The San Diego Convention Center Corp. is moving its sales and marketing efforts to the San Diego Convention and Visitors Bureau effective July 1, making the bureau the sole sales and marketing organization for the destination. As it is now, the bureau handles individual hotel meetings while the SDCCC markets citywide conventions.

Unifying sales and marketing under one entity will help the destination to be more effective in the national group meetings market, says Joe Terzi, president and chief executive officer at the San Diego CVB. "If you look at the top destinations, there are only a handful that don’t handle it the way we are moving,” says Terzi. San Diego switched to the current model in 2004 and has had separate sales organizations ever since.

Starting July 1, meeting planner customers will have one point of contact to discuss meetings instead of having to talk to one sales rep for a citywide and another for a meeting at a hotel. Aside from that, planners won’t notice any differences as a result of the change. “It does get confusing. Customers are wondering why they are talking to someone at the CVB and then someone at the convention center.” It will also improve marketing as the messaging will be stronger, more consistent, and unified coming from one organization.

The realignment will create efficiencies and economies of scale as the destination won’t have separate sales offices in San Diego, Washington, D.C., and Chicago. Also, Terzi expects to keep as many salespeople as possible. “Our intent is to leverage all of the skills that currently exist and put them under one organization.” The San Diego Convention Center Corp. will continue to operate and manage the facility.

The local hotel community is a huge proponent of the shift, says Terzi. ‘The hotel community expressed a strong desire to see the organization, the messaging, and the sales and marketing combined,” he says.

Convention officials are nearing the goal line on a plan to expand the San Diego Convention Center. The expansion would add 225,000 square feet of exhibit space and 101,500 square feet of meeting space to the 2.6 million-square-foot property. Hoteliers are expected to vote at the end of April on the creation of a new convention center taxing district, where a special tax on hotels would fund a large part of the $550 million project. If the new taxing district is approved, the project will move forward with completion expected in 2016.