy grows. The fastest way to do that is to build our tourism industry, not hurt it. We can’t afford to kill the goose that lays our golden egg.”

Toni Knorr, 2010/2011 SFCVB Chair and general manager of the St. Regis Hotel, spoke about implementation of the Centennial Project in the year ahead. More than six months in the making, it is the largest internal and external strategic planning process the SFCVB has ever undertaken and will affect every aspect of the Bureau’s relevance and value to members while creating a stronger, more efficient and effective sales and marketing organization.

The Centennial Project incorporates:

  • A new strategic business plan with clear goals and objectives.
  • Technology planning.
  • Branding of both San Francisco and the Bureau.
  • The most comprehensive visitor research in more than a decade.
  • Convention Sales benchmarking and process assessment.
  • Organizational restructuring.

“The goal of the Centennial Project is to ensure that the Bureau is prepared to keep San Francisco, to every extent possible, in front of the curve as the very nature of the travel and meetings business changes dramatically,” Knorr said.

The Centennial Project includes the largest research effort in many years, perhaps in the Bureau’s history. The SFCVB is conducting a national brand audit to find out what customers think and feel about San Francisco. Surveys of hotel guests and non-hotel visitors are being conducted to learn more about who they are, where they come from and why they visit San Francisco.

“This will help the Bureau to communicate in a way that will turn lookers into bookers and fans into evangelists,” Knorr said. “This information will be useful to the Bureau in marketing San Francisco and the region. It will also be available to members for your use when it is completed in spring 2011.”

In addition to the SFCVB’s Mission Statement (“To enhance the local economy by marketing San Francisco and the Bay Area as the premier destination for conventions, meetings, events and leisure travel”) and Vision Statement (“Make San Francisco the most compelling destination in the world”), Knorr introduced a new Purpose Statement for the organization: “Lead the Way.”

International Pow Wow, produced with the U.S. Travel Association on May 21-25, 2011, will be another major highlight of the year ahead.

The annual event is known as the major marketplace for transacting inbound-US travel business.

This five-day event will bring together 2,000 tour operators and travel buyers from 70 countries, 450 domestic and international journalists and more than 1,000 suppliers from across the USA.

In between three days of pre-set appointment sessions at Moscone Center, attendees will discover what’s new and exciting in San Francisco with sightseeing tours, private parties and three grand evening events

Pow Wow was last held in San Francisco in 1992 and it is still considered one of the best ever. The economic benefits of hosting Pow Wow in San Francisco will continue for years to come.

Knorr said that more than 50 companies have already stepped up to become sponsors of International Pow Wow and she acknowledged those who have invested on the Platinum level:

  • Alcatraz Cruises
  • The California Academy of Science
  • The California Travel & Tourism Commission
  • The deYoung Museum
  • Hornblower Cruises & Events
  • PIER 39
  • San Francisco International Airport

Hundreds of volunteers will also be needed. Those interested in participating can send an email to

SFCVB President and CEO Joe D’Alessandro presented results from the past fiscal year.

  • The SFCVB booked more than 1.75 million room nights for the years to come.
  • These bookings will produce nearly $2 billion in spending in San Francisco.
  • The Bureau also generated more than five million lead room nights.
  • The Bureau’s website,, generated 3.4 million user sessions, more than 100,000 than the prior year.
  • This Web traffic equates to $53M in economic development.
  • The SFCVB now has over 175,332 Facebook fans, up 100,000 year over year, and 15,210 Twitter followers, up 13,000 year over year.
  • San Francisco received more than 7.2 billion media impressions for the year, including 14 million viewers who watched “Good Morning America” broadcast live from Union Square in December.

D’Alessandro outlined other changes for the Bureau in the year ahead including a new website, re-engineering of the sales process, restructuring and possibly a new organizational name.

Rodney Fong, 2009/2010 Chair of the SFCVB and president of the Wax Museum, spoke about the first full year of the Tourism Improvement District, which now provides the majority of the SFCVB’s funding. Despite a challenging economy, the Bureau was able to end the year with it’s largest budget ever. With hotel rates at their most affordable in years, the Bureau was able to secure a wider variety of convention bookings, such as those who could not afford San Francisco in the past.

To acknowledge major convention customers for their clarity of vision and sparkling success in bringing their events to San Francisco, the Bureau introduced a new Crystal Bridge Award.

David Chiu, president of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, presented the first-ever 2010 Bridge Award to Oracle for their commitment to greening initiatives, social responsibility and community involvement, as well as the impact as San Francisco’s largest convention booking.

Jodi Morrison, Oracle’s Senior Director, Event Marketing Technology & Operations accepted the award.

In addition to bringing more than 40,000 attendees and $100 million in economic impact (2009 figures) to the city during its Oracle Openworld events, Oracle has worked with the Bureau, Moscone Center, vendors and hotels to develop innovative meeting-industry strategies that help San Francisco and the environment:

  • Oracle began implementing Green initiatives at Oracle OpenWorld in 2007, engaging with the Bureau, Moscone Center, vendors and hotels to implement more environmentally friendly practices.
  • Oracle stopped serving bottled water, instead served filtered tap water to attendees. This prevented 460,000 bottles going to the landfill with every meeting.
  • Working with Hartmann Studios, Oracle began the Green Angels program to assist attendees in properly placing their waste in the correct receptacles. And they created the Ready, Set, Connect and Green Marketplace education programs for attendees.
  • In addition, Oracle’s commitment to corporate citizenship and the time and effort of its’ employee volunteers also benefits the City.
  • In 2007 Oracle sponsored the beautification of the 8th and Harrison off ramp.
  • Oracle volunteers worked on Building Classrooms Building Futures at San Francisco Community Impact projects at 320 Jones and at San Francisco Academy.
  • Volunteers worked with Friends of the Urban Forest to help plant 30 new trees in neighborhoods surrounding Moscone Center and North of Market and in the Excelsior district.
  • At Ocean Beach, employees removed debris as part of the Coastal Beach Cleanup.
  • At Crissy Field, Oracle volunteers helped clean up and restore plants.
  • Oracle volunteers also help with maintenance and beautification of San Francisco Zoo.
  • Oracle Giving funds the California State Parks Foundation annually in support of Earth Day Restoration and Cleanup projects at Candlestick Point State Recreation Area.
  • Oracle Giving funded the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy's revitalization of the Presidio trails, bikeways and overlooks, and restoration of the Presidio Main Post.

Pat Gallagher, chair of the San Francisco Convention & Visitors Bureau Foundation and Bob Wilhelm of the Hotel and Restaurant Foundation presented the 2010 John A. Marks Scholarship to Alexis Van Meeteren, a student at San Francisco State University studying Hospitality Industry Management.

“Together, we are working with San Francisco State University to incorporate more emphasis on Tourism Marketing into the hospitality management curriculum, which we believe will better prepare college students in that program for the challenges our industry will face in the future,” Gallagher said. “Our next step is to work with the University of San Francisco’s hospitality management program to design a tourism marketing class.”

San Francisco’s cable car operators received the Silver Cable Car Award, presented annually since 1965 to an individual or organization that has made a significant contribution to San Francisco’s visitor industry. The award was presented by Celia Kupersmith, general manager of the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District, figuratively “from one icon to another.”

“There are 186 cable car operators, working two to a car, who are responsible for taking passengers halfway to the stars, and returning them safely to the other side of the city,” Kupersmith said. “They provide an authentic ‘Only in San Francisco’ experience.”

Each of the operators will receive a special silver cable car pin.

Frank Alejandro, Sr. Operations Manager and Manager of Rail Operations with the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, accepted the award on behalf of the cable car operators.

The SFCVB’s 100th Annual Luncheon was made possible by the following partners:


  • Blueprint Studios
  • David Perry & Associates, Inc.
  • Flying Moose Pictures
  • Island Creative Management
  • Oracle Corporation
  • Projection Presentation Technology
  • San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency
  • Savor...San Francisco
  • The Moscone Center SMG/The Moscone Center
  • Sonoma Valley Visitors Bureau
  • Stage Rigging, Inc.


  • San Francisco Giants
  • California Academy of Sciences
  • Handlery Union Square Hotel
  • PIER 39
  • San Francisco International Airport
  • The Freeman Companies
  • Virgin America
  • Wax Museum at Fisherman's Wharf
  • Where Magazine + Where GuestBook


  • Advanced Reservation Systems, Inc. (ARES)
  • Bauer's Intelligent Transportation
  • JetBlue Airways
  • Maloney Security, Inc.
  • MJM Management Group
  • San Francisco Business Times
  • San Francisco Chronicle
  • San Francisco Marriott Marquis
  • Scoma's Restaurant
  • United Airlines

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