Visit Albuquerque President & CEO Tania Armenta and outgoing Board Chair Damen Kompanowski presented on a variety of organizational updates and accomplishments, including the announcement of a new Vice President for Visit Albuquerque's Sales, Services and Sports division-Kristin McGrath. McGrath brings more than 20 years of experience in the sales and hospitality industries and will begin at the organization on June 12.
In addition to new staff leadership, the Annual Meeting included voting on new board leadership and members. The board of directors for FY18 includes:
- Cynthia Stanley, Chair; General Manager, Marriott Pyramid North
- Jim Gay, Chair-Elect; Regional Director, New Mexico Sports & Wellness
- Damen Kompanowski, Immediate Past-Chair; General Manager, Sheraton Albuquerque Uptown
- Richard Holcomb, Secretary/Treasurer; Founder, CliffDweller Digital
- Bob Murphy; Executive Director, Economic Forum of Albuquerque
- Robert J. Perry/Gary Oppedahl; Mayoral Representative
- Isaac Benton; City Council President, City Council representative
- Tania Armenta; President & CEO, Visit Albuquerque
- Heather Arnold; Co-Owner, Routes Bicycles Tours & Rentals
- Mike Canfield; President & CEO, Indian Pueblo Cultural Center
- Cynthia Fresquez; General Manager, DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel, Greater Albuquerque Innkeepers Association Representative
- José García; General Manager, Albuquerque Convention Center, ACC Representative
- Cainan Harris; General Manager, Hyatt Regency Albuquerque
- Don Harris; Albuquerque City Councilor, City Council representative
- Tracie Jernigan; General Manager, Crowne Plaza Hotel
- Laura Kesselman; President, Kesselman-Jones, Inc.
- Debi Owen; Communications Director, Sandia Peak Aerial Tram, Lodgers' Tax Advisory Board Representative
- Rebecca Plutino; General Manager, Best Western Plus Rio Grande Inn
Armenta and Kompanowski also touted the overall success of the travel and tourism industry in Albuquerque, as well as its role as a vital economic engine for the city. As one of the largest private industries in the city, the tourism industry in Albuquerque:
- Brings approximately 6.2 million visitors to the city each year
- Generates more than $2 billion annually
- Produces over $69 million in local taxes annually
- Supports approximately 40,000 jobs in Bernalillo County alone and was one of the few industries that experienced job growth through the recession
- Accounts for over 10% of gross receipts tax (GRT)
In addition to highlighting these statistics, Visit Albuquerque's Annual Meeting highlighted the steady increase in the city's lodgers tax revenue, which saw a 3 percent increase in FY16 over FY15 and is pacing up 3.6 percent for fiscal year-to-date (FY17) as of the end of February.
These efforts are not solely the result of groups outside of the city bringing their meeting to Albuquerque, but largely a result of locals involved with various organizations and associations who have brought their meeting home. Through its "Meeting Heroes" program, Visit Albuquerque has recognized 237 individuals who have helped bring an organizational meeting to Albuquerque since the program's inception in 1995. $437 million in direct spending has come into the city as a result of these efforts. This year's Albuquerque Meeting Heroes were:
· Lynn Tupa and Dana Feldman, Association of Zoos and Aquariums 2017 Mid-Year Conference
· Becky Christmas, American Gold Star Mothers 2019 National Conference
· Reverend N. Darnell Smith, National Baptist Convention of America, Inc.'s 2017 Mid-Winter Board Meeting
· Dr. Ramiro Jordan, Global Engineering Deans Council 2018 World Engineering Education Forum
· Esther Jones, USA Gymnastics 2017 Level 7 Regional Meet
· Daniel Jiron, 2016 ABQ Airport Roundtable Series
· Brian Osterloh, 2017 USATF Masters Indoor Championships
· Jian Zhu, 2017 ICEA (International Chinese Entrepreneur Association) Business Matchmaking Summit
· Trey Smith and Carrie Robin Brunder, National Speech and Debate Association's 2020 National Tournament
Collectively, these Meeting Heroes were instrumental in bringing groups that contributed to over $15 million dollars in direct spending to the city.
The presenters also highlighted the recent achievements of the organization, touting the fact that with just one month remaining in the current fiscal year, total definite room nights booked are up 12 percent over this same time last year. The newly rebranded Albuquerque Sports Commission (formerly the Sports Marketing Team for Visit Albuquerque) is working hard to set the stage for several high-profile events that will take place in Albuquerque within the next few years, including the 2018 USATF Indoor Championships, the 2018 Golden Age Games and the 2019 National Senior Games. Albuquerque was also recently selected to host four NCAA postseason events, including the 2020 NCAA Division I Indoor Track and Field Championships, the 2020 Men's and Women's Cross Country Regional, the 2021 Division I Men's Golf Regional and the 2022 Division I Women's Golf Regional.
The meeting program included recognizing Visit Albuquerque volunteers-a base of over 90 individuals serving at the organization's Visitor Information Centers, trade conferences and local events. Two long-standing volunteers were highlighted during the program: Nancy Paxton for 25 years and Otto Stangl for 24 years of service.
Also mentioned during the program was the fact that to date, the Visit Albuquerque ACE (Albuquerque Concierge Excellence) program has trained nearly 800 people on destination knowledge and customer service. Armenta recognized the top 10 hospitality employers who have regularly sent their employees to this training since its inception in 2008.
More than 300 attendees listened to remarks from Mayor Richard J. Berry, City Council President Isaac Benton, and Visit Albuquerque leadership. The speakers noted the importance of tourism to the city's economy, as well as the positive momentum and many developments currently underway.
Armenta noted that this is an exciting time for the organization and is looking forward to building on the positive momentum in the next fiscal year. More details regarding fiscal years 2017 and 2018 will be available when Visit Albuquerque releases its marketing plan this summer.