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Jan 19 2018

VISIT PHILADELPHIA Board of Directors Announces Leadership Transition as Founding President & CEO, Meryl Levitz, Plans Departure in 2018

Founding President & CEO, Meryl Levitz, Plans Departure in 2018

The Board of Directors of VISIT PHILADELPHIA® today announced that its founding president and CEO, Meryl Levitz, plans to leave her leadership post by the end of the year. A search committee has been established by the Board of Directors to oversee the process of identifying the organization’s new chief executive and it has engaged Diversified Search to undertake a national effort to recruit and secure a highly qualified and passionate candidate. Until the transition to a new leader is complete, Ms. Levitz will continue in her current role as president and CEO of VISIT PHILADELPHIA to ensure a seamless transition and help drive continued success throughout 2018.

“Meryl Levitz is one of Philadelphia’s original tourism pioneers,” said Manuel N. Stamatakis, Chair, Board of Directors, VISIT PHILADELPHIA. “Today, VISIT PHILADELPHIA is a recognized industry leader in tourism marketing and its transformational impact on the regionchanging its perception in the eyes of the world and serving as an economic engine—cannot be overstated. Meryl has also developed an outstanding staff, positioning the organization well for continued success and future growth. On behalf of the Board of Directors, we salute Meryl for her 22 years of commitment and the legacy of organizational excellence she will leave.”

That legacy is rooted in creative, first-of-its-kind and consistent marketing that has delivered dramatic growth in leisure tourism and driven economic impact. The results of VISIT PHILADELPHIA’s efforts are clear. The five-county region is now a sought-after tourist destination—not just for major events—but day in and day out, year after year. Since VISIT PHILADELPHIA’s inception in 1996:

  • Overnight leisure visitation to the five counties has grown 101 percent, from 7.3 million in 1997 to 14.7 million in 2016.1
  • With the beginning of its advertising in 1997, Center City Philadelphia has seen a 296 percent increase in leisure hotel demand.2
  • Whereas leisure tourism in 1996 accounted for only 14 percent (250,000) of all Center City hotel room nights booked per year, today it represents 32 percent (more than one million) room nights. 3
  • And while leisure visitors arrive all year and every night, Saturday has become the busiest night for Center City hotels – and has remained so for 14 years -- hitting 90 percent average hotel occupancy for the first time ever in 2017.4
  • In 2016 alone, Greater Philadelphia welcomed a record 42 million domestic visitors – 37 million of which were leisure travelers (88 percent).5

Further, in the past 21 years, tourism and hospitality efforts, of which VISIT PHILADELPHIA is a critical contributor, have seen 100,000 jobs for Greater Philadelphia residents supported, delivering $50 billion in wages.6 And in just two decades, the Philadelphia tourism and hospitality industry has generated $10 billion in state and local taxes, funding priority programs such as education, transportation and safety.7

This success has been achieved through VISIT PHILADELPHIA’s sophisticated and strategic marketing efforts, especially in its role as digital innovator. Its websites—visitphilly.com and uwishunu.com—have more than 29 million page views and are among the top 10 destination marketing web sites in the United States.8 Its social media channels, @visitphilly, engage1.5 million fans and followers, delivering total reach in 2017 of 83 million people. Memorable and effective tourism slogans have defined VISIT PHILADELPHIA’s marketing efforts, notably The Place that Loves You Back, Philly’s More Fun When You Sleep Over, and With Love, Philadelphia XOXO, which is rated one of the best tourism slogans in the world.9 In 2003, VISIT PHILADELPHIA launched its Get Your History Straight and Your Nightlife Gay campaign, which was grounded in deep research and of strategic community relationships. It featured the first openly gay television commercial ever aired by a destination. And it continues to be forward-looking in its marketing efforts with the We Got You campaign, which launched in 2017 and is an innovative approach to welcoming African American visitors to the region.

“My decision to step away from VISIT PHILADELPHIA has not been easy, but I am confident that now is the right time,” said Ms. Levitz. “I have spent four decades putting Philadelphia on the map. In 1996, VISIT PHILADELPHIA set out to prove the naysayers wrong. The words ‘Philadelphia’ and ‘fun’ do belong in the same sentence and people do want to come here. I am proud of the work that my staff and I have done, and I am happy to have made a difference for a city I love. Knowing how strong and dynamic VISIT PHILADELPHIA is today, I feel it is time to begin a new chapter for my family and me.”

From VISIT PHILADELPHIA’s efforts, the City now regularly tops lists—from major media outlets including The New York Times, Forbes, Reader’s Digest, Travel + Leisure, Smarter Travel, U.S. News and World Report, USA Today, Conde Nast Traveler, Lonely Planet and BUZZFEED — of the world’s best destinations. It has also been instrumental in helping the City of Philadelphia to execute and capitalize on several top-tier national events including the Republican National Convention (2000), The World Meeting of Families and Pope Francis’ visit to Philadelphia (2015), the Democratic National Convention (2016) and the annual Welcome America festivities.

The Board and search committee will work diligently over the coming months to hire an experienced executive to lead VISIT PHILADELPHIA in its next chapter of success. Ms. Levitz has expressed her commitment to the Board to onboard her successor to ensure that the critical work of VISIT PHILADELPHIA continues unabated during this transition.

FOOTNOTES:

  1. Source: Econsult Solutions, Inc./Longwoods International
  2. Source: CBRE Hotels
  3. Source: Econsult Solutions, Inc./Longwoods International
  4. Source: Smith Travel Research
  5. Source: Econsult Solutions, Inc./Longwoods International
  6. Source: Econsult Solutions, Inc.
  7. Source: Econsult Solutions, Inc.
  8. Source: Google Analytics
  9. Source: AirfareWatchdog.com

ABOUT VISIT PHILADELPHIA
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):
  • E-mail

Related Releases

Jan 24 2018

VISIT PHILADELPHIA Reports A Record 2017 For Leisure Tourism & Announces Marketing Plans For 2018

Key Stories & Stats From The Annual Hospitality Event

At the 9th annual New Year’s breakfast for VISIT PHILADELPHIA® today, the destination marketing organization (DMO) released record numbers for hotel occupancy in 2017 in Center City Philadelphia. The tourism marketing organization also announced a strengthening of its focus on food, with plans to:

  • launch a video series in partnership with Bon Appétit,
  • bring the 2018 James Beard Awards Nominations Announcement to Philadelphia and
  • create a dining-centric Visit Philly Overnight Hotel Package for spring.

In addition, VISIT PHILADELPHIA announced it has evolved its With Love, Philadelphia XOXO® campaign around the new City of Brotherly Love theme. The

...
Dec 19 2017

The Rittenhouse Hotel General Manager Joins VISIT PHILADELPHIA Team

Reginald Archambault Is The Most Recent Addition To The Company’s Board Of Directors

VISIT PHILADELPHIA® announced today that it has welcomed Reginald Archambault, general manager of The Rittenhouse Hotel, to its board of directors.

“We are pleased to have Reg join our board,” said Manuel Stamatakis, VISIT PHILADELPHIA board chairman. “He has more than 25 years of experience in the hospitality sector, and we look forward to taking advantage of his knowledge and expertise as we develop marketing plans and strategies for VISIT PHILADELPHIA moving forward.”

Archambault started his career in the hospitality industry in 1991—serving as restaurant manager at The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island in Florida. He quickly moved up the ranks

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Nov 20 2017

Winter Brings Seasonal Perks To The Visit Philly Overnight Hotel Package

Visitors Now Receive Dining Discounts & Museum Admission In Addition To Free Parking

The popular Visit Philly Overnight Hotel Package returns for the winter with dining discounts and museum admission, plus its ever-popular and convenient free hotel parking. Bookable now at visitphilly.com/overnight, the winter edition runs from December 1 through March 4, 2018.

Package Perks In Detail:
The Visit Philly Overnight Hotel Package, responsible for more than 16,000 room nights in 2016, is available for one or more nights at more than 40 hotels in Center City and beyond. The winter hotel deal includes parking and tickets to the following with a combined value of up to $235:

  • Free parking:
...
Oct 31 2017

VISIT PHILADELPHIA & City Of Philadelphia Bring Philly To Seattle As Part Of Amazon Headquarters Bid

Ads Showcase Philly’s Art, Food, Outdoors & Neighborhoods To Amazon Community

Now through November 26, Seattleites will catch a glimpse of Philadelphia in 48 transit ad placements and social media posts highlighting the city’s food and drink, arts and culture, neighborhoods, outdoor activities and people. The campaign reinforces the message driven home in the city’s bid for Amazon’s second headquarters: that Philadelphia residents enjoy a high quality of life.

VISIT PHILADELPHIA collaborated with the City of Philadelphia and its Amazon HQ2 Coalition on the strategy and development of the four-week paid-media campaign, which began running the week of October 23. The newly created ads, concepted and designed in house at VISIT

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Sep 25 2017

Fall Brings Seasonal Perks To The Visit Philly Overnight Hotel Package

Visitors Now Receive Dining Discounts, Plus Indego & PHLASH Passes Return

The popular Visit Philly Overnight Hotel Package returns for the fall with seasonal perks, plus its ever-valuable and convenient free hotel parking. Bookable now at visitphilly.com/overnight, the autumn edition runs from September 5 through November 30, 2017.

Package Perks In Detail:
The Visit Philly Overnight Hotel Package, responsible for more than 16,000 room nights in 2016, is available for one or more nights at more than 30 hotels in Center City and beyond. The fall deal includes the following with a combined value of up to $173:

  • Hotel parking (up to a $100 value for a two-night
...
Sep 12 2017

Fact Sheet:

VISIT PHILADELPHIA’s African-American Video Series

OVERVIEW:
Part of the With Love, Philadelphia XOXO® campaign, VISIT PHILADELPHIA’s latest African-American marketing initiative centers on a documentary-style travel video series hosted by Philly native Tarik “Black Thought” Trotter of Grammy-award-winning, hip-hop band The Roots. The five-episode series, dubbed We Got You: Philly by Tarik, taps into the power of a national celebrity, pairing Trotter with trend-setting influencers to show off Philadelphia.

The videos will be promoted across all of VISIT PHILADELPHIA’s marketing channels to gain video views, visits and, of course, hotel stays.

The full series is viewable online at visitphilly.com/wegotyou.

RESEARCH & STRATEGY:
Philadelphia

...
Sep 12 2017

VISIT PHILADELPHIA Debuts New African-American Travel Series

Five-Episode Series & New Ads Spotlight Philly To Reach African-American Travelers

Today, VISIT PHILADELPHIA® launched its latest African-American marketing initiative—the key component of which is a documentary-style travel video series hosted by Philly native Tarik “Black Thought” Trotter of The Roots. The five-episode series, dubbed We Got You: Philly by Tarik, taps into the power of a national celebrity, pairing Trotter with trendsetting influencers to show off Philadelphia. The videos will be promoted across all of VISIT PHILADELPHIA’s marketing channels to gain video views, visits and, of course, hotel stays.

Part of VISIT PHILADELPHIA’s With Love, Philadelphia XOXO® campaign, the series is viewable online at visitphilly.com/wegotyou. Digital

...
Sep 6 2017

VISIT PHILADELPHIA Releases Philadelphia Messaging Toolkit

Entrepreneur in Residence Creates Resource For Local Businesses To Help Tell Philly’s Story

Today, VISIT PHILADELPHIA®, together with its Entrepreneur in Residence (EIR), launched the Philadelphia Messaging Toolkit to help local entrepreneurs and business leaders talk about Philly. The new resource is available to view and download online at visitphilly.com/messagingtoolkit.

“We’re enlisting entrepreneurs and business leaders to join us in spreading the good news of Philadelphia’s vibrancy as a place to visit, work and play,” said Meryl Levitz, president and CEO of VISIT PHILADELPHIA. “As the region’s official tourism-marketing agency, VISIT PHILADELPHIA’s mission is to do this every day, but many others can help us tell Philadelphia’s story. The

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Jul 14 2017

VISIT PHILADELPHIA Marks World Emoji Day With New Philly Stickers

Philly Emojis Now Available For Apple's Messages App

In honor of World Emoji Day, VISIT PHILADELPHIA®, the region’s official tourism marketing agency, today announced the launch of its sticker pack, featuring expressive Philly-themed illustrations and animations that locals and visitors can use in iMessage chats on iPhones and iPads.

The sticker pack features 33 shareable emojis that give Apple users a creative way to talk about the City of Brotherly Love in their private day-to-day messages. Graphics include an animated Liberty Bell with heart-eyes, a Philly cheesesteak, VISIT PHILADELPHIA’s own “XOXO” from the beloved With Love, Philadelphia XOXO® campaign and, of course, an illustration of

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