The Tourism team booked a record number of room nights in 2015-2016 totaling more than 611,268 room nights. These were all booked in-the-year, for-the year and represent an increase of 16% over last year’s record. The team has booked more room nights in the past three years than in the preceding ten years combined.
And others are taking notice. This year, the National Travel & Tourism Office ranked Dallas the #2 city in the nation for year-over-year growth from overseas markets—up 33% from last year. TripAdvisor ranked Dallas #4 in the U.S. for increased international market share gain—up 27% from the preceding year.
The team secured and implemented the 2016 Global Summit of the World Travel & Tourism Council in Dallas, which had been held in the U.S. only twice before in its history. This crown jewel of international tourism audiences included attendance by more than 700 C-Level global leaders from 54 different countries. In addition to securing $3 million in funding from 47 sponsors to produce the event, the team oversaw all aspects of the planning of the summit.
Perceptions of Dallas were changed as a result. 69% of attendees said they were more likely to recommend Dallas as a good place to do business after participating, and 66% were more favorable about Dallas as a tourism destination as a result of their attendance.
The team worked to secure Dallas as a Michelin-rated city in the Michelin Green Guide, a potential gamechanger for international and domestic markets. No Texas city had previously been included and not only was Dallas included this year, it was ranked as a Michelin 3-Star city, the highest possible rating. This also included 40 pages of Dallas-specific content in the Michelin guide.
In addition to the city’s ranking, sites throughout Dallas were highly ranked including five that were called out with a 3-Star top rating. These included the Dallas Arts District, the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza, the Dallas Museum of Art, the Perot Museum of Nature & Science and the Meadows Museum.
The new Dallas CityPASS program, bundling tickets to six Dallas attractions, was launched last year with significant results. Sales were 30% ahead of the highest level projections from CityPASS, and we’ve seen a 26% year-over-year increase above that in our second year performance. In the first year of the program, we saw over 45,000 units sold, representing 150,000+ incremental visits to Dallas attractions. We expect significant growth in international and domestic markets in its second year.
The Tourism Team negotiated sales and marketing agreements for VisitDallas to collaboratively invest with the Fort Worth CVB and DFW International Airport in several major international markets this year, including Australia, China, the UK and Germany. These multi-year agreements allow for additional investment in these critical markets beyond just VisitDallas’ investment including financial, staffing and other resources. These three organizations have aligned very powerfully in doing so.
THE STRATEGY FOR 2017
Build Dallas awareness
With increased investment in our international agencies, we will more deeply engage them in comprehensive training on the Dallas product with operators and agents in their markets. Earned editorial with international media will still be an important top priority for VisitDallas Tourism team, as well as an increased focus on influencing key wholesalers, consolidators and receptives. We will also identify other sources of international marketing and advertising funds to further extend the awareness of Dallas in these important markets.
We will play an increasingly stronger role in DFW International Airport’s global initiatives. The support of current direct-flight markets and working to assist in expanding successful new ones is a top priority for VisitDallas, and has been an essential part of our growth from international markets. Three new direct flights to DFW were recently announced (Vancouver, Rome and Amsterdam) and we will increase sales and marketing efforts in those markets.
We’ll collaborate to increase our partnerships with online travel agencies in international markets, working with Brand USA to extend the value of those partnerships and placements. We’ll also further develop sales opportunities with Dallas CityPASS in influencing increased international visitation to Dallas. Lastly, the Tourism team will facilitate and engage even more utilization of DTPID funds by arts partners for in-market events that drive visitation and hotel stays.