Words from Wooden – February 2014

President and CEO Ernest Wooden Jr., LATCB

The New Year is off to the races and 2014 looks to be another great year for LA’s tourism and hospitality industry. 

We're very optimistic about the forecast that the Los Angeles conventions landscape will enjoy a healthy recovery in 2014 after a very soft year, with 29 events already booked into the Convention Center in 2014, bringing an estimated 255,000 room nights. Adding to the positive outlook, LATCB welcomed Darren K. Green as the new Senior Vice President of Sales.

Darren will lead both the citywide convention sales team and the hotel sales team, along with the destination services team. He is a hospitality sales leader who has spent his entire career in hospitality sales for such top brands as Hyatt Hotels and Resorts, Hilton Hotels Corporation, Nikko Hotels International, KSL Resorts, and most recently, Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide. Darren’s experience in Los Angeles gives him great knowledge of the LA marketplace. His long track record of successful sales leadership gives me great optimism about continuing this positive trend.

Following our announcement about 2013’s record-breaking tourism numbers, we learned that the January 2014 hotel occupancy rate of 73.6% was the highest rate for any January record. We also recently received the year-end Travel Pulse and Tourism Industry Report showing that all lodging metrics - occupancy, room nights sold, average daily room rate and RevPAR, as well as LAX passenger traffic - broke historical records for Los Angeles in 2013. We have more details on this in the “News and Notes” section of this month’s Member Newsletter. 

Later this month, we are rolling out LATCB’s “NiHao China” training program, a valuable tool in our efforts to continue to strengthen Los Angeles’ position as one of the leading destinations for the large and rapidly growing Chinese international travel market. In 2013, LA welcomed 570,000 Chinese visitors, an incredible 21% growth over 2012, and we forecast several years of double-digit growth ahead. 

NiHao China is a custom-designed training and certification program to help Los Angeles-area hotels, attractions and other tourism industry businesses best meet the cultural preferences of Chinese visitors, to gain more Chinese visitors and improve Chinese travelers’ experience while visiting Los Angeles. The program offers a certification and seal of approval by LA Tourism and the China National Tourism Office, and certified businesses will be included in the marketing vehicles of LATCB and its partners in China.

LATCB will hold the first NiHao China seminar on Feb. 26 at the Sheraton Gateway Hotel, one of the LA area hotels that is leading the way in becoming “China ready.” 

I encourage all of our members to take advantage of this valuable resource. Be sure to check the “What’s Coming” section of the newsletter for information on how to sign up for NiHao China so your business can become China Ready. 

In addition to aggressively pursuing the market in China, LATCB has just planted a flag in Brazil, with the opening of our first Brazil tourism office. The office is operated under contract with Imaginadora, a São Paulo-based company with on-the-ground local expertise that will promote the destination and represent LATCB with Brazilian travel trade and media. Brazil is a rapidly growing emerging market with strong future potential for LA visitation.

Watch as announcements begin to roll out next month for our new integrated marketing campaign in our most important domestic feeder markets such as New York City, Chicago, San Francisco, San Diego and Phoenix, as well as our key international markets including the U.K., Australia, Canada and China. A companion meetings and conventions campaign will also run in top trade publications. 

As always, LATCB will be here, working on behalf of all of our members and partners to keep the world coming to Los Angeles. 


Best wishes, 


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