Prevue asked John Reyes, San Francisco Travel Association’s EVP & Chief Customer Officer, Convention Sales & Services, his thoughts on the concept of affordable luxury.
Q: It has been said that the new standard of luxury is now somewhat more experiential than just a few years ago. Do you agree?
A: I think Jan Smits, the CEO of InterContinental Hotels Group for Asia/Australasia frames it best. He said, “The concept of luxury itself has shifted. It’s no longer all about being extravagant, especially not after the economic downturn, but more about delivering enriching experiences beyond our guests’ expectations.”
So yes, I do agree. Smits’ quote supports the new luxury definition as a global concept, whether a group or individual is visiting us here in San Francisco or the Australasia region.
Q: What are some “wow” attributes in your destination?
A: We have significant destination appeal with the Golden Gate Bridge, our cable cars and great neighborhoods.
We also have great food. We are one of America’s top cities when it comes to dining well. San Francisco was voted one of Lonely Planet’s Top 10 Best Value Destinations for 2012 and the readers of Condé Nast Traveler have voted San Francisco the #1 city to visit in the United States for 18 consecutive years. San Francisco was also featured in Epicurious, where they called us “arguably the best food city in America.”
Q: For high-end groups, what are some of their priorities for 2012?
A: The planner needs to demonstrate value and return on investment for their high-end group meetings to their company. They need to choose a destination that understands the business of their meeting and provides them with a sophisticated service infrastructure that wows high-end group meeting attendees. San Francisco has experienced supplier companies that are very adept at changing their product and service offering in order to offer new and unique experiences. High-end groups are assured that San Francisco suppliers can meet their unique expectations and requirements.
Q: How do you respond to those priorities?
A: San Francisco responds very well. With the upcoming America’s Cup 2013, we are seeing an interest from groups wanting to take advantage of being on the water and experiencing their own America’s Cup-style events. San Francisco’s suppliers are responding by providing new water experiences that offer teambuilding activities with the San Francisco Bay, the Golden Gate Bridge, The Bay Bridge and Alcatraz offering world-famous backdrops.
Also, suppliers are leveraging San Francisco’s famous restaurant reputation by offering creative dinearounds to some of our Michelin Award-winning restaurants.