MONTEREY – One of the segments of the travel industry that continues to be affected by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is the business and group traveler market, but the Monterey County Convention and Visitors Bureau is is striving to position itself to further attract a larger share of this market and has expanded its team to assist in this pursuit.
“We are delighted to add industry veteran Rick Hud to our team,” said Teresa Savage, vice president of business development for the Monterey County Convention and Visitors Bureau, in a press release. “Rick has extensive Midwestern connections and deep industry connections that will give Monterey County a boost in reclaiming this important market.”
In an attempt to reestablish and grow the business segment, the Monterey County Convention and Visitors Bureau has expanded its business development staff and target markets and invested in new hybrid meeting technology.
Savage was selected to lead the business development team in fall 2020, and now the office has grown even further with the addition of Hud, a 30-year veteran in sales and hospitality management. Hud will attempt to help expand the attention of the Monterey County Visitor and Convention Bureau to the Midwest and East Coast from its base in Illinois. These areas are considered ripe for business and incentive industries that host meetings between 300 and 800 attendees, considered Monterey County’s âhangoutâ.
The global pandemic has wreaked havoc on Monterey County’s hospitality industry, the Monterey Peninsula’s No.1 economic engine and second behind agriculture for the county, with a total loss of visitor spending of $ 1. $ 74 billion in 2020.
In its annual report for fiscal year 2019-2020, the Monterey County Convention and Visitors Bureau reported that 39,142 group nights were booked, which is only 52% of its goal of 75,000, compared to 2018-19. where he had achieved 100% of his goal. 69,800 overnight stays reserved for groups.
The Monterey County Convention and Visitors Bureau report for fiscal year 2020-2021 indicates that a total of 12,300 room nights were booked.
The goal of the office group’s business development department is to generate leads that turn into booked overnight stays. During the pandemic, the destination selling process was transformed by taking face-to-face interactions in virtual trade shows, industry webinars, Zoom customer events, and targeted database marketing.
âMonterey County has inspired meeting planners and business travelers for decades, whether you’re a business, association or motivational meeting planner,â said Savage. “The destination is easily accessible from major cities in California, including San Jose and San Francisco, as well as extensive direct flight markets nationwide, and has the facilities and space to host meetings and motivate employees. participants. “
The office began to reinvent its approach to meetings and conferences in 2020 when in-person gatherings were restricted due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He maintained outreach and communications with meeting planners during this time in an effort to be in a stronger position once restrictions were relaxed.
The CANVAS Technology Platform with Immersive Design Studios was recently an additional investment and is now available for booking at the Monterey Conference Center. This is the first of its kind partnership with a convention center and the same service used by renowned life and business strategist Tony Robbins for his immersive events attracting over 20,000 attendees remotely.
Additionally, since the onset of the pandemic, hotels and businesses in Monterey County say they have improved their health and safety protocols, including several hotels and the Monterey Conference Center by obtaining Star Facility accreditation from the Global Advisory Board. on biohazards.
One of the region’s greatest strengths continues to be its ability to host outdoor meetings and events with its year-round mild climate and wide array of scenic outdoor venues.
From now until November 1, with the indoor mega-events – those with 1,000 or more attendees – it will be mandatory for all attendees to provide proof of vaccination or negative test results. Proof of vaccination or negative test results will remain a recommendation for open-air mega-events – those with crowds greater than 10,000 participants – and self-attestation will be allowed at the discretion of the venue and / or the venue. operator of the event.
The addition of new markets for jet aircraft flights and services that have been added to the Monterey Regional Airport over the past six months makes the destination more accessible to long-haul markets. Direct flight cities include Dallas, Denver, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Portland, San Diego, San Francisco, and Seattle.
âThe Groups segment is a critical part of the Monterey County traveler mix, which is why we have continued to seek out meeting and event planners and to increase promotion of our unique options of facilities, sanitation and technology over the past 18 months, âsaid Rob O’Keefe. , President and CEO of the Monterey County Convention and Visitors Bureau. âWe look forward to welcoming again those who know Monterey County and introducing our incredible destination to new markets and audiences. “
To encourage meeting planners to book over the next 10 months, the Monterey County Convention and Visitors Bureau is offering a promotion to book and host a hybrid meeting or offsite event. Promotion includes a $ 20 credit per updated night for groups of 25 to 500 rooms who book and update a program between Sunday and Thursday through June 30, 2022. Visit SeeMonterey.com/BookNow for details on the way to book.