Philadelphia and the Countryside - Press Room

Releases: Expanded View

Feb 15 2017

Visit Philadelphia Announces Three New Staff Appointments

New Hires & A Promotion Focus On Strategic Alliances, Hotel Relations & Visitor Appeal

VISIT PHILADELPHIA® welcomed two new staffers and promoted another within the organization this month, adding Kara Callahan as vice president of advertising and strategic alliances, Laura Burkhardt as vice president of visitor appeal, and elevating Jim Werner to vice president of hotel relations and tourism development.

“We’re happy to welcome Kara and Laura and to promote Jim, a long-time member of our team,” said Meryl Levitz, president and CEO of VISIT PHILADELPHIA. “We’re coming off a banner year for hospitality in 2016, and the new leadership positions will strengthen our talented team by helping us to fulfill our mission, reach our goals and maintain the success of leisure tourism in our region.”

Kara Callahan, Vice President of Advertising and Strategic Alliances:
As the vice president of advertising and strategic alliances, Kara Callahan oversees VISIT PHILADELPHIA’s advertising and partnership programs. She will also work to expand the reach around brand campaigns like With Love, Philadelphia XOXO® while leading the company’s integrated marketing programs, design services and video production.

Callahan comes to VISIT PHILADELPHIA from The Franklin Institute, where she spent six years leading marketing strategy and promotional partnership efforts. Callahan has received two Mid-Atlantic Emmy Awards and a nomination for her work on the museum’s “80 Years Of Discovery” commercial spot and other video promotion of exhibitions such as One Day In Pompeii and Gengis Khan: Bring The Legend To Life. This seasoned marketer also spent eight years as the national marketing director with Madison Square Garden Entertainment for the national tour of the Radio City Christmas Spectacular.

Callahan earned a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Delaware and, in 2016, completed Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business’ Leading for Change Fellowship, a leadership development program for the city’s leaders in the public sector.
 

Laura Burkhardt, Vice President of Visitor Appeal:
As the vice president of visitor appeal, a new role at VISIT PHILADELPHIA, Laura Burkhardt leads the company’s strategic relationships with restaurants, shops, museums and attractions throughout the five-county area to ensure a high-quality experience for Philadelphia’s 41 million domestic visitors each year. She also oversees company-wide photography initiatives, helping communications, web, advertising and social media efforts to tell compelling visual stories for Philadelphia.

Before Burkhardt joined the VISIT PHILADELPHIA team, this experienced travel professional worked as the publisher of Where Philadelphia magazine since 2005 and brings more than 25 years of experience in the hospitality sector.

Jim Werner, Vice President of Hotel Relations and Tourism Development:
Previously VISIT PHILADELPHIA’s senior director of industry relations, Jim Werner now serves as the vice president of hotel relations and tourism development. In this role, Werner leads the expansion of new overnight leisure initiatives and manages the company’s relationships with the hotel, hospitality and lodging community, which is set to see a flurry of development over the next couple years. By July 2018, Center City Philadelphia is projected to add 1,795 new rooms—a 16.1% increase in supply over the end of last year (source: CBRE Hotels).

Since 2015, Werner has taught as an adjunct professor at Temple University’s School of Sport, Tourism and Hospitality Management, where he teaches courses in destination management/marketing and destination planning and development.

A native of Philadelphia, Werner joined the VISIT PHILADELPHIA staff in 2005 as the partnership and promotion manager. A graduate of LaSalle University, he began his career in the public sector in 2002 as a communications manager for the Philadelphia Housing Authority.

VISIT PHILADELPHIA® is our name and our mission. As the region’s official tourism marketing agency, we build Greater Philadelphia’s image, drive visitation and boost the economy.

On Greater Philadelphia’s official visitor website and blog, visitphilly.com and uwishunu.com, visitors can explore things to do, upcoming events, themed itineraries and hotel packages. Compelling photography and videos, interactive maps and detailed visitor information make the sites effective trip-planning tools. Along with Visit Philly social media channels, the online platforms communicate directly with consumers. Travelers can also call and stop into the Independence Visitor Center for additional information and tickets.
 

Contact(s):
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Related Releases

Jan 19 2017

Kimpton Hotel Manager Joins VISIT PHILADELPHIA Team

James Adamson Is The Most Recent Addition To The Company's Board Of Directors

VISIT PHILADELPHIA® announced today that it has welcomed James Adamson, general manager of the Kimpton Hotel Monaco Philadelphia, to its board.

“We are happy that James has joined our board,” said Manuel Stamatakis, VISIT PHILADELPHIA board chairman. “He has many years of hotel management experience, and we look forward to tapping into his knowledge base as we develop marketing plans and strategies for VISIT PHILADELPHIA moving forward.”

For 14 years now, Adamson has worked for Kimpton properties, beginning in 2003 when he served as a guest service agent at the Kimpton Hotel Monaco in Salt Lake City. He quickly

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Jan 17 2017

VISIT PHILADELPHIA Reports A Record For 2016 Leisure Tourism & Announces Plans For 2017

Philadelphia's Tourism Marketing Group's Success In 2016 And Stories For 2017

At today’s VISIT PHILADELPHIA® New Year’s Breakfast, the destination marketing organization released record 2016 hotel numbers for Center City Philadelphia and announced upcoming marketing initiatives, including a new virtual-reality and 360-degree video and photo experience on visitphilly.com; new With Love, Philadelphia XOXO® ads for winter; year two for Philadelphia’s Historic District campaign; and a perks-packed, limited-time-only Visit Philly Overnight Hotel Package.

2016: A Record Year:
In 2016, Center City Philadelphia hotels are projected to have hit:

  • Record occupancy – 78%
    –3.2 million hotel room nights
  • Record leisure room nights – 1 million for the first time
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Jan 11 2017

Biggest, Best-Ever Version Of The Visit Philly Overnight Hotel Package Now Available

Package Includes Philadelphia Auto Show Tickets For Limited Time Only

VISIT PHILADELPHIA® announces a new perk for the in-demand Visit Philly Overnight Hotel Package Winter Getaway. Guests who book the package and stay at any of 38 Philadelphia hotels between January 28 and February 5, 2017 receive the bonuses listed below—plus two tickets to the Philadelphia Auto Show. This package, typically valued up to $228, jumps up to a $256 value with the Auto Show tickets. The standard winter package, available until March 19, 2017, includes:

  • Free hotel parking
  • Two untimed tickets to Jurassic World: The Exhibition at The Franklin Institute
  • Admission and ice skate rentals for two at
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Nov 3 2016

Visit Philly Overnight Hotel Package Winter Getaway

This Season’s Package Is Bigger, Better & Perkier Than Ever

VISIT PHILADELPHIA®, the region’s official tourism marketing agency, announced an unprecedented version of its Visit Philly Overnight Hotel Package for winter. Redeemable from November 25, 2016 through March 19, 2017, the Visit Philly Overnight Hotel Package Winter Getaway is bookable online now at visitphilly.com/overnight and starts at $99 per night. The package, offered at 38 Center City hotels, is valued at up to $228 and includes:

  • Free hotel parking
  • Two untimed tickets to Jurassic World: The Exhibition, making its North American debut at The Franklin Institute
  • Admission and ice skate rentals for two at Blue Cross RiverRink
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Oct 18 2016

SugarHouse General Manager Joins Visit Philadelphia Team

Philadelphia Native Wendy Hamilton Is The Most Recent Addition To The Board Of Directors

VISIT PHILADELPHIA® announced today that it has welcomed Wendy Hamilton, general manager of SugarHouse Casino, to its board.

“We’re pleased to have Wendy join our board,” said Manuel Stamatakis, VISIT PHILADELPHIA board chairman. “She has more than 20 years of experience in the hospitality industry, and her enthusiasm for and dedication to Philadelphia will serve us all well as VISIT PHILADELPHIA plans and strategizes for the future.”

Hamilton has managed SugarHouse since it opened in 2010 and, in that time, has led partnerships with major Philadelphia events, such as the New Year’s Eve Fireworks on the Delaware River Waterfront

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Oct 11 2016

VISIT PHILADELPHIA Announces Director Of Social Media, Dana Schmidt

Schmidt To Further Mission To Grow Fan Base

Dana Schmidt is the director of social media at VISIT PHILADELPHIA®, the region’s official tourism marketing agency.

Schmidt is responsible for continuing to grow the brand’s social media fan base beyond 1.2 million followers (and counting). As the director of social media for VISIT PHILADELPHIA, she leads the organization’s award-winning social media program by curating compelling content and using innovative tactics to keep fans and followers engaged.

Schmidt, who joined VISIT PHILADELPHIA in March 2016, chartered a new way to engage mobile-savvy travelers and locals with an account on the latest image- and video-based storytelling social media platform,

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Sep 12 2016

VISIT PHILADELPHIA Celebrates 20th Anniversary

Greater Philadelphia’s Tourism Marketing Agency Showcases Two Decades Of Results & Looks To The Future

Twenty years ago, a few civic-minded leaders believed Philadelphia could become a competitive leisure destination and created the Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation (GPTMC) to make that vision a reality. This year, the organization that began as a three-year experiment, now known as VISIT PHILADELPHIA®, celebrates its 20th anniversary with an annual report that validates the vision of 1996 and shows that 41 million people visited the region in 2015—a 54% increase over 1997.

For two decades now, VISIT PHILADELPHIA has built the brand of the region and driven visitation with memorable advertising campaigns such as With

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Sep 12 2016

Fact Sheet: VISIT PHILADELPHIA's 20-Year Timeline (1996-2016)

Twenty Years of Greater Philadelphia's Tourism Marketing Corporation

1996:

Started as a three-year experiment by the City of Philadelphia, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and The Pew Charitable Trusts, VISIT PHILADELPHIA® (then the Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation) is founded to market the five-county region as a leisure destination. An op-ed published in The Philadelphia Inquirer calls on the destination-marketing organization to fulfill the “Golden Promise” of a successful and economically vital travel and tourism industry in Philadelphia.

1997:

VISIT PHILADELPHIA advertises Philly on national TV for the first time in the city’s history. The advertising campaign This Is My Philadelphia positions the region as The

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Sep 12 2016

VISIT PHILADELPHIA Announces $2 Million Grant From The Pew Charitable Trusts

Funds Will Go Toward Expanded Marketing Campaign For The City’s Prized Historic District

VISIT PHILADELPHIA® today announced a two-year, $2 million grant from The Pew Charitable Trusts that will enable the tourism marketing organization to increase its promotion of Historic Philadelphia, an area that encompasses the Delaware River waterfront, Old City, Society Hill and Independence National Historical Park. VISIT PHILADELPHIA will use a mix of branding, advertising, public relations and web and social media marketing to increase visitation to the area and to get people to see and do more while they’re in the historic neighborhood.

The Pew grant enables VISIT PHILADELPHIA to expand the Historic Philadelphia campaign launched in summer 2016

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