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Kickstarting Scottsdale Tourism’s Recovery

By Rachel Sacco

Ever since the COVID-19 outbreak brought the global travel industry to a standstill, Experience Scottsdale has worked diligently to answer an important question: What will travel look like in the future?

As our staff has monitored industry publications, research and analyses, we have some indication of how people will travel in the near future. We’ve built a robust program around that answer to help spur Scottsdale’s economic recovery as local businesses continue to reopen. This will be a measured approach to ensure the continued safety of our residents and to ensure taxpayer dollars are spent effectively.

For the first step of our recovery, we need help from locals like you. Staycations are always a popular summertime activity in Scottsdale as hotels and resorts offer rates at steep discounts. With staycations, locals enjoy our world-class amenities while our hotels and resorts enjoy a boost in revenue during a need period for the local tourism industry. But this year, staycations will be more important than ever –even beyond the summer months. They may help Scottsdale-area hospitality businesses keep their doors open, reinstate their workers and survive the duration of the crisis.

These local businesses have been implementing safety guidelines and enhanced cleaning and sanitation procedures recommended by state and national entities so that you can enjoy their services with some peace of mind. We hope you’ll consider booking a staycation, shopping and dining local, and visiting attractions while wearing your masks and keeping in mind social distancing best practices.

Consumer studies have indicated people will be more likely to travel by car for the foreseeable future, and we are monitoring conditions to see if and when we can safely resume our traditional marketing campaigns to entice potential visitors in our neighboring states to plan road trips to Scottsdale in the fall and winter.

Our hope is that potential travelers in California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas and Utah who see and hear Experience Scottsdale’s television, radio and online promotions will be inspired to hit the road and explore the beauty of the Sonoran Desert. Though we have long targeted top markets like Los Angeles and San Francisco, many throughout the west will see Experience Scottsdale’s advertisements for the first time. We’ll rely on these flexible mediums so that we can easily pause and resume our advertising as the need arises.

Reaching potential travelers in these drive and regional markets will require more than advertising alone. Simultaneously, we will connect with luxury travel advisors throughout Arizona and the western U.S. to rebook their clients’ vacations closer to home. And we’ll pitch stories about Scottsdale’s resorts, attractions and amenities to media across the region to continue to inspire and encourage visitors to choose Scottsdale.

Though domestic leisure travel will lead the way these coming months, we can’t forget that meetings are crucial to Scottsdale’s tourism industry, accounting for nearly half of all occupancy at Scottsdale-area resorts and upper-moderate hotels. This segment of the industry will take longer to rebuild, but Experience Scottsdale is continuing to book meetings business and will focus on association groups, particularly those within Arizona, which are mandated to meet on an annual basis. We will unveil a promotion incentivizing these groups to not only meet in Scottsdale but also return for their next board meeting.

For all who choose to travel moving forward – vacationers, business travelers and meetings attendees alike – destination safety and cleanliness will play a powerful role in their purchasing decisions. Travelers will seek wide open spaces, experiences that allow them room to roam, ways to focus on their health and wellness, and opportunities to connect with family and friends. Our messaging is primed for those reassurances.

These strategies, among others, will allow us to be flexible as the pandemic continues to evolve. And when the virus eventually subsides, making cross-country travel and international travel more accessible, Experience Scottsdale will be at the ready to activate additional programs.

For more than three decades, Experience Scottsdale has worked with partners to overcome previous hurdles, responding to traveler needs following terrorism attacks, during economic recessions and amid political turmoil. Once again, we will work in lockstep with the city of Scottsdale, the town of Paradise Valley and our more than 400 members to ensure that no matter how people travel in the future, they can always experience Scottsdale.

Rachel Sacco is the president and CEO of Experience Scottsdale, which establishes Scottsdale as a year-round, luxury travel destination.