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Since the release of the comprehensive Destination Development Plan in 2016 that outlined a strategy for attracting 16.8 million visitors to Greater Palm Springs by 2026, the CVB and the region’s tourism industry leaders and Partners are continuing to make significant progress.

Keeping the momentum going, in spring 2019 the CVB embarked on an important assessment of Greater Palm Springs as a tourist destination and contracted the expertise of Destinations International and MMGY NextFactor for their diagnostic tool called DestinationNEXT.

The assessment took the form of a 360-degree survey of key stakeholders in tourism, business and government who would all find themselves impacted by Greater Palm Springs’ ability to attract visitors to our region. The purpose of the survey was to help assess alignment within the tourism community and develop goals for the future. The results of the survey, which revealed Greater Palm Springs as an established destination with strong community engagement while noting additional key strategic components for the destination, were given at the June CVB Board Meeting at the Hilton Palm Springs. View the DestinationNEXT findings HERE.

Regional Collaboration

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 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.

In 2020, the CVB will continue to work with our nine cities and tourism Partners to implement innovative tactics and keep the destination in our ever-changing tourism industry.

Moving the Destination Forward in 2020

To meet the changing needs of the tourism industry as well as leisure and group visitors to the Coachella Valley, in 2020 the CVB will maintain its focus on key priorities that include:

• Regional Collaboration
• Tourism Development
• Transportation
• Workforce Development
• Destination Stewardship
• Destination Pillars: Health & Wellness, Outdoor Adventure, Arts & Culture

In close collaboration with CVB Partners, the Destination Development team seeks to align these 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.

  • Regional Collaboration: 2020 Destination Experience Plan

    In 2019, the CVB contracted with MMGY NextFactor to embark on a Destination Experience Plan for each of the nine cities in the Coachella Valley. Paul Ouimet, President/CEO of MMGY NextFactor, visited Greater Palm Springs September 2-12, 2019 for a familiarization tour of the following cities within the destination: Desert Hot Springs, Palm Springs, Cathedral City, Rancho Mirage, Palm Desert, Indian Wells, La Quinta and Indio.

    He also conducted approximately 80 interviews with five to 12 key stakeholders from each city in order to gain more insight and prepare recommendations for new visitor experiences.

    The goals of the Destination Experience Plan are to:

    • Develop and create product development/guest experience strategies (long- and short-term) for each city.
    • Prepare recommendations for new visitor experiences/engagements and improvements to existing ones that fit the city. This could include attractions, events, wayfinding, infrastructure, policy, etc.
    • Inspire and educate the cities with examples/case studies provided by MMGY NextFactor.

    An overview of the City Experience Plan, covering the 8 cities noted above, will be released in April 2020.

  • Tourism Development

    In late 2019, the Travel Industry Sales team expanded its areas of responsibility and is now known as Tourism Development, falling under the leadership of the Destination Development department of the CVB.

    In 2020, the Tourism Development will continue its focus on maintaining and building relationships with the travel trade, online travel agencies and digital booking channels but will also add the following areas of oversight: tourism, education, transportation destination stewardship and the Greater Palm Springs Tourism Foundation.

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  • Transportation

    Air Service
    Greater Palm Springs’ evolution as a year-round destination heavily relies on the development of year-round air service. In 2019, Palm Springs International Airport experienced a record year, with a 10% increase in passengers (for a total of 2.6 million passengers), as well as an 11% increase in seat capacity. Leading the way from a percentage basis was JetBlue Airways (+47%) and from a nominal basis was United Airlines (approximately 1,500 additional daily seats). PSP also welcomed the following additions to air service:

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    For 2020, we will continue to strengthen these partnerships and advance efforts to generate additional airline partnerships and services with the following objectives:

    Extend Seasonality: Extend seasonality of key markets such as Atlanta, Chicago, Houston, Minneapolis and New York in the U.S. and Edmonton and Toronto in Canada.

    • Expand Bay Area Service: Attract airlines such as Alaska (existing) or Southwest (potential) to start service to San Jose-SJC (Alaska) or Oakland-OAK (Southwest), in addition to the service PSP currently has with Alaska and United to SFO.

    • Pursue Southwest Airlines: Continue to have in-depth conversations with Southwest Airlines about entering the PSP market (currently on hold due to the grounding of Boeing’s 737 MAX, which has significantly limited Southwest’s growth plans)

    • Secure New Routes: Focus on attracting shorter-haul West/Mountain routes such as Boise, Idaho; Reno, Nevada; and Spokane, Washington, and on East Coast routes such as Austin, Texas, and Washington D.C.

    • Work with Allegiant Travel Company: Continue discussions with Allegiant about stationing one plane in PSP for the winter season, which would open opportunities for four to six new routes (e.g., Austin, Boise, Bozeman, Redmond, Spokane, etc.), as well as introduce low fares into the marketplace.

    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 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 customer facilities at the airport for international charter flights; expansion from Canada; and new markets such as Mexico and; long-term, Asia.

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    Rail Service
    Access from Southern California in 2020 will continue to be an issue. Adding daily Amtrak service would enhance the accessibility of the destination to in-state and international travelers tremendously.

    In 2019, the CVB also continued 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.

    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 is slated for 2020 or beyond.

    The CVB supports decreasing road congestion from the drive market through infrastructure enhancements, such as Riverside County Transportation Commission’s continued work to support the enhancements of Highway 60 and the I-10 freeway.

  • Workforce Development

    In order to grow the local economy and reach the Destination Development Plan’s 2026 goal of attracting 16.8 million visitors, the CVB continues to work on supporting workforce development with the following initiatives.

    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.

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    In 2020, the CVB plans to recruit and enroll 450 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 2017, the CVB established the Greater Palm Springs Tourism Foundation. The Foundation supports and initiates diverse programming related to the hospitality, convention and tourism industries with funds raised from individuals, businesses, organizations and other foundations. Initiatives encompass education and leadership training, college scholarships and volunteer and mentor development.  As a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization, the Tourism Foundation also focuses on extending tourism resources that are not currently available in the region.

    Visit the Greater Palm Springs Tourism Foundation website for more details.

    University Growth
    Supporting the continued growth of CSUSB and College of the Desert is imperative for developing not only a labor pool in the hospitality industry but also a younger, educated workforce as a whole to attract business development of all kinds to the destination.

    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.

    For 2020, Palm Desert is being included in a study along with four other destinations as a possibility to become the 24th Cal State campus.

    In addition, College of the Desert is building a hospitality campus in Palm Springs that is scheduled to open in 2023.

  • Destination Stewardship

    In alignment with the initiatives of Visit California, the CVB will continue to work with local governments, community nonprofits and its Partners to become a leader in sustainable tourism practices by creating a destination stewardship plan in 2020.

    Over the last six 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.

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  • Destination Pillars

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    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 2019, 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 2020, the CVB will actively continue its collaboration with Friends of the Desert Mountains, CVAG, Bureau of Land Management and Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument to complete the hiking” section on the CVB Website with the established 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 2019 have resulted in nearly 60 authorized trails and the introduction of on-trail wayfinding signage, as well as hiking trail directional signs placed along Highway 111 in La Quinta. Palm Desert and Palm Springs are to follow with the placement of these signs in early 2020.

    Greater Palm Springs also served as the host destination for the second year for two major sporting events: the 2019 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 held in December. The Ironman race is set to return to Greater Palm Springs in 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.

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    Greater Palm Springs has a rich history as a health-and-wellness destination. People have come here since early 1900s to relax, rejuvenate and heal their body, mind and spirit.

    The health-and-wellness tourism segment also has synergy with many other niche tourism segments, including the spa industry, hot springs, outdoor adventure, beauty and anti-aging, fitness and weight loss, nutrition and healthy eating, holistic healing and alternative medicine, mindfulness and meditation, preventative and functional medicine, and eco-friendly and sustainability.

    In October 2019, the CVB launched the Fall 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.

    The CVB collaborated with the fitness- and wellness-oriented brand Wanderlust in an online co-op called the 10-Day Wellest Challenge, which also achieved impressive metrics: 5.9M impressions, more than 25K views and over 4K link clicks. Wanderlust’s Wellspring will return to Greater Palm Springs in 2020.

    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. 

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    Greater Palm Springs has long been an oasis for artists. Today we stand as a global arts destination, from our famed midcentury modern architecture to Desert X, an internationally acclaimed immersive art biennial that features installations using our dramatic landscapes as the canvas. In 2019, Desert X took place throughout Greater Palm Springs from February to April and attracted more than 400,000 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. The opening of the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians’ Cultural Museum and Spa at Séc-he in 2020 is a great addition for the growth of the arts and culture community in Greater Palm Springs.

Financial and Administrative Operations

Under the guidance of the Vice President of Finance & Administration, 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, 2019, the JPA approved the operating budget for fiscal year 2019/2020. The CVB maintains three governmental type funds: Tourism Business Improvement District (TBID), city/county funding and private funding:

    • The TBID represents 85% 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 provides a voluntary contribution to the CVB. The current TBID established in 2016 is due for renewal by June 20, 2021, and work will commence this year for voting and renewal.

    • City funding represents 10% 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% 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 2020 include creating a series of employee development sessions focused on communication, team-building and conflict resolution; 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 be updating the current performance evaluation program and the Employee Handbook.