Facing Up to Labor Woes

M&C Talks With New Head of San Francisco CVB

Joe DJoe D’Alessandro, outgoing president and CEO of the Portland Oregon Visitors Association, takes over as new president and CEO of the San Francisco Convention and Visitors Bureau this month, replacing John A. Marks, who retired after 19 years at the helm.

What convinced you to leave Portland?
That was a tough one. I love Portland; I love this job. But the opportunity of San Francisco was compelling.

What new challenges will you face in your new city?
San Francisco is a lot bigger, the convention and meetings industry is a lot bigger, the market is bigger. But I think the competitive challenges are similar.

What are your thoughts about the possible repeat of a UNITE HERE strike?
I need to get a lot more information about this, but it’s going to have an impact, and it continues to be a cloud over San Francisco and other cities, frankly. It’s something the bureau will be in the middle of, assisting clients to make it as unproblematic as possible.

San Francisco has lost some business due to labor issues. What does the city need to do to get that business back?
We have to prove to our clients and customers that they made the right choice, that the city is the right place to host their trade shows and meetings.

In July, you’ll be splitting your time between Portland and San Francisco. How will you handle running two bureaus at the same time?
I need to make sure the transition in Portland is as smooth as possible. I’ve been here a long time and care a lot about the city, the staff, the clients and the stakeholders. I can’t afford to leave them in a lurch. During July, I’ll commute a lot, but I need to make sure my successor in Portland is stepping into a positive situation.