C O N V E N T I O N & VI S I TO R S B U R EAU
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annua l business revie w
A Message from
0 0 0 0 Richard Geiger 0 0 0 0 P RES I D E N T
At the Buffalo Niagara Convention & Visitors Bureau we believe that “success has many fathers.” This maxim was never better illustrated than during the intense 90-day effort last summer to draft a new five-year strategic plan. Designed to serve as a blueprint for the CVB’s sales and marketing efforts between 2009 and 2013, the strategic plan undertaking engaged the time and attention of CVB staff and board members, officials from county government and an array of community volunteers, as well as representatives from our hotels, attractions, cultural institutions and restaurants who participated in focus groups designed to identify areas of growth and opportunity for our organization. The result is a comprehensive document that will serve us well as we focus our attention on a number of strategic imperatives, including developing collaborative partnerships, increasing community outreach, and branding Buffalo as a cultural and heritage tourism destination of the first rank. If one word can sum up and epitomize the complex and diverse hospitality industry in the year just gone by, it would almost certainly be “green.” 2008 was the year the hospitality industry went green, wholeheartedly embracing the concept of sustainability and promising to reduce, reuse and recycle. Buffalo was no exception. Organized by the Buffalo Niagara CVB, the Buffalo Green Hospitality Initiative assembled a diverse group of industry and community stakeholders, including the County of Erie and the City of Buffalo, determined to reduce our collective carbon footprint. In an era of diminishing resources this not only makes sense, it makes good business sense as most meeting planners now expect convention centers and hotels to reduce their impact on the environment. I’m pleased to report that the CVB is helping to lead this effort and in so doing attracting new events to our community such as the upcoming American Solar Energy Society Conference and 2010’s American Association for Environmental Education Conference. In looking back on 2008 I can also point with pride to the CVB’s efforts to pursue the minority meetings Buffalo Niagara: market and leisure visitors interested in African American culture and heritage. Buffalo has a wealth of these assets and attractions and the Travel Professionals of Color recognized as much by naming our community an Authentic African American Heritage Tourism Destination, only the second city so honored. This rich heritage was artfully documented in the promotional film “Buffalo Niagara: Feel the Flavor” that had its premiere at the Market Arcade Film & Arts Center this past November. Co-produced by WNED-TV and the Buffalo Niagara CVB, and funded in part by the Baird Foundation, “Feel the Flavor” is the most recent in a series of video collaborations with our public TV station that have eloquently captured the authentic sense of place found in Buffalo.
0 0 0 0 0 0W 0 0 0 0 0 0 Our belief in the power of collaboration was borne out during last year’s Travel Expo event at the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center. Travel Expo brought hundreds of group tour operators and leaders to our community in search of unique and unusual travel experiences for their customers. As has often been said, we only have one chance to make a good first impression. That we were able to do so during Travel Expo is a testament to our many partners who staffed booths during the trade show and helped to orchestrate familiarization tours both before and after the event. The importance of relationship building was never more apparent than last fall when a series of events took place that resulted in an unprecedented multi-page article in The New York Times entitled “Saving Buffalo’s Untold Beauty.” Over the course of three photofilled pages, Times architecture critic Nicolai Ouroussoff sung the praises of Buffalo’s built environment and complimented the efforts of our community to preserve and restore our architectural inheritance. Seen by millions of readers of the paper’s print and Web editions, the article was valued at more than $1.5 million by PR Trak. This massive media hit came about largely because of the friendships and working relationships that have been forged by the CVB and our partners in the local preservation community with National Trust for Historic Preservation staff as we prepare to bring the National Preservation Conference to Buffalo in 2011. The result was a media hit for the ages. Professional affiliations and collegial partnerships helped the Buffalo Niagara CVB to achieve record-breaking results for our convention and event bookings in 2008. I’m extremely proud to report that the CVB sales department booked nearly 300 future conventions, meetings and events and that more than 130,000 hotel room nights will be purchased in Erie County as a result. These rooms will be occupied by out of town visitors who will leave behind nearly $70 million dollars in purchases at our restaurants, shops, and attractions. These are new dollars being brought into our community that support thousands of jobs and generate tens of millions of dollar in state and local taxes. These are just a few of the more noteworthy accomplishments of the CVB and our many partners from 2008. I invite you to peruse the following pages for a more detailed telling of the good work we all continue to do on behalf of Buffalo and Erie County. As always, I welcome your comments and suggestions.
Richard Geiger President & CEO
Whoâ€™s Coming to Buffalo?
000 00 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 Hotel/Motel Market Segmentation The chart below outlines the allocation of hotel rooms occupied in Erie County in 2008. Approximately 43 percent of all the room nights consumed in 2008 were generated by corporate transient visitors, 31 percent by leisure visitors, 21 percent by conventions, meetings and amateur sports groups, and 5 percent by group tour visitors.
Erie County Hotel/Motels (Total Room Nights Reported 853,211) Leisure (non-group) 31%
Conventions/Meetings/ Amateur Sports (Group) 21%
Group Tour 5%
Corporate Transient 43%
NOTE: The survey results compiled above were based on a sample of 853,211 room nights
reported by participating properties, which accounts for approximately 40 percent of the total room nights consumed in Erie County during 2008. Smith Travel Research Erie County Hotel Report
O ccu panc y
2008 2007 2006 2005
68.70% 68.60% 65.80% 61.90%
Averag e R E V E N U E R ate PA R *
$89.62 $85.09 $78.45 $75.00
* Revenue PAR = Revenue Per Available Room 3
$61.14 $58.34 $51.62 $46.42
H ote l R evenues
$191,157,208 $182,245,659 $162,301,073 $146,388,574
The process of landing a convention or sporting event can be a lengthy task – several years can elapse from initial sales contact to hosting the event. The convention sales and services staff at the Buffalo Niagara Convention & Visitors Bureau works tirelessly to promote our city as a destination to convention, meeting and amateur athletic planners. Typically the sales process begins with phone calls, meetings and correspondence to the potential client. In the meantime, local hotel and attraction partners collaborate with the CVB to assemble a proposal and presentation to the organization. Before producing a signed contract, meetings, discussions, site visits, and negotiations regularly take place. The sales department had a record-breaking year for advance convention and event bookings in 2008 that resulted in 500 new sales leads. During 2008, the sales department booked 286 future conventions, meetings and events. As a result, over 130,728 hotel room nights have been booked in Erie County hotels. While this represents a significant “win” for the CVB, the real impact will be seen in our local restaurants, hotels, stores and entertainment venues where out-of-town visitors will make expenditures of close to $70 million.
CONVENTIONS BY THE NUMBERS
130,728 286 500 30 19
Booked 130,278 hotel room nights
Booked 286 conventions, meetings or events
Generated 500 new sales leads
Conducted 30 site inspections for convention and event planners
ttended 19 trade shows promoting A Buffalo Niagara 4
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000 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 In the amateur athletics world, Buffalo is highly regarded as a community that can host large-scale events. Amateur athletics and special events are a source of considerable revenue for Buffalo Niagara’s hotels, restaurants and other service providers. Among site selectors, event planners, and sports officials, Buffalo is known for its outstanding venues, commitment to service and community hospitality. In 2008, Buffalo Niagara’s economy was enhanced by over $17 million from 71 amateur sporting events that were held at area sports venues. Over 65,000 athletes and spectators consumed more than 51,000 hotel room nights due to competitions held in Buffalo. The CVB’s sports department was instrumental in hosting the ESPN Bassmasters Elite Series Tournament, New Era Cap Invitational Baseball Tournament, and the USA Hockey Tier I & Tier II Tournament.
A M AT E U R S P O R T S B Y T H E N U M B E R S
71 65,000 51,313 $17,640,505
Amateur sporting events
Hotel room nights Direct spending
H i g h l i g ht E V E N T S
Atten d ance
International Bowhunting Organization NYS Public High School Spring Track & Field New Era Invitational Baseball Tournament Tournament of Roller Hockey Series USA Hockey Tier I & Tier II Aunt Rosie’s International Series Softball Tournament Atlantic 10 Swim Championships All numbers represent out-of-town attendees
6,000 3,560 3,500 3,080 2,000 1,500 1,000
Sometimes, It’s The Little Things… Going the Extra Mile Brings a Major Piece of Business to Buffalo Initially, the odds didn’t look good for the CVB’s National Sales Manager, Cheryl Zanghi, when it came to trying to persuade the National Association of Academic Advisors for Athletics (N4A) to host their 2012 annual conference in Buffalo. The event would consume 1,300 hotel room nights over four days in the month of June. The 1,000-member national organization of service professionals who provide academic advisement for collegiate athletes was looking for a destination to host their 2012 annual conference. Through the selection process, Atlanta, Rochester and Jacksonville were asked to give formal presentations as to why the event should be held in their city. When initially approached by Zanghi, the organization politely said that Buffalo was not in their consideration set. Zanghi persisted, however, and pursued the organization’s executive director with hopes of building a relationship that could translate into business for Buffalo sometime down the road. “I knew Buffalo could offer them the perfect location for their event,” said Zanghi. “But it all comes down to overcoming people’s perceptions and trying to get them to see Buffalo in a much different light.” However, things became even more challenging when the N4A’s executive director left the organization, essentially leaving Zanghi and Buffalo without a solid contact.
Danielle LaMarre from Canisius College was one of several local college academic advisers who recorded a testimonial in support of Buffalo’s bid.
Zanghi now realized that she was going to have to be very aggressive if Buffalo was going to have a shot at even being invited to submit a bid. Having lost her only contact in the organization, Zanghi picked up the phone and called all 15 N4A board members. The calls not only served as an introduction, but Zanghi was able to identify a possible competitive advantage that Buffalo would have over some of the competing cities. Zanghi was able to convey that since a majority of the N4A membership resided in the South, hosting an event in a Northeast city might attract new members from the northern region. Not leaving anything to chance, Zanghi also asked three colleges – Buffalo State, Canisius and the University at Buffalo – to create and submit videos to their counterparts, inviting them to host their event in Buffalo. All the hard work paid off when the CVB, along with the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center and the Hyatt Regency, gave a formal presentation at the N4A board meeting in Jacksonville. In a major come-from-behind win, after the board meeting Buffalo was awarded the National Association of Academic Advisors for Athletics (N4A) 2012 annual conference. “Sometimes it’s a matter of taking all the little things and making them big,” said Zanghi about the winning bid. “In Buffalo, we sometimes have to try a little harder to get people’s attention. I look at it as all in a day’s work.”
National Sales Manager Cheryl Zanghi
Seizing an opportunity for Buffalo A Large Helping of Hospitality – and a Bit of Barbecue – Bring TPOC to Town When bidding for Buffalo to host the 2009 Travel Professionals of Color (TPOC) annual conference, the CVB’s multicultural sales manager, Dionne Williamson, discovered an additional opportunity for the city: a chance to become only the second city in the United States to be designated as an authentic African American Heritage Tourism Destination. To use a sports analogy, Williamson was looking for a double-play: to bring an influential annual travel conference to Buffalo and to promote the city as a destination that would appeal to African American visitors. Williamson was halfway to her goal in January 2008 when Buffalo was awarded TPOC’s 2009 four-day annual event that will attract almost 400 multicultural travel planners. She now had her sights set in securing the heritage tourism designation for the city. African American travelers are one of the fastest growing segments in the hospitality industry. Since 2004 the CVB has developed a variety of tools such as the Buffalo Niagara African American Heritage Guide, and the “Feel the Flavor” multicultural video/DVD to attract this burgeoning market. Securing Buffalo’s designation as an authentic African American Travel Destination would validate and endorse Buffalo to convention and meeting planners, as well as leisure visitors. In the summer of 2008, Williamson invited the TPOC Heritage Tourism Team to Buffalo for a site audit. The group visited Buffalo’s African American attractions, dining and shopping destinations. TPOC inspected the city to determine if it provides an authentic experience for African American travelers. Many of Buffalo’s multicultural tourism partners rolled out the red carpet as the group visited numerous African American destinations, including visits to the Nash House, Michigan Street Baptist Church, and the Colored Musicians Club. The group also dined at One Sunset and had a catered lunch by Donnie’s Smokehouse. They also visited significant sites, such as Broderick Park and places not yet recognized on official registers. “African American groups and individuals are increasingly searching for real experiences pertaining to their cultural heritage,” said Williamson. “TPOC’s designation not only validates the work and investment our community has put into our local African American attractions, but also sends a signal across the country that Buffalo is a welcoming destination for African American travelers.” In November 2008, Williamson was notified that TPOC was captivated by their visit and had designated the city as an authentic African American Heritage Tourism Destination. TPOC commended Buffalo for having exciting tour plans that cover African American and Civil Rights history, interesting festivals and events, and authentic ethnic cuisine. “This designation will really help us sell Buffalo,” said Williamson. “It will open people’s eyes to the rich African American heritage sites in our city. This was a very gratifying project that will help Buffalo for many years to come.”
Multicultural Sales Manager Dionne Williamson
Buffalo Niagara Convention Center
The cornerstone of the region’s conventions and trade show market is downtown Buffalo’s 110,000 square-foot Buffalo Niagara Convention Center. Each year, the facility hosts a wide array of public events, trade shows, conventions and meetings. In 2008, the Center was the site of many large conferences and meetings, including Creating Keepsakes Scrapbook Convention (3,500 attendees), NYS Bureau of Emergency Medical Services (2,500 attendees), NYS Association for the Education of Young Children (2,000 attendees), New York State Bureau of Media Service (1,700 attendees), Mary Kay Career Conference (1,020 attendees), and American Association of Airport Executives (600 attendees). Some of the annual events the convention center hosts include: the Buffalo Home & Garden Show, Buffalo Auto Show, Buffalo Niagara Dental Meeting, Brides World and the World’s Largest Disco. In total, the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center was responsible for attracting over 287,000 people to downtown Buffalo.
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CONVENTION CENTER BY THE NUMBERS
2 87,000 170 15,600
Over 287,000 people attended events at the convention center
The convention center hosted 170 events
Over 15,600 hotel room nights were utilized due to events at the center
The Year in Pictures Scenes From a Very Successful 2008
Õ CVB Vice President of Sales Mike Even spoke with prospective customers at the National Preservation Conference in
Tulsa, OK in October 2008. CVB staff continued its marketing and attendance building efforts aimed at National Trust for Historic Preservation members by distributing visitors guides, Buffalo architecture calendars, and DVDs of “Frank Lloyd Wright’s Buffalo.” The National Trust is scheduled to visit Buffalo in 2011.
Õ CVB National Sales Manager Cheryl Zanghi and hospitality partners created the “Best Overall Multiple Booth” at the Affordable Meetings National trade show in Washington, DC. “Buffalo: The Natural Choice” was the theme that highlighted the region’s natural attractions and recreation opportunities. Õ In May, the CVB celebrated “National Tourism Week” and
the start of the 2008 summer tourism season by re-painting the blue buffalos that mark the Walk Buffalo self-guided walking tour of downtown Buffalo’s architectural treasures. Pictured here, from L-R: Grant Loomis, Erie County; Mayor Byron Brown, City of Buffalo; Michael Schmand, Buffalo Place; and Richard Geiger, President & CEO, Buffalo Niagara CVB.
Ó The CVB’s ‘Getaway with the Girls’ promotion was a big hit at the National Women’s Show in Toronto this past November. CVB Marketing Manager Karen Huefner pitched themed packages highlighting spas, shopping, cooking and theater in Buffalo. 9
The Year in Pictures Scenes From a Very Successful 2008
Õ Linda D’Agostino, CVB’s State Sales Manager, a contingent of hotel partners and the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center,
promoted Buffalo at the Empire State Society of Association Executives annual trade show in Saratoga Springs. The awardwinning booth promoted “Sweet Deals in Buffalo” to meeting planners, showcasing the affordability of hosting events in Buffalo.
Õ CVB Board Chair-elect Jennifer Parker introduced the CVB’s newest video production, “Buffalo Niagara: Feel the Flavor,” at the Market Arcade Film & Arts Centre with the help of CVB President Richard Geiger and County Executive Chris Collins. Õ New York Times’ photographer Tony Cenicola found the
ideal vantage point for a shot of the Richardson-Olmsted Complex. Cenicola’s photographs of Buffalo’s architectural monuments appeared in a three-page article in the Nov. 16, 2008 edition of the Times.
Õ CVB Multicultural Sales Manager Dionne Williamson is
Õ Albright-Knox Art Gallery Director Louis Grachos gave writer
joined by two visitors from Kenya at the 2008 Travel Professionals of Color (TPOC) annual conference held in New Orleans. Williamson was attendance building for TPOC’s 2009 conference that will be held in Buffalo.
Eve Kahn a tour of the gallery’s sculpture garden on a CVBsponsored press trip in July. Kahn’s reflections on Buffalo’s art and architecture appeared in the Winter 2008-2009 issue of Style 1900.
000 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 In attracting the group tour market, the sales staff utilizes a variety of tactics and communications tools to gain the attention and interest of tour decision makers. Once the tour operators are sold on Buffalo, they then have to convince consumers to book a tour to the Queen City. In 2008, the CVB hosted 20 familiarization tours and 5 site inspections for more than 600 tour operators. Staff also attended 5 trade shows. As reported by Erie County hotels, more than 106,652 hotel room nights were consumed by group tours. In an attempt to reach the leisure travel market, the CVB advertised in the New York State TPA (Tourism Promotion Agency) Council Cooperative Advertising Program in Better Homes & Gardens, Preservation Magazine, Ladies Home Journal, Country Living, Family Circle, USA Weekend, The New York Times and Great Vacation Getaways, as well as WIVB’s “Shop 4 Buffalo” and Toronto.com. The CVB successfully teamed up with Southwest Airlines to highlight special airfares to Buffalo. The Tourism sales staff attended “One Tank Getaways” trade shows which are used to promote the area’s assets to consumers within a 300 mile radius. Tourism sales staff collaborated with the local tourism industry and cultural attractions to develop incentives, promotions and packages for the Southern Ontario market promoting shopping, sports, theatre and arts weekends. More than 400,000 Buffalo Visitors Guides were distributed to visitor inquiries, meeting planners, group tour operators, international receptive operators, convention delegates, business travelers, visitor centers, New York State Gateway Centers, rest stops and American Automobile Association (AAA) and Canadian Auto Association (CAA) offices. An integral part of the CVB’s ongoing effort to re-brand Buffalo Niagara as a destination rich in culture, heritage and family entertainment, the 72-page Visitors Guide serves as the primary tool utilized by staff to tell the Buffalo story to potential visitors. Also of note in 2008, the CVB and Macy’s department store opened a visitor center at the Walden Galleria mall in Cheektowaga. The satellite visitor center is located in Macy’s customer service office and includes a computer terminal for online research on visitbuffaloniagara.com, a dedicated phone line to the CVB’s main visitor center in downtown 7C;H?97DC 7IJ;HI 7C;H?97DJ H;7IKH;I Buffalo, and racks of information promoting the area’s attractions.
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TO U R I S M B Y T H E N U M B E R S
20 5 600 5 71,136
Designed and conducted 20 fam tours and 5 site inspections for 600 tour operators and group leaders
Attended 5 trade shows to promote Buffalo Niagara
Responded to 71,136 visitor inquiries