Happy New Year! We started 2022 with the cancellation of the Palm Springs Film Festival, and it felt like Groundhog Day once again. Omicron was surging, and groups were reconsidering their first-quarter dates. However, we are still very optimistic. The airport had record passenger traffic last year, and we now have nonstop flights to 33 cities. Our airline partners are reporting positive news about our market, and Alaska Airlines is now flying nonstop to San Jose and Austin, two tech central markets with strong group and consumer opportunities.
The most recent consumer sentiment research from Destination Analysts is also positive, showing that even with continued concern for COVID safety, there’s been an increasing excitement for travel with the top activity interests of “enjoying scenic beauty” and “outdoor activities,” which perfectly align with our destination. While our Tourism Development team remains focused in our primary domestic markets, they are also ramping up international programing with our offices in Germany, France, and the U.K.
All of our marketing programs are running at 100%, and we have no plans to make any reductions. Our marketing co-op programs are available, and we are already developing our strategies for summer 2022.
Convention Sales finished 2021 with 96,511 room nights booked, 1012 leads distributed (530 are new groups), and 189 groups confirmed. Convention Sales’ pace for 2022 is currently at 20% over our three-year average (2017-2019) and 54% over the Tourism Economics forecast model. We continue to interview for the Vice President of Sales position and hope to have an announcement in February. We are engaging in three meeting-focused strategic partnerships: The first one we’ve finalized is with ASAE (American Society of Association Executives), and the remaining will be finalized shortly.
We also launched our Tourism Grant for the eight Visit Greater Palm Springs member cities and will be awarding over $500,000 in grants to create new visitor experiences across our valley. The Tourism Foundation Board of Directors will review and approve the applications.
Our website is beginning to receive traffic that is on parwith 2019, ending 2021 with over 2.7 million sessions with high engagement. Our social media campaigns generated over 123K clicks, compared to 107K in 2019. The communications team delivered over $25 million in earned media value, $7 million more than 2019.
The interest level in Greater Palm Springs has never been greater, and we must sieze the opportunity and continue to be aggressive with marketing and the positioning of our destination.
Jeff Miraglia is leaving Visit Greater Palm Springs and striking out on his own. We have contracted with him to provide creative services and ensure that the brand and marketing projects continue without interruption. We wish Jeff the best with his new endeavor and thank him for over six years of service to our organization. The “Find Your Oasis” brand has garnered many awards and accolades and continues to be very favorable with our targeted audience. The Brand team will merge with the Marketing team and report to Colleen Pace.
I look forward to partnering with you throughout the year to amplify our regional collaboration – the future is bright for Greater Palm Springs!