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San Francisco Travel Association Partners With Gensler To Remodel Visitor Information Center

The San Francisco Travel Association, has selected Gensler to create a new and more engaging visitor experience at the city's Visitor Information Center in Hallidie Plaza near the Powell St. cable car turnaround.

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First phase to be completed in time for International Pow Wow, May 2011

January 18, 2011 — The San Francisco Travel Association (formerly the San Francisco Convention & Visitors Bureau), has selected Gensler to create a new and more engaging visitor experience at the city's Visitor Information Center in Hallidie Plaza near the Powell St. cable car turnaround.

San Francisco Travel is the city’s official destination marketing organization. Gensler is a global design, planning, and strategic consulting firm.

In its current location for over 30 years, the Visitor Information Center (VIC) acts at a starting point for exploring and discovering the city, providing information, maps, brochures, suggestions and tips to more than 450,000 visitors each year. The Center also sells Muni passes and provides access to some of San Francisco’s finest and most interesting tours. The professional staff and volunteers offer assistance in over a dozen languages.

“We want visitors to experience a deeper connection to, understanding of and immersion in San Francisco,” said Matt Stiker, San Francisco Travel executive vice president/chief marketing officer. “Gensler will create an environment in the remodeled center where visitors can build customized experiences based on their needs, wants and interests. Overall, we want to make the center more interactive and engaging, so people will embrace the experience and recommend it to other travelers to our city.”

The 4,860 square foot project will occur in two phases. Phase I will be completed by May 2011, when San Francisco will host the U.S. Travel Association’s International Pow Wow, one of the travel industry's premier international events. Phase II, the redesigned VIC project, will feature several new interior elements to enhance the visitor’s experience and to showcase everything to see and do in San Francisco and the region. Currently under discussion are upgrades to communications systems, exhibition design, retail sales and display, and enhanced environmental graphics.

"We are thrilled to help represent San Francisco on this project, and we will channel our enthusiasm for our city into our design," said Maureen Boyer, senior associate and project leader at Gensler. "With our retail expertise and personal knowledge of San Francisco, our design will create a more dynamic expression of the city's unique neighborhoods and businesses."

A remodeling of this magnitude would not have been possible prior to 2009, when the Tourism Improvement District (TID) was created. San Francisco Travel is now funded primarily by assessments of 1 to 1.5 percent on each hotel room night, collected by the city’s hotels.

“We are extremely fortunate and thankful to the hotel community for the TID funding that allows us to improve the experience for the 16 million visitors who come here annually,” said San Francisco Travel president and CEO, Joe D’Alessandro.

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