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STRATEGIC PLAN
 

DESTINATION DEVELOPMENT PLAN

In 2019, the CVB continues to build momentum as we look toward the future of Greater Palm Springs in the context of a long-term destination development strategy. The CVB and the region’s tourism industry leaders have made significant progress since the unveiling of the Destination Development Plan in spring 2016.

The plan, based on extensive research conducted by two leading strategic agencies, features more than 85 individual recommendations. The recommendations are targeted to meet the primary goal of attracting more than 16 million visitors to the valley by 2026. Collaboration with our Partners is integral to the success of this master plan.

Working together, we seek to implement innovative tactics and meet any challenges in our ever-changing tourism industry.
 

Moving the Destination Development Plan Forward in 2019

To meet the changing needs of the tourism industry as well as leisure and group visitors to the Coachella Valley, in 2019 the CVB will maintain its focus on key priorities. These priorities include:

  • Transportation
  • Education
  • Health & Wellness
  • Outdoor Adventure
  • Arts & Culture

The Destination Development department is tasked with initiating strategies to implement the Destination Development Plan priorities. In close collaboration with our Partners, the Destination Development team seeks to align the plan’s priorities, all aimed at growing our tourism industry in a competitive global environment. The CVB Partners include local, regional and national governments; economic development, hospitality and tourism industries; DMOs; business sectors; and stakeholders.

In 2018, The CVB and Partner cities worked in concert to further assess, assemble and promote related elements in each of their destinations. Together, there has been considerable progress building a cohesive blueprint for growth and prosperity. However, there is still more to be done as we position ourselves as a premier destination, increasing the overall long-term awareness and visitation of Greater Palm Springs.

  • Transportation

    Air Service: Greater Palm Springs’ evolution as a year-round destination heavily relies on the development of year-round air service. In 2018, the CVB successfully formed partnerships with several airlines utilizing both subsidies and cooperative marketing agreements. These initiatives resulted in expanded airline operations and new nonstop flights to our destination, leading to a 10% air service increase over 2017. In 2018, we saw the following additions to air service:

    Airline
    Service
    City
    Air Canada
    Seasonal
    Calgary
    Delta Airlines
    Seasonal
    Atlanta
    Flair Airlines
    Seasonal
    Edmonton
    Frontier Airlines
    Year-round
    Chicago
    JetBlue
    Seasonal
    Boston
    Sun Country Airlines
    Seasonal
    Portland
    United Airlines
    Seasonal
    Newark

    Additionally, we have seen an increase in frequency for Chicago, Denver, Houston, New York, Portland, Salt Lake City, Seattle and Vancouver. In 2019, we will continue to strengthen these partnerships and advance efforts to generate additional airline partnerships and expanded service.

    Continuing and expanding subsidy remains integral to developing year-round service and requires substantial support. We know that airlines will not risk year-round service into Greater Palm Springs without a minimum revenue guarantee or cooperative marketing agreement.

    Consistent year-round air service will also serve to attract new companies and diversify the economy as well as contribute to the growing needs of tourism and meetings. The master plan also recommends the establishment of immigration and customs facilities at the airport for international charter flights; expansion from Canada; and new markets such as Mexico and, long-term, Asia.

    Rail Service: Access from Southern California will continue to be an issue. Adding daily Amtrak service would enhance the accessibility of the destination to in-state and international travelers tremendously. The Riverside County Transportation Commission is coordinating the effort to address all of the requirements to help make this a reality. The proposed intercity passenger rail service between Los Angeles and Indio is considered a long-term initiative that will not likely develop until 2020 or beyond.

  • Education

    • Greater Palm Springs Certified Tourism Ambassador™ (CTA) Program: Outstanding customer service is an essential hallmark for success in tourism and hospitality. To increase tourism by enhancing the visitor experience in our destination, the CVB introduced a nationwide industry-accredited CTA program in Greater Palm Springs. In 2019, the CVB plans to recruit and enroll 500 local tourism professionals. Successful completion of the program will result in the CTA designation. Trainings will take place at various Partner sites throughout Greater Palm Springs in half-day interactive sessions. The curriculum is designed to instill an in-depth understanding of the vital importance of tourism and its direct impact on the destination when visitor expectations are exceeded. For annual re-certification, CTA program graduates must participate in continuing education activities.

    • Greater Palm Springs Tourism Foundation: In 2018, the CVB established the Greater Palm Springs Tourism Foundation with the mission to enrich and elevate tourism in the region. The Foundation supports and initiates diverse programming related to the hospitality, convention and tourism industries with funds raised from the general public and other sources. Initiatives encompass education and leadership training, college scholarships, volunteer and mentor development, special event promotion and cultural enhancement. A nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization, the Tourism Foundation also focuses on extending tourism resources that are not currently available in the region.

    Hospitality Program: The CVB and Partners are supportive of the accredited hospitality management programs now underway at California State University, San Bernardino (CSUSB) Palm Desert Campus and College of the Desert (COD). The CVB supports the development of COD’s proposed west valley campus in Palm Springs that will house programs in hospitality and culinary arts. Professional hospitality programs designed to enhance industry skill sets will result in positive visitor experiences, driving return visitation and a continuous well-trained tourism workforce to meet the needs of our growing industry locally.

    Support University Growth: Continuing education plays a vital role in the local economy and overall quality of life. The CVB commissioned a study released in 2017 that posited aggregated combined operational expenditures and student spending of $15.1 million and a total economic impact of $22.6 million over the first five years of CSUSB’s Hospitality Management program in Palm Desert. We should all be united with the goal of growing the student base at CSUSB Palm Desert Campus and COD, providing a steady flow of skilled labor for our destination and our industry.

  • Outdoor Adventure

    Outdoor adventure tourism is an industry that is growing rapidly and has measurable effects on destinations worldwide. Greater Palm Springs offers outdoor adventure as a natural component of the destination with a variety of geographic terrain, natural beauty and an abundance of opportunities for the adventure traveler.

    In 2018, the CVB and its Partners made distinct strides in developing and creating awareness of the destination’s comprehensive natural assets and activities. The “outdoor adventure” lifestyle section on the CVB website, YouTube videos, social media and new content in the form of Partner listings are among the communications channels used to promote the wide spectrum of opportunities for outdoor adventure enthusiasts.

    In 2019, the CVB will actively continue its collaboration with Friends of the Desert Mountains, Bureau of Land Management, CVAG, and Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument to establish one list of authorized trails to be utilized by all organizations as the official list of trails. These trails will be promoted and uploaded to websites and popular hiking apps. Efforts in 2018 have resulted in nearly 60 authorized trails and the introduction of on-trail wayfinding signage.

    Greater Palm Springs also served as the host destination for two new sporting events: The 2018 Margaritaville USA Pickleball National Championships held at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden in November, and the inaugural Ironman 70.3 in La Quinta/Indian Wells. The Ironman race is set to return to Greater Palm Springs in December 2019 and December 2020.

    As we move forward, cities may need to consider building facilities to grow amateur sporting events and invest in such amenities as water activity features for attracting families during the summer months. There are also opportunities to attract additional events and establish new product, both of which may require added incentives to attract them to Greater Palm Springs.

  • Health, Wellness & Medical Tourism

    Health and wellness offers a rich history as one of the destination’s “authentic experiences.” People have come to Greater Palm Springs since the late 1800s to relax, rejuvenate and heal their body, mind and spirit.

    The Health & Wellness tourism segment also has synergy with many other niche tourism segments, including Spa Industry, Hot Springs, Outdoor Adventure, Beauty & Anti-Aging, Fitness & Weight Loss, Nutrition & Healthy Eating, Holistic Healing & Alternative Medicine, Mindfulness & Meditation, Preventative & Functional Medicine and Eco-Friendly & Sustainability.

    In October 2018, the CVB launched the Live Your Wellest campaign in collaboration with our Partners to promote fall travel and drive midweek visitation to the destination by highlighting the sweeping array of wellness offerings available in Greater Palm Springs.

    Notable events surrounding the campaign included Wanderlust’s inaugural Wellspring event, which took place October 26-28, 2018. Wellspring made an impressive debut over its three-day period. The event brought in 4,907 attendees; featured over 100 speakers, panel discussions and breakout sessions; and included an expo hall with more than 80 unique exhibitors and activations. Wellspring garnered a reach of 6 million, more than 3.8 million impressions, and 340,000 videos views with engagement of over 57,000 viewers.

    The CVB and Wanderlust also partnered in an online co-op called the 10-day Yoga & Fitness Wellest Challenge, which also achieved impressive metrics: over 2 million impressions and more than 170,000 video views. Wanderlust’s Wellspring will return to Greater Palm Springs from October 4-6, 2019.

    It is also important to note that according to the Global Wellness Institute, a domestic wellness visitor spends nearly 178% more per trip than the average domestic visitor, and the international wellness visitor spends 53% more than the average international visitor. In its November 2018 report, the Global Wellness Institute projected wellness tourism to grow at an average annual rate of 7.5% through 2022, as compared to the 6.4% annual growth projected for overall global tourism.

    This presents opportunities for all nine cities to make Health, Wellness and Medical Tourism a priority for product development in terms of attracting events and conferences and developing programs that benefit both the resident and the visitor.

  • Arts & Culture

    Greater Palm Springs has long been an oasis for artists. Today we stand as a global arts destination, from our famed midcentury modern-era architecture to Desert X, an internationally acclaimed immersive art biennial that features installations using our dramatic landscapes as the canvas. In 2017, the inaugural Desert X enjoyed an attendance of more than 200,000 visitors from around the world.

    In an effort to expand our footprint, the CVB recognizes that a strong arts and culture community is critical to our brand for the destination. Of significant importance is that all nine cities work together to support a strong creative community and attract world-renowned artists and events. In 2019, the CVB will spearhead the creation of an arts and culture committee to explore additional opportunities for cultural tourism growth and enhancement. The CVB will also extend marketing resources to support Desert X 2019, which takes place throughout Greater Palm Springs from February-April.

 

CONSUMER MARKETING

The Destination Marketing team leads the strategy and execution of all marketing initiatives developed through research and collaboration to maximize visibility regionally, nationally and internationally. This research includes information compiled from VisaVue, SMARI, Visit California and other industry research partners.

The CVB’s collaborative strategies to market Greater Palm Springs’ unique brand include our diversified co-ops featuring our award-winning consumer-facing marketing campaign. Co-ops include television, print, billboard and digital programs providing a unified message across all distribution channels.

In 2019, there will be an increased focus on customized digital campaigns that inspire travel to Greater Palm Springs with targeted content and creative. Working together with our nine Partner cities proves that unifying our message for the destination as a whole adds value and positions us as a stronger, more cohesive destination. The CVB’s goal is determining areas in which to collaborate on strategies and campaigns to eliminate redundancies and stretch each Partner’s reach.
 

CONVENTION SALES MARKETING

New research through Destination Analysts has provided the CVB with valuable information to guide our marketing initiatives to meeting planners. In 2019, the CVB will launch a new meetings campaign to build awareness among meeting professionals, address misconceptions about the destination and position Greater Palm Springs as a premier destination for meetings and conventions.

The CVB will leverage the brand platform on all major meeting and conventions platforms to create high funnel awareness of Greater Palm Springs. We will diversify our strategy with traditional and technology-based distribution channels including print, television, digital, radio, social media and communications, creating an awareness-building message targeted to demographic segments our research has identified.
 

ADVOCACY, ENGAGEMENT AND COMMUNICATIONS

The CVB is committed to a wide-ranging destination/industry advocacy and communications plan to educate elected officials, affected stakeholders and the public as to the value and importance of the industry and the role of the Greater Palm Springs CVB.

As advocates of the U.S. Travel Association's initiatives, the CVB participates in promoting National Tourism Week with the annual Oasis Awards, as well as major national tourism issues throughout the year that relate to the power and importance of travel. We will continue to engage the CVB Board of Directors in their role as stewards and community leaders to enhance general business understanding and commitment.

Over the last five years, the CVB has taken an active role in marketing the urgent need to restore the Salton Sea aimed at tourism and quality of life issues through a variety of marketing programs and two economic impact studies. In spring 2018, the CVB unveiled another major marketing initiative for the Salton Sea prompting support for a bond measure that could fund the sea’s 10-year mitigation plan adopted by the state. California voters approved the bond measure Proposition 68 in June, which includes $200 million in funding toward Salton Sea preservation projects.

In 2019, the CVB will also continue its commitment to the 2013 State Rail Plan as one of the priorities in the Destination Development Plan implementation. The CVB recognizes the positive impact that increased passenger rail service from Los Angeles to Greater Palm Springs will have on the destination and tourism industry.

The CVB has taken an active role in pursuit of this vision and continues to participate in regional rail plan forums.
 

FINANCIAL AND ADMINISTRATIVE OPERATIONS

Under the guidance of the Chief Operating Officer, the CVB is continuing to elevate and upgrade its operations by establishing more effective bylaws, working effectively with the Tourism Business Improvement District, creating new departments and positions and upgrading internal processes to meet new and future needs in the changing tourism climate.

Funding

On July 1, 2018, the JPA approved the operating budget for fiscal year 2018/2019. The CVB maintains three governmental type funds: Tourism Business Improvement District (TBID), city/county funding and private funding:

  • The TBID represents 83.7% of total funding and is sourced from a 3% assessment levied on overnight guests staying at hotels with 50 or more rooms. The Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians also participates in the TBID.
     
  • City funding represents 9.6% of total funding to the CVB. The County of Riverside contributes to this funding for those areas outside of city jurisdiction, and the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians makes a voluntary contribution to this portion of the fund on a quarterly basis.
     
  • Private funds represent 6.7% of overall funding and include revenue received through partnership, event hosting, advertising co-ops, joint share participation, and local businesses, cities and interest.
Human Resources

The Director of Human Resources is dedicated to implementing strategies to enhance and elevate employee engagement and expertise while ensuring a diverse and conflict-free workplace. Priorities for 2019 include creating a series of employee development sessions focused on communication, team-building and emotional intelligence; enhancing the CVB’s emergency response planning; and employee training programs aimed at expanding job performance and improving workplace standards. Additionally, the Director of Human Resources will have an active role in the rollout of the Certified Tourism Ambassador program.