2021 VisitPITTSBURGH Annual Report

Page 1





Chairman of the Board Letter | 4


President & CEO Letter | 5

Finance & Operations | 22

Leisure Tourism | 6

2021 Board of Directors | 26


Staff | 27

VisitPITTSBURGH is the official tourism development organization for Allegheny County, dedicated to expanding the tourism economy across the region.


CHAIRMAN OF THE BOARD LETTER Simply put, my two years as Chairman of the Board of Directors of VisitPITTSBURGH have been nothing short of unprecedented and unpredictable; but also, immensely gratifying and inspiring. TIMOTHY Q. HUDAK, ESQ. The COVID-19 global pandemic turned the travel and tourism industry upside down. When I assumed this position in the Spring of 2020, no one could have predicted the twists and turns our community would confront throughout the last 24 months. But here we are, on the cusp of the other side of the pandemic. And while the industry-wide rebound continues to march on, and will do so for several more years, I’m extremely appreciative of the guidance and leadership the VisitPITTSBURGH staff has exuded on behalf of our great city and region. From hosting community discussions and serving as a vital resource for both clients and partners to pushing forward with marketing initiatives that ensured a spotlight continued to brightly shine on Pittsburgh, this staff has risen to each challenge, and I, along with the entire Board of Directors, remain grateful for their hard work. Leisure travel paced the industry’s recovery in 2021. Our Leisure Tourism vertical unveiled the very timely Only in Pittsburgh marketing campaign in May, and in a year which saw destinations across the country competing for the same business, this campaign kept Pittsburgh top of mind by illustrating all the wonderful and unique experiences and attractions visitors can only see, do and find in Pittsburgh. Sports travel was second to leisure travel in 2021, and our SportsPITTSBURGH division once again helped create iconic sports experiences for several high-profile events, including the 2021 NCAA Men’s Division I Frozen Four, while also growing key annual events like the Western Pennsylvania Bruins Spring Tipoff. Though the business events calendar remained in a state of flux for portions of 2021, our MeetPITTSBURGH division did an excellent job of navigating the ever-changing waters, maintaining business by securing new event dates and consistently engaging planners; and by year’s end, the team was again welcoming large business events back to Pittsburgh.


Though my time as Chairman is closing, I leave the position knowing our Board of Directors will not skip a beat under the guidance of Chairperson Meredith Meyer Grelli. Meredith is one of region’s most respected entrepreneurs. As Co-Founder/Co-Owner of Wigle Whiskey and Threadbare Cider & Mead, she understands how critically important a healthy travel economy is for a destination’s hospitality industry. Additionally, her past experience in brand management at the H.J. Heinz Company will serve VisitPITTSBURGH well as the organization moves forward with exciting plans for 2022. In closing, I would like to again thank our elected officials who continued to support VisitPITTSBURGH in 2021 with PPP funding. Their continued belief in the organization’s mission is much appreciated. I am grateful for my time as Chairman of VisitPITTSBURGH’s Board of Directors. On behalf of our board of directors, thank you to Jerad Bachar, our respected leadership team and our resilient staff who continue to push the Pittsburgh travel and tourism industry forward. I eagerly await your future successes!

PRESIDENT & CEO LETTER It is with great optimism that I open this letter confidently writing to you that Pittsburgh Tourism is On the Move! JERAD BACHAR There is light at the end of the tunnel following two years of uncertainty and great upheaval for the global travel and tourism industry. Travelers are feeling more confident. In fact, according to Destination Analysts’ February 2022 American Traveler Sentiment Study, Americans’ excitement to travel over the next 12 months is the highest it has ever been in the pandemic era, with those in a ready-to-travel mindset hitting an all-time high of 84.6%. Additionally, 93.3% of Americans plan to take at least one leisure trip in the next 12 months, marking the highest percentage since the onset of the pandemic. This sentiment points to a tremendous opportunity for travel and tourism in Allegheny County. Pent up demand for travel is high. At VisitPITTSBURGH, we’ll continue to remind travelers of all the exciting attractions, experiences and activities they can see, do and find Only in Pittsburgh. Much of the momentum our region will carry into 2022 was built throughout 2021, and I’m proud of the work our three verticals completed to continue to attract visitation to Allegheny County. Our Only in Pittsburgh marketing campaign, built and deployed by our Leisure Tourism vertical, proved to be an important asset for us last year, perfectly demonstrating why Pittsburgh is a must-see destination. As travel consumers return in larger numbers, we will continue to spotlight everything that makes Pittsburgh Pittsburgh – from our 90 unique neighborhoods and breathtaking views to our fantastic hotels and accommodations, award-winning restaurants, engaging cultural attractions and so much more. As expected, sports events returned quite early in 2021, and our SportsPITTSBURGH team made sure these championships, tournaments and more took place in safe environments. And, our MeetPITTSBURGH teams worked tirelessly to retain business by finding new dates and pushing events to future years. These divisions proved to be invaluable assets to their clients throughout an

unprecedented time and are eager to welcome even more sports and business events back to Allegheny County in 2022 and beyond. I cannot close the book on 2021 before thanking our local officials, who continued to prioritize the health and safety of our region and therefore helped us position Pittsburgh as a secure destination to visit. And, thank you to our business partners, too – your resiliency and commitment to our region’s success are unmatched. You continue to provide exceptional hospitality, no matter the circumstance, and we remain grateful for your confidence and support. Looking ahead, our international marketing efforts are in high gear, as we eagerly await the return of British Airways’ year-round nonstop service between Pittsburgh International Airport and London Heathrow Airport on June 3. This route provides both U.K. visitors and global travelers with direct access to our Only in Pittsburgh attractions and experiences. According to PIT, the flight is expected to generate more than $50 million annually to the Pittsburgh regional economy. It certainly will play a key role in helping VisitPITTSBURGH bring Pittsburgh to the world and the world to Pittsburgh. Additionally, VisitPITTSBURGH also will take the first steps toward developing and establishing a 10-year Destination Master Plan (2023-2032), allowing the organization and our partners to grow Allegheny County’s tourism sector. And, as always, VisitPITTSBURGH will continue to holistically develop the tourism economy throughout the region with focused initiatives and community collaboration. I look forward to the continued movement of Pittsburgh tourism this year!


LEISURE VERTICAL As predicted by industry leading research entities, including Tourism Economics and Destination Analyst, leisure travel continued to lead the recovery of the tourism economy in Allegheny County. With limited resources, the leisure team forged ahead and continued to be a strong, proactive and effective team focused on increasing visitation to the region while also driving hotel bookings and visitor spending in Allegheny County businesses, including attractions, festivals, tours, restaurants, shops, breweries, distilleries, wineries and so much more. While the leisure vertical continued to support our SportsPITTSBURGH and MeetPITTSBURGH verticals, the focus remained on attracting leisure tourism through engaging content led by the Only in Pittsburgh marketing campaign. This campaign was designed to position Pittsburgh as a must-see destination through the numerous unique experiences, events and amenities that Pittsburgh offers visitors to make truly memorable experiences. Additionally, the Research team began the framework of a new dashboard, Symphony, by Tourism Economics. This dashboard will help curate various data sources in one place to better tell the story of tourism for Allegheny County. Part of this process included the addition of new tools, including Arrivalist data. Arrivalist is a visitation intelligence company that sources information through mobile devices to provide actionable insights on consumer behavior, competitive share and media effectiveness. With this data, VisitPITTSBURGH was able to see that, in 2021, nearly 5 million trips from out-of-market travelers were made to the 50 points of interest identified in Arrivalist, which include a mixture of hotels, attractions, facilities, the Pittsburgh International Airport and more. These trips represent those visitors with a length of stay in the Pittsburgh area between 2-14 days. The team also collectively produced, sold advertising, developed content, edited and oversaw design for all VisitPITTSBURGH publications, including the refreshed 2021 VisitPITTSBURGH Official Media Guide, as well as all three See & Do guides.


domestic marketing and social media The COVID-19 Delta variant certainly continued to impact spring travel, and later, the Omicron variant impacted travel in the fall. However, Allegheny County did begin to see a steady increase in hotel occupancy over 2020. From a messaging standpoint, the Marketing team’s objective for the year was centered on showcasing unique Pittsburgh experiences to set the region apart from competitive destinations as tourism advertising began to increase. The Only in Pittsburgh campaign was anchored by a video with Pittsburgh residents highlighting some of the many unique opportunities for adventure throughout the county.

Additionally, Marketing continued its successful promotion with Expedia Media Solutions to market Pittsburgh on Expedia channels including Expedia.com, Hotels.com and VRBO.com, the latter being a great opportunity to promote the Pittsburgh hotel community to audiences searching for alternative accommodations. Through 2021, these efforts generated nearly 35,000 room nights and nearly $6.7 million in hotel revenue. These bookings were a direct result of VisitPITTSBURGH’s marketing efforts and were specifically booked through the campaign landing page. For 2021, this was a 52:1 ROI for VisitPITTSBURGH.

Marketing continued with engaging web and social content to reflect the message that Pittsburgh has so much to offer visitors that they cannot find elsewhere. To amplify the campaign, the team worked with industry leading digital advertising vendors to:

Our social team launched a number of initiatives aimed to gain new followers and to continue to engage with existing followers. The team began implementing shorter video snippets specifically created for that audience and also launched a monthly Only in Pittsburgh giveaway series, which drew significant engagement among visitors and residents. This effort was amplified at year-end with the 10 Days of #LovePGH Giveaways promotion, which drew significant engagement from followers, businesses and local media. Through the year, the Marketing and Social Media teams executed 152 giveaways highlighting 89 different businesses.

• Reach traveler intenders • Target audiences based on relevant interest • Retarget audiences who have previously engaged with the website. These efforts were focused on key drive markets including Baltimore, Buffalo, Cleveland, Columbus, Erie, Harrisburg, Johnstown/Altoona, Morgantown, New York, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.

DRIVE MARKETS Buffalo New York



Cleveland Columbus

Philadelphia Morgantown

Baltimore Washington, D.C.

Overall, VisitPITTSBURGH’s social media accounts saw a 20% increase in Instagram followers, a 20% increase in Facebook followers and a 14% increase in LinkedIn followers. Additionally, there was a significant increase in website engagement through social traffic with a 61% increase in user and 53% increase in sessions over 2019. Marketing continued to work closely with the Research team to stay abreast on trends and data that continued to evolve through the year. The team also continued to keep a close eye on visitor inquiry data, which provides valuable insights into VisitPITTSBURGH’s audience profiles and household clusters to monitor and reach those audiences that were most likely to visit.



INTERNATIONAL MARKETING The Only in Pittsburgh message also guided international marketing efforts. While many restrictions remained in place through November 2021, the team continued to focus on public relations and relationship building with tour operators in the United Kingdom and Germany. VisitPITTSBURGH, in collaboration with the Pittsburgh International Airport, maintained agreements with both international agencies previously contracted within a limited capacity - Black Diamond (U.K./Ireland) and Lieb Management (Germany/ Austria) - through the International Collaborative Program. These international efforts proved to be extremely beneficial as, at year end, British Airways announced that the Pittsburgh/London Heathrow direct flight would return in June of 2022. Overall, in 2021, Black Diamond secured 74 placements with a reach of 25 million and $375,000 in advertising equivalency, while Lieb secured 21 placements with a reach of 2.3 million and $73,755 in advertising equivalency.

Additionally, VisitPITTSBURGH represented Pittsburgh, the Southwestern PA region and the Pittsburgh International Airport at US Travel Association’s IPW, which is the leading international inbound travel tradeshow. Previous IPWs have generated more than $5.5 billion in future travel by connecting U.S. travel exhibitors with travel buyers and media to promote their product and negotiate future business. This week of activity provided in-person opportunities for our team to rebuild and establish new relationships with key players in the domestic and international travel markets. The timing for these conversations could not have been better as news broke at the top of the week that, beginning in November 2021, borders would open to select countries, including key markets for Pittsburgh the United Kingdom, Ireland and Germany. During this event, the team participated in 53 meetings held with domestic and international tour operators, journalists and consumer marketers.

COMMUNICATIONS Communications with stakeholders, elected officials, business partners and clients remained a key priority throughout the year. The organization continued to prioritize being a source of timely information for the local travel and tourism community, as well as a resource for local, regional, national and trade media members.

the Pittsburgh region with regional and national writers, distributing 29 press releases and ending the year with 102 media pitches. Additionally, VisitPITTSBURGH welcomed travel writers back to Pittsburgh in 2021, hosting two group media tours with five writers total centered on Allegheny County’s Craft Beer Tourism, as well as collaborating with 11 writers on individual trips.

A major focus throughout the year was supporting and promoting the Only in Pittsburgh campaign. A special emphasis was placed on continually highlighting the experiences and attractions visitors can see, do and find Only in Pittsburgh. Efforts were made to weave the campaign into all communications pieces, including eblasts, press releases and media pitches.

Communications also supported the SportsPITTSBURGH and MeetPITTSBURGH efforts throughout the year, hosting a virtual and in-person media conferences for the 2021 NCAA Frozen Four and the 2023 National Senior Games announcement, respectively, as well as promoting the return of large business events to the region. Additionally, the team collaborated with the David L. Lawrence Convention Center on key updates, including the Center’s partnership with CNTV.

Earned Media again played a key role in all VisitPITTSBURGH marketing efforts. The team continued to raise awareness of Allegheny County and


WEB DEVELOPMENT Through a year of continued uncertainty in terms of travel hesitation, the increase in traffic in 2021 to VisitPITTSBURGH.com indicated an optimistic return of travel and more specifically an interest in Pittsburgh as a destination. While there was cautious growth during the first half of the year, growth measured in the second half of the year outperformed that of 2020 and 2019, previously the best performing year. Much of this traffic

Overall Traffic Results Users: 1,674,924 Sessions: 2,053,959 Pageviews: 3,515,895 Organic Traffic Results Users: 1,112740 Sessions: 1,354,050 Pageviews: 2,415,304

was acquired through organic search - 66% of users however social referrals increased significantly resulting in more than 88,000 users, a 144% increase over 2020 and 61% increase over 2019. This strong growth seen in the second half of 2021 will most likely trend into 2022, possibly becoming VisitPITTSBURGH’s best performing year to date.

Top Viewed Pages 1. Events & Festivals 2. Homepage 3. Things to Do 4. Free Things to Do 5. This Week in Pittsburgh Top Viewed Blogs • How to Ride the Pittsburgh Inclines • What to Eat at PNC Park

research The tourism industry made great strides toward recovery in 2021, and the Research staff was there to monitor and measure the recovery every step of the way. The primary focus of the team in 2021 was to provide relevant and timely intelligence both internally and externally to support and inform recovery efforts; the secondary focus was to identify gaps in data and begin to fill the gaps with new data sources. While the team continued the enhanced reporting adopted in 2020, tracking recovery metrics and reporting out weekly, it also expanded the research suite to include products from 2Synergize, TrustYou and Tourism Economics. These new products helped fill some of the data gaps identified and provided real time data for the sales team’s booking pace and visitors’ behaviors and sentiment.


The largest initiative undertaken by the Research team in 2021 was the exploration for a data intelligence hub. The purpose of the hub was to aid in processing a barrage of disparate data, streamline reporting and facilitate VisitPITTSBURGH, its stakeholders, partners and local community in making informed, data-driven decisions. After vetting many vendors, the solution put forward by Tourism Economics, the Symphony dashboard, was chosen. The Symphony dashboard will add a multitude of new data sources to the research suite in 2022 including: geolocation data, forwardlooking OTA booking data, short-term rental data, resident satisfaction, quarterly forecasts for the local visitor economy and an annual ROI analysis. The team began building the dashboard in Q4 2021, and the build will continue through Q1 2022.

PARTNERSHIP DEVELOPMENT Unfortunately, 2021 remained a difficult year for many of VisitPITTSBURGH’s partners, with numerous partners operating with reduced hours or even closing entirely for portions of the year. As such, partner budgets for advertising remained critically low, prompting the Partnership Development team to work creatively to support partners while also generating revenue for VisitPITTSBURGH. More frequent bright spots began to emerge as 2021 progressed. The Partnership Development team worked with partners who were experiencing difficulties in affording their annual dues in order to maintain their partnerships with VisitPITTSBURGH, keeping renewal rates above 90% in 2021. The staff also brought in nearly 50 new partners over the course of the year. These two areas combined for an overall partner maintenance level of over 98% from 2020. The Partnership Development team also worked to build a relationship with the local Pittsburgh FBI Office and hosted four free, online workshops for partners to learn more about relevant operations, security and IT issues. Through this effort, VisitPITTSBURGH was able to offer free membership in the FBI’s Infragard Program to partners. The FBI Infragard Program is a public/private partnership between the FBI and members of the public sector that provides education, information sharing, networking and workshops on emerging technologies and threats. Additionally, VisitPITTSBURGH also became a member of Infragard, allowing the organization to share pertinent information to all partners.

With partner marketing and advertising budgets slashed, VisitPITTSBURGH employed cooperative advertising opportunities, providing partners with an opportunity to earn the greatest reach from reduced spends. These campaigns proved popular throughout the year as one of the programs, VisitPITTSBURGH’s promotion with Expedia Media Solutions, sold out each quarter. Additionally, the team launched co-op advertising positions within the VisitPITTSBURGH Monthly Consumer Eblast beginning in May of 2021, with all positions from June-December 2021 quickly claimed. Additionally, VisitPITTSBURGH collaborated with a few partners on individually targeted co-op campaigns. These opportunities provided much needed support and significant ROI for VisitPITTSBURGH partners, fueling the continued recovery for Pittsburgh’s tourism. Finally, the Partnership Development team facilitated a new revenue-generating opportunity for partners by establishing a new business relationship with SuLo XYZ, a Pittsburgh-based technology startup that is focused on providing visitors and residents alike with access to portable, hand-held charging batteries for their phones, tablets and more. Partners are able to earn a revenue share simply by hosting SuLo XYZ stations on-site at their establishments. VisitPITTSBURGH is working with SuLo to create a local ecosystem where visitors can move seamlessly throughout Allegheny County, always having the ability to charge their devices on the go.


notable achievements in 2021 • The Only in Pittsburgh campaign, which went live in May, resulted in more than 60,000 pageviews. • 52:1 ROI for marketing through Expedia Media Solutions with 34,673 room nights booked and 6.7 million in hotel revenue generated. • 1,561 signs for Bandwango passes developed in 2021. • Social media generated 2 million web session on VisitPITTSBURGH.com, tracked from 1.7 million users generating 3.5 million pages view through 2021. • Social traffic to VisitPITTSBURGH.com: • 61% increase from users • 53% increase for sessions over 2019 • Additional Social Media Results: • 20% increase in Instagram followers • 20% increase in Facebook followers • 14% increase in LinkedIn followers • Pageviews to This Week in Pittsburgh, the weekly event listing, increased 156% over 2020 and 236% over 2019. • The #LovePGH blog accounted for just over 19% or 670,000 pageviews, an increase of 72% over 2020. • Pittsburgh Black heritage and culture was celebrated through newly curated articles and blogs. These pieces resulted in more than 34,000 pageviews, with more than half of those views on the successful Black-Owned Pittsburgh page, a listing of many of the Black-owned businesses in Pittsburgh. • Earned 615 local, regional, national and international media placements, resulting in 2.83B impressions and $20.03M in advertising equivalency. • Played host to 16 regional, national and international writers, crafting itineraries, securing lodging, setting up community meetings and more in support of their assignments. • Collaborated with local, regional, national and international media members and responded to 106 media requests. • Served as the Pittsburgh Local Organizing Committee’s media coordinator for the 2021 NCAA Division I Men’s Frozen Four, securing 95 media placements, resulting in 2.7M impressions and $5.94M in advertising equivalency. • Successfully pitched and secured placements for Pittsburgh on two Fodor’s Travel Best of lists – Best Cities in the U.S. for Craft Beers and Brews and Best U.S. Cities for Coffee Lovers.


• As part of the International Collaborative Program with the Pittsburgh International Airport, Black Diamond secured 74 placements with a reach of 25 million and $375,000 in advertising equivalency, while Lieb Management secured 21 placements with a reach of 2.3 million and $73,755 in advertising equivalency. • Partnered with Tourism Economics to create a centralized organizational analytics hub, the Symphony dashboard. • Converted sale pace reports to the FuturePACE platform. • The new platform provides dynamic reporting and real time metrics. • The team also developed customized goals, updated quarterly, for the sales team based on national forecasts and historic VisitPITTSBURGH pace performance. • Engaged TrustYou to conduct an ongoing sentiment analysis of online reviews for hotel visitors in Allegheny County. • Conducted a satisfaction study with VisitPITTSBURGH partners to gauge satisfaction and to understand, among other things, what they foresee their greatest challenges and opportunities to be in the upcoming year. • Provided stakeholders weekly updates on key recovery metrics such as hotel KPIs, TSA throughput at Pittsburgh International Airport and other national and local industry trends. • Executed CRM enhancements to customize reporting. • Created new attributes in the CRM to track movement of COVID-19 related sales bookings. • Created a new report to track local hotel room inventory. • Maintained 98% membership retention through 2021. • Added 49 new business partners. • Developed new revenue sharing opportunity with new technology partner, SuLo XYZ. • Designed and hosted the inaugural Pittsburgh Hospitality Workforce Celebration Day in August. • Assisted in both Allegheny County and the City of Pittsburgh proclaiming Aug. 24 Hospitality Workforce Celebration Day. • Partnered with Pennsylvania Restaurant & Lodging Association (PRLA) Western Chapter, Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership, Greater Pittsburgh Hotel Association and Partner4Work to promote several Pittsburgh hospitality job boards. • Worked with more than 20 VisitPITTSBURGH partners to help organize Pittsburgh Technical College’s School of Hospitality FAM Tour.


SPORTSPITTSBURGH VisitPITTSBURGH’s strategic investment in the sports-travel market, through the SportsPITTSBURGH vertical, was evident in 2021. Inbound sports-event travel rebounded to 119% of the number of events hosted and 332% of direct spending on events in 2020. Additionally, the 32 events that actualized in 2021 drove group business production with 39,000 hotel room nights and $47.4 million in direct visitor spending. The events supported by SportsPITTSBURGH deposited $37.4 million back into the Pittsburgh economy. Throughout the year, these events amplified the Pittsburgh sports brand while also highlighting local makers, brands and partners. Supporting annual and repeat events, along with the execution of previously awarded events, required the majority of the team’s focus in 2021. But, two of SportsPITTSBURGH’s biggest wins last year were the announcements of a pair of future events. The National Senior Games Association selected Pittsburgh as the host city for the 2023 National Senior Games in April. The event is expected to draw more than 25,000 attendees, competing in more than 20 sports over a two-week time span. The David L. Lawrence Convention Center will serve as a competition venue, the Athlete Village and Games Headquarters. Additional competition venues will be located throughout Allegheny County and Southwestern Pennsylvania. Additionally, during the TEAMS Conference + Expo, Northstar Meetings Group announced the same event will return to the Pittsburgh region in 2028. Twenty years after hosting its first sports-travel B-2-B convention, Pittsburgh will welcome back the industry-leading TEAMS ’28 Conference + Expo. The event, which matches sports event owners with interested bid cities, will host more than 300 sports organizations, including representatives from all 50 Summer and Winter Olympic sports governing bodies, 25 Paralympic sports and 38 multi-sport organizations. All will see, firsthand, the iconic sports destination that is Pittsburgh.


On the international front, Pittsburgh is among the 30 cities being presented as potential hosts for the 2031 Men’s and 2033 Women’s Rugby World Cups. Should the United States be chosen as a nation host, the bidding U.S. cities will have five years to earn their spot among the final 10. While much of the team’s time in 2021 was seeking future sports events for the Pittsburgh region, they also welcomed back many sports travelers, too. The year opened with a slapshot in April, as Pittsburgh played host to the long-awaited NCAA Division I Men’s Frozen Four at PPG Paints Arena. Though attendance was limited to competing teams, administrators, families and a few very lucky fans, the Pittsburgh Local Organizing Committee (PLOC), comprised of SportsPITTSBURGH, Robert Morris University and PPG Paints Arena, delivered a safe event that was memorable for the athletes and the community partners. In addition to the Men’s Frozen Four, SportsPITTSBURGH welcomed the return of Hoop Group Pittsburgh Jam Fest and East Coast Volleyball Championships to the DLCC. And, for the first time, the Western PA Bruins also hosted their Spring Tip-Off Tournament in the iconic Pittsburgh venue. These events funneled 27,000 attendees to Downtown businesses and produced 8,600 hotel room nights throughout the region, a much-needed boost during the early stages of recovery for Pittsburgh’s hospitality community. There were many unique experiences in 2021, including a collaboration between Western PA Bruins and Hoop Group Pittsburgh. These tournaments were held over consecutive weekends, allowing both events to efficiently source equipment, staff and volunteers despite the lingering challenges from the pandemic. With regards to East Coast Volleyball, this annual Memorial Day weekend event welcomed 346 teams from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and seven additional U.S. territories or Associated States. The addition of international teams, specifically from Canada and Mexico, will increase the average length of stay and daily expenditures for this event in 2022. Moving into the summer months, the SportsPITTSBURGH team had another opportunity to showcase the community to event attendees when the USGA Amateur was hosted at Oakmont Country Club and Longue Vue Club. Though event attendance for spectators was limited, the athletes and staff were treated to welcome packs and pop-up shops from some of Pittsburgh’s best local crafters and restaurants. The PLOC closed 2021 with a non-traditional yet much-anticipated sports event, Northstar Travel’s EsportsTravel Summit. The December meeting presented a unique chance for Pittsburgh to reinforce its reputation as the ultimate destination for sports events – of all kinds. The PLOC stacked the panels with local experts to showcase the depth and breadth of the esports industry throughout the region. Attendees left Pittsburgh envisioning their events at one of the many esports-ready venues highlighted throughout the Summit. Though the last two years have presented challenges, the value of community engagement and local partnerships has never been stronger. SportsPITTSBURGH had the good fortune to host events throughout 2021 that provided an opportunity to support and showcase some of the best the region has to offer. The NCAA Men’s Frozen Four staff received welcome baskets stocked with beverages from regional breweries, distilleries and wineries, while the student-athletes and media personalities received locally made custom bow ties and hand-blown glass commemorative pucks. And, a pyramid of specialty chocolates and a local spirit that celebrated the City of Champions was on display for the USGA. Though sports events were briefly placed on hold, they came back with a vengeance in 2021, fueling the rebound for group travel to Pittsburgh. Once again, champions were crowned in the City of Champions, and the SportsPITTSBURGH team looks forward to building on this momentum in 2022 and beyond.



Notable Achievements in 2021 • Represented the region at industry-specific shows - Connect Sports, TEAMS Conference + Expo, Sports ETA Annual Symposium and EsportsTravel Summit - facilitating face-to-face appointments with sports event organizers representing more than 500 events.

• Hosted or supported 32 events in 2021. Combined, the team welcomed 70,000 visitors and 130,000 event attendees to the region, generating $47.4 million in direct visitor spending for the year. • Alongside Robert Morris University, crowned the first NCAA champion in Pittsburgh since 2019 with the Division I Men’s Frozen Four. • Announced P3R as the official event operations provider for key SportsPITTSBURGH events, including the 2023 National Senior Games. • Implemented a new sports event management system – EventConnect – to improve registration and housing services for partner events.

• Actively engaged clients with some of the top Pittsburgh sports minds and innovators by partnering with Point Park University, the Pittsburgh Knights, AbleGamers and more. • Leveraged partnerships with 15 local hospitality providers to donate $64,550 worth of in-kind support and services for four events and four site visits hosted in 2021.

2021 major events hosted/supported by sportspittsburgh Organization Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix East Coast Volleyball Inc United States Golf Association National Collegiate Athletic Association Western PA Bruins


Direct Spend

2021 Vintage Grand Prix


2021 East Coast Championships


2021 US Amateur


2021 Division I Men’s Ice Hockey Championship


2021 7th Annual Spring Tip-Off Tournament


Upcoming major events hosted/supported by sportspittsburgh E S T I M AT E D



Direct Spend

2022 DICK’S Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon


Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix

2022 Vintage Grand Prix


Hoop Group

2022 Pittsburgh Jam Fest


2022 East Coast Championships


2023 National Senior Games


Pittsburgh Three Rivers Marathon, Inc

East Coast Volleyball Inc National Senior Games Association


MEETPITTSBURGH For the MeetPITTSBURGH team, 2021 was a year of continued uncertainty – a slow recovery from 2020 and the devasting impacts of the COVID-19 global pandemic on business events in the city. Most of the work of the MeetPITTSBURGH team in 2021 was focused on retention of cancelled or postponed business. Out of 133 COVID-impacted definite events scheduled to be hosted in Pittsburgh, 56 events cancelled outright while the team confirmed new dates for 69, with another eight that are continuing to look for new dates. The total number of room nights saved and moved to future years is 80,771, with two-thirds of them being confirmed 2+ years out. These events represent a future economic impact of $66.0 million. The MeetPITTSBURGH services team was busy hosting site visits for new and rebooking customers throughout 2021. One significant and noticeable change from pre-pandemic site visits was the time customers dedicated to inspecting each aspect of the community – everything from restaurant and hotel service levels and the overall expected attendee experience to COVID-19 protocol adherence and general safety concerns. In all, the team conducted a total of 22 site visits in 2021.


Simultaneous to executing a retention strategy, the MeetPITTSBURGH team also began planning for recovery. The team began investigating, planning for and building out an online engagement campaign in Q3, with components including email communications, webinars and new customer advisory platforms to meet the new realities of a post-COVID world. These tools will educate the team’s customers, provide new opportunities for partners and highlight MeetPITTSBURGH’s commitment to innovation and customer experience. MeetPITTSBURGH also began to investigate opportunities to diversify its business event strategies and create new areas of growth. Starting in 2022, the team will expand its sales capacity, adding two new positions, including one in Washington, D.C. The focus will continue to be in Pittsburgh’s top market sectors – technology, healthcare, manufacturing and education - while expanding into more traditional trade show events and engaging independent show organizers more aggressively. MeetPITTSBURGH also will continue to build new strategies to expand and diversify its event business development pipeline.



Notable Achievements in 2021 • Andrew Ortale was named Chief Sales Officer, bringing 20+ years of event experience back to Pittsburgh. • Total estimated direct spending of 2021 hosted business events increased 147% over 2020 hosted events • 64 total business events were hosted, a 106% increase over 2020 hosted events • 10 total DLCC-related hosted business events, a 150% increase over 2020 (4 total)

• The MeetPITTSBURGH team returned to the road promoting Pittsburgh directly to its clients and attending events again through tradeshow participation, including: • HelmsBriscoe Annual Partner Conference • PCMA EduCon • Conference Direct Annual Partner Meeting • PCMA Visionary Awards • PASAE Connections Conference • IMEX America, the first in-person international trade show in more than one year

• $12.9 million direct spend generated from DLCC-hosted business events, an increase of 108% over 2020

2021 major events hosted/supported by MEETPITTSBURGH Organization American Physical Society Rubber Division, American Chemical Society Emerald International Code Council National Association of Fleet Administrators


Direct Spend

Annual Meeting of the APS Division of Plasma Physics


International Elastomer Conference




International Code Council Conference and Hearings


Institute & Expo



FINANCE & OPERATIONS The Finance and Operations team continued to provide high quality service and support to the MeetPITTSBURGH, SportsPITTSBURGH and Leisure Tourism verticals throughout 2021. The consistent, hard work this team did throughout the year allowed the organization to continue its recovery from the damage incurred from the COVID-19 global pandemic. The team delivered a manageable operating budget, a sound cash-flow strategy and timely and accurate financial reporting, as well as another clean audit report. During the year, the finance team secured Paycheck Protection Program funding to provide much needed financial support to VisitPITTSBURGH. These funds covered much of the operating costs which allowed the organization to continue marketing and sales programs without tapping into the investment reserves during the year. The careful monitoring and management of the budget, along with a focus on marketing in areas with the highest and fastest return on investment, resulted in hotel tax revenues that exceeded VisitPITTSBURGH’s budget projections by more than $2.6 million. At the same time, spending only exceeded budget by $179,000. The original projected budgetary loss was completely mitigated, and VisitPITTSBURGH closed the year in the black. The team’s main focus remained on keeping the organization running and addressing the challenges of a new hybrid work environment. A new Microsoft Teams phone system was installed, which required issuance of mobile phones to all staff. Additionally, the team also rolled out improvements to Netsuite Employee Center, Paychex Flex and Adobe Sign. In December, a new HRIS system was identified, which along with the changes as noted previously, will allow the team to further streamline operations and reduce paper waste. In the area of Human Capital, VisitPITTSBURGH made several advancements during the year. A new Chief Sales Officer joined the team, and a recruitment campaign began for a new Chief Marketing Officer; both searches were conducted with the help of outside firms. Also of note, the organization’s internship program went virtual. In addition to staffing additions, VisitPITTSBURGH’s performance review process was re-engineered, the COBRA administration was outsourced and an organization-wide wellness program was launched. Finally, late in the year, VisitPITTSBURGH outsourced the Human Resources (HR) function as a whole. This change allowed VisitPITTSBURGH to save money while also maintaining the high level of HR services that the organization is accustomed to.


Notable Achievements in 2021 • Secured PPP funding of more than $1,564,264 which helped shore up operations during the downturn in tax revenues. • Received another clean audit. • Recovered a large portion of the funds liquidated from reserves during 2020, with an investment balance at YE 2021 showing $6,241,913. • Converted to a Microsoft Teams-based phone system and issued mobile phone units to all fulltime staff.

• Reduced paper usage through automation of several operational programs. • Worked with outside recruiting firms on CSO and CMO recruitment campaigns. • Streamlined the HR function while still delivering a high level of services to the organization.


Greater Pittsburgh Convention and Visitors Bureau, Inc. dba VisitPITTSBURGH Consolidated Financial Highlights | Year Ended Dec. 31, 2021

Sources of Funding Membership Investment

2021 627,573








Contributions in-Kind



Participation Fees







Interest Income



Net Realized Gain on Investments



Other Revenue





Allegheny County Hotel Room Tax Revenue Restricted Grants and Revenue Advertising and Sponsorships

Merchandising Income Convention Services

Total Support and Revenue Expenses Convention Sales





Sports Initiatives



Convention Services



Visitor Services











Membership Development/Services










Leisure Marketing

Special Opportunity Total Expenses



Sources of Revenue 2021

Net Realized Gain on Investments 9%

Sources of Revenue 2021 Convention Services 0% Merchandising Income 0%

Interest Income 2%

Other Revenue 7%

Membership Investment 7%

Participation Fees 1% Contributions in Kind 1% Advertising and Sponsorships 4% Restricted Grants and Revenue 1%

Allegheny County Hotel Room Tax Revenue 68%

Use ofUses Funds of2021 Funds 2021 Membership Development/Services 6%

Management/Operating 8%

Special Opportunity 7% Convention Sales 26%

Communications 4%

Website 6% Sports Initiatives 8% Leisure Marketing 18% Visitor Services 9%

Convention Services 8%


BOARD OF DIRECTORS EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE Timothy Q. Hudak, Esq. Chairman Eckert Seamans Cherin & Mellott, LLC Thomas E. Martini Vice Chairman The Westin Pittsburgh Michele Meloy Burchfield Treasurer Blume Honey Water Meredith Meyer Grelli Secretary Wigle Whiskey and Threadbare Cider & Mead Bryan N. Iams Past Chairman PPG Industries Inc. Janis Burley Wilson August Wilson African American Cultural Center Tom Dougherty Allegheny Land Trust

Samuel DeMarco III Allegheny County Councilman-At-Large Cammie Dunaway Duolingo Scott Frenz Fenner Dunlop Americas Dana L. Fruzynski, Esq. Northside Leadership Conference Dan Griffin The Hill Group Terry Kalna Pittsburgh Penguins Kevin Kilkeary Prospera Hospitality Marty LaMar City of Pittsburgh Robert F. Matzie PA House of Representatives EX OFFICIO

Troy Schooley P3R Cassandra Washington Hampton Inn Pittsburgh University Medical Center


Terry Wirginis Gateway Clipper Fleet

The Honorable Rich Fitzgerald County Executive


The Honorable Ed Gainey Mayor of Pittsburgh

Shannon Baker Gatesman Agency Gino Caliendo Omni William Penn Betty Cruz World Affairs Council Pittsburgh


Tim Muldoon David L. Lawrence Convention Center

Christina A. Cassotis Allegheny County Airport Authority Stuart Hoffman PNC Financial Services Group Mitch Swain Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council

STAFF MEMBERS Jerad Bachar President & CEO

Leisure Tourism


Susan Klein Chief Marketing Officer

Karen Fisher Chief Financial Officer

Brenda Armstrong Senior Director of Marketing

Diane Cortese Director, Accounting

Derek Dawson Senior Director, Partnership Development

Michelle Grew Executive Office Manager

Barb Hollie Destination and Visitor Services Manager

Jason Kolesar Accounting Analyst

Gena Inman Social Media & Marketing Manager

Tom Yanosick Director, Information Technology

Andrea Karkhanis Director, Marketing Research


Asaka Narumi Director, Web Development

Andrew Ortale Chief Sales Officer Molly Evans Business Events Manager Sara Holzer National Sales Director Robert Leff Senior National Sales Director - Minnesota Office

Mackenzie Perak Market Research Manager Amber Ross Multimedia Design & Production Manager Colleen Smith Partnership Development Director Shannon Wolfgang Director, Marketing Communications

Kristen Turner Director, Convention Services Jennifer Vacek Director, Convention Sales

SportsPITTSBURGH Jennifer Hawkins Executive Director, SportsPITTSBURGH Brady Inners Sports Event Manager