How Beverly Hills Tourism Soared in Fiscal Year 2014-2015
Photo courtesy of Beverly Hills Conference & Visitors Bureau
Beverly Hills has always been a top tourist destination, but the fiscal year 2014-2015 was a record period for the Southern California city.
Domestic travel to the city, which currently represents 37 percent of its market, grew more than 60 percent, while international travel—63 percent of its market—increased more than 30 percent, compared to the fiscal year 2013-2014.
On top of that, transient occupancy tax (TOT) grew 10.5 percent, 6.5 percent higher than Beverly Hills’ projections for the year.
But what led to such a boost for a city that was already a major tourist draw?
TravelPulse recently spoke with Julie Wagner, the CEO of the Beverly Hills Conference & Visitors Bureau (BHCVB).
Wagner said that the growth was “multi-pronged,” a combination of having a strong brand name, more hotel development and a broader outreach globally from BHCVB.
BHCVB has traditionally focused on Australia, China and the United Kingdom when marketing internationally, while targeting New York and the general state of California domestically. But, in recent years, the tourism bureau has added Chicago and placed a greater emphasis on San Francisco domestically, while focusing on key international markets such as India, Brazil, Mexico, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) of the Middle East (which includes Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates), Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Indonesia.
BHCVB physically traveled to more than 12 countries around the world in fiscal year 2014-2015 to market Beverly Hills. It also conducted first-ever sales events in San Francisco and Chicago, furthered sales efforts in New York City, participated in the U.S. version of the IMEX travel tradeshow for the third consecutive year, supported the Milken Conference for the third straight year and hosted its fourth annual Chinese New Year event at the Saban Theatre (the Milken Conference drew more than 3,500 people from 55 countries and 41 states, and the Chinese New Year event—sponsored by the Chinese government—attracted a sold-out audience of nearly 2,000 people).
With events like its Chinese New Year event, Beverly Hills has “created these legacies,” Wagner said.
Wagner also said that the growth from the Middle East has been “a bit surprising” and a key contributor to Beverly Hills’ growth.
The perception of Beverly Hills is changing, too, according to Wagner. For years, it was seen by many as exclusively a place for the wealthy, or a hotspot for celebrity watching. It’s still a place boasting “customizable luxury,” Wagner said, but it has also become known for its outdoor parks, green spaces and family-friendly environment.
“It’s where everyone can come and play,” Wagner said.
And as the world has gravitated more and more toward technology, so has BHCVB. BHCVB launched a multi-channel campaign this spring, and it has a heavy social media focus, with social media accounts on major platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Weibo (China’s most popular social media platform).
BHCVB’s new sales engine was also a major influencer of visitation and revenue. According to BHCVB, the sales engine booked a total of 2,200 reported room nights in fiscal year 2014-2015, generating more than $1.3 million in estimated revenue to city businesses.
The combination of all of these factors is “a recipe for a lovely soup,” Wagner said.
Moving forward, BHCVB has a three-year plan. That includes continuing to market to rising international markets and—perhaps just as important—marketing more thoroughly to domestic markets. According to Wagner, developments such as the American dollar getting stronger could mean American businesses seeing fewer international dollars coming in.
As far as hotel development, Beverly Hills is particularly excited about the new Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills, which could be open to the public by early 2017.
BHCVB is also cooking up something positive that is slated to be introduced around December, Wagner said.
More by Ryan Rudnansky
Get Travel Deals and Travel News
Recent Travel Opinions
Airlines & Airports