Visit Pittsburgh says it booked 472 meetings in 2010 and beyond representing an estimated $286 million in spending. The numbers were released at the group’s annual meeting this morning. VisitPittsburgh Vice President for Sales and Marketing, Craig Davis says that is an increase of nearly 15% from 2009. The organization also reported the convention center was used 205 days last year, up from 191 the year before.
Davis says it is getting easier to market the city to convention planers. “The city is bigger, brighter, cleaner and our convention hotels that have come on board in the last five or six years have been incredible quality hotels and that has helped us sell tremendously,” says Davis. He says VisitPittsburgh also got a great deal of help from the “Bring it Home” campaign that calls on Pittsburghers who serve on national or international boards to push for their group’s conventions to be held in the city. “Because Pittsburghers are so proud of their city we get no problem getting people to help us.”
Looking out to the future, Davis notes several large conventions have been booked including the NRA convention in April of this year and the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States (VFW) and the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) conventions in 2015. The VFW convention is expected to bring in 12,000 visitors.
And the FOP event will mark the 100th anniversary of the founding of the organization in Pittsburgh.
Davis says the tourism marketing focus last year was on Cleveland. Pittsburgh and Cleveland cross-marketed in each other’s region and Davis says visits from the Cleveland area jumped 51%. The 2011 focus will be on the Great Allegheny Passage, which is a biking and hiking trail that connects Pittsburgh to Washington DC.
Hosting the NHL Winter Classic also helped to boost tourism numbers. Davis says the event is believed to be responsible for 15,789 room nights and $22.3 million in spending.