LATCB’S MARKET OUTLOOK FORUM BRINGS TOGETHER TOURISM'S LEADING EXPERTS

LATCB President and CEO Ernest Wooden Jr. served as host of the entire event, and laid out the course to get to 50 million visitors to LA by 2020.

“Coming off back-to-back record visitation years in 2011 and 2012, Los Angeles has momentum behind it and 50 million visitors by 2020 is in our grasp,” Wooden said. “To accommodate 50 million visitors in LA, we need at least 3,500 more hotel rooms – in big hotels, an expanded and modernized convention center to attract the larger conventions and more direct international flights to LAX. Fifty million visitors by 2020 means an additional $24 billion in visitor spending locally and 68,000 more jobs in LA. Every business and household in Los Angeles will ultimately benefit.”

Mayor Garcetti acknowledged the important role that the tourism industry leaders attending would play in reaching the goal of 50 million visitors to LA by 2020. "Together, you are the open doors and the hosts for the 42 million visitors that come to Los Angeles. Your dedication to the highest level of service is a big part of making that lasting impression that is central to visitors enjoying their stay here, planning to return, and recommending that others visit LA as well. Together we can get to 50 million visitors – LA has more excitement, more attractions, more improvements than we’ve seen in decades. We’re certainly going to market it, and I, as Mayor, will be at the front of that line.” 

Councilman Tom LaBonge, who represents the 4th District and is Chair of the Trade Commerce and Tourism Committee, thanked the LATCB members for their service to LA’s tourism industry.

“There is only one Los Angeles; it’s the greatest city in the world, and I am proud to be part of this effort to make sure tourists keep coming to LA,” said Councilman LaBonge, a reliable tourism advocate whose district includes part of Hollywood, and head of the LA Sister Cities Program.

Key Insights and Initiatives Shared During the Market Outlook Forum

LA Tourism presented its sales and marketing plans for the year ahead, Los Angeles-specific data on tourism’s economic impact, levels of visitation, spending, visitor behavior, satisfaction levels, and LA Tourism’s plan to reach 50 million visitors by 2020.

A cornerstone of LATCB’s growth plan is more international marketing through advertising, travel trade and meeting planner outreach, along with PR activity in core, emerging and opportunity markets. International travelers, who tend to stay longer in-market and spend more money, will be exposed to new dedicated shopping, arts and culture and LGBT programs and messaging, along with “awards season” efforts that capitalize on the global fascination with LA’s “Hollywood heritage.” LATCB also announced plans to expand its successful, “Endless Entertainment,” campaign, launched in spring 2013, into more key domestic markets in the year ahead.   

LA TOURISM INSIGHTS: WENDY KHEEL, VICE PRESIDENT, TOURISM INSIGHTS, LATCB

Wendy Kheel, Vice President, Tourism Insights, LATCB gave a presentation about Los Angeles visitation data, spending and other economic information. LATCB reported that a record 41.4 million visitors came to LA in 2012, with direct spending of $16.5 billion, bringing a total economic benefit of $30.5 billion. Tourism directly supported 324,000 jobs, created more new jobs than any other industry, and generated a total of $1.1 billion in taxes and assessments. In 2013, a new record of 42 million visitors is forecast to come to LA. In 2012, the top five activities of leisure visitors while in Los Angeles are dining in restaurants (83.4%), shopping (62.7%), visiting a beach (51%), visiting art museums (46%), and visiting theme parks (30.5%). Visitors surveyed reported that 59.5 % were very satisfied with their visit to LA, and 73.2% were very likely to return.

LATCB also shared “Marketing and Planning Resource” with every attendee. This annually updated Marketing and Planning Resource is the definitive tourism data resource for LA, designed to assist you with marketing and budget planning, and serve as a comprehensive collection of local tourism industry data including economic indicators, lodging, visitor profiles, forecasts and air market information for the Los Angeles area. As a benefit of membership, every LATCB member can access this valuable tool online at my.lainc.us.

The U.S. Travel Association

The U.S. Travel Association presented data on current and projected future international travel to the United States, international traveler spending, and the nationwide economic impact of international travel. Roger Dow, President and CEO of U.S. Travel, predicted that record-high levels of international travel to the United States will continue every year through at least 2017. In 2012, direct spending by international visitors was $129 billion, a 49.2% increase since 2006. Direct spending from domestic travel was $727 billion in 2012, of which $506 billion, or 70%, was leisure travel; $126.5 billion, or 17%, was general business travel; and $94.4 billion, or 13%, was meetings and conventions business travel. Dow also discussed the U.S. Travel Association’s new “Vacation Days” campaign, set to launch later this year, which aims to open large untapped markets for the tourism industry by encouraging Americans to use and enjoy their unused vacation days for travelling. Research showed that 75% of American workers did not use all of their available vacation days in 2012, leaving a total of 300 million unused vacation days.

Brand USA

Brand USA presented its strategies and campaigns to improve the travel experience for international visitors to the U.S., its advocacy work on reducing barriers to travel, and its international branding and marketing campaign of the United States as a destination. It reported that in 2012, travel was the United States' No. 1 services export. Domestic and international travel supported 14.6 million jobs in the U.S. (1 in 8); accounted for 2.8% of GDP; generated $129 billion in federal, state and local tax revenues; had a total economic impact of $2 trillion, which is forecast to rise to $2.1 trillion by 2020, generating an additional $88 billion in revenues and 629,000 more jobs.

Visit California

Visit California presented its statewide sales and marketing programs, information about levels of travel to and within the state, visitor spending and behavior, and partnerships with destinations within California. 

As part of the panel group discussing online travel marketing and promotion, Google Travel West’s Director Marco Reginelli presented Google’s analysis of digital and mobile travel marketing tools and trends. Among other things, he shared that Los Angeles ranks as the fourth most searched U.S. city in the travel category; more than a third of Los Angeles travel-related searches are made on smartphones; 47% of travel planning starts on a smartphone; 65% of business travelers have booked via their smartphones; 91% of travelers have booked some component of their trip using a tablet device; mobile travel planning tools have empowered travel consumers like never before.

Reginelli discussed ways that LA hotels can pursue mobile apps and online marketing, advertising and promotions to help reach the increasingly mobile and web-engaged travelers.

LATCB’s Digital Marketing & Internet Tools: Bill Karz, Director of Digital Marketing at LATCB

Bill Karz, Director of Digital Marketing at LATCB, gave a presentation about LATCB’s overall Internet-based marketing strategies, LATCB’s award-winning re-designed website, rapid growth of website traffic, use of social media, and the ways that LATCB’s digital marketing yields dollar-value returns. The overall digital goals are to increase LA’s brand awareness; drive traffic to LATCB’s website (and therefore to our members) and to increase bookings in Los Angeles. LATCB is the first city tourism board to achieve 1 million Facebook fans in the United States.

Promotions: John Boudouvas, Senior Director, Marketing, LATCB

John Boudouvas, Senior Director, Marketing, LATCB, discussed LATCB’s promotions priorities and strategies. These include aligning promotions around key LATCB programs (Endless Entertainment and Arts & Culture) to drive visitation and room nights at LA hotels; targeting off-peak periods to increase occupancy at LA hotels during the slow periods between September and December, and January  to May; promoting non-city wide events; and increase advertising to Online Travel Agents (OTAs) to drive visitation to LA.

Keynote Speaker: Patrick McClenahan, President & CEO, 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games

During lunch, the keynote speaker, Patrick McClenahan, President & CEO of the 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games, and a monumental figure in sports television, gave a presentation about the widespread positive impact that the Special Olympics will have across Los Angeles.

As Chairman of the LA Bid Committee, McClenahan drove the winning bid in the international competition to bring the 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games to Los Angeles. The events are expected to bring 500,000 spectators, 7,000 athletes and 3,000 coaches from 170 countries to Los Angeles in July and August of 2015. They will be filling up our hotels and restaurants, and visiting LA attractions while they’re here, for an estimated economic impact of $415 million. The 25 different sporting events will take place at venues throughout the LA region. It will be the single largest event in Los Angeles since the 1984 Olympic Games and the largest sports and humanitarian event held anywhere in the world in 2015.

McClenahan discussed ways that LA area tourism industry businesses can support, and benefit from the games. In addition to bringing an economic boon to our region, the games also offer opportunities for local businesses, organizations and individuals to be part of an important, rewarding cause. More than 300,000 volunteers are expected to participate in the events.

LATCB China Strategy: Kathy Smits, Vice President, International Tourism with LATCB

Kathy Smits, Vice President, International Tourism with LATCB, gave a presentation outlining LATCB's China strategy.

LATCB’s primary objectives are to position Los Angeles to become the leading U.S. tourist destination for Chinese travelers; continue double-digit growth of China visitation to LA; continue to increase the incidence of hotel stays in TMD/member hotels; expand LATCB’s consumer marketing capabilities in China; implement a “NiHao China” readiness program among hotels and attractions and institute a tour guide training and certification program in collaboration with CNTA, linking these programs to key travel trade and wholesale operators in China.

MEETINGS & CONVENTIONS INDUSTRY: Roberta Rinker-Ludloff, Senior Vice President, Sales, LATCB

Roberta Rinker-Ludloff, Senior Vice President, Sales, LATCB, gave a presentation covering the meetings and conventions industry and LATCB’s meetings and conventions results, and new strategies and programs. LATCB is focused on increasing the meetings and conventions business in LA, which is crucial to the health of LA’s hotels. In FY 2012/2013, LATCB secured Letters of Intent (LOIs) for 35 Los Angeles Convention Center events for future years, totaling 335,000 room nights in LATCB member hotels, for a total economic impact for Los Angeles of $439 million. For the 2013 calendar year, 23 citywide conventions and Convention Center events were secured by LATCB. Currently, LATCB has 165 future conventions with signed LOIs, and 283 groups are booked into hotels for self contained meetings in Los Angeles. The presentation also covered LATCB's new strategies and programs for FY 2013/1014, including the introduction of "Destination Sales" and "Destination Services," and Meet LA, "promoting the endless meetings options in each of the ten regions of LA." Destination Services involves dedicated LATCB team members who serve as destination specialists who focus on deep knowledge of one particular region, conduct signature site inspections, and are experts in “Only in LA” special events and the most significant destination venues in each of LAs different regions.

Chinese Tourism Visitor Profile: Raj Chandnani, Vice President, Strategy at WATG | Wimberly Interiors

Raj Chandnani, Vice President, Strategy at WATG | Wimberly Interiors, gave a highly relevant presentation on the cultural profile of travelers from China, offering information that can help LA hotels and tourism businesses more effectively market to and attract Chinese visitors, and serve them when they arrive. He presented research findings that in 2012, China had 80 million outbound tourists, spending $80 billion, with 70% of their trips taking place in the last six years.

Still an emerging market with enormous growth potential still to come, China expects to have 25 million first-time travelers going out annually for next 10 years, with 100 million outbound travelers by 2020. China has the largest number of self-made millionaires and billionaires in the world, and affluent Chinese consumers travel abroad three times a year, taking an average of 15 days of holiday annually. Surprisingly, 57% of Chinese millionaires make their own travel reservations.

Chinese visitors are highly interested in shopping, and are particularly focused on luxury brands that are difficult to obtain or more expensive in China. They tend to seek authentic, immersive experiences when they travel, and prefer travel packages.

Chandnani also gave examples of "China Ready" programs that hotels have developed to successfully attract more travelers from China. These include Hilton Hotels’ “Hilton Huanying,” program, launched in 2011 in 70 properties in 23 countries, featuring fluent Mandarin-speaking staff, tea kettles and Chinese teas, slippers, Chinese language TV channels, and traditional Chinese breakfast menus, and choreographed, cultural welcome routines.

Member Mixer

The day ended with a lively Member Mixer, where guests of the Market Outlook Forum enjoyed a delicious sampling of small bites and desserts while they discussed the day’s programs and networked.

A Closing Note from Ernie

Without a destination, any road will do. My father used to say that, and it is true today. We have a destination – 50 million visitors to LA by 2020. Today, we shared key insights and plans to get us all marching together on the road to 50 million. It’s going to take our collective efforts and everyone’s commitment to supporting the industry’s infrastructure needs – from hotel development, to “futurizing” the convention center, to expanded transportation options to and within LA.

It is our hope that you walked away from our Market Outlook Forum with energy and inspiration, and the tools and ideas to build your own sales and marketing plans for the year ahead. We are excited to work with you to keep achieving record results. As always, please continue to share your ideas and feedback with us so that we can best serve you. I thank you, and look forward to seeing you on the road to 50 million.

With best wishes,

Ernest Wooden, Jr.
President and CEO
Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board