2018 Annual Report

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Annual Report

Pull up a chair.

You are welcomed here.

Table of Contents

Chairman of the Board Letter . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 CEO Letter . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 Convention Sales . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 Destination Services . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10 Finance & Operations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12 Industry & Community Involvement . . . . . 14 Human Resources . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16 Marketing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18 Partnership Development . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21 SportsPITTSBURGH . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23 2018 Board of Directors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26 Staff . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27


Creating economic growth by promoting Pittsburgh as a leading travel destination.


Life would not be complete without visiting Pittsburgh.


2018 Annual Report

Pull up a chair.

You are welcomed here.


Chairman of the Board Letter It has been an honor serving as the Board Chairman of VisitPITTSBURGH for the first of my two years in office. It remains one of the top destination marketing and sales organizations in the travel and tourism industry.

It has also been a distinct pleasure working with the other VisitPITTSBURGH Board Members who share a common desire to promote our city and region to the world. They are an innovative, knowledgeable and passionate group of professionals who are an important part of what is driving the success of this city. As we know, Pittsburgh is a unique and special place to visit, work and live. Its growing reputation as a hub for advancements in business and technology; an award-winning culinary scene; and a vibrant arts and culture community, offers a future of endless possibilities.

“As we know, Pittsburgh is a unique and special place to visit, work and live. Its growing reputation as a hub for advancements in business and technology; an award-winning culinary scene; and a vibrant arts and culture community, offers a future of endless possibilities.”


2018 Annual Report

2018 was another great year for the region and VisitPITTSBURGH. We hosted and booked significant conventions and trade shows, hosted multiple NCAA events, and our marketing campaigns were recognized with industry awards. In addition, the Pittsburgh International Airport continues to add direct flights and is progressing with a state-of-theart renovation, providing additional

opportunities for business and leisure travel in new markets and yet another attribute that positions Pittsburgh as an ultimate destination. Thanks to the leadership of VisitPITTSBURGH President and CEO Craig Davis, along with the support of our elected officials, and committed partners and dedicated staff, we continue to position Pittsburgh as a premier destination for organizations, events and individuals from all over the world. Thank you for your continued support of VisitPITTSBURGH. I look forward to working with all of you in promoting this great city and region in 2019 as we invite visitors to “Pull Up a Chair. You are Welcomed Here!”

Bryan Iams

CEO Letter

2018 was truly a defining year for

VisitPITTSBURGH and the region’s tourism sector. Along with our many partners, we continued to bring Pittsburgh to the world, and the world to Pittsburgh. From hosting high profile conventions and meetings, to creating attention-grabbing and award-winning marketing campaigns to welcoming the inaugural charter flight from Shanghai, China, our staff worked hard to promote our great region domestically and internationally. Together with our partners, we promoted the city’s reputation as a ‘City of Champions’ and showed the NCAA what our community could accomplish as our SportsPITTSBURGH team led efforts in hosting the first eight of 22 NCAA championships awarded to our region in 2017. As part of the NCAA DII National Championships Festival, six of these events took place over a three-day period in four separate venues – a true test of Pittsburgh’s ability to step up to a challenge and deliver success. In 2018, our VisitPITTSBURGH team also worked to prepare for the PCMA 2019 Convening Leaders conference, which took place January 6-9. This event is one of the largest educational conferences for convention planners held in the United States, providing a great opportunity for us to showcase the city to an influential group that can positively impact our economy for years to come.

In addition to the events we have already hosted, we witnessed strong bookings in 2018 for future conventions and sport events. Our Convention Sales and SportsPITTSBURGH teams exceeded their hotel room night booking goals again for the sixth straight year. Our creative and innovative Marketing team spent the last part of 2018 developing our Pull Up a Chair. You are Welcomed Here! campaign, which we will launch at our Annual Meeting. The campaign will be the theme for all of VisitPITTSBURGH’s marketing activities. Our aim is to continue to communicate to the world that Pittsburgh is a welcoming community for everyone. I want to sincerely thank all of you who work so tirelessly with VisitPITTSBURGH. Our dedicated elected officials provide unwavering support in all of our endeavors, and our diverse collection of engaged partners provide unforgettable experiences for our visitors, both business and leisure, and we are so grateful. Our team achieved much in 2018, but we know our work is not done. In 2019, we will continue to work with our elected officials, partners and stakeholders to do everything possible to promote our great city and region. Thank you again for helping us show visitors that they are welcomed here. Craig T. Davis

“Our dedicated elected officials provide unwavering support in all of our endeavors, and our diverse collection of engaged partners provide unforgettable experiences for our visitors, both business and leisure, and we are so grateful.”


2018 Highlights

330,429 Total Rooms Booked 555 330,429 Total Rooms Booked Future Meetings




92 Journalists Hosted


2018 Annual Report

555 Future Meetings 175 Events




92 $37.9 mil. Journalists Generated Hosted $37.9 mil. 66 Generated New Partners IN ADVERTISING EQUIVALENCY


175 Events


66 New Partners Recruited

413 Atte


$1.49 mil. in Partner Income Generated $1.49 mil. in Partner Income Generated

413,853 Attendees Welcomed 413,853 Attendees Welcomed

494 Events Hosted 494 Events Hosted

$228 mil. Direct Spending Generated $228 mil. Direct Spending IN HOSTED EVENTS



1.5 mil. Engaged 1.5 mil. Engaged WITH VisitPITTSBURGH.COM


117,075 New Social Media Fans & Followers 117,075 New Social Media Fans & Followers

6 NCAA Championships 6 NCAA






The gorgeous Pittsburgh skyline sells itself to travelers and meeting planners visiting the city.

Convention Sales

2018 was a banner year for meetings and conventions in Pittsburgh. The Convention Sales team booked more than 242,000 room nights for future events, ensuring that Pittsburgh will be a busy meetings and conventions destination for years to come. This marks the sixth consecutive year that the sales team exceeded its booking goal. The Convention Sales team has been extremely successful at promoting the rise of Pittsburgh as a vibrant meeting destination to attract key conventions that had not selected Pittsburgh in the past. Examples of major city-wide conventions that booked Pittsburgh in 2018, after literally a decade or more of determined selling by our team, include: the International Code Council in September 2021 and the Unitarian Universalist Association in June 2023. These groups, and others, are seeing the evolution of our destination as a reason to put Pittsburgh on their list. Persistence pays off! In 2018, Convention Sales also promoted Pittsburgh to international group visitors. These efforts were highlighted in August when


2018 Annual Report

Pittsburgh welcomed the first charter flight of Chinese visitors to our city. VisitPITTSBURGH joined the Pittsburgh International Airport, Idea Foundry, and Butler County and Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureaus in a strategic partnership with CAISSA Touristic to bring this inaugural group of Chinese tourists to Pittsburgh. A significant amount of time, effort and resources in 2018 went into preparing Pittsburgh to host the January 2019 Convening Leaders conference, held by the Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA). The goal of this strategic endeavor was to demonstrate to the business events community that Pittsburgh is a dynamic, first-class meeting destination.

In 2018, the Convention Sales department booked more than 80,000 definite room nights, “in the year - for the year,” helping our hotel partners solidify 2018 as one of the strongest convention years in Pittsburgh’s history!

Highlights •• Booked 510 meetings and conventions.

•• Participated in 22 trade shows and industry conferences.

•• Booked 242,404 room nights for 2018 and future years.

•• Continued the Bring It Home campaign – designed to encourage local members of associations to bring their national meetings to Pittsburgh – and made 225 new contacts.

•• Hosted 448 meetings and conventions, attracting 173,240 attendees.

Pittsburgh was proud to host the National Society of Black Engineers for a fourth time in 2018.

“Coming off a very strong showing in 2018, our Convention Sales team is committed to pushing their effort to the next level, both domestically and internationally.” -Craig Davis

Hosting 448 meetings and conventions brought in 173,240 attendees.

•• Hosted 34 events in the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, accounting for 201 usage days.

•• Hosted 138 customers through individual site visits, and conducted 1,598 face-to-face appointments with meeting planners.

Top 10 Conventions Booked in 2018

(By Room Nights)


Room Nights

NEIGHBORWORKS AMERICA 2018 NeighborWorks Training Institute


Association for Iron and Steel Technology 2022 AISTECH


Unitarian Universalist Association 2023 UUA General Assembly


Anthrocon 2019 Annual Convention


International Association for Food Protection 2022 IAFP Annual Meeting


Python Software Foundation 2020 PyCon


The Steelworkers 2018 USW/CWA Health, Safety and Environment Conference


The Steelworkers 2019 USW Joint Safety and Health Conference


International Code Council 2021 Annual Conference


ASME International Gas Turbine Institute 2021 Turbo Expo



Destination Services


2018 was a great year in Pittsburgh for our clients as the Destination Services team went above and beyond. We exceeded the expectations for every event and each guest that we assisted, ensuring a lasting positive impression for our visitors! A new “WOW” campaign was started to engage with guests visiting Pittsburgh for special occasions such as birthdays, anniversaries or first trips. These special guests were contacted and welcomed via social media channels and invited to stop by the WELCOME PITTSBURGH Information Center and Gift Shop to receive a free, commemorative gift. Guests that we reached out to shared that they were “happy and elated” to be contacted while visiting Pittsburgh. Additionally, they said, “everyone was so friendly and sweet and we can’t wait to come back!”

Allegheny County. Additionally, our team spent countless hours preparing to welcome these first-time guests, and organizing and facilitating a flawless experience while they toured our city. Just a few examples of what our guests had to say include: “They always anticipated our needs, and handled every situation with professionalism. They are the real experts on everything Pittsburgh and in executing great conferences.”

To ensure the successful execution of numerous NCAA events and PCMA Convening Leaders, our volunteer recruitment efforts increased the number of potential volunteers in our TRS database by 200 percent in 2018. This will have a lasting impact on our ability to fulfill volunteer roles and assist groups with this important task.

“…A rare find, always going the extra mile; her expertise was essential to the success of the conference.”

Building upon our International Marketing Collaborative with the Pittsburgh International Airport and other partners, and in preparation for the inaugural charter flight from Shanghai in August 2018, our team collaborated with the Idea Foundry and Guest Service Solutions to facilitate a total of 13 “PittsburgHosts China” customer service training sessions for 250 frontline hospitality employees working throughout

“We just received great service from VisitPITTSBURGH; he gave insightful advice on where to go, how to get there and all the logistics of our plan. He was helpful and a joy!”

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•• Actively serviced 175 events. •• Managed hotel reservations for four city-wide conventions and events, processing 4,683 reservations (13,684 room nights) and generating $2.3 million for hotel partners. •• Provided 4,156 hours of onsite registration assistance. •• Promoted Pittsburgh by participating in attendance builders for 10 major upcoming events. •• Issued 40 planning bulletins to the community in advance of incoming conventions and events.

“I would highly recommend working with the staff of VisitPITTSBURGH to anyone planning a meeting or conference.”

“She went out of her way to make sure our visit went well and that we left with happy memories of Pittsburgh.” The International Marketing Collaborative combined efforts from several partners to host the inaugural charter flight from Shanghai, China.

Noteworthy •• Convened 12 pre-convention meetings between key stakeholders and meeting planners. •• Developed service plans for 170 events. •• Organized and hosted 54 planning site visits. •• Provided 238 partner business referral leads to meeting planners. •• Provided welcome messages at Pittsburgh International Airport for 74 events. •• Assisted 29 wedding groups with Pittsburgh information.

•• Assisted 14 family reunions with Pittsburgh information. •• Welcomed nearly 705,700 visitors (82% from out of town) to nine affiliated welcome centers, a 27% increase from 2017. •• Conducted 17 customer service training programs through the PittsburgHosts campaign. •• Conducted 12 onsite promotions at the WELCOME PITTSBURGH Information Centers and Gift Shops.

Anthrocon continues to be one of Pittsburgh’s most well-attended and celebrated conventions.

95% of planners indicated that VisitPITTSBURGH services exceeded their expectations!

Top 10 Conventions Hosted in 2018 (By Direct Spending)


Direct Spending (Millions)

National Society of Black Engineers 44th Annual National Convention


Anthrocon 2018 Annual Convention


2018 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair


National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts 2018 Annual Conference


American Institute of Chemical Engineers 2018 AIChE Annual Meeting


2018 Tekko


Emergency Nurses Association 2018 Annual Conference


American Federation of Teachers 2018 Convention


American Society of Mechanical Engineers 2018 International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition


American Postal Workers Union APWU, AFL-CIO 24th Biennial National Convention


Data listed shows Direct Spending numbers only.


Finance & Operations In 2018, the Finance and Operations department remained focused on providing a strong infrastructure for the organization.

The Finance team again delivered a clean audit and helped our departments manage budgets that are closely aligned with both the current Strategic Plan and the 2018 Business Plan. In addition, the team reviewed the current corporate credit card program and instituted electronic funds transfers for employee reimbursements. Working with the Finance Committee, Finance and Operations sent our CPA services out to bid and conducted interviews of several reputable firms. At the conclusion of the review, the Finance Committee endorsed retaining Sisterson and Company, our current firm. Also, the team worked to develop a plan to realign our reserves to ensure that funds were available to cover the investment in PCMA early in 2019. The Information Technology (IT) team contracted with an independent firm to conduct a comprehensive review of our IT structure and operations. The audit results reinforced the strength of our systems and internal controls and identified a number of areas where VisitPITTSBURGH can make changes to improve productivity. One area of concentration was the creation of a Chief Information Office that oversees a transparent,

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centralized IT structure and strategy. The Chief Information Office is comprised of the Chief Financal Officer, Chief Marketing Officer and the Executive Vice President, which gives us a balance of creativity and operational diligence to guide the IT strategy of the organization. While much progress was made in 2018, there remains work to do in the upcoming years to ensure that VisitPITTSBURGH has the technology resources that are necessary for success and a system that protects the intellectual property owned by the organization. In the third quarter of the year, VisitPITTSBURGH’s leadership team worked with the Board of Directors and outside stakeholders to craft an update to the Strategic Plan. As part of the process, VisitPITTSBURGH conducted the DestinationNEXT assessment

Noteworthy In keeping with our commitment to fiscal responsibility, VisitPITTSBURGH restated the audited financial statements based on new accounting pronouncements and expanded our more than 20-year record for delivering a clean audit.

to gauge our destination’s strength in terms of infrastructure, community engagement and support of the organization. The results of the assessment placed us firmly in the top quarter of performance and showed close alignment in the perceptions of the tourism landscape in Pittsburgh. The resulting plan lays the framework for what is to be accomplished in the next three to five years.

Enhanced operational procedures help keep VisitPITTSBURGH looking towards the future.

Highlights •• Implemented EFT payments for employee reimbursements.

•• Assessed the corporate credit card program.

•• Updated the Investment Portfolio based on guidance from the Finance Committee.

•• Conducted an RFP of lobbying services and added Cohen & Grigsby to our team.

•• Installed Spiceworks to manage IT requests and needs.

•• Prepared cash flow projections for special investment opportunities like NCAA, PCMA and the International Marketing Collaborative program.

•• Updated the Strategic Plan. •• Reviewed CPA services.

Sources of Funding







Restricted Grants and Revenue



Advertising and Sponsorships



Contributions In Kind



Participation Fees



Merchandising Income



Convention Services



Interest Income









Membership Investment Allegheny County Hotel Room Tax Revenue

Net Realized Gain on Investments Other Revenue

Total Support and Revenue

VisitPITTSBURGH’s Strategic Plan is instrumental in keeping our organization at the forefront of the travel and tourism industry.






Sports Initiatives



Convention Services



Visitor Services



Leisure Marketing









Partnership Development







Convention Sales

Management/Operating Special Opportunity

Total Expenses

13,452,738 12,073,628


Industry & Community Involvement Our staff and leadership team continue to have active board involvement with local not-for-profit boards of directors. At present, our team serves on the boards of the following professional organizations:

Professional Organizations and Committees •• Allegheny Conference on Community Development – Airport Working Group •• Allegheny Airport Authority Forecast Committee (focus group)

•• Leadership Pittsburgh •• Marketing Research Association •• Meeting Professionals International

•• Public Relations Society of America – Travel and Tourism Section

•• Mid-Atlantic Tourism Public Relations Alliance (MATPRA)

•• Religious Management Conference Association

•• National Association of Social Workers

•• Rivers Club Young Executive Council

•• National Association of Sports Commissions

•• Senator John Heinz History Center – Marketing Committee

•• National Coalition of Black Meeting Planners •• P3R •• Pennsylvania Association of Travel and Tourism (PATT)

•• American Society of Association Executives

•• Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission Motor Carrier Enforcement Chief – Pittsburgh Taxi & Limo Ad Hoc Group

•• Certified Destination Management Executive Committee*

•• Pennsylvania Society of Association Executives

•• Connect Diversity

•• Pennsylvania Sports*

•• Connect Sports

•• Pittsburgh Arts Research Committee (PARC)

•• Cultural Tourism Alliance*

•• Pittsburgh Cares

•• Destination & Travel Foundation*

•• Pittsburgh Cultural Trust – First Night Advisory Board

•• Destination Greater Pittsburgh*

•• Professional Convention Management Association

•• SKAL International Pittsburgh* •• Society of Government Meeting Planners •• Society of Human Resource Management •• SW PA Chapter Board for the Pennsylvania Restaurant and Lodging Association •• Southwestern Pennsylvania Researchers Roundtable •• Theatre Historical Society of America •• Travel & Tourism Research Association (TTRA)

Personal Volunteerism* •• ACH Clear Pathways •• Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.*

•• Destinations International*

•• Pittsburgh Cultural Trust – Marketing Advisory Committee

•• Destination Marketing Accreditation Program

•• Pittsburgh Human Resources Association*

•• Animal Friends

•• Pittsburgh Rotary

•• Bridges Society of the United Way

•• Pittsburgh Society of Association Executives*

•• Catholic Charities*

•• PittsburghTODAY Regional Economic Indicators Committee

•• Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank

•• EQT Three Rivers Regatta* •• Event Service Professionals Association •• Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council* •• JazzLive Pittsburgh International Festival •• Kidsburgh Advisory Committee

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•• Pittsburgh Urban Magnet Program

•• Andrew Jackson Language Academy

•• Humane Animal Rescue * •• Junior Achievement – Capital Campaign Marketing & PR Committee

•• Junior League of Greater Pittsburgh

VisitPITTSBURGH staff are proud volunteer, board or executive committee members for several local and national organizations.

•• Lawrenceville Memorial Day Parade Association •• Mary D. Ravita Scholarship Fund – Scholarship Committee •• National Aviary’s Night in the Tropics Planning Committee •• Operation Safety Net •• Pittsburgh’s 50 Finest •• PowerLink •• Riverview School Board* •• St. Paul of the Cross Retreat Center Board of Directors and HR Committee •• St. Stanislaus Kostka School •• St. Victor’s Church HR Committee

VisitPITTSBURGH’s staff work throughout the community promoting the vast array of events and activities which form Pittsburgh’s tourism sector.

•• Salvation Army Greater Pittsburgh Advisory Board* •• Sisters Place Friends* •• TJ Arts* •• The Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh Charter School* •• United Way of Allegheny County Women’s Leadership Council •• University of Pittsburgh School of Social Work Alumni Advisory Board •• Whiskey Rebellion Trail Advisory Board •• WYEP-FM *Board or Executive Committee member

VisitPITTSBURGH’s staff conducted a creative poster competition with local students for an NCAA Championship Event.

Hosting public activations at events like PrideFest helps VisitPITTSBURGH engage with the community in exciting and creative ways.


Highlights •• VisitPITTSBURGH’s HR function was audited by an outside human resources consultant. The findings determined that our HR function is highly effective and efficient, particularly for an organization of its size. The analysis showed that there is a high level of transparency in employee communications, policies are consistently applied and recruiting efforts include a concerted effort to hire diverse candidates.

Our Human Resources team provides staff with the tools they need to succeed.

Human Resources

Human Resources (HR) is the architect of strategies that leverage our talent and are designed to engage and support our employees. Achieving our mission and business plan goals is directly connected to our staff and human resource strategies, which drive organizational value. The HR function includes executing strategies regarding compensation, salary administration, health and welfare benefits, HIPAA compliance, talent acquisition, performance management, onboarding for new employees and our internship program. We strive to incorporate the best coaching

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and professional development, family-friendly workplace flexibility, automated attendance and time off, wellness programming and risk avoidance and compliance with all federal, state and local regulations including the ACA, EEO, FMLA, ADEA, ADA and GINA.

•• Together with our broker, Hub International, we aggressively marketed the renewal of our health and welfare benefits. We renewed our insurance coverage with Highmark, United Concordia Dental, VSP Vision and CIGNA life and disability. •• Executing our salary and compensation program is an ongoing strategy. Competitive compensation attracts top talent that pushes our organization to achieve its mission, goals and objectives. Targeted and budgeted equity adjustments were implemented. •• VisitPITTSBURGH was in full compliance with the Affordable

Care Act. Our 2017 tax return was filed with the IRS, and the required 1095-B and 1095-C forms were distributed to eligible staff. •• Recruitment activity consisted of three full-time campaigns executed and resulted in the hiring of a Destination Services Coordinator, Partnership Business Development/ Retention Manager and a Marketing Content Creator/ Coordinator. Four temporary staff were hired in Sports Development, Marketing and Destination Services. Three on-call employees joined our team, working as registrars and in our welcome centers. •• For the fourth consecutive year, VisitPITTSBURGH was recognized by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette as one of Pittsburgh’s 2018 Top Workplaces, based on employee responses to a survey conducted by Energage. •• VisitPITTSBURGH earned the 2017 United Way Campaign Silver Circle Performance Award, which honors organizations for exceptional fundraising.

•• Our 2018 United Way Campaign collected $13,775, with 75% staff participation. •• VisitPITTSBURGH offered three volunteer options for our 18th annual Day of Caring. 65% of staff participated in our three volunteer activities. •• January 2018 featured our 15th annual hospitality food drive, honoring the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. •• VisitPITTSBURGH day was May 18, and our staff participated in a ‘Burgh Bits and Bites Food Tour of the Strip District. •• VisitPITTSBURGH is fully committed to our Equal Employment Opportunity and Affirmative Action Program. Statistical analysis of our recruitment campaigns validates that we exceed the target percentage of women and minorities available in our recruiting area, and project a workplace culture that welcomes women, minorities, veterans and individuals with disabilities. •• On July 1, we launched our Year 12 wellness program, branded “Strive to be Well in Twelve.” 86% percent of

As part of our “Day of Caring,” VisitPITTSBURGH staff volunteered for “Games for Good” with the United Way, at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center.

eligible employees engaged in various programs, and 63 employees and spouses completed the health risk assessment. Year 12 is outcome-based, managed by Mediterranean Wellness, who tracks and verifies all activities and requirements. •• Our Friday Jeans Day for Charity collected $6,642. Forty-four charities were sponsored, and the total was donated exclusively by our employees.

Noteworthy Our organizational onboarding and benefit enrollment process was automated, eliminating the use of paper for new hires, annual open enrollment, changes of address, deductions, status or qualifying events.



In 2018, the Marketing department continued to prove that the decision to merge Marketing, Communications and Digital Marketing into one department in 2017 was a decision that will help position VisitPITTSBURGH for long-term success.

The Marketing staff produced numerous innovative advertising and public relations efforts, including an augmented reality cookie, the Third Word Campaign, Thank You Pittsburghers videos, How to Speak Mandarin video, enhancements to a stunning new website, a new Convention Sales campaign and a marketing effort with Expedia that led to nearly $1 million in hotel room nights for the 10 participating hotels. The department also hosted what one industry expert described as, “the best Destinations International CMO conference to date.”

The Marketing team developed interactive accounts on Twitter for three of Pittsburgh’s bridges: the Rachel Carson Bridge, the Fort Pitt Bridge and the Washington’s Landing Bridge.

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The Marketing staff produced many “WOW” marketing moments for the NCAA DII National Championships Festival in November. Each staff member also worked with the SportsPITTSBURGH team behind-the-scenes on tasks ranging from selling merchandise, to laying down the volleyball court to mopping up locker rooms. This experience showed the NCAA that the VisitPITTSBURGH and SportsPITTSBURGH teams will come together to ensure these events are successful, and it was an educational experience for the Marketing staff on the logistics of hosting sports events.


The staff also created many innovative marketing efforts for PCMA Convening Leaders including a booth design that had a new concept each day, two social media contests for social influencers with prize packages being a Pittsburgh weekend getaway, a pop-up direct mail piece featuring the Duquesne Incline and the introduction of three of Pittsburgh’s bridges with their own Twitter accounts.

•• Produced a marketing plan for NCAA events. •• Produced the Rally Pittsburghers video for NCAA DII National Championships Festival. •• Produced the award-winning 360 video. •• Produced the Thank You Pittsburghers videos, featuring VisitPITTSBURGH executives.

In addition, the Marketing department realized increased cost savings by continuing to bring more design work in-house – almost 90 percent of design work is now internal. Unlike other Convention and Visitors Bureaus, VisitPITTSBURGH’s Marketing department chooses to produce most creative internally rather than to engage an agency of record for domestic marketing. The department does, however, oversee the efforts of two international marketing agencies (Black Diamond and Lieb) as part of the International Marketing Collaborative with the Pittsburgh International Airport, Idea Foundry and Convention and Visitors Bureaus in various adjacent counties. 2018 ended with the completion of the Pull Up a Chair. You are Welcomed Here! video, which will be the launch pad for a national advertising campaign in 2019.

•• Oversaw marketing efforts and budget for our International Marketing Collaborative. •• Introduced the Experience Your Pittsburgh campaign. •• Introduced an Expedia marketing campaign that generated nearly $1 million for the 10 participating hotels.

The Marketing team’s 360 video won a prestigious “Best in Show” Davey Award.

Noteworthy The Marketing department realized increased cost savings by continuing to bring more design work in-house – almost 90 percent of design work is now internal.

•• The 2022 Committee presented their initial findings at the Destinations International CMO Conference and at the Destinations International National Conference in Anaheim, CA. •• Began a partnership with the Pittsburgh Brewers Guild and Brewers Guide laying groundwork for 2019 Craft Brew Tourism campaign. •• Participated in a partnership with various organizations

to promote the 2019 Whiskey Rebellion Trail. •• Created an augmented reality cookie for the PCMA mid-year meeting in Cleveland to tout Pittsburgh as a high-tech city. •• Established the arts and culture liaisons role where each Marketing staff person is a liaison to at least three cultural partners. •• Completely re-worked the creative for the successful KidsBURGH™ campaign, and activated on site in Washington, D.C. to promote KidsBURGH. •• Produced the This is Us social media contest. •• Rolled out the award-winning new VisitPITTSBURGH website. •• Based on the findings from an outside audit, restructured the social media efforts to ensure more consistent messaging and direction. •• Expanded #LovePGH blog program. •• Applied for and received the trademark for #LovePGH. •• Introduced three tweeting bridges, in which VisitPITTSBURGH operates Twitter accounts for: the Fort Pitt Bridge, the Rachel Carson Bridge and the Washington’s Landing Bridge.


•• Introduced the Tech Tourism page on our website with the intention to promote this highly successful industry, which is part of the city’s revitalization. •• Working with Convention Sales, produced the new convention sales ad campaign with the tag, Conventions, yes. Conventional, hardly. •• Led the organization’s community activation efforts for events such as the DICK’s Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon and PrideFest. •• Coordinated monthly KDKA Radio interviews for President & CEO, and SportsPITTSBURGH Executive Director. •• Responded to countless media requests from various media outlets, domestic and international. •• Continued to produce the popular Only in Pittsburgh videos. •• Conducted several Why is Pittsburgh Special school programs for students in grades 3-5. •• Hosted 92 journalists, generating $37.9 million in advertising equivalency for 2018. •• Pitched two Pittsburgh articles which ran over the Associated

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Press newswire, generating a total of $5.9 million for 2018. •• Collaborated with the State Tourism Office and various other Convention and Visitors Bureaus to create and promote the newly instituted and extremely popular Mr. Rogers’ Trail. •• Presented the Pittsburgh story as a part of our local awareness initiative at various organizations on behalf of VisitPITTSBURGH.

Website Highlights VisitPITTSBURGH.com yearover-year performance (2017 to 2018): •• 40% more users •• 47% more sessions •• 25% more pageviews •• 23% more traffic from organic traffic •• 91% more traffic from social platforms Visitors to our blog increased 190% over 2017, with the “Fall Fairs, Festivals and Events” blog generating 24,140 views. •• 54 blogs published Social Engagements: •• 109K Twitter engagements including likes, retweets and replies.

•• 81K Facebook post engagements including shares, reactions and comments. •• 70K Instagram engagements including likes and comments. •• 4.5K LinkedIn post engagements including likes, comments, shares and clicks.

International Marketing Collaborative

VisitPITTSBURGH “wowed” potential future guests with an augmented reality cookie.

•• Continued as primary point of contact for the International Marketing Collaborative along with the Pittsburgh International Airport. •• Oversaw the marketing efforts of Black Diamond, our agency in the U.K., and Lieb Management, our agency in Germany. •• Attended a successful German media roadshow, with Lieb Management, that will spur future press visits.

The Be Digital + PR event featured a panel of successful bloggers with advice for engaging a digital audience.

•• Produced an awareness campaign to inform Pittsburghers about the CAISSA direct flight from Shanghai. •• Hosted Chinese writers following the arrival of the CAISSA flight. •• Hosted 29 international writers throughout 2018.

VisitPITTSBURGH’s blog brought significant traffic to the website in 2018.

Partnership Development

Partnership events such as Fall Forecast showcase upcoming events and exhibitions.

One of the biggest benefits in partnering with VisitPITTSBURGH is meeting other partners. They are the people who make the businesses in Pittsburgh succeed and their experience and expertise is available for the asking. VisitPITTSBURGH conducts meetings several times a year, at various venues, where there is ample opportunity to network with other partners and build business relationships. These meetings address the significant events being planned for the year, the outside markets VisitPITTSBURGH is pursuing, and how to make use of the conveniences offered by a VisitPITTSBURGH partnership. Partnership Development’s primary objective continued to be to provide value to partners by offering convenient, efficient and effective resources for networking and learning, while collectively promoting partners.

role is charged with providing insight and details regarding prospective partners. This staff member is also responsible for creating strategies to reacquire dropped partners, while increasing corporate partnerships.

Partners were offered teachable moments through Insider Experiences, a new partner event that enabled partners to receive behind-the-scenes exposure of fellow partner establishments such as the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium and Topgolf. Insider Experiences also served as networking opportunities for partner organizations. Our Web Education Series was transformed into educational webinars, giving partners the ability to participate via conference call or online for convenience.

Partners were promoted in our publications and on the VisitPITTSBURGH website. Some partners took advantage of advertising and blog opportunities to promote their establishments individually or collectively with other partner businesses. The Partnership Development team continued to connect partners to Convention Sales, Destination Services, Marketing and SportsPITTSBURGH, enabling us to weave more of the mission and offerings of VisitPITTSBURGH into conversations and pitches. When speaking to clients about potential opportunities and individual visitors, our staff continued highlighting the amazing partner establishments that make up Pittsburgh and the surrounding area.

To enhance value, a Partnership Business Development/Retention Manager was hired to retain partners by ensuring that they are maximizing all of their partner benefits. This

Summer Spotlight tells us what to look forward to during the peak travel season.

Noteworthy Created a formal Partner Retention Plan. Generated nearly $1.49 million in partner income.


Highlights •• Recruited 66 new partners. •• Retained an 86% partner retention rate. •• Recruited two new corporate partners: Argo AI and Washington & Jefferson College. •• Gateway Clipper Fleet upgraded its partnership to a Corporate Tourism level. •• Celebrated the 35th Anniversary of National Travel and Tourism Week with a press conference, Summer Spotlight event and a commemorative post card.

The Partnership Development department works so closely with many of our partners, we often receive great feedback, as the example below states:

“A huge aid to the Duquesne Incline is the Convention Calendar, which lists all the major convention groups, sporting events and celebrations planned for the city and surrounding area for the year, along with contact information. VisitPITTSBURGH also emails planning bulletins as these events near so that preparations can be made for increased business. Groups, families and individuals planning a trip to Pittsburgh reach out to VisitPITTSBURGH for information. As a partner, our information is shared with these potential customers through advertising in the Official Visitors Guide, PLAY Magazine, visitors map and coupon books to name a few. And, the friendly and helpful VisitPITTSBURGH staff is only a phone call or email away if personal attention is needed.

Thanks, VisitPITTSBURGH.” Tom Reinheimer, The Duquesne Incline

•• Planned and hosted the State of the Industry Hotel Forum III. •• Updated Partner Pieces, the partner newsletter creating a component that highlights partner activity. •• Hosted networking and educational partner events. •• Hosted the annual VisitPITTSBURGH Golf Outing. •• Three new Pittsburgh hotels joined VisitPITTSBURGH in 2018: AC Hotel by Marriott Pittsburgh Downtown, TRYP by Wyndham Pittsburgh/ Lawrenceville and The Oaklander Hotel. VisitPITTSBURGH staff and our Board of Directors work closely to achieve our mission.

22 2018 Annual Report

VisitPITTSBURGH’s par tner organizations are vital in helping promote our beautiful city.


While 2017 was a time to celebrate our region’s award of 22 NCAA national championships, 2018 provided our first opportunity to prove that were deserving of the honor. November was Pittsburgh’s time to shine and that’s exactly what we did. Based on the many “thank you’s” from the athletes, fans, NCAA committee members and staff, we know the Pittsburgh Local Organizing Committee exceeded expectations at every turn.

The excitement began in mid-November when Pittsburgh hosted the first two of our 22 NCAA events. The Division III Women’s Volleyball Championships, hosted with Saint Vincent College, showcased eight elite women’s teams at Duquesne University’s A.J. Palumbo Center. Concurrently, the Division II Men’s and Women’s Cross Country Regionals, hosted with Slippery Rock University, at Bob O’Connor Golf Course, highlighted how, with a little imagination, an urban park and golf course could transform into a championship-caliber athletics venue. Just two weeks later, SportsPITTSBURGH, Clarion University and Slippery Rock University welcomed more than 900 student-athletes for the NCAA Division II National Championships Festival. We met the challenge of crowning six national champions, on the same day, in four of Pittsburgh’s iconic sports venues – Bob O’Connor Golf Course, Highmark Stadium, A.J. Palumbo Center and Art Rooney Field. In 2018, SportsPITTSBURGH hosted the first eight of the 22 NCAA Championships they were awarded the year prior.

Athletes and staff were provided with VIP treatment as police escorts led their busses to the opening ceremony. They had a uniquely Pittsburgh experience with a “private” fireworks show from PPG Place for their closing event and awards ceremony. We confirmed to the event attendees what we already knew; Pittsburghers readily come together as a team, committee, and community, to make our events exceptional. Along with hosting the NCAA’s most prestigious championships, the SportsPITTSBURGH team continued to develop new business-to-business relationships. We made treks to the cities that are home to the largest concentration of our clients – Colorado Springs, Indianapolis and Lausanne, Switzerland. These sales trips coincided with industry-specific trade shows that allowed us to have face-to-face interaction with groups that will round out the sports events calendar for 2019 and beyond.


Highlights •• Booked 88,025 room nights, 45 sports-related meetings and events. Student athletes traveled from across the country to Pittsburgh to compete in the NCAA Division II National Championships Festival.

•• Hosted the first eight of the 22 NCAA events awarded to Pittsburgh. •• Attended Smart Cities + Sports Conference, NASC Annual Symposium, TEAMS Conference and Sports Relationships Conference.

Muddy terrain made for an exciting NCAA Division II Men’s Cross Country Championship at Bob O’Connor Golf Course in Schenley Park.

•• Our sales team focused on two rapidly growing markets in the sports tourism industry: e-sports and LGBTQ events. In partnership with Point Park University, SportsPITTSBURGH formed an e-sports council to understand the assets that Pittsburgh possesses and how to take advantage of this lucrative industry. •• Extended partnerships with events that regularly make Pittsburgh their home, including the Pittsburgh Marathon, Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix and multiple team events at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center.

Pittsburgh hosted six championships in three days at four venues as part of the NCAA Division II National Championships Festival.

24 2018 Annual Report

•• For the 10th year, East Coast Volleyball hosted its junior girls’ championships over Memorial Day Weekend, and GK Sports’ Steel City Freeze returned to highlight girls’ club volleyball in late January. •• For the third consecutive year, Hoop Group hosted its premier grassroots boys’ basketball tournament, Pitt Jam Fest, in April. This event grew to 36 courts, and more 600+ teams and 200+ college coaches – all within the convention center – making Pittsburgh the place to be for college coaches looking to recruit their next star player. •• For the third consecutive year, SportsPITTSBURGH sponsored the Connect Sports Game Changers Award – a national recognition of individuals and organizations that excel in the sports tourism industry. In 2018, a SportsPITTSBURGH advocate was part of the winning class. Dan Gilman, Chief of Staff for Mayor Bill Peduto, was recognized for his contribution to the many event bid teams and local organizing committees

that help Pittsburgh remain one of the top sports event destinations in the country. •• Hoop Group’s Pitt Jam Fest and the David L. Lawrence Convention Center were awarded the Connect Sports Tourism Excellence Award for Fastest Growing Sporting Event of the Year and Sports Venue of the Year, respectively. •• Grew our social media audience by 240% over the past 12 months. •• Finally, the SportsPITTSBURGH social media plan was revamped to showcase the variety of sports events happening in Pittsburgh and the power of sports tourism in our community. Our digital assets continue to serve as the most substantial way to promote Pittsburgh as an Authentic. Iconic. Legendary. brand to national and international audiences.

Noteworthy SportsPITTSBURGH Became a certified member of the Sports Diversity Leadership Council and will host the multi-sport, Olympic-style, Sports Diversity Tournament in 2020.

Hoop Group brings in elite athletes with over 600 teams.

Top 10 Pittsburgh Sports Events Hosted in 2018*

(By Direct Spending) Direct Spending (Millions)

Event 2018 Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix


2018 DICK’S Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon


National Collegiate Athletic Association 2018 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championships - 1st/2nd Rounds


Hoop Group 2018 Pittsburgh Jam Fest


Atlantic Coast Baseball 2018 Cap Classic


East Coast Volleyball Inc 2018 East Coast Championships


2018 Replay FX


National Collegiate Athletic Association 2018 Division II National Championships Festival


United States Hockey League 2018 DICK’S Sporting Goods USHL Fall Classic


2018 National High School Dance Festival

$1.04 * Reflective of events supported by SportsPITTSBURGH.


2018 Board of Directors


Bryan Iams Chairman PPG

Thomas Martini

Treasurer Westin Convention Center Pittsburgh

Ann Metzger

Vice Chairman Carnegie Science Center

Tommy Johnson Secretary CNX

Eric DeStefano

Immediate Past Chairman Omni William Penn Hotel

Ex Officio Member Tim Muldoon

David L. Lawrence Convention Center

Honorary Members Rich Fitzgerald

Allegheny County Executive

William Peduto

Mayor of Pittsburgh

Christina Cassotis

CEO Allegheny County Airport Authority

Members at Large Thomas Baker

Allegheny County Council

Michele Meloy Burchfield

Blume Honey Water

Sean Casey

The Church Brew Works

Eric Dorfman

Carnegie Museum of Natural History

Tom Dougherty

Allegheny Land Trust

Patrice Matamoros

Executive Team


Robert Matzie

PA House of Representatives

Sylvia McCoy

Craig Davis

Mary Grasha Houpt

President & CEO

Vice President, Human Resources

Jerad Bachar

Jennifer Hawkins

Karen Fisher

Brenda Hill

‘Burgh Bits and Bites Food Tour

Mitch Swain

Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council

Terry Wirginis

Gateway Clipper Fleet

Executive Vice President

Executive Director, SportsPITTSBURGH

Daniel Gilman

Office of the Mayor

Stuart Hoffman

PNC Financial Services Group

Sheldon Ingram

Chief Financial Officer

Vice President, Destination Services


Chaz Kellem University of Pittsburgh Omar Khan

Pittsburgh Steelers

Tom Loftus

Chief Marketing Officer

Dawn Holden Vice President, Partnership Development

James Kunz Jr.

International Union of Operating Engineers Local 66

26 2018 Annual Report

Karl Pietrzak

Vice President, Convention Sales


Molly Allwein

Senior Marketing and Community Affairs Manager

Brenda Armstrong

Senior Director of Marketing

Lisa Ashbaugh

Convention Host Development Director

Jaime Budesa

Senior Services Manager

Katie Conaway

Domestic & International Group Sales Director

Diane Cortese

Director, Accounting

Bob Foley

Database Development Director

Kori Gassaway

National Sales Director, Chicago Office

Michelle Grew

Executive Assistant

Scott Hershberger

Director, Tourism Services

Barb Hollie

Destination & Visitor Services Manager

Sara Holzer

National Sales Director

Erica Just

Robert Leff

Randy Schreiber

Glenn Lopata

Justice Sifford

Sonya Maness

Colleen Smith

Kylie McCracken

Mackenzie Trunzo

National Sales Director, Minnesota Office Visitor Services Representative at Welcome Center Convention Sales Assistant Marketing Manager

Susan McGrane

Production Manager

Julia Millman

Communications Coordinator

Partnership Development Coordinator

Joshua Mizerak

Andrea Karkhanis

Shirley Mueller

Sports Development Director, SportsPITTSBURGH

Vicki Kelley

Asaka Narumi

Mary Emili

Jason Kolesar

Mike Robertson

Molly Evans

Wendy Lachendro

Gail Schenone

Mark Davidson

Partnership Business Development/Retention Manager

Derek Dawson

Visitor Services Specialist Destination Services Coordinator

Director, Marketing Research Events Manager Accounting Analyst Visitor Services Supervisor

Operations Coordinator Convention Services Administrator Director, Web Development Senior Services Manager

Director, Multi Media Design & Production Marketing Content Creator/Coordinator Partnership Development Director Sales & Market Research Coordinator

Kristen Turner

Director, Convention Services

Jennifer Vacek

Director, Convention Sales

Josh Valasek

National Sales Director

Stephanie Vogel

Executive Assistant

Kristin Wenger

Communications Director

Tom Yanosick

Director, Information Technology

Housing Director



Greater Pittsburgh Convention & Visitors Bureau

Fifth Avenue Place, 120 Fifth Avenue, Suite 2800, Pittsburgh, PA 15222 1.877.LOVEPGH | 412.281.0482 | 412.281.7711