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San Francisco Travel transforming the destination’s visitor experience. New role created to lead the effort

A newly created role of Director of Visitor Experience will identify and lead a combination of visitor engagement, outreach and service strategies that leverage social networks, media, retail merchandising, and methods of high appeal to the 21st century traveler.

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Jan. 31, 2011 - The San Francisco Travel Association is dramatically changing the visitor experience in San Francisco and searching for a unique individual to fill a transformative role within the organization.

A newly created role of Director of Visitor Experience will identify and lead a combination of visitor engagement, outreach and service strategies that leverage social networks, media, retail merchandising, and methods of high appeal to the 21st century traveler.

“We are looking for an amazing candidate who possesses a unique combination of attributes,” said Chris Clark, vice president, integrated marketing services.  Those qualifications include:

  • The right combination of business experience in the visitor services industry
  • A personal passion for mobile devices and supporting applications  
  • A background in branded retail merchandising with customer service orientation
  • Fluency in English and one or more major European language or Japanese
  • Extensive knowledge of, and interest in, San Francisco - historical as well as current
  • Potentially with public relations, market research and statistics experience

 A key part of the new role will be to manage the Visitor Information Center (ViC) which is undergoing a major renovation and being re-imagined toward “flagship” status, at the center of the overall visitor experience.  In its current location at Hallidie Plaza (near the Powell St. cable car turnaround and BART station) for over 30 years, the ViC acts as a starting point for exploring and discovering the city, providing information, maps, brochures, suggestions and tips to nearly 400,000 visitors each year.  

“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. “The remodeled Visitor Information Center will be a place 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.”

Renovation of 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 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.  Gensler, a global design, planning, and strategic consulting firm headquartered in San Francisco, has been selected to perform the renovation.

Unique retail merchandising opportunities will be introduced and San Francisco Travel will be exploring other physical locations as well as mobile strategies (street teams, vehicles, etc.), and bringing new technology and technology partners.

 “All of this will provide the best possible visitor information experience and provide information how, when and where visitors need it,” Stiker said.

The Director of Visitor Experience is one outcome of San Francisco Travel’s yearlong Centennial Project, which is designed to prepare the organization to best meet the challenges of the next 100 years. The project will enhance every aspect of San Francisco Travel’s value and effectiveness.  It incorporates strategic planning, technology planning, visitor research, convention sales benchmarking and process assessment, organizational realignment, membership structure and branding.  

Another outcome of the project is the recent change of the organization’s name from the San Francisco Convention & Visitors Bureau to the San Francisco Travel Association.  The new name better reflects the organization’s role as the editor and curator of all things related to travel to San Francisco.

The San Francisco Travel Association is a private, not-for-profit organization that markets the city as a leisure, convention and business travel destination.  With more than 1,600 partners, San Francisco Travel is one of the largest membership-based tourism promotion agencies in the country. Tourism, San Francisco's largest industry, generates in excess of $8.5 billion annually for the local economy. San Francisco Travel’s business offices are located at One Front St., Suite 2900, San Francisco, CA 94111.  For more information, call 415-974-6900 or visit www.sanfrancisco.travel.

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Note to editors: To access and download images from San Francisco Travel’s online photo gallery, click on the link http://barberstock.com/sanfranciscotravel.

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Laurie Armstrong Director, Media Relations US & Canada
415-227-2634, [email protected]

Angela Jackson Director, Media Relations International
415-227-603, [email protected]