New Year, New Name for Dallas' Tourism Agency

DALLAS – (Dec. 1, 2016) – The Dallas Convention & Visitors Bureau is now VisitDallas, announced President and CEO Phillip J. Jones at the organization's Annual Meeting on Dec. 1. The announcement came after Jones spoke of the changing state of the tourism industry in Dallas and the impact those changes have had on the organization's strategic plan.

"Dallas is catching on, and we must discover the social currency and triggers that will make Dallas a must-visit destination," Jones said. "We are within reach, but we have more work to do. This is an exciting time for Dallas as the product and brand continue to grow and evolve, and our name should, too."

The new name, VisitDallas, better represents the city's growing attraction as a leisure destination, not only as a city for business meetings and conventions. The name was unveiled with a new logo that plays off the organization's existing brand equity while adding color and movement.

"It's so much easier to say.  It means so much more to our customers. It tells our story better and maintains the brand equity we have all worked so hard to grow.  And it represents the welcoming, polished, vibrant and sophisticated city that we are today," Jones said. "It's an invitation!"

Jones announced another exciting change in the organization's strategic plan, the creation of a Customer Experience department led by a new Chief Experience Officer (CXO), the first such position in the country at a destination marketing organization.  

"We needed to create a renewed, reenergized and resounding focus on making our organization the best in the business by creating the highest level of customer experience, both on the meetings and conventions side and for our leisure travelers, too," Jones said. "We want our customer service to be recognized as superior to other destinations."

The CXO will provide strategic direction and operational leadership to the organization's customer service teams that currently include Client Services, Strategic Alliances and Visitor Information.

VisitDallas also announced 2015-2016 successes at the meeting, including record room night bookings for future years. Additional highlights included recognition of the outgoing and incoming Board of Directors and presentation of the Lavonne Rea Award for outstanding customer service in the hospitality industry.

Last year, 25.7 million people visited Dallas for a total economic impact of $7.6 billion. As a result, the tourism industry supports one out of every 20 jobs in the area. International visitation continues to grow, last year accounting for 2.59 million visitors to the Dallas area.

"Dallas now has a brand – Big Things Happen Here – and our marketing dollars and efforts have worked, making more and more people aware of Dallas as a destination," Jones said. "That branding is the reason tourism has significantly increased over the past four years, both domestically and internationally. International travel to Dallas was up 33 percent last year; the second-highest increase of any city in the United States."

The VisitDallas sales team booked more than 2.05 million future room nights in the 2015-2016 fiscal year, a record for the organization, and includes 36 citywide bookings.

"Dallas has low labor costs, is centrally located and easy to get to from either coast with two beautiful airports, and our room rates are competitive. We have a good business story to show and tell," Jones said.

Looking ahead, 2017 holds more exciting growth for VisitDallas and the city. Dozens of new hotel rooms will be added to the city through new construction and conversions and renovations of existing properties.

During Thursday's meeting, Maricela Moore, of Maricela Moore Law, was appointed as VisitDallas' 2016-2017 Chairman of the Board of Directors.

"Our Board of Directors, representing diverse members of the industry and community, plays a vital role in the success of VisitDallas," Jones said. "They provide valuable insight to the organization while helping drive more economic impact to Dallas through tourism, meetings and conventions."

Additionally, Julie Wong of The Ritz-Carlton, Dallas, was awarded the 14th Annual Lavonne Rea Exceptional Customer Service Award. Lavonne Rea, a long-time VisitDallas employee who retired after 26 years, was committed to the mission of selling Dallas as the ideal destination. Now, her namesake award celebrates someone who exhibits outstanding service and commitment in the hospitality sector.

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