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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 Love, Philadelphia XOXO®, which recently won a 2016 Destinations Council Destiny Award from the U.S. Travel Association. In addition, the tourism-marketing company’s integrated marketing approach has long included a strong public relations push, two powerhouse websites—visitphilly.com and uwishunu.com—and 15 engaging social media channels.
“Many people and publications have called Philadelphia an overnight sensation,” said Meryl Levitz, president and CEO, VISIT PHILADELPHIA. “That’s wonderful, but the fact is that many people, organizations and businesses have worked for many years to make Philadelphia the must-visit destination it is today. The good news is: It’s worked. Just ask the 650 million people who have visited since 1997.”
How It All Began:
In 1996, then-Philadelphia Mayor Ed Rendell, then-Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge and President and Chief Executive Officer of The Pew Charitable Trusts Rebecca Rimel saw promise in the Philadelphia region’s travel potential and founded GPTMC.
Rendell, Ridge and Rimel laid out their mission for the organization in a Philadelphia Inquirer op-ed. They called their vision of the Philadelphia region as a leisure destination a “golden promise” and detailed their goals of getting more people to stay overnight, building the region’s image and collecting data to learn from and adapt marketing strategies.
20 Years By The Numbers:
Here’s a look at how Philadelphia stacked up as a visitor destination then and now:
26.7 million visitors to the five-county region
254,000 leisure room nights in Center City hotels
22 (6,701 rooms) in Center City hotels
2015: (last year for available data)
41 million visitors to the five-county region
983,000 leisure room nights in Center City hotels
50 (11,185 rooms) in Center City hotels
Percentage growth (1997-2015):
54% visitors to the five-county region
287% leisure room nights in Center City hotels
67% increase in room supply in Center City hotels
Record Visitation & The Leisure Story:
A record 41 million people—88% of them here for a leisure purpose—visited the five-county region in 2015, the sixth consecutive year for record-breaking visitation in the region.
“Philadelphia went from stopover to sleepover,” said Levitz. “Visitors now choose to come here, stay overnight and infuse money into the region’s economy by touring museums, attending events, eating out and buying souvenirs. We know that when they stay in Philadelphia longer, they find more to fall in love with and more reasons to return over and over again.”
Overnight leisure proves to be the fastest-growing segment in Center City hotels. In 1997, when VISIT PHILADELPHIA started marketing the region as a leisure destination, leisure accounted for just 14% of all room nights. In 2015, one out of every three Center City hotel rooms—that’s 32%—was occupied by a leisure stay. (Sources for all stats: CBRE Hotels, Longwoods International and Econsult Solutions, Inc.)
A Golden Promise, A Golden Future:
While any time is a good time for visitors to explore Philadelphia’s legendary history, art, food, music and park scenes, new legends in the making will give people additional reasons to visit and give VISIT PHILADELPHIA additional stories to spotlight. Here’s a look at what’s on the horizon for 2017 and beyond: the Museum of the American Revolution (2017), a reimagined LOVE Park (2017), the Comcast Innovation and Technology Center (2017), Fashion Outlets of Philadelphia at Market East (2018) and many new hotels. Thanks to a generous grant from The Pew Charitable Trusts, VISIT PHILADELPHIA also plans to increase its promotional efforts around Historic Philadelphia over the next two years.
The following partners made VISIT PHILADELPHIA’s annual report and anniversary celebration possible: PNC, SugarHouse Casino, KYW Newsradio, Where Philadelphia, Asher’s Chocolate and Red Tettemer O’Connell + Partners. View VISIT PHILADELPHIA’s 30-year Destination Timeline here.
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.
The Visit Philly Overnight Hotel Package Springs Into A New Season
This spring, the popular Visit Philly Overnight Hotel Package includes not only its always-offered-and-convenient free hotel parking, but extra perks that make it easier for visitors to get around once they arrive too. Bookable now at visitphilly.com/overnight for stays beginning on March 20, 2017, the spring edition of the package comes with free passes for Indego, the City of Philadelphia’s bike-sharing program; free tickets for the PHLASH downtown loop, which stops at more than 20 Philly attractions; credit toward an Uber ride and $50 in SugarHouse Casino perks.
“There’s nothing quite like spring in Philadelphia,” said Meryl Levitz, president and...
VISIT PHILADELPHIA Debuts 360-Degree Photo, Video & Virtual Reality Experience
Philadelphia fans and potential visitors can now see the city in a new way before they arrive thanks to VISIT PHILADELPHIA’s 360-degree photography and video with virtual-reality capabilities. Visitors to visitphilly.com/virtual-tour will be able to explore 25 panoramic, 360-degree photos; watch a three-minute, 360-degree video; and view that video in virtual reality (VR)—as an immersive tour on a VR headset.
“Every day we give online visitors compelling reasons to plan a trip to Philadelphia, and we believe this new view of the city will give the 20 million people who use visitphilly.com and uwishunu.com each year even more reasons to...
Visit Philadelphia Announces Three New Staff Appointments
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,...
Kimpton Hotel Manager Joins VISIT PHILADELPHIA Team
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...
VISIT PHILADELPHIA Reports A Record For 2016 Leisure Tourism & Announces Plans 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
Biggest, Best-Ever Version Of The Visit Philly Overnight Hotel Package Now Available
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
Visit Philly Overnight Hotel Package Winter Getaway
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
SugarHouse General Manager Joins Visit Philadelphia Team
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...
VISIT PHILADELPHIA Announces Director Of Social Media, Dana Schmidt
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,...