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Tucson’s Tourism Bureau


New Strategies


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SPECIAL REPORT Sporting New Strategies

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ture, cuisine, sporting & cultural events. These remain the focus of the game plan. This year’s update also includes news of geotourism, the Mexico market, the region’s resorts, spas and other gems. After reading this report, I think you’ll agree that this is a “wow” destination – and a very real economic jewel for this region. This summer I urge you to “play tourist” at our resorts, attractions, airport, restaurants and arts events. They deserve our support. And think Tucson whenever you have the chance to book a conference, family reunion or client outing. photo by: Steven Meckler

This is an exciting time for tourism as travelers are enticed here by The Real Southwest – a marketing campaign launched by the Metropolitan Tucson Convention & Visitors Bureau. This is also the start of a new era – under the leadership of Brent DeRaad, the bureau’s new president and CEO. DeRaad completed his successful tenure at the Scottsdale CVB to join the Tucson bureau this spring. His passion for our region is already evident. He has great plans for this destination. To address the economic adversity of the past few years, the MTCVB developed new strategies to diversify their economic development “toolkit,” including innovative collaborations. We’re a college sports town – so the MTCVB became a corporate partner of Arizona Athletics to help draw sports tourists. Enter visionary Athletic Director Greg Byrne and think Hi Corbett Field – where baseball is back – and so are the fans. Tucson’s also a film town. The first studios date to 1914. With the loss of film incentives, local promoters shifted their focus and now we’re getting independent films, like “Goats” with David Duchovny and Vera Farmiga, plus lucrative TV commercials and reality shows. This special report focuses on tourism, an economic driver that has a $2 billion impact on the region, or $2.5 billion for all of Southern Arizona. A Pima County audit showed that every tourism dollar invested in 2009 had a 30-to-1 return. That’s why it is so important to invest in tourism marketing. Remember that Colorado cut tourism expenditures in 2003, thinking that visitors would continue to come. Tourism plummeted and the state has yet to fully recover. Last year we reported the MTCVB’s focus on seven key economic drivers of Tucson tourism – spas & resorts, outdoor adventure & eco-tourism, golf, arts & attractions, history & cul-

Steven E. Rosenberg Publisher & Owner BizTucson

Subscription & Advertising Information: BizTucson, 4729 East Sunrise Drive, #505 Tucson, AZ 85718 520.299.1005 www.BizTucson.com steve@BizTucson.com BizTucson is published quarterly by Rosenberg Media, LLC. © 2012 All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission is prohibited. Opinions expressed in columns or articles do not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher. Special Report cover photo by Jamie Williams, That Girl Productions



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Local Tourism $2 Billion Economic Impact By Romi Carrell Wittman

MTCVB Generated $170 Million in 2009

A performance audit of the MTCVB conducted by Pima County in 2011 reported that the bureau was responsible for generating $170 million in 2009 – a 30-to-1 return on every dollar invested. Over the past several years, well-targeted marketing by the bureau is making an impact – including group sales, sports,

Winter 2012 cold-weather transit marketing in Denver

Mexico and film. Allison Cooper, director of marketing, shared these statistics: • Last year, travel by MTCVB clients for conventions, meetings and group tours accounted for more than 387,750 occupied hotel and resort rooms in the greater Tucson area. That translates to an estimated overall economic impact of nearly $157 million. (Group travel represents about 30 percent of hotel bookings, with the balance from leisure travelers.) • Since 2005, the bureau’s Tucson Sports division has generated 231,000 room nights for an estimated impact of $147 million. • The only bureau in Arizona with two offices in Mexico, the MTCVB saw a 24 percent increase in the number of hotel room nights they booked last year from Mexico visitors – an impact of nearly $553,000 in revenue for midtown and downtown hotels. • The bureau’s film office generated an estimated economic impact of $6 million last fiscal year. Recruiting a single commercial to film here in Southern Arizona can generate $500,000 or more for the local economy – in less than two days.

Ongoing aggressive marketing and a highly targeted branding campaign – The Real Southwest – are paying off, Cooper said. Why Tourism Matters

All told, in 2010 the tourism industry in Tucson and Pima County generated 21,520 jobs, $124 million in direct tax receipts and an overall economic impact of more than $2 billion, according to the Arizona Office of Tourism. The study by Dean Runyan Associates also showed that of Southern Arizona attractions, Saguaro National Park had the most visitors continued on page 76 >>> Photo: Courtesy MTCVB

Like the first green buds of mesquite trees in the spring, there are signs that Tucson’s economy is rebounding. That includes tourism, which generates an economic impact of more than $2 billion in this region. For the first time since the economy tanked in 2008, local hotel and convention bookings and rates are trending steadily up, as are other indicators that travelers are on the move again. This local re-awakening hasn’t been easy. These glimmers of success come in part from ongoing aggressive marketing and a highly targeted new branding campaign launched by the Metropolitan Tucson Convention & Visitors Bureau in 2011. Oro Valley Mayor Satish Hiremath said the MTCVB has been Tucson’s saving grace during a very difficult time. “They’re saving us in a time when the economy is in turmoil. When jurisdictions are trying to find sources of revenue, the MTCVB is indispensable.” As examples, Hiremath cites the 2012 Duathlon National Championship and the Iron Kids – two athletic events the MTCVB was instrumental in bringing to Oro Valley. Earlier this year, the MTCVB also helped bring a six-day scientific conference to Oro Valley. “That’s 450 scientists,” Hiremath said. “It was an economic impact of $600,000 for Oro Valley.” People oftentimes don’t know or understand what the MTCVB does, he said. “A lot flies under the radar – but it’s time people make a big deal about it.”

BizFACTS Tourism by the numbers 21,520 tourism-related jobs $124.1 million in direct tax receipts in Tucson and Pima County $2.02 billion total impact to the region, $2.5 billion for all of Southern Arizona Source: Arizona Office of Tourism

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continued from page 74 – 664,000. Second was Reid Park Zoo with 536,000. Lynn Ericksen, chairman of the MTCVB Board of Directors and GM of the Hilton Tucson El Conquistador, said that money spent to promote Tucson and tourism shouldn’t be thought of as an expense – but rather an investment. “Sometimes you get 30 times what you put into it,” Ericksen said. This year the MTCVB set out to sustain the momentum despite a budget cut of 30 percent – from nearly $10 million in 2008 down to its current $6.2 million. The bureau’s efforts revolve around a new branding campaign designed to sell this region as The Real Southwest. “Tucson has world-class attributes and is truly unique among travel destinations. We have so many things you just can’t get anywhere else,” Cooper said. “The message is one that resonates with travelers on an emotional and personal level. Travelers seek a memorable experience. They find it here – and they come back. “Our mission is to drive economic impact through tourism,” Cooper said. “We’re creating awareness and driving people to the website.” Since launching The Real Southwest campaign last year, she’s seen a 287 percent increase in campaign-specific page views. MTCVB works with the world’s largest custom market research company TNS (formerly Taylor Nelson Sofres) to evaluate consumers’ website usage. TNS research shows that nearly 80 percent of all visits to the visitTucson.org website are new visitors – an indicator that new awareness for Tucson is being created, Cooper said. TNS reported that for every $1 invested in the website, the return in direct travel spending was $4,542. The MTCVB is primarily funded by a bed tax levied on overnight hotel stays by the City of Tucson and Pima County. The MTCVB saw its portion of this tax slashed when the economy soured. Cuts totaled roughly $4 million.

Mission San Xavier del Bac

BizFACTS MTCVB Funding FY 2011-12 $6.2 million 85 percent of the MTCVB budget comes from bed tax on 16,000+ rooms in metro Tucson and Pima County Source: Metropolitan Tucson Convention & Vistors Bureau

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New Leadership: Brent DeRaad

Restoring the MTCVB’s budget is one of the first orders of business for Brent DeRaad, the new president and CEO of the MTCVB. DeRaad came to the MTCVB from the Scottsdale Convention & Visitors Bureau, replacing Jonathan Walker, who retired after 18 years with the bureau. DeRaad was selected after an intense six-month nationwide executive search led by the MTCVB board. “Brent just came out of the pack in an absolutely compelling way,” said board chair Ericksen. “He came to the interviews with a full understanding of tourism in Arizona and what it takes the sell the region. He came to us with a background that’s heavy with everything we needed. We really think that Brent is the right guy at the right time.” “It’s a time of change,” Ericksen said. “But we have a very engaged board of directors that has stepped up in a stellar way. I think our CEO has an enormous opportunity to take advantage of the momentum already in place.” DeRaad, who started his new job in April, has hit the ground running. His number one priority is to restore the MTCVB’s budget so that it can compete head-to-head with other markets. “Tucson and Scottsdale were both $10 million organizations in 2007” he said. While the MTCVB’s budget was cut, Scottsdale’s budget now exceeds $11 million. This disparity affects how and where the MTCVB can

They’re saving us in a time when the economy is in turmoil. When jurisdictions are trying to find sources of revenue, the MTCVB is indispensable. –

Satish Hiremath, Mayor, Oro Valley

market – and puts Tucson at a distinct disadvantage to cities with larger marketing and advertising budgets. To put it into greater perspective, the city of Las Vegas has a larger tourism budget than the entire state of Arizona. Funded by Bed Tax

To get the MTCVB budget back where it needs to be, DeRaad hopes to increase the portion of the bed tax that the MTCVB receives. “If we’re able to get all of the entities that we work with to invest 50 percent of the bed tax, that will get us to an $8 to $9 million budget,” he said. DeRaad hopes the other 50 percent of the bed tax would be devoted to tourismrelated improvements and special events. It’s important to remember that the bed-tax is not paid by residents – just travelers, Ericksen said. “We understand it’s been hard on our elected officials and that budget cutbacks were happening in virtually every area. But as the economy recovers, we want to be sure we’re out there competing as we need to.” In addition to restoring the budget, DeRaad also wants to address key issues like air service in and out of Tucson. “There have to be more nonstop flights, more flights to the East Coast and nonstop flights into Mexico,” DeRaad said. “We have to make it easy for people to get here.” The beleaguered Tucson Convention Center is also a priority. It’s a facility that can accommodate large groups – but with no major hotels nearby within walking distance, it’s underutilized. Advantage: Mexico

Tucson has some significant advantages, among them its relationship with and proximity to Mexico. The MTCVB is among the first convention and visitors bureaus in the nation to open visitor centers in Mexico. The first was in Hermosillo. The second opened earlier this year in Ciudad Obregón. “Thanks to the visitor centers and our online reservation system, Tucson has booked more than 33,000 room nights since 2006, generating over $2.7 million in direct revenue primarily for midtown and downtown hotels. Last year alone, we booked 7,000 room nights,” DeRaad said. “We have a unique niche and will continue to market aggressively to Mexico visitors.” The MTCVB is also the first bureau in Arizona with a website dedicated to travelers from Mexico – vamosaTucson.com – principally travelers who spend nearly $1 billion a year here on principally shopping and restaurants. Advantage: Youth and Amateur Sports

Another competitive advantage is youth and amateur sports. “Losing spring training was a blow,” DeRaad conceded.

“But we have great facilities in place. And we are attracting a lot of amateur athletics as well as youth soccer, baseball and club teams. These are recession-resistant types of industries,” he said. Vince Trinidad, Director of Tucson Sports, is determined to bring more youth and collegiate sports to Tucson. He’s already succeeded teaming up with local sport organizers to market and attract more than 100 collegiate softball and baseball spring training teams here, not to mention BMX racing and volleyball. “When these sports come here, each player usually brings two or three people with them,” he said, which translates into more room nights, more meals, more attraction tickets sold. “There is huge growth potential in these areas.” The MTCVB also established a unique partnership with University of Arizona athletics to attract more sports travelers. (See Partnering to Grow Tourism on p. 84.) Advantage: Film

Once the film capital for Western movies and television series, Tucson lost some of its luster as a film location in recent years, in part because it does not offer tax incentives as do several other competing states, including New Mexico. Arizona once had an incentive program. Since it expired the legislature has not passed any of the new versions presented. As a result, the MTCVB Film Office shifted its marketing efforts to projects that are not incentive-driven – such as big TV commercials, reality TV, smaller-budget films and productions that simply cannot find what Tucson has anywhere else. According to Shelli Hall, director of the Tucson Film Office, many up-and-coming filmmakers with low budgets like the advantages of being the bigger fish in a smaller pond. (See Lights, Camera, Action on p. 90.) Films include “Goats,” scheduled for release in August. Commercials include one for Skechers that aired during Super Bowl 2012, plus several car ads. The reality show “The Great Escape” filmed here in May and several episodes of the Food Network’s “Chopped” are airing in June. Reinstating a state film tax incentive would make a big difference by attracting big-budget productions. “That would really open the doors to bring more film-related business to Tucson,” DeRaad said. “It would make us more competitive with New Mexico and other neighboring states.” The bureau also collaborates with the University of Arizona Hanson Film Institute on a variety of projects to showcase local film talent, including faculty who work in the industry, to connect with alumni working in the industry and to hire students for local filming. Tried and True

To attract and book group meetings and conventions, the bureau uses two award-winning strategies that have proved so effective they’ve been copied by other CVBs. The bureau initiated the “You Fly, We Buy” program, bringing meeting planners to Tucson for the real experience. Eight out of 10 planners who avail

Graeme Hughes MTCVB’s Director of Convention Sales

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BizTOURISM continued from page 77 themselves of the program subsequently book meetings here, according to Graeme Hughes, director of convention sales. The sales team also offers an incentive program to qualifying meetings and events that provides a credit for food, beverage and other expenditures at the hotel or resort. Since 2009, this program has booked over 153,000 room nights. Hughes estimates the economic impact to be over $49 million. The bureau’s tourism department markets to leisure travelers, working with tour operators, travel agents, group tour companies and airlines both here and abroad. The partnership development program works closely with the local hospitality industry to expand connections and maximize their tourism opportunities. This includes cooperative advertising to reach qualified consumers. The bureau also has a long-established public relations program that works with domestic and international travel writers to showcase the region. In fiscal 2010-11, the publicity generated was valued at $4.5 million. The Road Ahead

Despite many challenges, Tucson’s tourism future remains bright. Ericksen said Tucson just needs to make sure that it’s

at the table when the economy does rebound to pre-recession levels. “Our industry is producing in excess of $2 billion a year,” Ericksen said. “But it can grow. I believe we are positioned in a unique way to do just that.” Ericksen added a caveat: “We need to restore our historic funding to the MTCVB. “We just have to remember that tourism promotion produces far more in revenue, taxes and jobs than the money we invest to fund the organization that markets the region.” DeRaad and Ericksen agreed that, to get there, Tucson can’t fragment into pieces or small special interest groups. “We can’t go to war with one another,” Ericksen said. “We need to be greater than the sum of our parts. We need to be fiercely competitive with San Diego, with Salt Lake City, with Albuquerque.” These are, after all, the cities that want Tucson’s tourism dollars, jobs and taxes. Ericksen summed it up: “We’ve been through a difficult time. But I see the MTCVB – its staff and its board – rejuvenated. I personally have never been more excited about the opportunity to sell and market this region.”


The more you fund CVBs, the more revenue acheived. Credit:Smith Travel Research


Hotel Occupancy Occupancy Percentage 2011 – 60.9 percent 2010 – 59.1 percent Average Daily Rate 2011 – $96.19 2010 – $96.75 Revenue per available room 2011 – $58.54 2010 – $57.16 Source: MTCVB 78 BizTucson


Biz2 Biosphere Summer 2012

Photo: Courtesy MTCVB www.BizTucson.com


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Leading a New Era

Brent DeRaad President & CEO Metropolitan Tucson Convention & Visitors Bureau Photographed at Sabino Canyon 80 BizTucson


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Photo: BalfourWalker.com

By Romi Carrell Wittman

By the end of his interview with BizTucson, Brent DeRaad sounded a little raspy. “I’m losing my voice,” he said. “Too many meetings,” he added with a laugh. Despite having been in meetings non-stop from 7:30 in the morning until this 5 o’clock interview, DeRaad was upbeat and excited to talk about his plans as the new president & CEO of the Metropolitan Tucson Convention & Visitors Bureau. DeRaad had been on the job just six days when we spoke. Yet, in that incredibly short amount of time, he’d already met with elected officials as well as community leaders at all levels – no small feat in a town that historically has not been known for collaboration. DeRaad replaces long-time MTCVB President Jonathan Walker, who retired after 18 years at the helm of the bureau. DeRaad, who was selected after a nationwide executive search, is responsible for the overall operation of the MTCVB, its $6.2 million budget and various departments – including marketing and advertising, convention sales, tourism, partnership and visitor services, public relations, sports, Mexico and film. Lynn Ericksen, MTCVB board chair, said of DeRaad: “He is the right guy, in this economic climate, to continue the momentum and maximize the power of the MTCVB.” DeRaad comes to Tucson from just up the road – Scottsdale to be exact. DeRaad’s ties to the Valley of Sun run deep. He earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism and public relations plus a master’s degree in mass communication from Arizona State University. After graduating, he went to work in public relations for the Fiesta Bowl and later the City of Scottsdale as media relations manager. During his tenure, he played an instrumental role in the 1996 Super Bowl, which was held at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe. “They loaned me to the Super Bowl host committee. I got to work with the NFL and the 3,000 media that came to town,” he said. “It was a lot of fun.” After several years at the City of Scottsdale, he made the jump to the tourism industry, taking a job at the Scottsdale Convention and Visitors Bureau. www.BizTucson.com

In all, he has more than 20 years’ experience in management, marketing, community affairs and public relations – 14 of those in the tourism industry. He was most recently the executive VP of the Scottsdale Convention & Visitors Bureau. His previous roles there included VP of marketing and VP of corporate communications. DeRaad also led the 2010 campaign for Proposition 200, in which Scottsdale voters approved a two percent increase in the local bed tax. Half of Scottsdale’s bed tax is allocated to the Scottsdale CVB. DeRaad hopes to have a similar impact in Tucson. He intends to use his high-octane energy and laser-sharp fo-

He is the right guy, in this economic climate, to continue the momentum and maximize the power of the MTCVB.

– Lynn Ericksen Board Chair, MTCVB

cus to shape the MTCVB’s future. It’s a challenge he said he’s looking forward to. “We’re selling the Real Southwest,” he said. “We have spectacular attractions here. We have world-class resorts, spas, golf and dining. That’s what attracted me to Tucson.” In the short term, DeRaad hopes to increase the MTCVB’s investment in advertising, sales and marketing. In the longer term, his goal is to make the MTCVB a viable part of the economic development landscape of Southern Arizona. To that end, he hopes to pinpoint the areas that can be improved upon and made better. “What is it that we can help build – or bring in – that would benefit tourism

and would also be good for Tucson?” he asked. “If something is good for tourism, it’s most likely good for the community, too. It adds value.” DeRaad faces some pretty significant challenges. One is addressing Tucson’s inability to host large convention groups. Another, more immediate concern is increasing MTCVB’s budget, which DeRaad hopes to do through a reallocation of Tucson bed tax, levied on all hotel rooms in the city. DeRaad believes that informing people about Tucson and Pima County, just letting them know how great it is here, is critical. Tucson – and the entire state of Arizona – has suffered from bad publicity, with everything from the passage of the controversial SB1070 to the events of Jan. 8 affecting people’s perceptions of the area. DeRaad doesn’t see this as the real problem, however. “Tucson doesn’t have an image problem so much as it has a funding problem,” DeRaad explained. “We have to reach out to potential visitors to show them what they can experience in Tucson. We have to continuously improve. And those things take money.” DeRaad sees collaboration as critical to both the MTCVB’s and the entire region’s long-term success. “I see the MTCVB serving a role in overall economic development. It’s not just about tourism. Regional partnerships are crucial.” DeRaad intends to strengthen the MTCVB’s ties with Tucson Metro Chamber. He also wants to work even closer with neighboring communities like Oro Valley plus organizations like the Tucson Airport Authority. “We’re stronger as a region if we work together,” he said. DeRaad also hopes to build on the MTCVB’s key strengths – Mexico, amateur and youth sports and film tourism – areas that continue to grow even in this tough economy. DeRaad knows the MTCVB has its share of challenges, yet he is optimistic about the future because he believes Tucson is truly unique, a gem of the Old West. He said he’s glad he made the decision to come to Tucson. “Tucson has so much to offer. It has such tremendous attributes,” he said.

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Photo: BalfourWalker.com


Allison Cooper

Director of Marketing Metropolitan Tucson Convention & Visitors Bureau Photographed at Catalina State Park in Oro Valley

Getting ‘Real’ By Romi Carrell Wittman In August, Allison Cooper will celebrate her second anniversary as Director of Marketing at the Metropolitan Tucson Convention & Visitors Bureau. Given the tremendous success of The Real Southwest marketing campaign that Cooper’s been spearheading, those two years seem to have gone by in perpetual motion. She’s animated as she speaks about the campaign, and it’s obvious that she loves what she does for a living. “Tucson has so much to offer. Our mission is to make sure people know about it.” And that’s where The Real Southwest comes into play. “We’re creating a brand for the region,” she explained. “And the concept of ‘real’ is what resonates with people. Real is emphasized throughout our seven destination drivers – the most unique attributes that attract travelers to choose Tucson and Southern Arizona over competing destinations.” The idea behind Real Southwest is that Tucson delivers authentic and memorable travel experiences. According to a 2010 marketing survey 82 BizTucson


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by PGAV Destinations, destinations considered to be authentic tend to enjoy better brand perception and higher satisfaction among travelers. In fact, some 80 percent of those surveyed reported they like to visit places that offer a “real” experience. “Some of the best examples we have in selling ‘real’ are in our natural attractions, such as Saguaro National Park,” Cooper said. She points to other natural wonders like Kartchner Caverns, iconic attractions like Mission San Xavier del Bac and locales known in history, like John Dillinger and the Hotel Congress or the O.K. Corral in Tombstone. “People want to experience things you can’t do anywhere else,” Cooper said. That includes events like the gem show and international mariachi conference. The successful implementation of The Real Southwest brand – and getting people to Tucson -- has a huge economic impact on the region. “Our mission is to drive economic impact through tourism,” she said. “When we invest in marketing the region, our lo-

cal economies see a 30-to-1 return on investment.” Cooper’s dynamism and forwardfocus come from years spent working in the intense Washington, D.C. political arena. For 10 years, she developed marketing and outreach campaigns for United States senators – Pennsylvania’s John Heinz and Maine’s Bill Cohen. She later served as deputy director of the Joint Economic Committee of Congress under Connie Mack of Florida. Cooper relocated to Oro Valley in 1997 to be near family. Once here, she began her career in tourism marketing at Madden Media. Eventually she moved to the MTCVB, where she heads up the in-house ad agency and oversees all marketing efforts. With the arrival of Brent DeRaad, the bureau’s president and CEO, Cooper sees the future as a new opportunity to generate even greater demand for Tucson. “Tourism’s nearly $2.6 billion impact is huge,” she said. “It benefits all Southern Arizona.”




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Partnering to Grow Tourism Arizona Athletics & MTCVB By Steve Rivera James Francis attended the University of Arizona on a football scholarship in the early 1990s. Now, 20 years later, he’s one of the higher ups in Arizona Athletics, a senior associate athletic director. Tucson and the UA grew on him. He started a family and later his mom and dad moved here. Not that “play and stay” has become a catch phrase, but it isn’t uncommon to see many student-athletes – or students for that matter – come to UA and stay in Tucson. The athletes are just more visible because of the sports that brought them here. From Ricky Hunley to Terry Francona to Matt Muehlebach to Joseph Blair to Amanda Beard, there are more sports alums than you can count who have lived, or are currently living and succeeding, in the Old Pueblo. Ambassadors all, for UA and the city, wherever they go. This community connects with Arizona athletes and coaches, which is one of several factors that led tourism and sports promoters to realize they have a good thing right in their back yard – the university – and to make more of it. That’s why Arizona Athletics and the Metropolitan Tucson Convention & Visitor’s Bureau formed a corporate partnership, now in its second year, to promote sports and tourism. Tucson Is a Sports Town

“We’re excited to be working with the bureau. Any entity that helps in bringing people into our community is a plus,” said Greg Byrne, Arizona’s athletic director who is entering his third year on the job. “They’re getting people to come to this city and university – and hopefully get exposed to a great experience.” That’s the idea. More visitors could mean more events and more money to the community. And as the always-thinkingahead Byrne sees it, many could possibly become season ticket holders, donors and supporters of the program. Besides, where else to showcase events but, well, the UA? All involved said this is a “great partnership” and “fabulous” – so much so, it’s a wonder why it hadn’t been done a long time ago. Still, it’s better late than never as the MTCVB and UA start their second year of the marriage, where both benefit. “Tucson is always asking itself – what kind of town are we?” said Vince Trinidad, director of Tucson Sports, a division of the MTCVB. “In my opinion, Tucson’s always been a college town and a college sports town. Various pro teams have come and gone (over the years) but Arizona Athletics has endured.” That’s why this partnership makes such good sense, he said. 84 BizTucson


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UA Facilities Are Key

“What the UA is doing with the athletic program, including allowing access to their facilities, helps us bring athletes and their families to the area and show them exactly what it’s like to play in a great facility,” said Trinidad. Tucson Sports’ mission is to enhance, develop and secure major events for Tucson, especially lucrative amateur sports. Arizona Athletics and facilities are key to attracting them. “It reinforces our image as a college town and highlights the impact that Arizona Athletics has on the region,” he said. “We’re inspired by ‘Arizona is Wildcat Country,’ ” said Allison Cooper, marketing director of the MTCVB, referring to Byrne’s always-there PR slogan. Inspiration is needed, given the current economic climate, but Cooper thinks there’s a silver lining. “Consumers are reaping the most happiness from their shrinking dollar by spending money for an experience – such as traveling to a unique location like Tucson or purchasing tickets to cheer their favorite sports team to victory. This is more satisfying than buying more stuff. She said research published in the New York Times showed that “spending for vacations, entertainment and sports create lifetime memories and bring people the greatest level of happiness.” Cooper is taking that to the bank. “We really want to help take that message beyond just the borders of Tucson,” said Cooper. “We have an opportunity to drive more visitation and create additional business demand for our hotels, restaurants and downtown. Results have been promising in year one with increased interest and website traffic.” Red and blue may not combine to make green in the color scheme – but it does produce green dollars for the city and the many businesses that the MTCVB promotes. Remember that in Byrne’s mind every inch of planet earth has the potential to be Wildcat country. And who’s to argue with graduates and potential students (even the non-student

Every sporting event offers us a chance to promote the destination while infusing the community with new revenue.

– Vince Trinidad Director of Tucson Sports, a division of the MTCVB


Capitalizing on PAC-12

With the Pac-12 in its infancy – it just finished its first year of competition – Cooper & Co. also see markets like Utah as huge draws to Tucson. Utah could fall in somewhere behind the top five markets – Phoenix, Los Angeles, Chicago, Denver and Seattle. “We’re going to see extended reach through this partnership,” Cooper said. Arizona and the MTVCB will stretch that reach as far as it can. Of course, everyone would like to see the economic benefit of more visitors to Tucson and UA – especially the impact of Arizona Athletics – because the numbers are downright staggering. Within the last two years, UA alum Kevin Whittier conducted a study with UA football as his guide. In one of the Wildcats’ biggest home games of the 2010 season – a night game vs. Iowa in September – he concluded $8.2 million was spent in “direct visitor spending.” Not factored in – partly because it’s difficult to measure – is the national visibility of the game, broadcast on ESPN, and how it impacts undergraduate applications, increased merchandise sales and exposure, Whittier said. Not to mention ongoing national exposure to potential travelers. Bryne uses this study as an illustration of the impact UA sporting events can have on our economy. He likes what he sees because the future will have many similar games like it. With Oklahoma State on the schedule this year – and the Cowboys are known for having a good traveling fan base – there will be many games like Iowa when it comes to generating big dollars. And, oh yes, victories also help. That September night against the Hawkeyes, UA defeated the ninth-ranked team, 37-34.


Photo: BalfourWalker.com

athletes) coming from anywhere and/ or everywhere? This is the man that has more than 10,000 Twitter followers and UA alums from all over the world who send him photos.

Harvey Mason

Former UA Basketball Star & Grammy Award-winning Songwriter and Producer Photographed at Loews Ventana Canyon

James Francis

Senior Associate Athletic Director University of Arizona Photographed at Westin La Paloma

Greg Byrne

Athletic Director University of Arizona

“It’s our mission to impact our economy through tourism in every positive way,” said Cooper. “One way is through sports marketing. We want to give fans of visiting teams an experience that is fantastic and memorable – showing them a wonderful time in our destination.” She wants them to have a wincontinued on page 86 >>>


Providing “Fantastic” Experiences

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BizTOURISM continued from page 85 ning travel experience, of course, though she wouldn’t mind if our team won. Victory might be tough to come by as the likes of Ohio State and Nebraska visit – maybe, possibly? – in the next decade. But their fan bases do travel well, so more money would be coming into the community and UA. It all means more eyes – and wallets – in town and on the UA campus. Tucson Sports’ Trinidad pointed out that McKale Center, Arizona Stadium, Hillenbrand Aquatic Center and LaNelle Robson Tennis Center have been hosts to a number of events – such as the 2005 American Youth Football & Cheer National Championships and the 2010 FINA Junior World Diving Championships. The 2008 and 2011 USA Volleyball Camp and High Performance Championships, held at the Tucson Convention Center, brought more than 3,000 athletes and spectators. Tucson Sports either enhances, develops or bids on anywhere from 30 to 35 events a year to come to Tucson. The MTCVB estimates that since the inception of Tucson Sports more than 231,000 room nights have been booked, creating an estimated economic impact of more than $147 million. Jane McCollum, general manager of the Marshall Foundation, just off UA campus, said her organization feels the impact of such events immediately. “Events like USA Diving and USA Volleyball are generally held in the summer when Tucson is less busy,” McCollum said. “We benefit from an influx of young people and their families who find the Main Gate Square to be a family friendly location suitable for young people, but with stores and restaurants adults enjoy. “Whenever we bring groups of potential college attendees, there is indirect recruiting going on and the university can sell itself once they step foot on campus,” McCollum said. “Our community benefits from well-run events that are supported by the MTCVB’s marketing and branding of Tucson.”

Hi Corbett Field

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Hi Corbett Field a Surprising Hit

Arizona’s move from Frank Sancet Stadium to venerable Hi Corbett Field – newly improved and refurbished – was a surprise move and considered a risk by UA and Byrne in the fall – yet one that has been met with overwhelming success because of good baseball, and to be honest, the sale of beer. In making the move, Byrne said he felt there was a “natural affinity” with the community and Hi Corbett, longtime spring training home of the Cleveland Indians, Colorado Rockies and the hometown Tucson Toros. From the first game, which drew nearly 4,000 fans (more than double UA’s average from last season) to the end of the season it’s been a hit. Byrne said exposure of the program and the move has “doubled, maybe tripled” over the last nine months. Arizona leads the Pac-12 in attendance, with just over 2,461 fans per game, which also ranks them in the top 30 among all Division I programs. Over Memorial Day weekend, UA saw back-to-back crowds of 5,000, the highest since 1980. The three-day series with ASU drew 14,055. Last season UA had $69,000 in total ticket revenue. It was $98,000 this weekend alone for the three games against ASU, according to Byrne. “It shows what kind of passion our fans have for our athletes and our athletic department,” Byrne said. “We thought with the history of Hi Corbett our community would come out and support it. And they have. This is exactly what we had hoped for. You analyze the situation and make the best decision you can. We feel very pleased with how things have turned out and want it to go long term.” Then the big surprise. UA was picked to host a NCAA regional starting June 1. UA last hosted a baseball regional in 1992. It last bid on hosting a regional in 2008. Regional tournaments are broadcast on ESPN, meaning more national exposure for the Wildcats, and the Tucson brand. Baseball has been very, very good to Arizona. “Moving to Hi Corbett gives UA the flexibility of taking a facility with a rich history that has hosted high-level events and matching it up with an incredible sports program,” Trinidad said. “Overall, it allows Arizona Athletics to expand their 2010 FINA World Diving Championships


Summer 2012



baseball program potential. And it allows us as a city to say “we’re still a great baseball destination. We know people want to go to Hi Corbett.” What’s occurring is Tucson is being exposed as the “hidden gem” that it is. That’s what the relationship between the MTVCB and the UA is all about – exposing UA sports and great facilities that are available. Real Impact on Visitors

MTVCB wants to highlight all that’s great about this destination – as does Byrne, who emphasizes that UA gets exposed through millions of television sets and several hundred thousand radios with each football and men’s basketball game. Such exposure brings close scrutiny. “What we need to do is make sure we are putting our best foot forward,” Byrne said. “In doing that, it will help ensure our ability to grow, create jobs and have great interest from people.” Of course, winning helps. “The better our teams do on the courts, on the fields and in the pool, the better time slots we’re going to have with our new Pac-12 television network,” Byrne said. According to Trinidad, “every sporting event offers us a chance to promote the destination while infusing the community with new revenue. That’s one of the reasons why this is such a natural partnership. The MTCVB and Arizona Athletics are teaming up for maximum impact.” Thus bringing more visitors to Tucson, putting more fans in the stands and attracting more ambassadors down the road to call Tucson home. A passion for sports brought Harvey Mason to Tucson in 1986 to play four years of UA basketball for Lute Olson. Today the Grammy Award-winning songwriter and producer lives in Los Angeles – but keeps a second home in Tucson. “There’s so much about Tucson I miss,” Mason said, “The people, the athletics, the climate, the scenery, the food and the lifestyle.” That’s real experience.

2008 USA Volleyball Camp

Photos: Courtesy Arizona Athletics



The Tucson Sports division of the MTCVB was established in 2005 under the direction of Vince Trinidad. Here are highlights of the department from a recent conversation with him: ➢ “Tucson Sports mainly focuses on four team sports – baseball, softball, soccer and tennis. They tend to bring more out-of-town visitors. We’ve found that sports are recession resistant. While companies during the economic downturn focused on cutting expenses, amateur athletics continued – because sporting organizations still need to crown their annual champions. For this very reason, Tucson Sports was able to make slight increases when traditional markets had sharp declines.” ➢ “Over Martin Luther King weekend there’s a convergence of sports events that fill hotel rooms and have an estimated economic impact of $4.3 million. That weekend is filled with soccer teams from the Fort Lowell Soccer Club’s Shootout Soccer tournament, volleyball teams from Club Cactus Volleyball’s Cactus Classic invitational and high-school-age baseball from another showcase event. This is a shining example of what can be done when you pair up a Tucson signature event like the Shootout with two other significant sporting events to create a super-sports weekend. It’s our goal to create the same magic throughout the year.” ➢ “We work very hard to create lasting partnerships with not only the national sports organizations, but with local groups as well. For example, we filled the TCC arena with 3,500 cubic yards of dirt for a 1,000-rider BMX event – because one of our local sport groups came to us with an innovative event concept. This event brings not only prominence of BMX riding to Tucson – but it delivers 2000 out-of-town visitors to us in August. This event is rare in the BMX world because it’s one of only a handful of BMX national events held indoors. We also created a kid-friendly fun zone for the riders to recreate while they are waiting for their events.” ➢ “These events return to Tucson because we make sure their experience here is so great, thanks to our sports services team. We can’t control how they might compete when we bring an event to town – but we can do everything within our resources to ensure they have a wonderful time while in our town. Our national sport partners constantly tell us that we make their events feel welcome – and their athletes tell them that in their reviews.” ➢ “Tucson does an incredible job hosting sporting events with the sporting facilities we currently have in our area. With the yearover-year success of the amateur sports market, there’s now a need to address sporting venues to carry us into the future. Those sport venues need to be designed to host competition and not be recreational in nature. They also need to either complement the sports we host well, or expand our sport hosting ability. Any endeavor needs to take into consideration our local sport organizers, needs to expand their current capabilities and aim to make this region a premier sporting destination. It’s imperative that these discussions take place now so that we can have new or improved sporting venues in the next two to three years.”

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The Business Traveler’s Home Away From Home • Renting Made Easy • Beautifully Furnished • Corporate Rentals From 1-Month Duration–Special Rates




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Tucson’s a Natural for Geotourism By Christy Krueger


ing them to go to Kartchner Caverns, stay overnight. We need to start by enticing them.” Cooper said, “Our summer campaign positions Tucson as a natural playground and elevates the cooler aspects of our destination that Phoenix lacks.” To Cooper “cool” are our world-renowned attractions like Mt. Lemmon, Kartchner Caverns State Park, Kitt Peak, Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, Biosphere 2 and Pima Air and Space Museum. “We’re fortunate to have so many distinct and world-renowned attributes, because as a destination, we can provide the most discriminate traveler an authentic and memorable experience. The Real Southwest is resonating in international markets like Canada, the UK, and Germany, Cooper said. In addition to collaborating with the MTCVB, Ruiz and Neter met up with the Tucson Advertising Federation and were awarded a media campaign to help get the geotourism word out here at home. “We get media placement and media partners here. It’s a three-year commitment for a small investment on our part.” The campaign began last July and has received several creative awards, including Gold ADDYs in the categories of 30-second TV spot, TV cinematography, print and full campaign. The entries, all created by Godat Design, are now competing at the American Advercontinued on page 99 >>>

Sense of place is at the center of The Real Southwest. The campaign emphasizes our region’s rich cultural heritage and plays off our spectacular climate and immense natural assets.

– Allison Cooper Director of Marketing, MTCVB

advancing our city’s financial health. “What we’re doing is not just tourism based, it’s more about economic development,” he said. MTCVB and Neter agree that Phoenix is a key market. The bureau is using the Real Southwest campaign to draw travelers south this summer. “Forty percent of Biosphere’s visitors come from the Phoenix area, but they don’t stay over,” Neter said. “We need to start tell-


Photo: Courtesy MTCVB

Mt. Lemmon SkyCenter

director of marketing at the MTCVB. “The campaign emphasizes our region’s rich cultural heritage and plays off our spectacular climate and immense natural assets.” The bureau and the UA found they were on the same page. Neter emphasized that pushing the geotourism angle is an important element in the goal of


The term geotourism was created by National Geographic to describe a branch of tourism that sustains or enhances the geographical character of a destination. Tucson’s geotourism leaders define it as a sense of place – emphasizing what makes this region so distinctive. Two primary initiators of the local geotourism effort are Joaquin Ruiz, University of Arizona College of Science dean, and Rick Neter, director of special projects and marketing for the college. “I asked Joaquin what is most unique about our area and he said we have more plant and animal species than anywhere in the U.S. except for an ecosystem in Florida. Other markets have sun and golf courses – but we have biodiversity in the plants and animals of the Sonoran Desert,” Neter said. They wanted to start developing ecotourism in Southern Arizona, Neter said. “So we set off on the process. Joaquin is the leader and visionary. I’m the implementer,” said Neter, who is also the director of business and finance at Biosphere 2. Ruiz and Neter took their visions to Metropolitan Tucson Convention & Visitors Bureau early on. “They were in the middle of The Real Southwest branding campaign. They felt geotourism fit with that.” “Sense of place is at the center of Real Southwest,” said Allison Cooper,

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Lights, Camera, Action in Tucson By Edie Jarolim When it comes to Hollywood screen tests, Tucson is a natural. “Our proximity to Los Angeles, along with our great weather and great scenery, make us a choice location for the film industry,” said Shelli Hall, director of the Tucson Film Office, a division of the Metropolitan Tucson Convention & Visitors Bureau. That’s been true since long before 1939, when a Western town set built by Columbia Pictures for the movie “Arizona” led to the creation of Old Tucson Studios, where hundreds of classic films were shot. (See “Almost Hollywood” p. 88.) According to Hall, a majority of the state’s films have been shot in Tucson and Southern Arizona ever since then -- perhaps 65 percent as a conservative estimate. In recent years, however, the city hasn’t lived up to its celebrity potential.


“Goats” on location

“Arizona was in the top five of locations in the nation and the industry brought in an average of $100 million dollars a year when I started working at the film office in 1999,” Hall said. “Now the state doesn’t even rank in the Top 40.” Many factors led to this decline, including the fall from grace of the Hollywood Western and the 1995 fire at Old Tucson Studios that destroyed its sound stage along with many of its structures. Arizona’s key challenge, however, was one faced by the entire U.S. film industry. In the late 1980s, when the U.S. dollar was strong, Canada enhanced its financial attractiveness to filmmakers with a variety of tax incentives designed to further lower shooting costs. According to a 1999 study commissioned by the Director’s Guild of America, the feature films and, especially, made-for-television movies and miniseries that migrated north in the 1990s cost the U.S. economy as much as $10 billion a year.

MTCVB Ad in Sundance Film Festival Program

“Goats” Tucson Premiere

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Several U.S. states, including New Mexico, began to fight back in the 2000s by creating Canadian-style incentive programs. Their success was aided by the growing strength of the Canadian dollar and the increased cost of getting film crews to Canada. Arizona had an incentive program for five years, but it wasn’t renewed – and the state legislature has not passed new, improved versions that have been presented since. The result? Bottom-line-focused filmmakers have fled to surrounding states. That tends to be projects with budgets of $250,000 and up. Success with Indies, TV, Commercials

That’s not to suggest there’s been no film action in Southern Arizona. The Tucson Film Office makes it easy for productions that are not dependent on incentives to film here. Independent filmmakers still relish filming here and TV networks with reality programming – like MTV, Discovery and the Food Channel – film here multiple times a year, Hall said. TNT’s first reality competition, “The Great Escape,” created by the producers of the popular “Amazing Race,” filmed two episodes here in May – one at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base and the other at the Titan Missile Museum. Watch for several episodes of the Food Network’s “Chopped,” filmed at Old Tucson Studios, to air in June. The Film Office also upped its marketing to the lucrative commercial advertising market. A single commercial can easily cost $500,000 and more for filming on location in less than two days. Car commercials especially love Southern Arizona terrain – Jeep, Cadillac Escalade, BMW and more recently,

Chevrolet have all filmed commercials here. Other high-end commercials include one for Sketchers featuring Mark Cuban at the Greyhound Race Track that aired during Super Bowl 2012, as did the recent Chevy Sonic commercial. Print shoots include prestigious catalogs for Urban Outfitters, J. Crew, Sundance, Roamans and Chico’s. The Sonoran hot dog segment on the Travel Channel’s “Food Wars” points to another reason that many shows come to Tucson to film – they simply cannot find what the city offers any place else. “A lot of Discovery Channel shows are based here because of what’s going on in the sciences in Southern Arizona,” Hall said. And there’s also the region’s unique weather. “A Japanese film crew comes every summer to film the monsoon.” Oprah filmed several girlfriend getaway segments at Miraval, a world-class destination spa with a backdrop you won’t find elsewhere. While the city’s role as a location for big-budget projects has dwindled, its importance as a place to showcase films and to nurture indigenous industry talent has grown. Independent Films Debut Here

Victoria Westover, Director of the Jack and Vivian Hanson Arizona Film Institute (Hanson Film Institute) at the University of Arizona, which has a mandate to work with the community, said, “There is an amazing amount of film-related activity in Tucson for a city of its size. People in Tucson don’t realize or appreciate how much is going on.” continued on page 92 >>>


Christopher Neil Director of “Goats”

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continued from page 91

Robert Shelton Founder Old Tucson Studios

Almost Hollywood By Edie Jarolim Tucson has sometimes been called “Hollywood in the Desert” – but there was a time when Los Angeles might have become “Tucson on the Sea.” Historian Paul J. Lawton, who has worked for the last 14 years at Old Tucson Studios, explained that many filmmakers headed west in the early 20th century to escape lawsuits by New Jersey-based Thomas Edison, who owned the patents for most of America’s motion picture cameras. Lawton estimated that the first films were shot in Tucson as early as 1909. He noted that the Lubin Company and the Eclair Company both built studios in downtown Tucson in 1914. “It’s difficult to know how many films these companies shot here – maybe 50 or 60,” Lawton said. It was thought that none of these one-reel silent movies survived – yet an archive of old American films was discovered in New Zealand in 2009, and at least three of them were filmed in Tucson, one at Mission San Xavier del Bac. “Tucson was very close to becoming Hollywood,” Lawton said. A variety of circumstances -- not to mention the summer weather -- sent filmmakers on to Los Angeles but they often returned to Tucson. That return to Tucson became especially notable after 1960, when Robert Shelton leased a movie set originally built for the 1939 film “Arizona” from Pima County and turned it into Old Tucson Studios. Shelton, who sold the attraction in 1985, estimated that at least 300 films were made under his watch -- and under the watch of many visitors. “One of the conditions I had with the 92 BizTucson


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film companies that worked there was that they had to allow me to have the front gate opened for tourists. I agreed to keep those tourists a safe distance away from the production so they wouldn’t interfere with it in any way,” Shelton said. It usually worked smoothly. “We grew to be the second largest tourist attraction in Arizona behind the Grand Canyon,” Shelton said, adding, “They had a better production manager than we did.” Occasionally there was a glitch, however. When Andy Warhol came to shoot his Western parody “Lonesome Cowboys” in 1968, Shelton arrived on the set early one morning to find the actors practicing horseback riding -- stark naked. “In an hour or so we were going to open the front gate for the tourists to come in,” Shelton recalled. “I was afraid if they saw all these naked cowboys, Pima County would break our lease.” Luckily Warhol -- who later claimed he was “run out of Tucson” -was agreeable to moving all the nude scenes to Rancho Linda Vista in Oracle. Most of the films shot at Old Tucson were more mainstream. Lawton, who found a cache of negatives, slides, proof sheets and publicity stills once believed to have been destroyed in the studio’s 1995 fire said, “It’s hard to name an A-list star from the 1940s, 1950s, 1960s and 1970s who didn’t do something at Old Tucson.” A premier selection of these stars and their films are highlighted in Lawton’s beautifully illustrated Old Tucson Studios (Arcadia Publishing, 2008). Biz

That’s especially true when it comes to independent films The Loft Cinema, for example, was one of only 17 movie theaters in the nation invited to participate in the Sundance Institute’s Art House Project, an organization of independent theaters. According to Peggy Johnson, executive director of the foundation that owns and operates the nonprofit theater, the criteria for being chosen were “excellence of programming and involvement with the community.” And in January 2012, Tucson was selected to be one of nine Sundance USA participants, hosting a film and filmmaker during the Sundance Festival. Johnson said, “The Loft did really well. We were the first theater to sell out. The community loves independent films.” Aptly enough, the film showcased was one shot locally. (See “Love Letter to Tucson” p. 90.) Besides The Loft, most Tucsonans know the Screening Room and Fox Theater as other venues for independent films. Fewer are aware that Grand Cinemas Crossroads, a locally owned discount theater, and Century 20 El Con, a popular commercial movie house, each dedicate one of their screens to first-run art films. Also little known is the key role the UA plays in bringing films and film talent to town. Home to Mexican Film Fest

Tucson Cine Mexico, the only film festival in the nation devoted exclusively to Mexican films, is a co-presentation of the UA’s Hanson Film Institute and the Mexican Consulate. Westover explained, “Every year we bring up major producers and directors from Mexico. They’re very impressed by the quality of the presentations and the vibrant dialogue with the audiences.” Westover added that the festival “has definitely put Tucson on the map in Mexico as a place to bring major films.” It’s also putting Tucson on the map as the place in the U.S. to see the best in first-run Mexican films. Then there’s Inside Track, a series of panel discussions by entertainment industry professionals, from actors and agents to producers and directors. continued on page 94 >>> www.BizTucson.com



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It’s impossible to fake Tucson. New Mexico doesn’t have the same cacti, the same mountains, the same vibe. –

Mark Poirier, Author of “Goats”

A Love Letter to Tucson By Edie Jarolim “Goats” is a quirky, moving film about a boy who is raised by a single mother (played by actress Vera Farmiga) and mentored by a goatherd (David Duchovny) before heading East to college. The film was based on a book by Mark Poirier, who lived in Tucson from ages 10 to 18 – “my formative years,” Poirier said. Director Christopher Neil, who optioned Poirier’s book nearly a decade ago, said, “It was very clear that Tucson and the surrounding area were the core of the story. ‘Goats’ was a love letter to that part of the country and I really wanted to honor that in making the movie.” It wasn’t easy to get the film made in Arizona. New Mexico had a much better incentive program, and the financiers wanted to shoot there. But, Poirier said, “It’s impossible to fake Tucson. New Mexico doesn’t have the same cacti, the same mountains, the same vibe.” The filmmakers finally took the now customary approach, shooting part of the movie in New Mexico, part in Arizona. “We were very lucky to have a huge amount of support from the Tucson Film Office,” Neil said. “Shelli [Hall] and Peter [Catalanotte] were instrumental in finding ways to help us save money.” They shot at several locations, including Sabino Canyon and the Tucson Mountains, but the primary location was a Joesler home in the Foothills owned by real estate agent Heidi Baldwin. According to Neil, the cast loved Tucson, especially Farmiga. At the film’s premiere at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival, Neil said, “Farmiga was wearing the turquoise jewelry she bought in Tucson and kept saying that she’d fallen in love with the desert. She wants to come back for a family vacation.” Neil couldn’t have had a better experience in Tucson, either, as he realized when he returned for the showing of “Goats” at The Loft during the Sundance Film Festival. “When I stepped off the plane, it felt like coming home,” he said. “Goats” is opening in Tucson and other cities around the country on August 10. Biz 94 BizTucson


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Vicky Westover of Hanson Film Institute with Producer Scott Stuber and Shelli Hall

(L to R)

Our proximity to Los Angeles, along with our great weather and great scenery, make us a choice location for the film industry. –

Shelli Hall, Director of the Tucson Film Office a division of MTCVB

continued from page 92 Started in 2010 by the Hanson Film Institute in collaboration with the Tucson Film Office, this event is designed to help students in theatre, film and television at the UA and local filmmaking talent with professional development. It’s also open to the public. Westover said, “I don’t think there’s any place in the United States that has a film institute that runs concurrently with a formal university program – and I don’t think there’s any other film school that has as many programs for the community.” UA Film Pros, Alumni Open Doors

Professors within the film and television program at the UA are all actively working in the industry. They include Larry Estes, one of the producers-in-residence, whose long list of credits includes “One False Move.” And Westover, who teaches film programming, recently produced “Apache 8,” a documentary about an all-women’s firefighting crew that has been broadcast nationally more than 1,000 times. The students are clearly benefiting from the program. When director Sam Mendes, who won an Academy Award for “American Beauty,” came to town a few years ago to shoot part of “Away We Go,” the UA provided students to work as production assistants. Mendes’ production manager was very impressed. “The crew didn’t realize they were students, they were so good. They thought they’d been flown in from L.A.,” Westover recalled. According to Westover, many high-powered people in the film industry live in the Tucson area under the radar. Diana Ossana, who cowrote the screenplay for “Brokeback Mountain” with Larry McMurty, is just one example. Westover said, “They’re already established so they don’t need to live in L.A. to find work, and it’s an easy commute when they’re called.” Shelli Hall confirms that the Hollywood bond is strong and continues to be strengthened. “We cultivated entertainment-industry alumni relationships in Los Angeles by having receptions there, with the UA. We regularly meet with industry professionals and pitch Tucson as a location to the studios and other production entities. We worked closely with Disney to help craft the 2012 incentive bill,” she said. “The hope,” Hall added, “is that when the incentive landscape changes, we’ll still have all those relationships to build on.”

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Mexico Ready Workshops By Gabrielle Fimbres Is your business Mexico ready? Mexican nationals spend $1 billion in Pima County every year – and the Metropolitan Tucson Convention & Visitors Bureau wants to help you grow your sales to visitors from the south. “When people think about how to be ready for Mexican customers, the first thing that comes to mind is the language,” said J. Felipe Garcia, VP of strategic partnerships and Mexico marketing at MTCVB. “But even more important than being bilingual is being bicultural,” Garcia said. “Many people think that if they put that Se Habla Español sign in the window, they are covered. But it’s not about being Mexico friendly. It’s about being Mexico ready.” MTCVB offers free Mexico Ready workshops for business partners. “You are selling all the same things – the same shirts, the same meals, the same eyeglasses,” he said. “It isn’t what you sell – it’s how you sell it,” Garcia said. He gave the example of a restaurant at lunchtime. “We in Tucson are looking to get in and out,” Garcia said. “We love short lunch menus. We want the server to come with the water ready and the menus and to take our order immediately. We want our food quickly with

maybe one refill of iced tea and the check. We think that is really good service.” For Mexican guests, that is the worst possible service, Garcia said. With lunch as the large meal of the day, most Mexican diners are looking

Even more important than being bilingual is being bicultural.

– J. Felipe Garcia VP of Strategic Partnerships & Mexico Marketing, MTCVB

to relax, and spend a couple of hours enjoying a leisurely meal. “Offer them a beer, and don’t be in a rush,” Garcia advised. “Bring a dessert menu, and never bring the check until they ask for it. And guess what? The check will be larger.” If you bring the check before they are ready, Mexican diners feel pushed out, Garcia said, and are not likely to return any time soon. For physicians, Garcia recommends getting to know patients. Ask about where they are from and their families. Mexican patients want to know that you care about them. In the retail arena, Mexican shoppers are often looking for an entire outfit or wardrobe, not just one item. If you sell them a shirt but don’t offer to show them slacks, you are missing out. After you have made the sale, put the change in the customer’s hand, not on the counter, and walk around the counter to hand them the bags. “These are very simple things that make a big difference,” Garcia said. “Being Mexico ready builds your sales.” In addition to Mexico Ready workshops, the MTCVB offers trade and fashion shows in Mexico to reach new customers and routinely brings motor coaches filled with shoppers to Tucson.


MTCVB Adds Ciudad Obregón Office By Gabrielle Fimbres Vamos a Tucson! Let’s go to Tucson – that is the message spreading throughout Sonora and Sinaloa, fueled by the Metropolitan Tucson Convention & Visitors Bureau. The bureau built its first Vamos a Tucson office in Mexico in 2006, with a location in Hermosillo, 217 miles south of Tucson. In March, a second office was added in Ciudad Obregón, 340 miles to our south. “The numbers are looking good,” said J. Felipe Garcia, VP of strategic partner96 BizTucson


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ships and Mexico marketing at MTCVB. The offices provide information on Tucson businesses as well as coupons and special events for Sonoran residents. The 10 employees in the two offices book Tucson hotel rooms and sell tickets to Tucson concerts, shows and other events. Last year, the Hermosillo office saw a 24 percent increase in the number of room nights booked, and 2012 is looking positive, Garcia said. In April 2012, 948 room nights were booked through the two offices.

“We are really excited about the increases we are seeing,” Garcia said. “We are looking for a double-digit increase in 2012.” The Ciudad Obregón office “has helped us reach a new market,” Garcia said. “It’s important for us to be part of the community – and people in Obregón are so proud that Tucson is paying attention to them,” he said.

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Tucson Jewel for Gems Year Round By Teya Vitu Each February, Tucson becomes the destination for some 55,000 of the world’s most impassioned sellThe Gem Show ers and buyers of rocks of all shapes mobile app has and sizes who venture to the Southgenerated nearly west for serious gem shopping. 85,000 Nobody argues that the Tucson page views Gem, Mineral and Fossil Showcase is the largest gem extravaganza in the world. But Jane Roxbury argues that Tucson is a vibrant gem tourism destination even after the hotels clear out and the huge tents come down. Just this spring, she launched a page on the Metropolitan Tucson Convention & Visitors Bureau website dedicated to year-round gem tourism: www.visittucson.org/realgems. “It was easy for me to repackage the resources we have for fans of gems, minerals and fossils,” said Roxbury, MTCVB’s director of convention services. “This is an opportunity for us to promote those venues that are already here.” Roxbury discovered that nearly 40 percent of the winter gem shows are locally owned and operated. Some shows even provide long-term storage in their warehouses as value-added for vendors. So far, Roxbury has recruited two warehouses, five mine tours, six museums, four studios/shops and one bead shop for the website, with several additional rock and gem shops recently added. The gem tourism promotion is perfect timing for A Bead Carnival, which changed its name from ABC Direct in 2009, and converted from wholesale to year-round retail in 2010. “People like the fact they can come to our store any month of the year and it feels like a mini-gem show for them,” said Susan Smith, who owns A Bead Carnival with her husband, Tomas. “We feel the potential for a year-round gem show has already begun. It’s because Tucson has gained the reputation of being the heart of the gem and mineral world.” The Arizona Geological Survey produces a geotourism brochure that is a treasure map to some 20 destinations within 30 miles of Tucson. Geotourism is primed to grow substantially with the MTCVB internet promotion. “I would imagine it would balloon very quickly,” said Mike Conway, chief of the survey’s geologic extension service. The gem showcase itself in 1994 expanded beyond February with a fall gem show in September. By the time Roxbury began online promotions of Fall Gem Shows in 2007, a half dozen or so shows clustered around the Holiday Inn on Palo Verde Road. The fall gem show attracts about 4,000 attendees with the next show set for Sept. 6-12. Roxbury has also brought a dealer or two to set up gem “trunk shows” at about a half dozen conventions. The growth potential for tables at conventions is nearly endless, with the bureau itself booking some 400 conventions and conferences each year. 98 BizTucson


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Roxbury’s gem trail has already brought new visitors to the University of Arizona Mineral Museum, which gets about 45,000 visitors a year to its collection of 40,000 items curated over a 125-year period. “People say ‘I didn’t know Jane Roxbury MTCVB’s Director of Convention Services this place existed. I didn’t know it was here,’” said Mark Candee, assistant curator and collections manager. Candee believes the potential for a year-round gem destination is astronomical, much as even the true value of the twoweek gem showcase is not appreciated. “The value to Tucson is way underestimated,” Candee said. “The money that flows through here is phenomenal. A friend pointed out to me seven billionaires within an hour.”

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Tucson’s a Natural for Geotourism tising Federation national level. Tucson residents are a vital component in attracting new visitors and businesses to Southern Arizona, Neter explained. “First and foremost, the thrust of the effort is to educate locals who can educate those from outside the community. We want the residents to understand more about the Tucson area. We need Tucsonans to be ambassadors.” Tumamoc Hill is an example of a resource that Neter feels should be more widely promoted, as it was instrumental in attracting early settlers to Tucson. The Sky Island Sense of Place Tour is a little-known educational program that teaches about the various life zones encountered on the way up to Mt. Lemmon. “On the top is UA SkyCenter, now a public viewing place similar to Kitt Peak,” Neter said. “We have unique wonders nobody else has.” Another element of this movement involves the College of Science forming partnerships in the community. “Joaquin wants to help Tucson move forward and to bring UA’s experience and assets to help showcase Tucson to the outside world. He wants businesses to know that UA is here to help. It’s a resource and needs to be thought of that way.” Neter would like to push Tucson’s Old Pueblo nickname into the closet and update the city’s image by referring to it as Science City. “We have aerospace, biosciences, solar. UA helped the Phoenix Mars Mission. We have the No. 3 and No. 6 biotech firms in the world at Innovation Park. It’s about looking at the city in a new way. TREO (Tucson Regional Economic Opportunities) needs this science push.” When companies consider relocating, one of their top requirements is to be near a major research university, according to Neter. Why not emphasize that? “We need to be more vocal about it and highlight the good things that we don’t always pay attention to.” “Southern Arizona’s geotourism and science assets fit right into our Real Southwest branding and support our seven destination drivers – those unique attributes that draw travelers here for extraordinary experiences that other destinations cannot offer,” said Brent DeRaad, MTCVB’s new president and CEO. Biz www.BizTucson.com

Summer 2012 > > > BizTucson 99

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Summer 2012



Business is Looking Up for Region’s Resorts By Christy Krueger

As the recession slowly slips behind us, Tucson area resorts are experiencing a sense of rejuvenation and optimism about what lies ahead. Some are finishing projects that had been put on hold, others are getting a fresh start under new ownership and most are rolling out new projects and programs for guests. Follow along the Tucson resort trail and find out what’s new in 2012. Upgrades & Renovations

Miraval Arizona resort and spa just completed a ninemonth, $5 million renovation, opening its Life in Balance Spa May 1. “The new spa is in the footprint of the old,” noted Carol Stratford, Miraval’s director of marketing. “We’ve partnered with Clarins skin care line to develop a new spa menu.” Founded 60 years ago in Paris, Clarins is the No. 1 European skincare company. Its collaboration with Miraval allows the spa to offer customized skin care regimes, professionalgrade products and spa treatments backed by cutting-edge botanical science, she said. “We’ve added private spa suites within the spa, and the women’s locker room is now an indoor/outdoor area. It’s all designed to bring the outside in,” Stratford said. The same team that designed The Villas at Miraval – Mithun Architects and Clodaugh Design – created the reborn spa facility. Miraval also launched its first cookbook called “Mindful Eating” with 200 recipes compiled by the resort’s culinary, beverage and nutritional teams. Each dish invites guests to incorporate Miraval’s healthy cuisine into their everyday lives. Westin La Paloma Resort & Spa made headlines earlier this year when it was purchased by Southwest Value Partners, a group led by former Tucsonan Robert Sarver. As the property enters into a renewed 20-year agreement with Westin, physical changes are underway. Renovations will be done in phases. “The complete renovation will be $30 million. It’s the largest renovation ever undertaken since we opened and it covers practically all areas of the resort,” said Richard Brooks, director of marketing. Updates will begin this summer to meeting spaces and guest Miraval Arizona


rooms, and the HVAC equipment will be replaced with a new type of system. “Instead of re-circulating air, we’re drawing air from outside to enhance the fresh smell,” which should also be better for indoor allergy sufferers, he said. Repairs were done this spring to the 177-foot waterslide. “This summer we’ll have live music at the pool on weekends and dive-in movies,” Brooks said. Arizona-Sonoran Desert Museum representatives will provide activities with a family theme. After the summer swimming season is over, remaining pool renovations will be performed, including new decking, cabanas and landscaping. Hilton Tucson El Conquistador Golf and Tennis Resort is in the midst of a $6 million resort remodel. The biggest project is the conference center, according to General Manager Lynn Ericksen. The existing 7,000 square feet of meeting space will soon become an 11,000-square-foot executive conference center. It was designed to comply with the standards of the International Association of Conference Centers. If it receives the IACC designation, as Ericksen anticipates, it will be one of 300 in the world. Sundance Restaurant also is being remodeled, and the restaurant formerly known as Dos Locos is undergoing a transformation to Southwestern fare, Ericksen said. All 16 onsite tennis courts were replaced with an improved surface, and the tennis clubhouse was updated. “We have several USTA-sanctioned events, both youth and adult tournaments. Members and the public are happy with the new courts,” Ericksen said. El Conquistador formed partnerships with the Desert Mucontinued on page 102 >>>

Westin La Paloma

Hilton El Conquistador

Summer 2012 > > > BizTucson 101


Westward Look Wyndham Grand

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Summer 2012

The Lodge at Ventana Canyon also recently completed upgrades, including improvements to the lobby areas, both golf courses and the stadium tennis court, according to Janet Hare, director of sales and marketing. New carpet in the meeting spaces is planned. Summer brings activities such as golf and tennis camps and the popular Flip & Float, the resort’s version of poolside movies. Summer golf memberships are available. The property’s received high ratings from travel publications, including Condé Naste Traveler, Golf Digest and Travel & Leisure. “For 15 years running we’ve received the AAA Four-Diamond Award,” Hare said. Tennisresortsonline.com recognized The Lodge at Ventana Canyon as a Top 50 Tennis Resorts in the World for four years in a row, and both the Mountain Course and Canyon Course were recently included in Golfweek’s 100 Best Resort Courses list. Going Solar

White Stallion Ranch is one of Southern Arizona’s few remaining dude ranches. Co-owner Russell True has lived on the ranch since he was five years old and he’s active today in its operation and management. Last year True contracted with Solar Path to install a system that he claims is the largest private solar installation in the state and the largest of any dude ranch in the United States. The ranch now depends on solar power for much of its electrical needs. For the third consecutive year, White Stallion will be open all summer, breaking its earlier trend of closing during the warmer months. This is to accommoThe Lodge at Ventana Canyon

date international guests and to attract corporate business to the 3,000-acre property that offers meeting rooms, private dining and plenty of activities for everyone. After working up an appetite, guests can chow down in the recently restored main dining room that’s been returned to its original early 1900s design. New ranch offerings this year include Beer and Cheetos Rides and Wine and Cheese Rides, both available by horseback or hayride. Newest Resorts

Casino del Sol Resort, Spa and Conference Center opened last November, likely Tucson’s largest hotel construction project completed in 2011. “In addition to the 215-room hotel tower, which includes a full-service spa and a great steakhouse, we opened conference space, where concerts are held, too,” said Steve Neely, chief marketing officer and assistant GM. The conference center got off to a strong start this spring with well-attended events including Body and Sol Old Pueblo Women’s Expo and Tucson International Mariachi Conference, which helped boost hotel occupancy. Casino updates include a new 200seat, multiple-cooking-station buffet, a newly opened high-limit room and a remodeled poker room. The largest project to get under way this year is the 18-hole, par-72 championship golf course, expected to open by spring 2013. “Notah Begay designed it and we’ll have a Jack Nicklaus Golf Academy,” Neely reported. Begay is the only full-blooded Native American on the PGA Tour. Summer activities include AVA AmWhite Stallion Ranch


Photo: BalfourWalker.com

continued from page 101 seum and Tohono Chul Park for summer educational programs. The Acacia pool is now age-restricted (16 and older), with a more peaceful atmosphere, cabanas, quiet spa music and healthy spa food. This proved to be a very popular move, he said. The main pool remains family friendly. Westward Look Resort became a Wyndham affiliate on Feb. 1 and is now known as Westward Look Wyndham Grand Resort & Spa. David Yamada was hired as the new general manager, coming to Tucson from the Wyndham Kingston Hotel in Kingston, Jamaica. This is Wyndham’s only Grand Collection property in Arizona. “Wyndham was interested (in Westward Look) for a while. Over time, it became right for it to happen,” Yamada said. Remodeling will continue in the resort’s public areas. “With our new ownership plan, we’ll have upgrades in the next year to the Gold Room and Lookout Bar & Grille and a little in the lobby area,” Yamada noted. Throughout 2012, Westward Look is celebrating a big birthday – 100 years – with a Call for Treasures contest and the publishing of a book called “History of Westward Look: 100 Years in the Making.” Memorabilia collected during the contest will be displayed in the hotel lobby. Some items are featured in the book. To encourage the public to help celebrate, Westward Look is offering guest rooms for $100 per night through the summer.

phitheater’s lineup of musical acts and the recently launched adults-only swim party on Sundays from noon to 5 p.m. at the resort’s new pool. The public is welcome to join these weekly parties for a $10 fee, which includes two drinks. Hotel guests are admitted free. The Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain, which opened in 2010, made the 2012 Condé Naste Traveler Gold List and was voted the No. 3 resort in Arizona last fall in the magazine’s Readers’ Choice Awards. The resort received one of the highest scores in the nation on both lists for activities, said Bonnie Crail, director of public relations. This spring the resort launched the Dove Mountain Rangers, a program for children ages five to 12, which includes its own ranger station and a desert tortoise habitat. “There are cultural days for kids with teachings on how to do things related to Native Americans, cowboys and miners. Pins are given to kids for completing certain activities,” Crail said. Also new is the Sunday Market Brunch at CORE Kitchen & Wine Bar. A 42-tree citrus grove was planted for guests’ picking pleasure. Returning from last summer is Splash Dining – where guests enjoy a super cool outdoor dining experience no matter the temperature – with tables and chairs placed in the pool. New on staff are Executive Chef David Serus, from the Ritz Carlton in Washington D.C., and Spa Manager, Marysell Diaz-Garcia, from Ritz-Carlton properties in Coconut Grove and Sarasota, both in Florida. Guests who take advantage of the Summer Returns program receive a $50-per-night credit at the spa or elseCasino Del Sol Resort Hotel


where on the property when booking accommodations and breakfast for two at the price of $199 per night. JW Marriott Starr Pass Resort and Spa incorporates the natural desert as its landscape design theme, drawing on the beauty of its mountainous location Opened in 2005, the resort includes 575 spacious guestrooms, 88,000 square feet of meeting space, five restaurants, a 20,000-square-foot spa, four separate pools and a Lazy River. The resort’s Arnold Palmer Signature golf facility consists of 27 holes and practice facilities. This is Southern Arizona’s largest resort and the only true eco-resort in Tucson, said Matt Brody, director of sales & marketing. The Hashani Spa incorporates natural desert plant oils in treatments and offers direct access to Tucson Mountain Park hiking and mountain biking trails. In April it was voted among the nation’s top 100 mainland spas by Condé Nast Traveler readers. The resort’s eco theme extends to the award-wining Primo restaurant with celebrity chef Melissa Kelly featuring organic foods and fresh fish. Guests enjoy extensive water features, including the Starr Canyon Lazy River experience – a 123-foot-long slide that links to the Lazy River. The slide stands 25 feet tall, offering 360-degree views of Tucson Mountain Park and the cityscape of Tucson. A new exclusive island patio was constructed right in the middle of the Lazy River. “Access is via a custom bridge,” Brody said, “for group customers only.” Framed by flowing waters and stateof-the-art lighting, this area is in high demand. “It is truly spectacular,” he Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain

said, “and complements the resort’s wide variety of outdoor venues and restaurants.” New Activities & Programs

Canyon Ranch launched new programs in the past year, some with proven worldwide appeal and others that are unique. “We added a high ropes course and rock wall,” said Sheryl Press, public relations director. “We’ve initiated new classes like outdoor boot camp and outdoor adventure activities such as fire making and arrowhead making.” Also new this year is Exercise & Motivation, which addresses the psychological and physiological aspects of exercise. “It’s for people who have trouble exercising – and to figure out why you don’t like it,” Press said. Canyon Ranch SpaClub at Sea expanded its cruise line presence this year. In May it stepped aboard Oceania Cruises’ brand new luxury ocean liner Riviera. Recent accolades for the Tucson location include SpaFinder’s Readers’ Choice Awards in the categories of Best for Cooking Classes, Best Cuisine, Best Medical Spa Program and Best for Men. Loews Ventana Canyon is gearing up for summer with a new emphasis on family activities. For the Wild Side of Summer program, the resort is teaming up with representatives from the Desert Museum, on weekends for animal and geology demonstrations, and “anything they do as an educational program at the museum,” said Jennifer Duffy, the resort’s director of public relations. “We like to say we’re a mini Desert Museum East,” continued on page 104 >>> JW Marriott Starr Pass

Summer 2012 > > > BizTucson 103

BizTOURISM continued from page 103 she added. Tucson Botanical Gardens also will be part of the summer fun with its wicked plants exhibit. And each holiday weekend, the resort will have a solar telescope available. Stargazing and dive-in movies will continue throughout the warmer months. While Loews is targeting families more than in recent years, it continues to attract couples with its summer holiday jazz weekends with top international smooth jazz musicians, plus special room/ticket packages, Duffy said. Also fitting for adult tastes is the transformation of The Flying V’s north patio into a comfortable outdoor lounge with fire pits. “We created a lovely sitting area, surrounded by vegetation,” Duffy said. Condé Naste Traveler picked Loews Ventana Canyon as one of the Top 10 Arizona Golf Resorts this year. U.S. News & World Report included the resort on its Best Hotels in the USA list. Tubac Golf Resort & Spa added a fun new element to Dos Silos Restaurant with once-a-month Summer Parties held through August. In addition, Stables Ranch Grille continues its tradition of live entertainment every Friday and Saturday, said Patti Todd, marketing director. New executives include Jill Winberg, spa director, and Stefan Rockel, food and beverage director. Golfers can look forward to the resort’s upcoming golf school October 28-31. “It includes three nights stay, three days of excellent instruction with swing analysis and a CD to take home, tournament and prizes, plus breakfast, Canyon Ranch

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lunch and two dinners,” Todd said. Rates are based on single or double occupancy. A commuter rate is available for those driving down each day from Tucson. The course lays claim to an April visit by Dave Pelz. “He’s the short-game guru who works with Phil Mickelson,” Todd noted. Randy Blunt, who plays in the Autism Charity Golf Classic every year at Tubac, won a national contest presented by Golf Magazine. Part of his prize package was a lesson from Pelz at Tubac Golf Resort. Perhaps the biggest news for the resort is a noticeable uptick in business. “We have more weddings than we’ve ever had. This is turning into a popular place to have weddings,” Todd said. “And we have more charity golf tournaments.” Desert Diamond Casino & Hotel management believes that client feedback is important when determining the direction to take with its properties. The Sahuarita location, now 12 years old, received minor updates, including a new video wall in the sports bar, a VIP room and new AC slot machines, the first of a kind in Arizona, said Treena Parvello, director of marketing and public relations. The Tucson property recently had some redesigning done to parts of the floors. “In response to guest feedback, we added new TVs to the hotel rooms and we improved the lighting in the casino, especially around the water features,” Parvello said. Both casinos also have new executive chefs – Pascual Rodriguez in Sahuarita and Michael Bujold in Tucson. Loews Ventana Canyon

Summer 2012

Summer is when most of the planning and evaluation occurs, Parvello said. “We understand we need to make changes to keep up with market needs. There has to be evolution.” Desert Diamond Casino & Hotel has earned the AAA Three-Star hotel rating. Metromix lists the Tucson location’s steakhouse as Best Steakhouse in Tucson. Celebrations

Omni Tucson National Resort is celebrating its 50th anniversary with two-night-stay room packages that include a $50 resort credit. This can be used at all outlets – spa, golf and restaurants, said Dan Dickhart, director of sales and marketing. Bob’s Steak & Chop House is running a summer three-course prix fixe menu for $39.99 Tuesday through Saturday. Golf specials are also available, such as unlimited golf packages all summer, and junior golf clinics are scheduled to keep the kids busy when school is out. Monthly specials are offered in the 13,000-square-foot, Mobil Four-Star spa. The resort recently won Best Golf Course and Best Bar and Grill locally, and Bob’s Steak & Chop House was included in the Talk of the Town list, an online customer satisfaction rating service. Dickhart noted a handful of new and recently promoted employees at the resort. Tom Nelson is director of financing, Corie Campbell is spa director and Audra Barrios is catering sales manager. Promotions include Charliene Horne to food and beverage outlet manager and Andrea Bravo to Bob’s Steak & Chop House manager. Tubac Golf Resort


Desert Diamond Casino Hotel

Focus on Food

Hacienda del Sol Guest Ranch Resort is concentrating on its culinary amenities this summer as it continues to win awards from restaurant and wine reviewers. “The biggest project is the Terraza Patio Kitchen,” said Tom Firth, managing partner and general manager. “We’re making the outdoor exhibition cooking station bigger and better and


Omni Tucson National

expanding the menu. It’ll be during June. The patio will still be open in the evenings and we’ll still have live music on weekends.” In May The Grill began offering a special fixed price three-course menu that will continue all summer, and monthly wine dinners are being held through October. Firth said specials and music are promoted through its website under Hacienda Happenings.

Hacienda del Sol

For the 15th year in a row, the resort received a Best of Award of Excellence from Wine Spectator, Firth said. “And we were voted a Top 5 Restaurant again” in a local reader’s poll. Like most resorts, Hacienda del Sol is running special summer room rates while also performing customary upkeep. “We use the lower occupancy months for maintenance and upgrades to the guest rooms,” Firth said. Biz

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Glass Act By Sarah Burton

Tom Philabaum, Glass Artist & Founder, Philabaum Glass 106 106 BizTucson BizTucson<<<<<<Summer Summer2012 2012

www.BizTucson.com www.BizTucson.com

BizART You may think you already know Tom Philabaum, Tucson’s master of glass. A longtime resident creative, he’s widely respected in the local arts community and his gallery and studio are a must-see stop for art-loving tourists. You may know about the carefully crafted glass art that made him (and keeps him) successful, but not so much about how he created his business the hard way, his view on role of art in our region’s tourism and changes in the downtown landscape. Read on. Getting There

After receiving a bachelor of arts in arts education from Southern Illinois University and a master’s degree in studio art in Wisconsin, Philabaum headed to Arizona in 1973 to visit his cousin, escape Chicago for a while and take a break from his teaching job. “I never felt I belonged in Chicago,” he recalled. “I lived all over the state but didn’t feel comfortable.” Just one look at the dramatic stretch of Texas Canyon driving on his way to town was all it took. “I distinctly remember coming through the canyon there on I-10 and really flipping out over the saguaros and boulders.” Two years later he quit his job in Chicago and officially made the Sonoran Desert his home, putting together his first studio next to the Tuller Trophy building on Sixth Avenue. Nights and weekends were dedicated to studio time, but he didn’t quit his day jobs quite yet. He did a bit of everything – from driving a truck, laying bricks and carpentry to teaching high school and even a stint as a roofer. “We used to carry over our rent payment to our landlord, having scraped together our pennies, dimes and quarters and just barely making it,” he said. ’80s Art Boom

The start of the 1980s kicked off an enormous swell in the public’s interest in and desire to buy and collect arts and crafts, Philabaum said, though not in the Old Pueblo quite yet. Around

1982 local artists began marketing their wares by attending American Craft Council shows where they were overwhelmed with orders from galleries and museums all over the country. The Craft Council, made up mostly of young artists without any background and art school graduates like himself, filled an increasing need from the public for arts in mediums like clay, metal, wood, glass and fiberglass. “It was an exciting time,” Philabaum said. “Creativity was flying and we were actually making money with our craft.” After founding the Glass Arts Society in 1983, Philabaum overhauled an old Tastee Freeze and in 1985 moved his studio to that space where it remains today. Local Arts Blossom

By the early 1990s Tucson’s growing art scene was finally generating excitement and the Metropolitan Tucson Convention & Visitors Bureau began to market the Old Pueblo as an arts hub. “The MTCVB played an enormous role in creating this new model of Tucson as a cultural destination – bringing people here not just for a fat farm, to see a rodeo, or because of the military,” Philabaum said. In fact, he points out the little known fact that Tucson is consistently ranked in the Top 25 Art Destinations in American Style magazine. “When I first moved here, the Tucson Museum of Art was in a small house on Franklin Street. Quite different from the museum that stands today.” By 2002, interest in Philabaum’s work was so high – from locals and tourists alike – that he opened a second gallery at St. Philip’s Plaza for the next five years. Tourism has always played a role in this struggling, then successful business model. With the recent installation of glass magic carpets suspended overhead at the Tucson International Airport, he’s even had people get in their rental car there and drive straight to his gallery on Sixth Avenue to see more.

He’s seen many changes since moving downtown in the mid ’70s. “Downtown is changing in a great way. I’m all for new business and it’s really changing for the better,” he said. “Sure, we all miss the original Café Poca Cosa and the Santa Rita Ballroom, but the brand new Tucson Electric Power building now on that lot is great for all surrounding businesses.” Passing the Torch – Literally

As studio visitors attest, the observation window is where the action is. Watching artists working with molten glass is magical. “We’ve always had an open studio. Education has always been a big part of making art for me,” Philabaum said. “We closed the studio to the public for a short time, but quickly realized it was crazy not to let people in. After teaching workshops for 25 years, I have a responsibility to pass on what I’ve learned.” That’s why he co-founded the Sonoran Glass Art Academy in 2000, a nonprofit organization dedicated to educating and using glass as a medium. The academy offers classes for anyone interested – from glass blowing and casting to stained glass and mosaics. In an effort to further push the glass arts culture here, Philabaum and other local visual arts heavyweights banded together to create Tucson’s first glass festival, aptly named Viva Vidrio – long live the glass. “We were really just trying to make lemonade out of lemons,” he said. “Because of the tourism backlash due to the controversial SB1070, Tucson lost the annual Glass Arts Society conference. We wanted to draw people back here.” And draw it did. In April of last year 1,200 people attended the three-day festival with demonstrations and exhibitions at 12 participating galleries across town. Anyway you cut it, after more than 30 years, Philabaum remains a glass act. Biz

Philabaum art includes glass magic carpets suspended overhead at the Tucson International Airport (center). Photos courtesy Philabaum Glass

www.BizTucson.com www.BizTucson.com

Summer Summer2012 2012>>>>>>BizTucson BizTucson 107 107





Chairman of the Board 2011-2012 Lynn Ericksen

General Manager Hilton Tucson El Conquistador Golf & Tennis Resort


Ericksen is known in the lodging industry for his commitment to growing tourism and working with other destinations to enhance the visitor experience. He’s upgraded Hilton El Conquistador with major renovations, encouraged a green culture among staff and visitors and increased exposure of the resort through numerous awards. In 2011, Arizona Hotel and Lodging Association named Ericksen Hotelier of the Year. The resort became part of that organization’s Certified Green Lodging program. Ericksen was treasurer for Northern Pima County Chamber of Commerce and is the outgoing chairman of MTCVB.

Photo: BalfourWalker.com

520-544-5000 www.hiltonelconquistador.com

Alex Ahluwalia

General Manager, JW Marriott Starr Pass Resort & Spa Since 2007, Ahluwalia has grown the resort’s market share and led it to receive accolades from travel media, event planners and guests. Named Marriott International’s GM of the Year for North American Lodging Operations in 2008, he came to Tucson from the JW Marriott Fiji Resort & Spa. He serves on the MTCVB Marketing Committee and is a board member of Southern Arizona Lodging and Resort Association. 520-792-3500 www.jwmarriottstarrpass.com

Incoming Chairman of the Board 2012-2013 Michael Luria

Executive Director Children’s Museum Tucson Luria, who formerly ran Terra Cotta in the foothills, now leads his staff in providing fun, play-based interactive and hands-on learning experiences for children of the community and their families. He’s taken the museum through significant transformations with the addition of major new exhibits made possible by community partners. This month the baton will be passed to him as the new MTCVB board chairman. Additional community involvement includes co-chairing the Tourism Advisory Committee for the Arizona Office of Tourism. He also writes the Meals & Entertainment column for Inside Tucson Business. 520-792-9985 www.childrensmuseumtucson.org

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Summer 2012

Richard Bratt

Shareholder/COO, Tax BeachFleischman Bratt’s responsibilities with BeachFleischman are in the tax division of the practice. He serves as the treasurer for MTCVB and is a member of its Executive Committee. Other organizations Bratt has served include Boys & Girls Clubs of Tucson, Caballeros del Sol, Executive Association of Tucson, Financial Executives & Affiliates, Arizona Business Leadership and Rotary Club of Tucson. 520-321-4600 www.beachfleischman.com www.BizTucson.com



Sharon Bronson

Wes Clark

John Cousins

As an elected official representing District 3, Bronson serves constituents in a 7,400-squaremile area covering all of western Pima County. She’s on the MTCVB Finance Committee and is a TREO Chairman’s Circle Member. Bronson also serves on the board of the County Supervisors Association of Arizona and is a member of the Marana Health Center Advisory Board.

Although Clark oversees all sales and marketing efforts for the hotel, he places a particular emphasis on downtown and Tucson Convention Center events, international visitors and sports and group bookings. As president of Southern Arizona Attractions Alliance, he serves as its representative on the MTCVB board of directors.

Cousins oversees the operations of the recently renamed property on North Oracle that markets to vacationers, business travelers and extended-stay guests who are looking for comfortable accommodations in the foothills. To keep up with today’s technology-oriented traveler, Cousins supplements his sales efforts with an emphasis on social media.

Vice Chair, Pima County Board of Supervisors Pima County Government

520-740-8051 www.pima.gov

Mike Feder

VP & General Manager Tucson Padres In his role directing the business end of the Tucson Padres, Feder is responsible for marketing, accounting, sales, public relations, ticket sales, merchandise and concessions. He serves on MTCVB’s Marketing and Nominating Committees as well as numerous other community boards including Father’s Day Council and Tucson Police Foundation. Feder is a Davis-Monthan AFB honorary commander and executive director of Caballeros del Sol. 520-954-8803 www.tucsonpadres.com www.BizTucson.com

Sales Director Arizona Riverpark Inn & President Southern Arizona Attractions Alliance

520-239-2300 www.theriverparkinn.com

General Manager Best Western Plus InnSuites Tucson Foothills Hotel & Suites

520-297-8111 www.innsuites.com/tucson_ foothills

Fred Gould

Firth is GM/managing partner of Zona 78 restaurants, as well as the managing partner with Hacienda del Sol, He’s currently serving on the MTCVB Partner Development and By-Laws Committees. Other community involvement includes Casas Adobes Rotary Club, where he’s been a member since 1989 and is a past president. He’s also past assistant governor for Rotary District 5500.

Gould coordinates all marketing functions for Arizona Shuttle, which operates throughout the state. He is currently on the MTCVB Marketing Committee and recently served on the By-Laws Committee. In addition to his work with MTCVB, Gould is an active member of the Southern Arizona Lodging and Resort Association, the Arizona Lodging and Tourism Association and the Southern Arizona Concierge Network.

520-299-1501 www.haciendadelsol.com

Jim Di Giacomo

Executive Director Green Valley Sahuarita Chamber of Commerce & Visitor Center Di Giacomo’s chamber responsibilities include financial operations, board administration and public relations. In addition to being a member of the MTCVB Marketing and Community Relations Committees, he serves numerous organizations. Among them are Southern Arizona Tourism Council and Governor’s Arizona Mexico Commission. In 2006 he received the Elks’ Citizen of the Year Award.

Richard J. Gruentzel

Marketing Director Arizona Shuttle

520-795-6771 www.arizonashuttle.com


520-625-7575 www.greenvalleysahuarita.com

Tom Firth

Managing Partner Hacienda del Sol Guest Ranch


VP Administration & Finance/CFO Tucson Airport Authority Gruentzel runs the business operations for Tucson International Airport and Ryan Airfield. Responsibilities include business and air service development, property leasing and management, terminal concessions and ground transportation. He’s on the MTCVB Finance and ByLaws Committees and is also a congregation council member and treasurer of Abounding Grace Church. 520-573-8100 www.flytucsonairport.com

Summer 2012 > > > BizTucson 109



Bill Holmes

Chief Operations Officer Tucson Metro Chamber Holmes is responsible for all issues related to the chamber’s finances, operations and human resources. He serves as chair of MTCVB’s Government Relations Committee, Chicanos Por La Causa and Interfaith Community Services Advisory Board. Holmes is also a member of SKAL and he’s on the board of trustees for Community Foundation for Southern Arizona. 520-792-2250 www.tucsonchamber.org



Helinda Lizarraga

General Manager DoubleTree by Hilton Tucson at Reid Park

Heather D. Lukach

Director, Visitor Center University of Arizona

Pete Mangelsdorf

CEO & General Manager Old Tucson Company

While overseeing daily operations of the UA Visitor Center, Lukach promotes it as a resource for campus and Southern Arizona. This is achieved through tours, UA publications and participating in universitycommunity partnerships and special projects. Lukach is currently serving her first year on the MTCVB board and chairs its Partner Development Committee.

Mangelsdorf provides overall leadership and day-to-day management of Old Tucson. He’s a member of the MTCVB Nominating Committee, CEO/ President Executive Search Committee and serves on the Government Relations Committee. He’s also the State Film Commissioner, serves on the 88 Crime board of directors and is a past board member of Friends of Saguaro National Park.

520-621-5130 www.arizona.edu/parentsvisitors

520-883-0100 www.oldtucson.com

Barbara Peck

Andrew D. Schorr

Shirley Scott

Strategic public relations/crisis communications consulting and CEO coaching in community relations are among the services Peck provides to businesses and nonprofit organizations. She serves on the MTCVB Community Relations Committee and as chair and secretary of the MTCVB Executive Committee. Peck has been honored as Tucson Metro Chamber Woman of the Year and serves on the board of directors for University of Arizona Health Network and Salpointe Catholic High School.

As a partner in Lewis and Roca’s Business Transactions Practice Group, Schorr handles the firm’s commercial real estate dealings. He’s chair of the MTCVB By-Laws Committee, a member of Arizona’s Public Media Community Advisory Board and past board member of the Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona. Schorr was included in the 2003-2012 editions of The Best Lawyers in America in real estate law.

Scott was elected to the City Council in 1995. She’s a member of the Board of Directors of Pima Council on Aging, Pima Prevention Partnership and Advisory Committee for Tucson Clean and Beautiful. She’s served on the Budget Advisory Committee and as Chairperson of the National League of Cities Committee on Community and Economic Development. She serves on the MTCVB Government Relations and CEO/President Search Committees.

Lizarraga oversees and manages all operations of the hotel, including budgets, forecasts and developing team members. She is very active with MTCVB, serving on the Community Relations, Finance, Nominating and CEO/President Executive Search Committees. Lizarraga is Second Vice Chair of Southern Arizona Lodging and Resort Association and was named Representative of the Year, 2009-2010, by Executive Women’s International. 520-323-5211 www.dtreidpark.com

Tom Moulton

Director of Economic Development and Tourism Pima County Moulton serves as the county’s government liaison with Tucson’s economic development agencies, and he works with the MTCVB Marketing Committee representing the area’s attractions. He has numerous community affiliations, among them founder and director of Southern Arizona Attractions Alliance and board member of Southern Arizona Lodging and Resort Alliance. 520-243-7355 www.tucsonattractions.com

Owner Barbara Peck Public Relations

520-360-5120 110 BizTucson


Summer 2012

Partner Lewis and Roca

520-629-4414 www.LrLaw.com

Council Member City of Tucson

520-791-3199 www.tucsonaz.gov www.BizTucson.com


Chris Smith

Owner Tucson & Scottsdale Golf Vacations/Mountain Vista Real Estate As owner of these vacation business endeavors, Smith is continually seeking out and evaluating unique marketing opportunities and new avenues for additional growth. He is a member of the MTCVB board of directors’ Marketing Committee. Smith is proud to be a veteran of the U.S. Navy and a Persian Gulf War veteran. 520-877-7924 www.tucsongolf.com www.weknowtucson.com

Mark Van Buren

General Manager Tucson Marriott University Park

Van Buren is responsible for the overall operation of the hotel. He is also co-chairman of Southern Arizona Lodging and Resort Association and serves as its representative on the MTCVB board of directors. 520-792-4100 www.marriott.com/tusup





Mary Snider

James Trudeau

Russell True

Together with fellow council members, Snider provides policy direction to the town by adopting rules, regulations and procedures to meet community needs. She’s a member of the MTCVB Government Relations Committee, VP of Amphitheater Public Schools Foundation and board member of Oro Valley Community Foundation. In 2007 Snider was the inaugural recipient of the Northern Pima County Chamber of Commerce Legacy Award.

Trudeau is responsible for all business activities and operations of United Airlines in Tucson. His current role with the MTCVB board of directors is to work with the Partner Development Committee.

As with all small businesses, True said, he does whatever it takes to successfully run his ranch – from cooking to wrangling. He serves on the Marketing Committee of MTCVB, is president of the board of trustees for Green Fields Country Day School and a former president of the National Dude Ranchers Association and the Arizona Dude Ranch Association.

Council Member Town of Oro Valley

General Manager United Airlines, Tucson

Co-owner White Stallion Ranch

520-573-8259 www.united.com

520-297-0252 www.whitestallion.com

520-229-4997 www.orovalleyaz.gov

Howard W. Volin

President & CEO Graphic Impact

Founded 23 years ago in Tucson by Volin, Graphic Impact fabricates signs, banners, printed material, awards, plaques and printed apparel, producing all product lines in-house. He is currently chair of the MTCVB Marketing Committee and is a member of the MTCVB Community Relations Committee. 520-795-7446 www.graphic-impact.com

David Welsh

Paul Zucarelli

Executive VP Tucson Regional Economic Opportunities

President CBIZ Benefits Insurance Services

Welsh is responsible for managing a wide range of economic development programs and projects while also working with stakeholders and regional economic development partners. He’s new to MTCVB, but elsewhere in the community he’s involved with Habitat for Humanity, Arizona Town Hall and Business Development Finance Corporation.

Zucarelli functions as president of CBIZ Arizona practice for employee benefits and retirement plans. He’s on the MTCVB Executive Committee, as well as the Marketing and Government Relations Committees. Other current community activities include member of Tucson Conquistadores and board member of Dependable Health and Heatlh Plan Alliance.

520-243-1900 www.treoaz.org

520-321-7520 www.cbiz.com

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Summer 2012 > > > BizTucson 113

114 BizTucson


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Profile for BizTucson Magazine

BizTucson Special Report Tourism 2012  

BizTucson Special Report Tourism 2012  

Profile for mcserres