Destination US

Boasting diversity that rivals many other destinations, the US continues to develop its product and surprise visitors. Natalie Hami reports.

A destination that has been catapulted into the limelight for countless reasons; the US will forever draw curious visitors to its shores from across the pond. For anyone that has yet to take that epic journey, it may be hard to dispel the more iconic images, such as that of the Statue of Liberty, those palm-tree lined boulevards of Beverly Hills and the dizzyingly-high buildings of New York City.

Indeed, the US continues to develop and evolve its tourism product beyond these world-famous sights, being led by Brand USA, which spearheaded the nation’s first global marketing effort to promote the US as a premier travel destination.

IBTM 2018

This year, Brand USA is focusing heavily on its Great Outdoors as well as the culinary experiences to be had throughout the destination.

Meanwhile, both the East and West coast comprise of major projects spanning the sectors of shopping, art, infrastructure and hospitality.
According to senior vice president, global tourism development, NYC & Company, Makiko Matsuda Healy, New York City has seen unprecedented growth and developments in all sectors, including hotels, attractions and retail.

“New York City has the most active hotel development pipeline in the country, with more than 103,000 hotel rooms currently and an expected 113,000 rooms by year-end. By 2018, New York City will be home to 124,000 hotel rooms, ranging from luxury, to boutique and select service. This means New York City is more accessible than ever to visitors of all budgets and preferences,” Healy exclusively told TTG.

On the cultural front recent openings include the new Whitney Museum of Art, the One World Observatory; as well as new retail locations such as the recently-opened Brookfield Place and upcoming Westfield WTC in Lower Manhattan.

Crossing over to the West coast, visitors to the polar opposite of New York will not be disappointed. A spokesperson from Los Angeles Tourism and Convention Bureau spoke to TTG about the major developments underway, which are set to have a positive domino effect on its tourism product.

Los Angeles is expected to welcome several new developments Downtown including The Broad, a spectacular new museum of contemporary art set to open on September 20; an observation deck at the US Bank Tower; and The Bloc, a new shopping destination. Furthermore, the Metro Expo Line, which currently runs from Downtown Los Angeles to Culver City, will add seven stations to extend to Santa Monica, serving popular tourist destinations along the Westside. The project is to reach completion in early 2016.

EXPANDING HORIZONS

Alongside these strategic and advantageous developments taking place across the US, it has also become clear that industry stakeholders have begun to heavily focus on certain markets such as MENA.

As such, tourism bodies have started to not only put in place certain facilities for this unique market, but have initiated special training of its staff, placing an emphasis on education.

General manager, InterContinental Los Angeles Century City, Steve Choe revealed to TTG that the hotel is continually working to expand its presence in the Middle East and is looking forward to catering to guests from this region with amenities and comforts while away from home.

“Over the years, we have discovered that the best way to market the hotel to Middle Eastern travellers is the ‘word of mouth’ approach. If you make them happy and comfortable and provide excellent service, they will spread the word.”

Director of sales and marketing, St. Regis San Francisco, Lilian Wagner told TTG that as the hotel hosts many delegations and families from the Middle East on an annual basis, there are Arabic speaking butlers and other key staff.

However, going above and beyond by consolidating its commitment to international markets via the creation of a hospitality employee training programme is Caesars Entertainment, offering Las Vegas style hospitality.

A spokesperson for and on behalf of Discover the World – Middle East, Caesars Entertainment International told TTG that the hotel operation department has created a language pamphlet guide for its team members to greet anyone visiting from a foreign nation. In the guide, each common word or phrase is listed in English and in various foreign languages, followed by a phonetic pronunciation, which helps team members to properly welcome international guests.

And from the bright lights of Las Vegas to the distinct cityscape of New York, director of marketing and communications, Trump SoHo New York, Nicole Murano explained to TTG how the property is committed to the needs of the unique MENA market. “Our ongoing sales and marketing efforts will aim to drive awareness of Trump SoHo’s location and amenities that matter to the Middle Eastern market, such as our large suites, including eight penthouses that offer privacy on the hotel’s top floors.”

Stakeholders are spreading their wings and are making all the right moves to ensure unique markets, such as MENA, undoubtedly feel welcome.