Annual REPORT 2019
TABLE OF CONTENTS Chairman of the Board Letter | 3 Interim President/CEO Letter | 4 2019 Highlights | 5 Business Events | 7 Sports Events | 15 Leisure Tourism Marketing | 21 Finance and Operations | 29 Human Resources | 31 Community Impact | 33 2019 Board of Directors | 39 Staff | 40
Mission Creating economic growth by promoting Pittsburgh as a leading travel destination.
Vision Life would not be complete without visiting Pittsburgh.
Senator John Heinz History Center
Chairman OF THE BOARD
As my time as Chairman of the Board of Directors of VisitPITTSBURGH comes to an end, I just wanted to share some final thoughts. First, as of the publishing date of this Annual Report, the search for VisitPITTSBURGH’s next President and CEO is ongoing and remains a top priority. During the last few months, we have met with many qualified candidates, and we expect to soon announce the new leader of VisitPITTSBURGH. I believe this is a critical time for VisitPITTSBURGH, the Pittsburgh region and the travel and tourism industry overall, so I look forward to this next chapter. During my time on the board over these last eight years, I have seen first-hand the exceptional work being done by our VisitPITTSBURGH staff on behalf of our great city and region. In 2019, our SportsPITTSBURGH team again hosted several high-profile sports events such as the NCAA Division I Wrestling and Women’s Volleyball Championships, as well as East Coast Volleyball that included more than 400 teams. We also were able to showcase Pittsburgh to more than 2,000 meeting planners who attended PCMA Convening Leaders. That event has already led to more than 21 definite bookings. And, of course, Pittsburghers around the world helped push out the welcoming message of our first national marketing campaign in many years – Pull Up a Chair. You are Welcomed Here. Not only has the campaign raised awareness of our city across the country and generated more than $2 million of hotel room nights, but it also has won numerous prestigious national and regional awards. Our Board of Directors will be in excellent hands with Tim Hudak as chairperson. He is well-respected in both the legal community and the hospitality community. Prior to joining Eckert Seamans and ascending to the role of CEO, Tim was General Counsel with Interstate Hotels Corporation, the largest independent hotel management company in the world. When it comes to hospitality and tourism, he truly gets it. This will be Tim’s second stint on our Board, so he is knowledgeable about the workings of VisitPITTSBURGH and the important role it plays in our region’s economic development.
While VisitPITTSBURGH had another successful year in attracting business and sports events, and driving leisure tourism with our marketing efforts, we understand that we are just one of many - including individuals, elected officials, organizations, arts and cultural institutions, universities and sports teams - who are proudly promoting our city worldwide. We are truly One Pittsburgh region to the world. We also understand that tourism crosses many industries and sectors, so our list of stakeholders continues to grow. We are committed to continuing to search out new collaborations and ways to address our stakeholders’ needs.
“During my time on the board over these last eight years, I have seen first-hand the exceptional work being done by our VisitPITTSBURGH staff on behalf of our great city and region.” 3
Thank you for the honor of serving as Chairman of VisitPITTSBURGH’s Board of Directors. To all our visitors, I encourage you to Pull Up a Chair. You are Always Welcomed Here.
First, I want to say how honored I am to have served as the Interim President and CEO of VisitPITTSBURGH at the onset of a new year and decade. This is a widely respected organization that for more than 85 years has been driving visitation through group and individual tourism and proudly promoting our great city domestically and internationally. The growth of the industry in Allegheny County has been remarkable, now reaching $4.6 billion within the county’s economy and supporting more than 43,000 jobs. Our entire staff looks forward to working with our 700+ partners, elected officials and residents on the future development of this dynamic industry.
Interim President /CEO LETTER
As of the date of the printing of this annual report, our tourism community is facing one of the most unique challenges that we have ever faced and certainly one of the most difficult challenges we have seen in several decades. VisitPITTSBURGH’s staff is committed on doing everything we can to drive future business to our city. Our mission continues to be to drive visitation and to promote our city across three major verticals: business events, sports events and leisure tourism. Through the efforts of our various teams working in collaboration with our community, we can increase the economic impact of these verticals.
Name To Come
Pittsburgh residents in our 90 diverse neighborhoods and from across the region have helped us to promote Pittsburgh as a welcoming city, a message that Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald and Mayor Bill Peduto have proudly shared for many years. Never has that message been more visually represented than in our first national marketing campaign in a decade --- Pull Up a Chair. You are Welcomed Here. We have witnessed continued growth in the travel sector over the past decade. As we quickly move into the next decade, it is critical that we continue to look at the short- and long-term development of the tourism industry. We look forward to building upon our past collaboration and collectively driving strategic growth across the county and throughout the region.
As Bryan Iams said in his letter, we are committed to continuing to be transparent with our mission and goals, to be good partners to our stakeholders and to continue to raise awareness of our great city and residents.
“VisitPITTSBURGH’s mission is to drive visitation and to promote our city across three major verticals: business events, sports events and leisure tourism. Through the efforts of our various teams working in collaboration with our community, we can increase the economic impact of these verticals.”
TOTAL ROOMS BOOKED FUTURE MEETINGS
112% OF PROJECTION
BUSINESS & SPORTS EVENTS BOOKED
BUSINESS EVENTS HOSTED
SPORTS EVENTS HOSTED
EVENTS ACTIVELY SERVICED
HIGHLIGHTS $242 MIL $19.2 MIL*
FROM HOSTED EVENTS
DIRECT SPENDING GENERATED
ADVERTISING EQUIVALENCY GENERATED
NEW SOCIAL MEDIA FANS & FOLLOWERS
NEW PARTNERS RECRUITED
PARTNERSHIP RETENTION RATE
Newly rebranded and repositioned as MeetPITTSBURGH, the Convention Sales Department had another strong year of booking future events. For the seventh consecutive year, booking goals were exceeded, with more than 250,000 new definite business event room nights booked for 2019 and future years.
David L. Lawrence Convention Center
The year began with Pittsburgh hosting PCMA’s prestigious Convening Leaders Annual Conference, which attracted approximately 4,000 industry members and 1,500 business event customers to the city. The entire Pittsburgh hospitality community pulled together to host these visitors and show them the best of what Pittsburgh has to offer for meetings and events. The investment in hosting PCMA is already paying off, with MeetPITTSBURGH recording 84 new leads generated directly from event planners in attendance, including 21 new definite bookings, representing 17,590 room nights and $7 million in estimated economic impact as of March 2020. MeetPITTSBURGH signed a 2020 Premier Partnership Agreement with PCMA to continue high-level marketing and enhanced in-person exposure to its planner members to capitalize on the strong momentum that was created. The new MeetPITTSBURGH brand showcases VisitPITTSBURGH’s business event sales efforts striving to deliver an innovative approach to the sales process, as well as continuing to promote Pittsburgh as the ideal destination to meet and host any business event, for any audience, any time of the year. Coupled with the rollout of the MeetPITTSBURGH brand was the launch of an enhanced website that contains more engaging editorial and visual content, providing an extremely valuable resource for business event planners. MeetPITTSBURGH booked more than 90,000 definite room nights “in the year – for the year,” helping hotel partners and the David L. Lawrence Convention Center (DLCC) solidify 2019 as one of the strongest convention years on record. Highlights • Booked 528 meetings and conventions, representing $146.8 million in estimated economic impact. • Booked 253,000 room nights for 2019 and beyond. • Hosted 498 meetings and conventions, attracting 190,000 attendees, representing $144.9 million in estimated economic impact. • Hosted 44 events at the DLCC, accounting for 242 usage days. • Participated in 25 trade shows and industry conferences. • Hosted 143 customers through individual site visits and conducted more than 1,700 face-to-face appointments with event planners. • Generated 200 new contacts with local members of associations through the department’s Ambassadors initiative, also known as the Bring It Home campaign, to encourage them to bring their national meetings to Pittsburgh.
PCMA Convening Leaders
Top 10 Conventions Booked in 2019 (listed by year)
Tree Care Industry Trade Show David L. Lawrence Convention Center
Anthrocon, 2020 Annual Conference
NeighborWorks America, 2021 Training Institute
Python Software Foundation, 2021 PyCon
Council of State & Territorial Epidemiologists, CSTE 2021 Annual Conference
National Association for Campus Activities, 2021 NACA Live
Rubber Division ACS, 2021 International Elastomer Conference
Association of College & Research Libraries, 2023 ACRL Conference
American Public Transporation Association, 2023 Rail Conference
American Trucking Associations, 2025 ATA National Truck Driving Championships
Communications Workers of America, 2025 Convention
Marketing Business Events Efforts VisitPITTSBURGH’s marketing efforts continued to be fully integrated in the organization’s business events efforts, both domestically and internationally, including campaigns built around the Pull Up a Chair messaging, trade show booth design and activation, web site development and advertising buying. In addition, the Marketing Department: • Developed the “WOW” factor for PCMA Convening Leaders with trade booth designs that changed daily to coincide with a different theme (Mister Rogers, technology, arts and culture and film), supporting the sales process through the integration of enhanced marketing support at the convention. • Created the Suite of Services, which aims to support business event planners with resources that assist in the planning and promotion of events held in Pittsburgh. Included in the Suite of Services are one-page backgrounders, a PowerPoint presentation, videos and more.
• Developed a formalized bid document that provides information related to the financial and logistical aspects of hosting an event in Pittsburgh. In addition, the document provides promotional information, imagery and video content that promotes the city as a worldclass event host destination. The bid template was developed within the brand standards of VisitPITTSBURGH. • Enhanced VisitPITTSBURGH’s website to include more information for business event organizers and also rebranded the MeetPITTSBURGH website. • Updated collateral with MeetPITTSBURGH branding.
Partnership Development Business Events Efforts The Partnership Development Department worked to support MeetPITTSBURGH’s efforts of hosting business events in Pittsburgh and Allegheny County through engaging with the local business community to bring on partners who are able to enhance and support business events.
Pepper, the Robot
PCMA Convening Leaders In addition, the Partnership Development Department: • Brought on partners who can support the smooth operation of business events, from printing to transportation and catering companies. • Hosted events where partners were able to network with one another, and VisitPITTSBURGH staff, as well as learn about upcoming events with participation opportunities. • Focused on developing a network of partners which provide services for business event
clients, including hotels, restaurants, off-site venues, audio/visual and production services, security/staffing services, caterers and more. • Provided the DLCC calendar and relative information to assist the partner network with new business opportunities. • Hosted the State of the Hotel Industry Event with a focus on group travel and business event impact. • Provided opportunities to market local businesses to business-event clients.
Research Business Events Efforts The Research Department provided tailored market data on a monthly basis to the MeetPITTSBURGH team and hoteliers to aid in their efforts in the competitive business meetings and events space. The assorted information provided throughout the year assisted the teams in the bid process. In addition, the Research Department: • Provided local hoteliers with summarized reports of national trends, local market news and hotel KPI’s on a monthly basis. • Issued monthly demand pace reports and quarterly forecasting reports. • Supplied tailored market and industry data to aid in the bidding process.
• Fielded a meeting planner post-event survey to gather feedback on the experience in Pittsburgh. • Performed more than 1,000 event-impact calculation analyses for hosted and booked events to track ROI generated by MeetPITTSBURGH.
PCMA Convening Leaders DLCC
Destination Services Business Events Efforts The Destination Services team continued to focus on connecting clients and guests to the Pittsburgh community while providing them with meaningful experiences and exceeding their expectations. The year opened with a bang, as each member of the team had an active leadership role in the hosting of the PCMA Convening Leaders conference. The team welcomed 4,000 industry members and 1,500 business event customers to Pittsburgh. In addition, the Destination Services Department: • •
Serviced 194 events. Managed hotel reservations for five events, processing 5,705 reservations (24,999 room nights) and generating $4.1 million for hotel partners. Provided 1,852 hours of onsite registration assistance. Promoted Pittsburgh by participating in attendance builders for four major upcoming events. Issued 35 Planning Bulletins to the community in advance of incoming conventions and events.
• • • •
Convened 10 pre-convention meetings between key stakeholders and meeting planners. Developed service plans for 201 events. Organized and hosted 28 planning site visits. Provided 261 partner business referral leads for meeting planners. Provided welcome messages for 50 events at Pittsburgh International Airport.
Top-10 Hosted Meetings/Conventions in 2019
Anthrocon 2019 Annual Convention
AISTech 2019 - Steel’s Premier Technology Event
2019 PCMA Convening Leaders
Tree Care Industry Association 2019 TCI EXPO
National Council of Teachers of English 2019 CCCC Annual Convention
2019 PMEA/NAfME Eastern Division Conference
United States Concealed Carry Association 2019 Concealed Carry Expo
American Specialty Toy Retailing Association 2019 Marketplace & Academy
WELCOME PITTSBURGH Information Center and Gift Shop
Ambassadors Initiative/Bring It Home MeetPITTSBURGH knows that local ambassadors make a huge difference in attracting business events to Pittsburgh. Many of the meetings and events that take place in the city are booked because someone who knows and loves Pittsburgh made a personal contact with a business event planner or key decision maker. Local pride plays a huge part in winning these bids to â€œbring homeâ€? meetings and events. Local ambassadors push the organizations and associations that they are affiliated with to bring their next event to Pittsburgh. These ambassadors are vital in efforts attracting future events. They make an invaluable contribution to the local economy and to the community-wide effort to tell the world why Pittsburgh is an ideal destination for business events. By hosting an event in Pittsburgh, the local ambassador makes a positive economic impact on his/her own city, and the organization receives local, national and possibly international recognition. Large business events also bring excellent publicity through news stories and social media exposure, but most importantly, they generate economic impact to the region that would not otherwise exist. Local ambassadors are the cornerstone for attracting future business that may not originally be apparent. In 2019, the business events booked from local ambassadors generated $54.7 million in economic impact to the region.
The business events booked from local ambassadors generated $54.7 million in economic impact to the region.
Events Hosted or Brought in By Local Ambassadors 2019 International Seating Symposium, DLCC March 18-22, 2019 - 2,400 attendees Host: University of Pittsburgh School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, Department of Rehabilitation Science and Technology Mark Schmeler, PhD Continuing Education Course Director Meghan Wander Continuing Education Administrator/Symposium Manager 2019 NCAA Division I Menâ€™s Wrestling Championships, DLCC March 21-23, 2019 - 19,000 attendees Deven Dittrich Pittsburgh Wrestling Club, Board of Directors Vice President, Senior Review Appraiser, Real Estate Risk Services, Citizens Bank Women in CyberSecurity (WiCyS) Conference, Wyndham Grand Pittsburgh Downtown March 28-30, 2019 - 850 attendees
Michele Tomasic Operations Manager, CERT Division of SEI, Carnegie Mellon University Operations and Logistical Co-Lead for the 2019 WiCyS Conference Bobbie Stempfley Director, CERT Division Software Engineering Institute (SEI), Carnegie Mellon University Dr. Dena Haritos Tsamitis Information Networking Director, Information Networking Institute (INI) Founding Director, Education, Training and Outreach, CyLab College of Engineering, Carnegie Mellon University National Association for Music Education 2019 PMEA/NAfME Eastern Division Conference, DLCC April 4-7, 2019 - 4,450 attendees
National Down Syndrome Congress, 47th Annual Convention, DLCC June 27-30, 2019 - 2,045 attendees Kishore Vellody NDSC Board President UPMC DS Clinic Director (locally) F. Brooks Robinson NDSC Foundation Trustee President â€“ Past NDSC Board President Pittsburgh Cultural Trust (locally) David Hall Host Committee Member Vice President, Highmark (locally) National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Mid-Atlantic Chapter, 2019 Mid-Atlantic Emmy Awards, Wyndham Grand Pittsburgh Downtown
Dennis Emert PA Music Educators Association 2019 Honors Ensembles Chair All-East Coordinator
Sept. 28, 2019 - 560 attendees
National Alliance of Healthcare Purchaser Coalitions, 2019 Leadership Summits, Pittsburgh Marriott City Center
American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA), 2019 AVCA Convention, DLCC
David Solomon Executive Producer, WQED Multimedia
Dec. 18-21, 2019 - 2,753 attendees Host: Carnegie Mellon University Information Networking Institute and CERT Division
June 24-26, 2019 - 250 attendees Diane McClune Vice President, Pittsburgh Business Group on Health
Neal Brown P3R Volleyball Club Director
SportsPITTSBURGH introduced the theme Pittsburgh Iconic Experiences in 2019. With a focus on client and stakeholder needs, the staff began asking the question, “What is your iconic Pittsburgh experience?”
2019 NCAA DII
Men’s Soccer Championship
The team carried the spirit of iconic experiences into the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships in early March, when 330 wrestlers competed for a National Championship in their respective weight classes. The Local Organizing Committee for this event - SportsPITTSBURGH, the University of Pittsburgh and PPG Paints Arena - hosted 60,000 enthusiastic attendees over a three-day span. Pittsburgh International Airport welcomed travelers with a message from Jordan Burroughs, former NCAA National Champion and Olympic Gold Medalist, while record-setting crowds cheered on the country’s top female wrestlers during exhibition matches at the DLCC. Visitors quickly learned that Pittsburghers know collegiate wrestling. Pittsburgh closed an exciting decade of sports events in December, when SportsPITTSBURGH, in partnership with Duquesne University, hosted the NCAA Division I Women’s Volleyball Championship and American Volleyball Coaches Association Annual Convention at PPG Paints Arena and the DLCC, respectively. Fans were able to marvel at the athleticism of the United States’ top-four women’s collegiate volleyball teams, while the Local Organizing Committee witnessed the giving nature of the players, staff, committee members and conventioneers as they packed 2,000 SisterFriend Kits to donate to Pittsburgh Public Schools. The SportsPITTSBURGH team did not rest on the success of the 2018 and 2019 NCAA Championships. In 2019, the sports sales staff ultimately secured 63 sports events for the Pittsburgh region. For example, USA Volleyball chose Pittsburgh to host their 2020 High Performance Championships and Olympic Training Camp at the DLCC, and to co-host International Federation of Volleyball (FIVB) 2020 Volleyball Nations Men’s League competition at the Petersen Events Center. The latter event will showcase elite men’s players from the U.S., Brazil, Canada and Argentina on their last U.S. stop prior to the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics. Combined, events booked in 2019, for future dates, are estimated to host 310,000 attendees, consume more than 100,000 room nights and generate $104 million in direct spend in Allegheny County. Youth volleyball events also continued to flourish regionally. The Junior Volleyball Association Steel City Freeze hosted 270 boys and girls teams. And, over Memorial Day weekend, 366 girls club teams competed in the East Coast Volleyball East Coast Championships. It was the championship’s 11th consecutive appearance in Pittsburgh. The “City of Champions” is quickly earning a reputation as the “City of Bumps, Sets and Spikes” thanks to the many volleyball clubs, interscholastic programs, intercollegiate teams and elite competitions that call Western Pennsylvania home.
2019 NCAA DI Women’s Volleyball Championship
Highlights • • •
Booked 100,631 room nights, as well as 63 sports-related meetings and events. Hosted four NCAA National Championships. Attended SportAccord, NASC Annual Symposium, TEAMS Conference and Connect Sports Marketplace. Initiated the development of an annual multisport festival representing sports groups dedicated to promoting sports participation within the LGBTQ+ community.
Welcomed back Hoop Group and its premier grassroots boys’ basketball tournament, Pitt Jam Fest, in April. The event grew to 36 courts, with more than 600 teams and 200 college coaches within the DLCC, making Pittsburgh the place to be for college coaches looking to recruit their next star player. Sponsored the Connect Sports Game Changers Award, a national recognition of individuals and organizations that excel in the sports tourism industry for the fourth consecutive year.
Top 10 Hosted Sports Events in 2019
P3R 2019 DICK’S Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon
NCAA 2019 Division I Men’s Wrestling Championships
PVGP Association 2019 Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix
NCAA 2019 Division I Women’s Volleyball Championship & AVCA Convention
Hoop Group 2019 Pitt Jam Fest
Atlantic Coast Baseball 2019 Cap Classic
East Coast Volleyball 2019 East Coast Championships
United States Hockey League 2019 DICK’S Sporting Goods USHL Fall Classic
Replay Foundation 2019 Replay FX
Atlantic 10 Conference 2019 Women’s Basketball Championship
Destination Services Sports Events Efforts The Destination Services Department supported SportsPITTSBURGH’s efforts in providing Iconic Experiences throughout 2019 by connecting sports planners and event attendees with the Pittsburgh community. The team serviced more than 29 events and promoted Pittsburgh by participating in attendance builders for two major upcoming sports events. In addition, the Destination Services Department: •
Managed hotel reservations for Hoop Group Pitt Jam Fest, processing 1,757 reservations (3,571 room nights), generating $504,000 for hotel partners. Issued six Planning Bulletins to the Pittsburgh community in advance of incoming events. Developed service plans for three major sports events.
• • •
Organized and hosted five planning site visits. Provided five partner business referral leads for sports event planners. Provided welcome messages at Pittsburgh International Airport for 21 sports events.
Marketing Sports Events Efforts The Marketing Department’s efforts were integrated into SportsPITTSBURGH’s sales, marketing and event hosting, including a marketing account representative assigned to the SportsPITTSBURGH team to coordinate marketing plans, campaigns and communications. In addition, the Marketing Department: •
• • •
Provided assistance for the NCAA Division I Wrestling and Division I Women’s Volleyball Championships’ marketing plans. Coordinated the transition to a new bid proposal system using Proposify. Assisted with social media monitoring during big sports events. Incorporated the Pull Up a Chair campaign into events, such as the NCAA Division I Women’s Volleyball Championship.
Worked with the NCAA on press conferences for Division I Wrestling and Division I Women’s Volleyball Championships. Created website landing pages for several 2019 events. Facilitated social media buys and campaigns for all NCAA events.
Petersen Events Center
Partnership Development Sports Events Efforts The Partnership Development Department supported SportsPITTSBURGH’s efforts in bringing sports events and meetings to Pittsburgh and Allegheny County through engaging with the local community to bring on partners who are able to enhance and support sports events. Sports events have unique needs and opportunities that VisitPITTSBURGH’s partners are well-positioned to handle and benefit from. In addition, the Partnership Development Department: •
Engaged with local partner attractions, museums, restaurants and other family friendly businesses so SportsPITTSBURGH was able to better formulate the family experience for those visiting the region for a sports event.
Worked to bring local sports venues on as partners in order to diversify the company’s facility base and attract a wider variety of sports events to Allegheny County.
Research Sports Events Efforts To aid in VisitPITTSBURGH’s efforts related to sports tourism, the Resarch Department compiled data specific to sports travel within the leisure market and performed event impact analyses on various sports events. In addition, the Research Department: •
Performed hundreds of event impact calculation analyses (for hosted and booked events) to track ROI of events generated by SportsPITTSBURGH. Performed event impact calculations for local professional sports teams.
Fielded an intercept survey at the NCAA Men’s Division I Wrestling Championships to understand attendees’ spending patterns and demographics.
Pull Up a Chair
Pittsburgh Penguins Activation
VisitPITTSBURGHâ€™s leisure tourism marketing efforts, domestically and internationally, continued to focus on driving overnight visitation and raising awareness of the Pittsburgh region.
Good Morning America
The Marketing Department works to ensure that VisitPITTSBURGH’s leisure tourism efforts raise domestic and international awareness of the region and differentiate Pittsburgh from other destinations. The efforts are working, as eight out of every ten visitors to Allegheny County are leisure visitors. Award-Winning National Marketing Campaign The highlight of VisitPITTSBURGH’s tourism marketing efforts in 2019 was the successful launch of the organization’s first national marketing campaign in many years – Pull Up a Chair. You are Welcomed Here. Pittsburghers helped push out the campaign message that is built on a welcoming Pittsburgh and the offering of a chair – a universal sign of hospitality and respect. This campaign not only capitalized on the loyalty and passion of Pittsburghers worldwide but also provided a vehicle to give Pittsburghers a better idea of what VisitPITTSBURGH does, as 98% of the organization’s marketing efforts are outside the region. The campaign, which was created internally and targeted both drive and fly markets, has been extremely successful in driving hotel room nights. Its message, along with a campaign video unlike any other in the industry, also has been received well across the country. Since the campaign is mostly digital, only about one-third of the results are trackable, and those come from the ADARA platform. Still, by the end of the year – and only seven months after its launch – Pull Up a Chair had resulted in significant room nights and flights booked, as well as impressive web searches from targeted fly markets, such as Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle. The campaign was mentioned on Good Morning America by Ginger Zee as she sat on the famous 8-Foot Parking Chair. The marketing campaign has earned 13 awards, including Best of Show from PR News, five HSMAI Adrian Awards and the American Marketing Association’s Best B2C campaign. Additionally, Public Relations Society of America - Pittsburgh Chapter honored VisitPITTSBURGH as the Best PR/Marketing Team in the Pittsburgh region.
The 90 Painted Chairs Program is an offshoot of the Pull Up a Chair campaign created to raise awareness of the city’s thriving arts scene.
Pull Up a Chair Campaign Reach SOCIAL MEDIA
342 (print, television, radio)
Unique Page Views
Average Time on Site
SPRING/SUMMER EXTENDED REACH Target Cities
Web Traffic Increase
Marketing Department Awards On the success of the Pull Up a Chair campaign, VisitPITTSBURGH won the following awards: 2019 HSMAI Adrian Awards Gold Award, Digital Marketing/Multimedia: Pull Up a Chair. You are Welcomed Here. Gold Award, Public Relations/Launch: Pull Up a Chair. You are Welcomed Here. Gold Award, Advertising/Brochure: VisitPITTSBURGH 2019 Official Visitors Guide Silver Award, Advertising/Video: Pull Up a Chair. You are Welcomed Here. Bronze Award, Advertising/Complete Campaign: Pull Up a Chair. You are Welcomed Here. 2019 PRNEWS Digital Award Game Changer Award: Pull Up a Chair. You are Welcomed Here. 2019 Travel Weekly Award Magellan Award: Pull Up a Chair. You are Welcomed Here. American Marketing Association Pittsburgh Marketer of the Year Award B2C Brands and Services Marketing: Pull Up a Chair. You are Welcomed Here. PRSA Pittsburgh Renaissance Awards PR/Marketing Department of the Year Digital Renaissance Award: Pull up a Chair. You are Welcomed Here. 2019 PRNEWS Digital Award Game Changer Award: Pull Up a Chair. You are Welcomed Here. 2019 Raganâ€™s PR Daily Award First Prize, Hospitality, Travel or Tourism Campaign: Pull Up a Chair. You are Welcomed Here. 2019 Telly Award Craft use of 360 Video, Leisure Virtual Reality Video
2019-20 Awards Marketing Department
2019 Communicator Award Leisure Virtual Reality Video
Domestic Leisure Tourism Development Efforts Expanded Niche Leisure Tourism Efforts The department’s leisure tourism efforts also included several campaigns pushing various niche tourism products such as: • Craft beer • Working with the Pittsburgh Brewers Guild • Whiskey • Membership with the Whiskey Rebellion Trail • Arts and Culture • Through co-op with the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council and the 90 Painted Chairs Program Drove Leisure Tourism Through Shoulder Seasons For the second consecutive year, the Marketing Department worked with Expedia on a customized Pittsburgh campaign to drive hotel room nights through the hotels’ shoulder seasons, which are typically slow periods. The most recent campaign increased the hotel revenue generated by 25.3% to more than $1.6 million and more than 10,000 room nights in 2019-20.
Partnership Development Leisure Tourism Efforts The Partnership Development Department continued to raise awareness of partners with visitors through marketing and promotional opportunities, such as advertising on VisitPITTSBURGH.com; in PLAY, the Official Visitors Guide and other publications and through paid blogs. Marketing co-ops such as KidsBURGH® and campaigns featuring arts and cultural attractions also helped drive awareness of and business to VisitPITTSBURGH’s partners. In addition, the Partnership Development Department:
Craft Beer Niche Tourism
Cinderlands Beer Co.
• Developed the concept for a new publication, the VisitPITTSBURGH Culinary Guide, to engage the restaurant community and provide visitors with information and recipes from local restaurants.
• Worked on a rebranding of the PLAY brochure to the See & Do Guide to make it a more useful, efficient method of providing local, schedule-based information to visitors.
Destination Services Leisure Tourism Efforts An important part of VisitPITTSBURGH’s leisure tourism marketing efforts is the assistance the Destination Services Department provided to enhance the experience of our visitors, including offering tips on what to see, directions on how to travel around town and information about events and festivals. In addition, the Destination Services Department: • Assisted 52 wedding groups with Pittsburgh information. • Assisted 28 family reunions with Pittsburgh information. • Conducted three customer service training programs through the PittsburgHosts campaign.
• Conducted 17 onsite promotion events at the WELCOME PITTSBURGH Information Centers and Gift Shops. • Welcomed 709,307 visitors (85% from out of town) to nine affiliated welcome centers.
Research Leisure Tourism Efforts The leisure travel market is vibrant with constant changing needs. As a result, the Research Department kept a close watch on this market in 2019. By using mobile and online tracking, searching and booking behaviors, surveys and secondary research, the team was able to provide local and national insights to the organization. This valuable insight helped guide the use of limited resources to be focused on segments and markets which allowed for the greatest return. In addition, the Research Department: • Updated origin market and visitor profile information quarterly to aid the Marketing Department in its target-market efforts. • Tracked inquirer searches and bookings to determine seasonality of the search-to-book window. • Reported international visitor volume (annually) and spend (quarterly) to monitor international marketing endeavors.
• Presented international leisure traveler insights to the Pittsburgh International Travel Collaborative. • Fielded a monthly visitor survey to track visitor experience in Pittsburgh.
International Leisure Tourism Development Efforts VisitPITTSBURGH participated in the Pittsburgh International Travel Collaborative for the fourth consecutive year. The Travel Collaborative consists of the Allegheny County Airport Authority and VisitPITTSBURGH, along with the Laurel Highlands, Butler County, Washington County and Visit Monroeville tourism agencies. The Allegheny Conference on Community Development joined as a partner in 2019. The Travel Collaborative again used the services of Black Diamond marketing agency in the United Kingdom and Lieb Management marketing agency in Germany to continue to raise awareness of Pittsburgh as a leisure tourism destination and to help market the direct flights to Pittsburgh on British Airways and Condor Airlines. Allegheny County Airport Authority’s CEO Christina Cassotis said that the efforts in 2019 of the collaborative helped the region secure the British Airways flight from London Heathrow to Pittsburgh. In addition to raising awareness of Pittsburgh with leisure travelers and the media, VisitPITTSBURGH was extremely active in driving awareness with tour operators in the U.K., Germany and some feeder markets, which included conducting training sessions and meet-and-greets in those markets. Also in 2019, members of MeetPITTSBURGH staff and VisitPITTSBURGH Marketing staff attended IPW, ITB and WTM, three of the largest international tourism and business conferences. International visitation represents an exciting growth market for the city and region.
Additional Marketing Highlights The Marketing Department’s efforts in 2019 included more than 30 innovative campaigns, activations and “WOW” moments, including:
EQT 10 Miler Activation Chair-ing on the Runners
• Launched the 90 Painted Chairs Program, which engaged the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council and local artists to paint parking chairs for auction. Proceeds will benefit the Teaching Artists Initiative. • Rolled out two 8-Foot Parking Chairs and executed various successful onsite activations, including PrideFest, Monday Night Football, EQT 10 Miler Chair Mile and more. • Screened the Pull Up a Chair commercial prior to the A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood movie in Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., Colorado Springs, Indianapolis and Pittsburgh. • Continued the successful KidsBURGH® marketing campaign, integrating the Pull Up a Chair theme. • Enhanced the Arts marketing campaign and engaged social influencers with key targeted audiences.
• Launched the ‘Burgh Breakaway campaign, engaging hockey fans to promote a back-to-back hockey weekend in Pittsburgh. • Produced the Experience Pittsburgh Outdoor Adventure video in conjunction with the Biking in Pittsburgh marketing campaign. • Continued the promotion of the Pull Up a Chair campaign through the holiday season with successful holiday photo opportunities and an engaging Chair Stacker holiday game. • Supported the British Airways direct flight through multiple campaigns and landing pages including the U.K. Travel Agent Giveaway and Art on the Bank. • Participated in the Whiskey Rebellion Trail marketing committee and successfully helped launch the Whiskey Rebellion Trail website and pass. • Premiered the newly rebranded MeetPITTSBURGH.com with updated content focusing on business event professionals’ needs.
Art on the Bank London’s South Bank
VisitPITTSBURGH.com’s Year-Over-Year Performance (2018 to 2019) • 9% more users. • 6% more sessions. • 11% increase from organic traffic. • 34% more traffic from social media platforms. • Visitors to the #LovePGH™ blog increased 71%, with the “Fall Fairs, Festivals and Events” blog continuing to generate the highest traffic, closely followed by “Pittsburgh Celebrates Light Up Night” and “St. Patrick’s Day in Pittsburgh” all with more than 20,000 pageviews. • Published 63 blogs. • Total social engagements increased by 58.8%. • 100,000 Twitter engagements including likes, retweets and replies. • 485,000 Facebook post engagements including shares, reactions and comments. • 164,000 Instagram engagements including likes and comments. • 1,000 LinkedIn post engagements including likes, comments, shares and clicks.
The Finance and Operations Department, which actively supports the mission and values of VisitPITTSBURGH, again returned phenomenal results in 2019 through another exemplary external audit, as well as numerous improvements to the Information Technology (IT) infrastructure. Budget performance remains positive even with the substantial investment made in the PCMA Convening Leaders conference early in the year. With the support and guidance of the savvy Finance Committee members, changes were made to the investment policies, which allowed a 50% return of the amount liquidated to cover PCMA expenses and provided the organization with a solid foundation for furthering marketing and sales efforts. Additionally, the Finance team conducted a deep dive into the current software systems available on the market and returned a recommendation to transition to a cloud-based product, which will increase functionality and provide the departments with more real-time access to budget and spending information. VisitPITTSBURGH worked with an outside accounting firm to review the Event Subsidy Liability process to ensure the organization continues to appropriately recognize these liabilities on all financial records. The IT team also had an extremely productive year, as the organization was transitioned to cloud-based systems enterprise-wide, including Microsoft Office 365. Additionally, the team implemented Microsoft Teams and Sharepoint, allowing collaboration across all departments. Microsoft Teams has allowed staff to maintain connectivity with the main office even when traveling or working remotely. The department also moved all network files into the cloud, which allows for better backup, management and access to archived data.
Highlights • • • • •
Expanded the use of EFT payments for vendor services. Achieved another clean financial audit. Increased cross-training to better service internal clients. Reviewed the accounting software platform with plans to move to a more robust system in 2020. Migrated the organization to Microsoft Office 365.
Sources of Funding Membership/Partnership
• • • •
Converted the network infrastructure to a cloud-based server. Implemented an updated version of Sharepoint. Conducted Microsoft Teams training for all staff to allow for better project collaboration. Hosted IDSS Tourism Academy in May 2019.
Net Realized Gain/(Loss) on Investments
Allegheny County Hotel Room Tax Revenue Advertising and Sponsorships
Other Total Support and Revenue
Sports Events Convention Services
Human Resources (HR) is the architect of forward-looking strategies that leverage talent and are purposefully designed to engage and support all employees.
VisitPITTSBURGH Day Bowling at Arsenal Lanes
The department’s accomplishments include achieving the organization’s mission, business plan and goals that are directly connected to staff and human resource strategies, which drive organizational value. HR manages and oversees salary administration, talent acquisition and management, succession planning, health and welfare benefits, onboarding, the internship and mentorship programs, HIPAA compliance, coaching and professional development, family friendly workplace flexibility, automated applicant tracking, automated time off and attendance, wellness programming, conflict resolution and compliance with all federal, state and local regulations including the ACA, EEO, FMLA, ADEA, ADA and GINA. Highlights •
Aggressively marketed the 2019 renewal of VisitPITTSBURGH’s health and welfare benefits, with the assistance of HUB International, VisitPITTSBURGH’s broker, and renewed coverage with Highmark, United Concordia Dental, VSP Vision and CIGNA Life and Disability. Implemented equity adjustments based on recommendations from the approved 2019 salary analysis, conducted by outside consultants. Ensured full compliance with the Affordable Care Act, filing the 2018 tax return with the IRS and distributing required 1095-B and 1095-C forms. Recognized by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette as one of Pittsburgh’s 2019 Top Workplaces for the fifth consecutive year, based on employee responses to a survey conducted by Energage. Refreshed VisitPITTSBURGH’s succession planning policy and asked the leadership team to reengage and plan for succession in their respective departments. Automated VisitPITTSBURGH’s talent acquisition process by implementing a web-based application tracking system. Continued to focus on recruiting diverse applicants through all recruitment campaigns for full-time, temporary and on-call positions, as well as the internship program.
• • •
Offered organizational harassment and sensitivity trainings to all employees. Coordinated targeted training for the leadership team, with an emphasis on communication, modeling inclusive behavior and better managing the culture in each department. Executed automated onboarding for newly hired employees. Managed web-based talent management and time-off platforms. Ensured compliance with the Affordable Care Act, the IRS and Employer Shared Responsibility provisions of individual and employer mandates and aligned July 1 medical renewal with Year 13 wellness program. Conducted organizational professional development and training for all staff that included: compliance, communication and collaboration, DISC assessment and communication, Microsoft Outlook and Teams, and culture-shaping staff retreat.
As the primary connection point between clients, visitors and local Pittsburgh assets and experiences, the Destination Services Department constantly strives for improved ways to ensure tourism leaves a lasting impact on the Pittsburgh community.
Party with a Purpose PCMA Convening Leaders
This objective is achieved through two avenues: Business and Sports Event Legacy and Community Benefit Projects and VisitPITTSBURGH’s Community Impact Initiatives. The department continued to showcase legacy value to business and sports clients by connecting them with local stakeholders to create programs or to participate in community service projects with lasting impacts, totaling in 13 projects for 2019. Additionally, in conjunction with the WELCOME PITTSBURGH Information Center and Gift Shop and the VisitPITTSBURGH Human Resources Department, the Destination Services Department and VisitPITTSBURGH staff members participated in eight community impact initiatives in 2019.
Business Events Legacy PCMA Convening Leaders Hospitality Helping Hands Jan. 6, 2019 • • •
150 volunteers assembled 200 newborn essentials kits. Held a Not So Itty Bitty Baby Shower for 20 Pittsburgh-area moms-to-be in need. Donated $10,000 to Beverly’s Birthdays.
PCMA Party with a Purpose Jan. 7, 2019 • • •
PCMA Foundation fundraiser. PCMA Foundation donated $15,000 to the World Affairs Council, Global Education Fund in honor of the Tree of Life victims. Donated $10,000 to Living in Liberty, a safe house for victims of human trafficking.
PCMA Social Impact Projects Jan. 7-9, 2019 • • • •
Packaged 2,134 menstrual kits for Pittsburgh-area women’s shelters through Period.org. Constructed 2,000 kits for local responders and overseas troops through Operation Gratitude. Put together 2,000 creativity kits benefiting Pittsburgh Public Schools. Created 240 street outreach bags for victims of human trafficking through Living in Liberty.
Hospitality Helping Hands PCMA Convening Leaders
American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA) Backpack Stuffing Project June 10-11, 2019 •
Attendees prepared 1,000 backpacks with more than 10 back-to-school items to benefit Pittsburgh Public Schools.
ASTRA Park Clean Up June 8, 2019 •
Attendees conducted willow tree planting, invasive plant removal and trash removal in Frick Park through partnership with Nine Mile Run Watershed Association.
ASTRA Food Donation June 9-12, 2019
Hospitality Helping Hands
PCMA Convening Leaders
ASTRA partnered with the DLCC to donate leftover food from its meal functions to Jubilee Kitchen and 412 Food Rescue.
ASTRA Toy Donation June 9-12, 2019 •
ASTRA partnered with Good360 to give back to the local community by donating toys, games, school supplies and juvenile products to under-privileged children and families in need.
National Down Syndrome Congress First Responder Training: Disability Awareness June 24-26, 2019 • •
The group provided local first responders with hands-on training on how to effectively identify, address and respond to the various disabilities they may encounter in the line of duty. More than 100 local first responders underwent training.
Anthrocon Animal-Related Charity Donation July 4-7, 2019 •
The organization donated $45,852 to PEARL Parrot Rescue, a local charity.
METALCON Supports the Veterans Leadership Program Oct. 16-18, 2019 •
The group raised funds for the Veterans Leadership Program of Western Pennsylvania to provide essential housing, employment and vital support services for eligible Pittsburgh-area veterans, service members and their families with the goal of improving their self-sufficiency, sustainability and quality of life.
Sports Events Legacy Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix July 20-21, 2019 •
The organization raised $410,000 for the Autism Society of Pittsburgh and the Allegheny Valley School.
NCAA Division II Soccer Championships Dec. 12-14, 2019 • • •
The student-athletes visited local elementary schools and read to classes. Local firefighters were honored during competition day. The NCAA partnered with Team Impact and the Make-a-Wish Foundation to bring families to the games.
NCAA Division I Women’s Volleyball Championship/American Volleyball Coaches Association Dec. 19-21, 2019 • •
PCMA Convening Leaders
The Local Organizing Committee and the NCAA assembled 2,000 menstrual kits through SisterFriend. The NCAA collegiate volleyball coaches, 2019 NCAA All-American volleyball players and the 2019 Duquesne Women’s Volleyball team conducted a free youth volleyball clinic for 200 girls grades 4-8.
VisitPITTSBURGH Community Service Martin Luther King Jr. Day Food Drive
WELCOME PITTSBURGH National Reading Month
Jan. 18-Feb. 15, 2019 •
VisitPITTSBURGH conducted a virtual food drive to support the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank. The organization collected and donated $1,167, exceeding the goal of $1,100.
“From, Your Neighbor” Card Collection March 4-19, 2019 • •
To celebrate Fred Rogers’ birthday, cards with kind words and well wishes were collected in the WELCOME PITTSBURGH Information Center and Gift Shop in Fifth Avenue Place. VisitPITTSBURGH employees delivered the collected cards across the street to the “neighboring” Highmark Caring Place on March 19 and distributed them to children and their families.
VisitPITTSBURGH Celebrates National Reading Month March 15, 2019 • •
Members of VisitPITTSBURGH’s executive team read books to children in front of the WELCOME PITTSBURGH Information Center and Gift Shop in the East Lobby of the DLCC. More than 40 children from Downtown’s Small World Early Learning & Development Center were in attendance, ranging in age from toddlers to five years old. Refreshments for the children were provided by the DLCC.
National Celebrate Services Week Event Supports Dress for Success July 29, 2019 •
Service managers from the DLCC, area hotels and venues and VisitPITTSBURGH collected gentlyworn professional clothing and accessories for Dress for Success. The day was co-hosted by VisitPITTSBURGH and the DLCC.
East End Cooperative Ministry Coffee Tasting Sept. 30, 2019 •
VisitPITTSBURGH celebrated International Coffee Day by providing visitors with a variety of free samples from East End Cooperative Ministry (EECM) at the WELCOME PITTSBURGH Information Center and Gift Shop in Fifth Avenue Place. All sales of EECM’s coffee, tea and other products sold in WELCOME PITTSBURGH locations went back to EECM.
Holiday Gift Collection for Hosanna House Nov. 18-Dec. 13, 2019 •
The WELCOME PITTSBURGH Information Center and Gift Shop in Fifth Avenue Place collected items such as children’s books, toys, school supplies, clothing and hygiene products for the Hosanna House. VisitPITTSBURGH employees then delivered the donations to the Hosanna House.
VisitPITTSBURGH Day of Caring Holiday Season •
VisitPITTSBURGH staff members participated in several service projects throughout the holiday season, including: • Packed and sorted goods for families in need at the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank. • Collected hoodie sweatshirts for the United Way Be a Middle School Mentor program. • Packed and sorted holiday items for families of veterans at Operation Troop Appreciation. • Collected $10,664 in donations for the United Way, with 70% staff participation.
VisitPITTSBURGH Jeans Day Year-round •
VisitPITTSBURGH staff members donated $6,451 to select charities.
NCAA DII Soccer Championships
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
OFFICERS Bryan N. Iams Chairman PPG Timothy Q. Hudak, Esq. Vice Chairman CEO, Eckert Seamans Cherin Mellott, LLC
Tommy Johnson Secretary CNX Thomas E. Martini Treasurer The Westin Pittsburgh Eric A. DeStefano Immediate Past Chairman
EX OFFICIO MEMBER Tim Muldoon David L. Lawrence Convention Center
MEMBERS AT LARGE Michele Meloy Burchfield* Blume Honey Water Samuel DeMarco III Allegheny County Council Eric J. Dorfman, PhD* Carnegie Museum of Natural History Tom Dougherty* Allegheny Land Trust Dana L. Fruzynski, Esq. Harris Grill
Rich Fitzgerald Allegheny County Executive
Daniel Gilman* Office of the Mayor
William Peduto Mayor of Pittsburgh
Stuart G. Hoffman PNC Financial Services Group
Christina Cassotis CEO, Allegheny County Airport Authority Mitch Swain CEO, Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council
Sheldon Ingram WTAE-TV Terry Kalna Pittsburgh Penguins Chaz R. Kellem University of Pittsburgh
James T. Kunz, Jr. International Union of Operating Engineers Local 66 Robert F. Matzie PA House of Representatives Sylvia McCoy* â€˜Burgh Bits and Bites Food Tour Ann M. Metzger Cassandra Washington Hampton Inn Pittsburgh University Medical Center Janis Burley Wilson August Wilson African American Cultural Center Terry Wirginis Gateway Clipper Fleet *Executive Committee Member
Jerad Bachar Executive Vice President/Interim CEO Karen Fisher Chief Financial Officer Tom Loftus Chief Marketing Officer Jennifer Hawkins Executive Director, SportsPITTSBURGH Mary Grasha Houpt Vice President, Human Resources Brenda Hill Vice President, Destination Services Karl Pietrzak Vice President, Convention Sales
Staff Brenda Armstrong Senior Director of Marketing Lisa Ashbaugh Convention Host Development Director Dave Brosky Visitor Services Representative Jaime Andrade-Budesa Senior Services Manager Katie Conaway Domestic & International Group Sales Director Diane Cortese Director, Accounting Mark Davidson Partnership Business Development Manager Derek Dawson Senior Director, Partnership Development Mary Emili Visitor Services Specialist
Molly Evans Destination Services Coordinator Bob Foley Database Development Director Kori Gassaway National Sales Director Michelle Grew Human Resources Manager Scott Hershberger Director, Tourism Services
Dana Kramer SportsPITTSBURGH Senior Development Manager
Amber Ross Multimedia Design & Production Manager
Wendy Lachendro Visitor Services Supervisor
Gail Schenone Housing Director
Robert Leff Senior National Sales Director
Justice Sifford Marketing Content Creator/ Coordinator
Sonya Maness Convention Sales Coordinator Kylie McCracken Marketing Manager
Colleen Smith Partnership Development Director Mackenzie Trunzo Sales & Market Research Coordinator
Barb Hollie Destination and Visitor Services Manager
Susan McGrane Production Manager
Sara Holzer National Sales Director
Christen Miller SportsPITTSBURGH Coordinator
Brady Inners SportsPITTSBURGH Events Manager
Julia Millman Marketing Communications Coordinator
Josh Valasek National Sales Director
Joshua Mizerak Operations Coordinator
Stephanie Vogel Executive Assistant
Shirley Mueller Convention Sales Administrator
Kristin Wenger Marketing Communications Director
Asaka Narumi Director, Web Development
Shannon Wolfgang Director, Marketing Communications
Kristen Oakes National Sales Director
Tom Yanosick Director, Information Technology
Erica Just Partnership Development Coordinator Andrea Karkhanis Director, Marketing Research Gena Keebler Social Media & Marketing Manager Vicki Kelley Events Manager Jason Kolesar Accounting Analyst
Kristen Turner Director, Convention Services Jennifer Vacek Director, Convention Sales
Mike Robertson Senior Services Manager
Established in 1935, VisitPITTSBURGH is dedicated to generating convention, trade show and leisure travel business for the Pittsburgh region...
Published on Mar 26, 2020
Established in 1935, VisitPITTSBURGH is dedicated to generating convention, trade show and leisure travel business for the Pittsburgh region...