At its February 28th meeting, the Reno-Sparks Convention and Visitors Authority (RSCVA) Board received an update and annual outlook briefing by the Regional Air Service Corporation (RASC) – a public/private partnership.
RASC was created formally to assist the Reno-Tahoe Airport Authority (RTAA) and the community in providing flexible incentives to maintain and grow passenger traffic and is considered an invaluable tool to help increase capacity and frequency of air service to the region. Since being formed, RASC has since worked to help the Airport Authority secure new flights, such as the launch of JetBlue’s nonstop service to New York’s JFK.
The organization reported it is reviewing and updating its best-practices. New RASC Managing Director Carl Ribaudo gave a detailed report on the year ahead for the entity. Air service is paramount to tourism and business here and is an important facet to a vibrant Northern Nevada economy. The RSCVA is the single largest financial contributor to RASC, providing an annual financial commitment of $250,000. The RSCVA is dedicated to continuing this essential partnership with RASC, RTAA and other community interests to support tourism, air traffic, local industry, our economy, and the great people who live here.
Other news from our most recent Board meeting can be found below.
GENERAL RSCVA UPDATE
January’s Safari Club International Convention was a big success for Reno Tahoe, drawing 15,000 attendees from an estimated 103 countries around the world. Convention attendees expressed great enthusiasm for being back in Northern Nevada, having last held their gathering here in 2013. The event resulted in more than 17,000 room nights being consumed at area hotels and resorts. Safari Club International is slated to return to the Reno-Sparks Convention Center in February 2020 and January 2021.
The RSCVA thanks the Reno-Tahoe Airport Authority and the Chamber of Commerce for their tireless help and commitment in bringing this prestigious group to our destination, and making all attendees feel welcomed.
This past December, the average daily rate (ADR) at Washoe County lodging properties increased by 10.5% year-over-year to $109.59, boosting taxable room revenues 4.1% to more than $29.7 million for the month.
In convention sales, the Dallas-Ft. Worth office will open March 18th, led by Roma Giordano, who brings years of successful sales management experience, previously representing Caesars Entertainment, as well as Stations Casino’s Red Rock Resort and Green Valley Ranch, in the Lone Star State. The Texas and adjacent states’ Association and Corporate meetings market is growing for Reno Tahoe-bound meetings and conventions, and we are encouraged and confident our daily sales presence in that market will be fruitful for our destination.
With the addition of Texas, the RSCVA also has an existing on-the-ground sales presence in key geographical territories of Washington, DC, Atlanta, Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles and Sacramento. All offices focus on meeting and convention sales from the Association and Corporate markets.
The tourism sales team held a very successful campaign with Expedia and currently has a campaign running with Frontier airlines in Denver, with the possibility of promotions in the travel trade sector. The tourism team will be attending five shows over the next five weeks, including Brand USA.
And in marketing, organic search traffic to VisitRenoTahoe.com increased more than 35% compared to December 2017. That increase is primarily due to ongoing page optimization efforts throughout the consumer website.
RSCVA FACILITIES MANAGEMENT PROPOSAL
Over the past 20 years, the Convention Center and Arena industry has changed dramatically. Historically, Convention Centers and Arenas have been managed by local governments as extensions of a community parks and recreation board or convention and visitors bureau. The RSCVA manages five such facilities that include the Reno-Sparks Convention Center, Reno Events Center, National Bowling Stadium, Reno-Sparks Livestock Events Center and Wildcreek Golf Course.
With the increased demand for quality customer service, state-of-the-art technology, and a full suite of services, event organizers have high expectations of the venues they consider and select.
Convention and event planners are looking for the same levels of service provided by the best convention hotels within a destination’s inventory. This is compounded by increasing competition from mega-hotels, resorts and communities with newer products. Convention Centers are no longer simply a plain, ordinary vanilla box for event organizers.
The venues themselves are expected to be a part of the appeal and value proposition for convention and event planners to engage, helping drive their success through exhibit sales, sponsorships and attendance.
These expectations have fostered the growth of professional management firms who are rooted in the hospitality industry. These professional management firms are geared toward providing industry “best practices,” excellent customer service and operational efficiencies.
By unanimous vote on November 15th, the RSCVA Board of Directors authorized the RSCVA to issue an RFP for the consideration of professional management and operations of its facilities.
SMG STAFF UPDATE
Michael Day, General Manager for SMG reported to the Board of Directors a recap of SMG’s performance for its fourth quarter, which was described by Mr. Day as a transition period for the new SMG Reno Facilities team. SMG produced and supported 98 events during this period, including the Safari Club Convention, and produced $700,000 in new contracts.
SMG’s subsidiary, SAVOR, which is responsible for catering and food service throughout the RSCVA’s four properties in Reno Tahoe, delivered over $100,000 in just holiday party catering revenues. SAVOR’s chefs enjoyed winning the award for best chocolate and best presentation at their booth at the Reno Gazette Journal’s 2018 Fantasies in Chocolate event.
Going forward, SMG’s focus will be to create their first full-year budget including social catering sales initiatives and capital projects, while improving operations, efficiencies and revenue at SMG’s four facilities in Reno.
RSCVA lobbyist, Jesse Wadhams of Fennemore Craig provided an update on three bills of possible interest to the organization: SB19, AB98 and AB160.
SB19 is an OSHA bill that applies training and safety standards for tradeshow workers.
AB98 starts the process for the definition and establishment of a multi-use events center in Stateline, NV at south shore, Lake Tahoe.
AB160 relates to changing the make-up and dynamics of the Travel Nevada Board of Commissioners.
BRAND TRACKING SURVEY
In the January Board of Directors meeting, EMC Research presented the results from the October 2018 Brand Tracking Survey, conducted in the San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles Basin and Seattle markets.
The results demonstrated that the Reno Tahoe destination brand rating, desire and intent to visit, and positive attribute associations remain strong in all three markets. A pattern of seasonal awareness regarding Reno Tahoe is beginning to emerge in the Bay Area, with trends indicating that awareness is higher in the spring than in fall.
Over 50% of the ad target in LA and Seattle are potential new visitors, while the Bay Area’s ad target is more evenly split between repeat and new visitors. Respondents in LA and Seattle are more likely to engage with the Reno Tahoe website or social media channels due to advertising than those in the Bay Area. The study also shows that brand presence in these core target markets has resulted in more consistent metrics, proving that our ads are reaching our intended audience.