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Industry Insider

October 2023

Another Balloon Fiesta is officially behind us. Thank you to all our Partners for making it a success. As we take a moment to express gratitude for an incredible event that welcomed hundreds of thousands of visitors to our city, we’re also ready to share the experiences and offerings that come with our beautiful fall and holiday seasons.

We are grateful to all our Partners who joined us for our Annual Meeting last month. During the event, we welcomed our new Chair of the Board, Michael Canfield, and expressed our thanks to outgoing Chair Deepesh Kholwadwala for all his hard work, dedication and leadership. We are excited to work together to continue to innovate and improve the travel, tourism and hospitality industry in Albuquerque.

Native American Heritage Month begins in November. We encourage you to take a moment to celebrate the rich ancestry and cultural traditions in Albuquerque.

Thank you for being a Visit Albuquerque Partner!


Visit Albuquerque Hosts Annual Meeting

Visit Albuquerque welcomed nearly 500 industry leaders, organization partners and community members to its annual meeting in late September. Attendees heard remarks from Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller and Visit Albuquerque leadership. During the meeting, it was announced that lodgers’ tax revenue, average daily rate and revenue per available room all achieved record annual highs during the past fiscal year. Visit Albuquerque also used the meeting to launch a year-long project to develop a Destination Master Plan for the city in partnership with the global tourism and destination advisory division of JLL, a global real estate services company. The process will engage industry, business and City leaders and will include visitor perception and resident sentiment studies, resulting in a 10-year roadmap that strengthens Albuquerque as a thriving destination for leisure travelers, meetings and events while balancing the needs of residents, businesses and visitors. If you would like to get involved, you can find more information here

During the Annual Meeting, Visit Albuquerque welcomed incoming Board of Directors Chair Michael Canfield, President & CEO of the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center and Indian Pueblos Marketing. Canfield takes over the position from Deepesh Kholwadwala, owner and President/CEO of Sun Capital Hotels. Ben Abruzzo, President of Sandia Peak Tramway, was named Chair-Elect for FY24. In addition, Visit Albuquerque’s Partners elected three individuals to fill open positions on the Board. Damian Kirson, General Manager of Rainbow Ryders Hot Air Balloon Co., was elected to a first term on the Board, and Deepesh Kholwadwala and Christine Pauley, Director of Meetings & Conventions for the American Society of Radiologic Technologists, were elected to second terms. A complete list of Board members can be found here.


2023 Visit Albuquerque Annual Meeting

Mayor Tim Keller at the 2023 Visit Albuquerque Annual Meeting

Deepesh Kholwadwala, owner and President/CEO of Sun Capital Hotels, speaks at the 2023 Visit Albuquerque Annual Meeting

Mike Canfield at the 2023 Visit Albuquerque Annual MeetingPhoto Credit: Winstonfoto

Balloon Fiesta Wraps Up Another Successful Event

The 51st Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta® is in the books. One highlight of the nine-day event was the annular eclipse that followed the Oct. 14 mass ascension. Visitors were able to see two wonders in the Albuquerque sky, drawing large crowds including a team from NASA and science reporters from CNN, the Washington Post and the Weather Channel. The convergence of the Balloon Fiesta and the eclipse made Albuquerque the place to be. In fact, the Albuquerque Sunport reported a record number of air travelers, with 316,208 visitors passing through the Sunport between Oct. 4 and Oct. 18, a 9% increase from 2019. The Sunport also set a single-day post-COVID travel record on Oct. 15, when approximately 28,000 passengers traveled through the airport.

Other records were set as well. On Oct. 11, a world record was set for the largest number of remote-control balloons in the sky at once. Fifty-eight “globitos” participated in a mass ascension on that day at Balloon Fiesta Park, topping the previous record of 55 set in Germany in 2015. The feat still needs to be certified by officials with Guinness World Records.

Visit Albuquerque started promoting the Balloon Fiesta in April with banner ads, TV commercials and billboards in surrounding states. During the nine-day event itself, Visit Albuquerque provided city information at the launch field and took free photos of guests in the Visit Albuquerque frame. We also distributed thousands of copies of a City Guide with information for visitors and posted billboards welcoming Balloon Fiesta visitors along I-25, I-40 and Paseo del Norte.

The city comes alive during Balloon Fiesta, with events ranging from art fairs to cultural performances to lowrider shows. To capture the city’s energy and vibrancy, Visit Albuquerque expanded its social media coverage, highlighting activities taking place across the city. We posted 79 pieces of permanent content on Visit Albuquerque’s Facebook, Instagram and TikTok accounts, along with hundreds of stories. As of Oct. 16, those posts had garnered 5.3 million views and more than 925,000 engagements, and Visit Albuquerque’s social media accounts gained almost 6,000 new followers.

Early results show that hotel occupancy was strong during this year’s Balloon Fiesta. Visit Albuquerque wants to know what business was like for you. Please fill out this quick survey to let us know what you experienced. Your feedback will help us plan for next year’s Balloon Fiesta, which will take place Oct. 5-13, 2024.

The Visit Albuquerque frame frames a balloon inflating in the background with the Visit Albuquerque balloon floating overhead

@visitalbuquerque A @Balloon Fiesta Ascension in 26 seconds? We’ve got you covered. ❤️ 📸: Jesse Sansom, Airscape ABQ #balloonfiesta #balloonfiesta2023 ♬ Originalton - 𝙨𝙞𝙧𝙚𝙣𝙦𝙪𝙙𝙞𝙤𝙨
Don’t Miss This Month’s ACE Training

Visit Albuquerque’s Albuquerque Community Experience (ACE) training program is designed to brush up your employees’ customer service skills and strengthen their knowledge about the city. Graduates of the program can answer guests’ questions about things to do and places to visit. The program also provides training on topics such as first impressions, effective communication and handling conflict.

ACE training program logo

Don’t miss your chance to attend this month’s class:

Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2023
2 p.m. to 5 p.m.
The Historic Lobo Theater
3013 Central Ave. NE

The cost is $25 per person for Partner businesses and $40 per person for non-Partners. Snacks will be provided along with water and coffee. To register, call Trish Hathoot at 505-908-8178 or send an email to
Graduates will be recognized as Albuquerque Community Experience professionals and will receive a complimentary Community Experience pass that allows each of them and one guest to visit attractions throughout the Albuquerque area. The value of each ACE experience pass is more than $500!
Seating is limited, so register your employees now!

Visit Albuquerque Attends TEAMS Conference

Albuquerque Sports Commission team members Angie Jepsen and Angela Gandy attended the TEAMS Conference & Expo in West Palm Beach, Florida, Oct. 2-5. They conducted 34 one-on-one appointments with sports events rights holders that could potentially bring sporting events to Albuquerque.

In addition, they participated in the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic SportsLink during TEAMS. The USOPC SportsLink is an opportunity for the National Governing Bodies that make up the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic movements to conduct educational sessions, share best practices and network with destinations and venues that want to host sport-related events. SportsLink also provides Olympic athletes the opportunity to share stories about the impact sports travel has had on their careers.


Three people stand in front of an Albuquerque Sports Commission sign at the 2023 TEAMS conference

Angie Jepsen (left) and Angela Gandy (right) with the President and CEO of the National Senior Games Association, Sue Hlavacek.

Visit Albuquerque Attends IMEX America

Visit Albuquerque’s Vice President of Sales, Services and Sports Scott Craighead, Senior National Sales Manager Tabitha Stallworth and National Sales Manager Terri Dean exhibited at IMEX America in Las Vegas, Nevada with Tourism Santa Fe. Mark Mares, with Heritage Hotels, joined both destinations for the show. This year’s IMEX event was the biggest ever, with more than 4,000 buyers and 360 exhibitor booths. IMEX is the largest trade show in North America for the business events industry. Scott, Terri and Tabitha were joined by Jesse Sansom, who provided virtual reality footage of Albuquerque, including a hot air balloon ride, the Sandia Peak Aerial Tramway and the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, at the Visit Albuquerque booth.


Visitors to the Visit Albuquerque booth at IMEX participate in a virtual reality hot air balloon ride

Savannah Bananas Will Stop in Albuquerque in 2024

Earlier this month, the Savannah Bananas exhibition baseball team announced that Albuquerque will be a stop on its 2024 Banana Ball World Tour. The Bananas will play games at Isotopes Park on April 20-21, 2024, against the Party Animals, the team that travels with the Bananas. The team rose to fame on social media with entertaining on-field antics like a dancing umpire, players on stilts and choreographed dances. This is the first appearance the Bananas will make in New Mexico. The team plays a different version of baseball called “banana ball” with a two-hour time limit to the game, no bunting or walks, and batters can steal first base any time they are at bat. Visit Albuquerque worked with the Albuquerque Isotopes to help bring the Savannah Bananas to Albuquerque.

To get tickets, enter your name into a ticket lottery through Dec. 1. Registering for the lottery places you in a random drawing that will take place about two months before the Albuquerque games. If your lottery number is drawn, you will have the opportunity to purchase tickets.

Upcoming Meetings and Sports Events

In November 2023, more than 5,700 people will participate in meetings and sports events booked and supported by Visit Albuquerque. These events will generate an estimated $1.4 million in direct spend, and some of the noteworthy events include:


Group Name

Est. Attendance

Meeting Location

Est. Direct Spending

Nov. 4-5

United States Specialty Sports Association Veteran’s Day Tournament


Jennifer Riordan Spark Kindness Sports Complex


Nov. 7-9

New Mexico Water Resources Research Institute Annual Conference


Embassy Suites by Hilton Albuquerque


Nov. 8-12

International Western Music Association National Convention


Hotel Albuquerque at Old Town


Nov. 13-16

New Mexico Department of Health
Head to Toe


Albuquerque Convention Center


Nov. 18

New Mexico Games Archery


The Archery Shoppe


Please help welcome these visitors and groups to Albuquerque!