Meet Puerto Rico: Meetings & Conventions Business Up Despite Zika
SAN JUAN – Puerto Rico’s group business closes off what has come to be known as the initial Zika period (March to May) with 57 newly booked events, conferences, annual meetings and sports activities through 2017, representing a total direct spend of potentially $20.4 million into the local economy, Milton Segarra, president & CEO of Meet Puerto Rico (MPR-Puerto Rico Convention Bureau) announced.
Meet Puerto Rico is the destination marketing organization (DMO) responsible for attracting meetings, conventions, trade shows, sporting events and incentive groups to Puerto Rico.
During the upcoming summer months of June, July and August, Meet Puerto Rico will host 42 groups for a total of approximately 40,000 room nights worth some $32 million. These groups range from conferences and events to religious and sports organizations to communications and insurance companies. In addition, Meet Puerto Rico said it is actively generating 260 new leads, up from 242 for the same time last year – a 7% increase – as well as 100 new accounts for the destination.
“The groups and conventions segment in Puerto Rico is a major driver in the tourism industry and we are proud to say that Zika has not won. Groups booked range from multinational companies, to medical, educational conferences and sporting events, among others. An estimated 25,000 new hotel-room nights in total have been booked,” Segarra said.
“This shows the confidence the meetings industry has in Puerto Rico and how [MPR and its members’] very focused educational efforts have paid off,” Segarra continued, referring to the hotel industry, restaurants, transportation companies, local destination marketing companies, venues and attractions, as well as the support of the Puerto Rico Tourism Co. (PRTC) and the Puerto Rico Hotel and Tourism Association (PRHTA.)
“When the Zika situation hit, we immediately put into action a strong meeting professional/attendee-centered strategy that included a fact-driven education and communication program addressing the concerns of our clients,” Segarra remarked. “We listened to them and provided the most accurate and up-to-date information on Puerto Rico concerning Zika and it paid off. As a result, our clients trusted us, our team in the field and our members. Through statements and Question and Answer documents backed up by facts and figures by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, World Health Organization and the Puerto Rico Health Department; video and print testimonials from clients hosting events in Puerto Rico in real time; and easy to read infographics with myth-buster facts we kept the lines of communication open, transparent and honest. And all of that was shared with our members, so they could answer their clients’ questions, too. This was a team effort and we could not have achieved these positive results without them. And we continue developing new business opportunities to Puerto Rico and for our members.”
One in four rooms occupied in local hotels that can accommodate large-scale meetings belongs to the groups and conventions segment, according to the organization.