Tempe leads the Valley in gross hotel receipts, climbing 4.6 percent from a year ago compared with a 3.3 percent increase for the entire metro area.
The Tempe Tourism Office credits the city’s strong performance with several marketing campaigns – and in part from baseball fans eager to see Albert Pujols at his first spring training in town.
Tempe Tourism Office CEO Stephanie Nowack said the nonprofit worked to increase the area’s exposure as a destination with marketing programs tailored for Canada, Mexico and Denver.
“During the year, we had some pretty aggressive, very proactive campaigns,” Nowack said.
That helped push daily room rates up 4.6 percent from May 2011 to $99.82 in May 2012, according to Smith Travel Research.
The tourism office launched a new campaign this year in Denver that touted Arizona’s warm temperatures during Colorado’s chilly winters. Nowack said the effort helped make Colorado the fourth-most popular source of traffic to the tourism office’s website. Based on that, the office plans to advertise again this winter in Denver.
“Colorado in general, but Denver in particular, is a market that’s good for Tempe,” Nowack said. “It’s good for Arizona.”
The Tempe Tourism Office worked with its counterparts in Phoenix and Scottsdale to repeat a Canadian marketing campaign. A sweepstakes for a free trip to the Valley generated 80,000 entries. That effort will continue.
Also, the Tempe tourism group brought television and print journalists to town for spring training, where Pujols’ first season with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim was a hit with fans.
One new component to spring training marketing was a trolley that brought baseball fans from downtown and Tempe Marketplace to Tempe Diablo Stadium. The shuttle carried 2,500 passengers in its first year and will be expanded in 2013, Nowack said.
Spring training proved the best time of year for Tempe hotels. Occupancy rates soared to 89 percent, compared with Valleywide rates of 85 percent. That was a pre-recession amount of tourism activity, Nowack said.
Tempe’s strong hotel performance is attracting interest to build more rooms, Nowack said. A Marriott Residence Inn broke ground downtown this spring, years after the recession put the 11-story hotel on hold. The Marriott is being built by Miami-based Finvarb Group, which originally developed plans for the 173-room hotel.
“It’s a market they believe in,” Nowack said. “It shows faith on their part in Tempe and the market overall.”