Dan Fenton, president and CEO of the San Jose (Calif.) Convention & Visitors Bureau, acknowledges that the buyer-seller relationship was changing even before 9/11 complicated things. Because of the value of group business, “We as a destination are trying to take the long-term view” in strengthening those relationships, he says. Consequently, both infrastructure and marketing are getting a boost.
On the infrastructure side, the Fairmont Hotel, the city's largest full-service property, increased its room count to 805 and its meeting space to 65,000 square feet with the opening of its new tower in February. The San Jose Marriott Hotel, which is under construction, opens in January 2003 with just over 500 rooms.
The city's hotels are considered either “downtown” or “uptown.” To overcome the mind-set that the uptown hotels are remote — they're only five minutes from downtown, same as the airport — the CVB is marketing them as a package: the “Uptown Alliance.” The alliance has a lot of pluses for planners. Rates are lower than at downtown properties; planners need to issue only one RFP and sign only one, no matter how many properties are used; and the CVB provides transportation between uptown hotels and the downtown area. Uptown properties range in size from the 512-room Hyatt San Jose to the 185-room Radisson Plaza and offer a total of nearly 2,000 rooms.
The CVB actually is afor the entire city, handling housing, registration, event planning, and transportation. “We'll even negotiate rates,” says Fenton. The CVB also acts as liaison to the San Jose McEnery Convention Center and the Compaq Center at San Jose. The CVB is a concierge, too. Planners can call (800) SAN-JOSE to arrange for group tickets to events or area attractions. “This is the bureau's dedicated call center, not a ticket agency, so there's no markup or service charge,” says Fenton. “The goal of providing this service is to get more people into the city.”