Executive Summary: December 2021 & January 2022
Dear Valued Partners:
In some ways, 2022 has started off in all-too-familiar fashion: COVID-19 still dominates the headlines and the travel industry confronts uncertainty in almost every direction.
Yet, in the face of those challenges Visit San Antonio is seeing so many positives as the new year begins.
As you will find in our attached division updates, our organization continues to work hard to drive recovery in the vital tourism and hospitality sector, and we are seeing many of those efforts pay off. Each week, Visit San Antonio invests in keeping our destination in the spotlight, informing the message that the safety and welfare of all is paramount in our community.
Those efforts are paying off in tangible ways.
For example, in December our Destination Sales team booked 50 future events, nearly double the goal of 26. Twenty-one of those groups will be new to San Antonio, and the projected economic impact of those meetings will be $45.3 million.
Visit San Antonio has also reached more than 1.6 million online engagements, 6 percent over our projected goal at this point and on pace to reach or exceed the target of 35 million by the end of the fiscal year. In December alone, VisitSanAntonio.com accommodated more than 740,000 page views, with almost 90 percent of those being new visitors.
Our December hotel numbers showed some positive gains, particularly in comparison to the same pre-pandemic month in 2019. According to Smith Travel Research, we had 57.4 percent hotel occupancy in December, which was only 0.3 percent behind the same month in 2019 (57.6). Our average daily rate of $114.08 was 4 percent ahead of December 2019 ($109.69), while our RevPar of $65.49 was 3.7 percent ahead of two years ago ($63.16). Additionally, hotel revenues in December were more than $96.8 million, or 1.7 percent up on the same month in 2019 ($1.5 million).
For the entire calendar year, however, 2021 lagged behind 2019 in most categories. For example, occupancy totaled 59.3 percent, which was 10.1 percent behind 2019 (66.0). Average daily rate was $109.56 for the year, 2.5 percent behind 2019 ($112.38), and RevPar was $64.97, or 12.4 percent behind the total two years ago ($74.14).
The above referenced is the reason we implemented our “Gap Strategy Analysis” in late 2021 to drive short-term demand for you, our members and partners. With the addition of our Director of Market Strategy and utilizing leading industry reporting, our strategy team proactively targets dates for short-term leisure and group opportunities. We partnered with Expedia and its owned brands (Expedia, Hotels.com, VRBO and Orbitz) to push dates that were identified as need dates in San Antonio over the holiday. The effort generated 1,700 additional room nights, representing $415,000 in room night revenue and a $21-to-$1 return on investment. We have continued with the Gap Strategy and this investment in 2022.
In order to increase demand from our most valuable international market, Visit San Antonio was fortunate to take part in our first media mission to Mexico in two years. The three-day trip to Mexico City included interviews, meetings and events that resulted in comprehensive media coverage of San Antonio as a must-see destination. This included appointments with top tour operators, Price Travel and Aeromexico.
Just before Christmas, we held our annual Tamale Lifts in Dallas, Austin, Houston and here at home. A high point in Dallas and Austin was the participation of San Antonio’s poet laureate, Andrea “Vocab” Sanderson, in bringing the holiday spirit to those important markets.
Closer to home in recent weeks, we have been delighted to see the return of sizable meetings such as the International Association of Fairs and Expositions, as well as the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium, at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center. Our community’s commitment to safety is being highlighted in videos I taped this month to be used for incoming groups.
Also in December, we were pleased to welcome the James Beard Foundation for its inaugural event in our city. Called “Taste America: San Antonio,” it was held at the new Dashi Sichuan Kitchen + Bar and featured a collaboration between Dashi’s team of Chefs, Kristina Zhao and Jian Li, and Chef Johnny Hernandez. We were grateful to have Mayor Ron Nirenberg and First Lady Erika Prosper on hand to showcase our destination to representatives of the James Beard Foundation and social media influencers who experienced our impressive culinary scene. I am very excited to announce the James Beard Foundation will continue their new and thriving partnership with Visit San Antonio and will hold a Taste America in our city in 2022! Dates and location to be announced soon.
As we look forward, we anticipate our marketing efforts will continue to be bolstered by our San Antonio Tourism Public Improvement District, which is expected to provide more than $7 million in revenue assessments for FY22. This month, Avinash Bhakta, President of ABH Hospitality Management, took over as the SATPID Board Chairman, replacing original Chair Henry Feldman. Our thanks to Henry for his wonderful leadership and service.
A significant development in the coming month is the introduction of our revamped membership program, which allows businesses and annual events of all types to partner with Visit San Antonio and afford opportunities to better promote their efforts through our powerful website and influential social media platforms. There are several membership tiers to meet your unique needs. To become a member, or if you have questions, please contact our new Director of Membership, Cynthia Coss, at Cynthia.Coss@visitsanantonio.com and 210-244-2032.
Please take some time and explore this month’s Executive Summary, including reports from each of our divisions. We welcome your feedback.
Thank you again for your collaboration with Visit San Antonio. Together, we will continue to showcase the power of recovery.
With warm regards,
President & CEO
Visit San Antonio