Tourism Improvement District. The name conjures big cities, full of attractions, nightlife, restaurants, and of course, tourists. Perhaps San Francisco, New York, or Miami. There are, however, nearly 100 tourism improvement districts in California alone. Although it is the nation’s most populous state, surely there are not 100 San Franciscos.
Many tourism improvement districts are formed in areas that may not, at first glance, appear to be a tourism destination. One such example is Concord, California, located in San Francisco’s East Bay Area. Given its population of 125,000 and proximity to large and well-known tourism destinations like San Francisco, Oakland, and Napa Valley, Concord faced the challenge of making a name for itself as a tourist destination. This challenge made the city an excellent candidate to form and greatly benefit from a tourism improvement district.
In fact, it is cities like Concord, who without intervention could be overshadowed by larger destinations, that can see the greatest benefit from tourism improvement districts. With nine hotels offering 1,300 rooms and 75,000 square feet of meeting space, Concord provides an affordable, accessible alternative to other Bay Area locations for meetings, events, and leisure travelers. Plus, Concord boasts convenient access to Mount Diablo – a 3,849-foot peak and state park offering a scenic playground for hikers, bikers, and nature lovers – making the city an ideal option for visitors looking to see the sights of San Francisco and experience the great outdoors in one trip.
Recognizing their city’s appeal, as well as the potential for increasing occupancy and revenue, management at Concord’s nine hotels agreed to work together to promote the area. On June 1, 2013, the Concord Tourism Improvement District (TID) was created.
Hoteliers hit the ground running once the Concord TID was formed. A new nonprofit, Visit Concord, was created and the Board got to work. Since its creation in 2013, Visit Concord’s tourism revenue has increased by 24 percent and average occupancy rates have increased by 17 percent.
Concord TID hotel meeting spaces have become desirable event destinations and regularly host business groups and associations. Lodging businesses within the Concord TID have meeting spaces available to host local, regional, national, and international level sized groups.
Visit Concord recently formalized an Official Media Partnership with SportStars, California’s largest youth-sports media company. Visit Concord’s Executive Director, Elaine Schroth has been on a mission to ensure the City is recognized as a hub for travel and tournament play. This focus has led to increased room night bookings by 85 percent for sports teams from 2015 to 2017 with promotion to regional and nations sports tournaments. Over 1,000 rooms have been booked through TID programs and initiatives since the inception of the program.
In its initial year, the TID collected $685,000. By its third year, collections reached nearly $1.2 million, almost double the initial revenue projections. Visit Concord boasts over 10,000 social media followers that currently drive website visits and increase awareness of Concord as a desired California destination. The Visit Concord results set a wonderful example of the efficacy of tourism improvement districts.