In an exclusive interview with Travel And Tour World, Gregg Caren shares how Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau (PHLCVB) is working hard to fight against this deadly pandemic.
Travel And Tour World: What are the marketing strategies you have undertaken to boost tourism in post COVID-19 time?
Gregg Caren: On July 1, 2020, our organization launched the PHL Health Pledge – a new initiative designed to increase awareness of Philadelphia’s readiness towelcoming back visitorssafely. To support this effort, the PHLCVB has partnered with Dr. David Nash, Dean Emeritus of the Jefferson College of Population Health (one of Philadelphia’s numerous globally acclaimed hospitals), to serve as the PHLCVB’s Chief Health Advisor by providing direct advice and guidance to meeting and event planners.
This initiative will showcase Philadelphia’s unstoppable ingenuity, leveraging our world-renowned life sciences industry by drawing upon their expertise to provide guidance and advice on how our tourism community can safely welcome visitors. The initiative is comprised of three key components:
1. PHL Health Advisors, including:
o Dr. Nash, serving as Chief Health Advisor, will provide guidance directly to meeting planner customers and serve as a public spokesperson on behalf of the PHLCVB with regards to matters of public health and tourism
o The 18-member PHL Health Advisors sub-committee of PHL Life Sciences, which will be an internal support team, providing guidance to the PHLCVB and our hospitality partners on health and safety standards as well as information on local medical advancements in the fight against COVID-19
2. Resources for Safely Reopening:
o Aggregated list of plans from national partners like U.S. Travel Association as well as many local tourism partners for review by potential visitors
o PHL Hospitality Health Pledge that can be signed by PHLCVB members and other local tourism-related businesses to show their commitment to new health and safety standards as they reopen for business
2. Continuing Education and Innovation:
o On-going training and support for PHLCVB members to keep abreast of public health best practices to keep their hotels, attractions, and venues safe for visitors
The PHL Health Pledge will be supported with new video showcasing how the various segments of the tourism industry in Philadelphia—includingPHL International Airport (PHL), Pennsylvania Convention Center, hotels and restaurants—areadapting to meet the health and safety needs of visitors.
Travel And Tour World: What are the plans Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau (PHLCVB) have taken to boost MICE economy in Philadelphia?
Gregg Caren: As a membership-based organization, one of the PHLCVB’smain priorities remains providing support to our 800 member businesses that help drive the city’s tourism and hospitality industry.
In focusing on our members who specifically provide services to MICE groups, we are leveraging PHLCVB owned media channels to promote virtual offerings that allow MICE planners toremotely explorethe sights, sounds and elements that have helped position Philadelphia as a leading East Coast destination for meetings and events. Through Virtual Tours of Philadelphia Event Venues and a robust Philadelphia from Home content package that includes museum tours, a Philadelphia-themed Spotify playlist, recipes from our most sought-after chefs, we continue to be a resource for our members in the city while in-person site visits and sales meetings are on pause.
Travel And Tour World: Are you focusing on local and regional state economy? What are the recovery efforts the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau (PHLCVB) taken? Please elaborate.
Gregg Caren:In 2018, overseas visitation had a $1.2 billion in economic impact for Philadelphia and its surroundingregion. Hospitality and tourism will play a critical rolein Philadelphia’s business recovery strategy for COVID-19. Throughout the past several months, we have worked closely with local partners, including the City of Philadelphia, Greater Philadelphia Hotel Association and Visit Philadelphia, as well as the U.S. Travel Association, to advocate on behalf of our industry and ensure that travel-related businesses receive financial relief. We have encouraged hospitality partners throughout our region to take advantage of federal funding and local grants – communicating these programs in our weekly member newsletter. We also launched our PHL Health Pledge initiative (as mentioned earlier) and will continue to promote and position the region as a top U.S. destination so that when travel does resume, potential visitors will know and trust that we have done everything possible to create a safe and healthy destination from arrival through departure.
Travel And Tour World: How will the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau (PHLCVB) create demand in the tourism market in the world?
Gregg Caren: Looking at India specifically, our most recent overseas visitation numbers demonstrate that there is a demand in the market – for both MICE and leisure visitors – with over 57,000 Indians having visited Philadelphia in 2018, making it Philadelphia’s 4th largest source market for overseas visitation. 30% of Indian visitors to Philadelphia cited business and conventions as their main purpose for traveling to Philadelphia – a relatively high figure compared to other overseas markets.
To capitalize on the existing demand for Philadelphia, we will continue to lean on what we know and do best. By partnering with Dr. David Nash, customers can receive direct advice and guidance from a member of Philadelphia’s world-renownedlife sciences community.Additionally, we will continue to promote Philadelphia’s green spaces both in the city and in surrounding areas which present ample opportunities for visitors to spend time exploring outside, while also not venturing far from the heart of the city. With over 100 parks, squares, and recreation sites totaling over 10,000 acres, Philadelphia is home to one of the largest urban park systems in the nation.
Travel And Tour World: What are the safety and hygiene protocols Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau (PHLCVB) took to reopen tourism? Tell us about the safety and hygiene protocols for convention centers and tourism agents and the hotel industry in Philadelphia.
Gregg Caren: As mentioned above, part of our recovery effortsincludes the creation of the PHL Health Pledge initiative and a key component of that is the PHL Hospitality Health Pledge that we are encouraging all members of Philadelphia’s hospitality industry to sign. This pledge will stand as a commitment to implementing the healthand safety standards recommended by national, state, and city guidelines. On our website, the hospitality community can access several resources for reopening, including guidelines from the U.S. Travel Association, the American Hotel & Lodging Association, U.S. Food & Drug Administration, the City of Philadelphia’s Reopening with Care strategy, as well as many others. We very much see our role in this moment as serving as a connector and resource to all travel-related businesses in Philadelphia to communicate to the traveling public about the steps we are collectively taking to ensure a high-quality and safe experience.