by Kaylee Hultgren | November 01, 2008

NYC & Co.'s George Fertitta
NYC & Company, the convention and visitors bureau of New York City, is combining the marketing efforts of its tourism and convention departments, with the intent to grow its meetings and conventions business. As part of the plan, efforts are being made to increase lines of communication with city hotels, and new international markets will be pursued by targeting the bureau’s 18 global offices.

Among changes at the bureau: Fred Dixon, previously senior vice president of tourism development, will now serve as senior vice president of convention and tourism development. Along with vice president of convention development Jerry Cito, Dixon will work with the bureau’s international offices to promote both leisure and business travel to New York.

According to George Fertitta, CEO of NYC & Com­pany, “We wanted to create a well-integrated organization by combining the sales efforts. Having Fred coming from both sides makes it efficient.”

Fertitta noted that business in New York is up across the board. “Overall visitation, occupancy and ADR [average daily rate] are all at an all-time high,” he said. But at the same time, he added, the city’s high capacity levels are such that “we miss last-minute opportunities for meetings. It’s both an advantage and a disadvantage for us.”

To help solve the problem, Fertitta is launching an effort to work more closely with hotels. “We’re looking to be much more responsive to their needs, more so than in the past,” he said. To that end, NYC & Company has established a more robust board of directors, will double the total number of welcome desks at hotels and convention centers, and will provide new e-marketing tools for planners on its website,

Of primary focus will be shorter-stay groups of 150 people or less. “Now we have all the tools in place to make that happen,” said Fertitta. To lure more of these groups from overseas, the bureau will have a stronger presence at shows held outside of the United States, such as IMEX and EIBTM, and will be hosting familiarization trips to attract incentive business from the U.K. and Germany, the bureau’s top two overseas markets.