By Dr. Honora Norton
The Rotary Club of Scottsdale welcomed Rotarian Rachel Sacco, president and chief executive officer of Experience Scottsdale, as its keynote speaker at its recent hybrid meeting held via Zoom and an on-site luncheon meeting at The McCormick Scottsdale.
Sacco joined the Scottsdale Area Chamber of Commerce in 1986 to lead its tourism division, which became the convention and visitors bureau in 1987. In 2001, Experience Scottsdale was formed to become a stand-alone nonprofit with Sacco as its first president and CEO.
Sacco has been inducted into Scottsdale History Hall of Fame, the ASU College of Public Programs’ Alumni Chapter Hall of Fame, the Arizona Governor’s Tourism Hall of Fame and the Arizona Culinary Hall of Fame. She has been named one of the “50 Most Influential Women” by Arizona Business Magazine, and Corporate & Incentive Travel Magazine has recognized her as one of the most successful women leading destination offices in the United States.
Sacco has been recognized for her community service and leadership in the city, as she was awarded the Rotary Club of Scottsdale’s Corporate Club Member Service Above Self Award and Scottsdale Leadership’s Drinkwater Leadership Award. Sacco is a national board member for the U.S. Travel Association and sits on the Arizona Lodging & Tourism Associations executive committee.
During her talk, Sacco noted that Experience Scottsdale has a vision to:
ν Establish Scottsdale as a year-round luxury travel destination for meetings, events and leisure travel.
ν Build a team of productive, positive people who are passionate about Scottsdale, its businesses, its residents and its visitors.
ν Execute business strategies that work in tandem with the city of Scottsdale and town of Paradise Valley leaders and staff along with more than 400 hospitality and tourism partners to grow the tourism industry, to administer private and public-sector revenue via membership dues, bed-tax collection and state of Arizona, Prop. 302 dollars.
ν Create a “Scottsdale brand” that invites those who visit Scottsdale to make return visits, start businesses, go to college, rent/purchase vacation homes, live and/or work in Scottsdale.
Per Sacco during 2019, 11 million people visited Scottsdale, resulting in $3.3 billion economic impact, $54.7 million in tax collections and 27,000 jobs directly attributable to tourism. The tax collection revenue supports Scottsdale’s fire, police and public services and has contributed to many city projects, such as Museum of the West and Scottsdale Stadium upgrades.
Sacco provided attendees with an overview of tourism numbers:
ν Resort 2019-20 performance and 2020-21 forecast comparisons of occupancy levels, daily rates and room revenues.
ν Average domestic leisure visitor statistics: 50.3 years old average age; 3.5 nights average length of stay; $272 average per person expenditures; 73% overnight stays in a hotel/resort/motel/B&B; and 43% visiting friends/relatives.
ν Average luxury visitor statistics: 53.5 years old median age; $246,900 median household income; 2.5 nights average length of stay; $628 average daily on-property expenditures and 53% visited the city previously.
ν The top U.S. revenue-producing markets include Chicago, New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Denver, Seattle, Dallas, Minneapolis, Boston, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia and Detroit.
ν 1.7 million international visitors came to Scottsdale in 2019: 3.8 million Mexican, close to 1 million Canadian, 133,000-plus Germany, 124,000-plus U.K. and 108,000-plus France.
Sacco noted the Scottsdale tourism and hospitality community has developed a recovery plan and is following stringent public health practices to minimize the risk of COVID-19 and help ensure safety, cleanliness, distancing, masking, sanitation and enjoyment. It is expected that Scottsdale tourism will achieve full recovery by 2023-24.
Club President Richard Signeski welcomed new members/Rotarians Jason Stage and Allen Schneider. Additionally, Rotarians PJ Wolff and JD Mowlds presented plans for the club’s upcoming nine-hole golf afternoon socials/fundraisers.