January 17, 2017

VISIT PHILADELPHIA Reports Record Leisure Tourism in 2016; Plans for 2017

Philadelphia's Tourism Marketing Group's 2016 Successes & 2017 Stories

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The Schuylkill Banks Boardwalk after dark offers visitors a breathtaking nighttime skyline view. Photo by J. Fusco for VISIT PHILADELPHIA®
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At today’s VISIT PHILADELPHIA® New Year’s Breakfast, the destination marketing organization released record 2016 hotel numbers for Center City Philadelphia and announced upcoming marketing initiatives, including a new virtual-reality and 360-degree video and photo experience on visitphilly.com; new With Love, Philadelphia XOXO® ads for winter; year two for Philadelphia’s Historic District campaign; and a perks-packed, limited-time-only Visit Philly Overnight Hotel Package.

2016: A Record Year:

In 2016, Center City Philadelphia hotels are projected to have hit:

  • Record occupancy – 78%
    -3.2 million hotel room nights
  • Record leisure room nights – 1 million for the first time in Philadelphia’s history
    -294% increase since 1997, when leisure accounted for just 254,000 room nights
  • Record Saturday night occupancy – 88%
    -Tying 2015’s record
    -Busiest night of the week in 2016
    -A record 37 Saturdays hit 90% or higher occupancy in 2016(Source: CBRE Hotels)

Hotel Market Mix:

Here is the Center City hotel projected market mix breakdown:

  • Individual leisure: 32%
  • Commercial: 31%
  • Group & Convention: 33%
  • Airlines & Government: 4%

    (Source: CBRE Hotels)

According to the market mix, about 1 in every 3 hotel guests was a leisure traveler. In 1997, when VISIT PHILADELPHIA began marketing the city as a leisure destination, leisure travelers accounted for just 14% of hotel room nights.

Record Web Visitation: visitphilly.com & uwishunu.com:

Combined, visitphilly.com and uwishunu.com hit a record 20 million visits in 2016—that’s more than 1.5 million visitors per month. Annual web visitation has more than doubled since 2012. (Source: Google Analytics)

Also last year, visitphilly.com and uwishunu.com sent 4 million organic (unpaid) clicks to partner websites. (Source: Google Analytics) People were so interested in what they were reading and seeing that they clicked over to museum, attraction, tour, restaurant and other websites to find out more information and plan their visits.

New 360-Degree Photo, Video & Virtual Reality Experience:

Visitors to visitphilly.com will soon be able to tour Philadelphia before they arrive. In late January, the site will debut immersive, 360-degree photography and video with virtual-reality capabilities. These high-tech visual assets showcase the city in a new way and spotlight more than two dozen legendary sites and attractions—more than half of which are in Philadelphia’s Historic District.

  • To capture the footage, VISIT PHILADELPHIA worked with YouVisit, a world leader in this field and the creator of more than 1,000 virtual experiences for destinations such as Paris and New York. According to Business Insider, virtual reality is expected to be a $30 billion industry by 2020.

Social Media: Leveraging Live Video:

VISIT PHILADELPHIA delved deeply into live video in 2016, taking to four different platforms (Snapchat, Facebook Live, Periscope and Instagram Stories) to preview events, exhibits and festivals. The goal? To get people excited about these happenings and spur them to visit, spend money and even stay over. In all, the social media team produced 141 videos, resulting in:

  • More than 5 million views on Snapchat
  • 234,000+ views on Facebook Live
  • 36,000+ likes on Periscope

Brand Campaign: With Love, Philadelphia XOXO®:

VISIT PHILADELPHIA’s With Love, Philadelphia XOXO returns for its winter run, January 9 through March 26, 2017. The majority of the ad buy appears out of market—mostly in the New York and northern New Jersey DMA, which accounts for the largest visitor feeder market at 22%. For the first time since 2012, the campaign is expanding its reach to the Washington, DC area to build awareness of Philadelphia as a great drive destination for history, culinary delights, culture and fun. Placements include messages on the external screens at the Verizon Center—the home arena of DC’s NHL and NBA teams—reaching 2.8 million monthly commuters.

The With Love campaign marries creative lines that capture the Philadelphia experience with arresting photography. A sample of the new lines being used this season:

  • An evening in heels calls for a night in PJ’s.
  • We were into Hamilton before it was cool.
  • Handwarmers? We call them cheesesteaks.
  • Head south for the winter. (New York/New Jersey only)
  • All in favor of a long weekend in Philly say “Yay.” (DC only)
  • We’re always ready to represent. (DC only)

A sample of the lines for the new Joint Marketing Partner ads:

  • The closest you will ever come to living dinosaurs. (The Franklin Institute)
  • Respect the tutu. (Pennsylvania Ballet)
  • Just the crescendo your date night needs. (The Philadelphia Orchestra)

In addition, VISIT PHILADELPHIA’s long-running campaigns to invite African-American, Latino and LGBT travelers to visit are getting major refreshes this year thanks to recently completed research studies for each market.

Winter’s More Fun When You Sleep Over:

The biggest version of the Visit Philly Overnight Hotel Package to date debuted in November 2016, and in December alone, hotels sold 80% more packages than they did in the same month in 2015. To date, more than 1,900 packages have been consumed for this season’s unprecedented deal.

Available at 38 hotels through March 19, 2017 (while supplies last), the offer includes:

  • Free hotel parking
  • Two untimed tickets to Jurassic World: The Exhibition at The Franklin Institute
  • Admission and ice skate rentals for two at Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest
  • One $20 gift card for use at any of chef Jose Garces’ restaurants in Philadelphia
  • A code from Uber good for one free ride valued up to $10 for new and existing customers
  • From January 28 to February 5, 2017 only, two tickets to the Philadelphia Auto Show

The package is bookable at visitphilly.com/overnight.

Philadelphia’s Historic District:

VISIT PHILADELPHIA’s Historic District campaign returns in 2016 for year two beginning in April—thanks in part to generous grants from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s Department of Community and Economic Development, Lenfest and The Pew Charitable Trusts. To help drive visitation to and around the area from the Delaware River to 7th Street and Vine to Lombard Streets, VISIT PHILADELPHIA will:

  • Host four Historic District celebrations—one each season
  • Sponsor the Wawa Welcome America Block Party, which will take place over two days this year
  • Launch a collaborative multi-site art project with local influencer Conrad Benner
  • Promote the area through advertising, media relations, social media, web and content efforts

20 Major Happenings In 2017:

1. American Watercolor in the Age of Homer and Sargent, Philadelphia Museum of Art, March 1-May 14, 2017
2. 40th Anniversary Celebrations, African American Museum in Philadelphia, March-August 2017
3. 20 Years as Philadelphia’s Garden District, Chestnut Hill Business District, April-September 4, 2017
4. Museum of the American Revolution Grand Opening, April 19, 2017
5. NFL Draft, April 27-29, 2017
6. Penn Relays Carnival, April 27-29, 2017
7. Philly Tech Week, April 28-May 6, 2017
8. Main Fountain Garden Returns, Longwood Gardens, May 27, 2017
9. 50 Unique Experiences in Fairmount Park, Fairmount Park Conservancy, Spring 2017
10. LEGOLAND® Discovery Center Grand Opening, Spring 2017
11. ODUNDE, June 11, 2017
12. Andrew Wyeth: In Retrospect, Brandywine River Museum of Art, June 24-September 17, 2017
13. Wawa Welcome America!, June 29-July 4, 2017
14. LOVE Park Re-opening, Summer 2017
15. O17, Opera Philadelphia, September 14-25, 2017
16. Fireflies, Association for Public Art, September 15-October 8, 2017 (tentative end date)
17. Terracotta Warriors of the First Emperor, The Franklin Institute, September 30, 2017-March 4, 2018
18. Revolutions, entertainment complex, now open
19. Renovated Bucks County Playhouse, now open
20. Independence Seaport Museum, new exhibits and programs

VISIT PHILADELPHIA® is our name and our mission. As the region’s official tourism marketing agency, we build Greater Philadelphia’s image, drive visitation and boost the economy.

On Greater Philadelphia’s official visitor website and blog, visitphilly.com and uwishunu.com, visitors can explore things to do, upcoming events, themed itineraries and hotel packages. Compelling photography and videos, interactive maps and detailed visitor information make the sites effective trip-planning tools. Along with Visit Philly social media channels, the online platforms communicate directly with consumers. Travelers can also call and stop into the Independence Visitor Center for additional information and tickets.