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June 9, 2011     Beverly Hills Weekly
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June 9, 2011
 

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coverstory The Weekly's interview with incoming Conference and Visitors Bureau Chair Bill Wiley By Melanie Anderson Bill Wiley will take over as Chair of the CVB on July 1. Wiley has been the general manager of Two Rodeo since 2007. What is the CVB? It is the marketing arm of the city of Beverly Hills. Our goal is to bring visitors to our city to stay here, to dine here, to shop here, to want to come back and visit and also, when we say visitors, it's our local community as well. CVB has a special relationship with the local residents here. They're really our best and most important customers. How did you get involved with the CVB? I've been involved a little more than two years. When the CVB was initially formed,  previously it was under the management of the Beverly Hills Chamber of Commerce and when it was split off, it became an independent non-profit agency. The execu- five "director at the time invited several dif- ferent business peoPle in the community to become a board member. I was one of the people that was asked. Where are most of Beverly Hills' domes- tic and international tourists coming from? Domestically, we have a majority coming right from Beverly Hills, Bel Air, Brentwood, and the surrounding areas. We get a good deal of customers, certainly a lot of people that travel in California that are local visi- tors, too. Our strategy is multipronged; it includes our local audience, as well as our California audience. Generally people who take trips in California take trips within the state. They'll come for a long weekend. We have our national market. A lot of people who come to California come from New York, and Dallas and Houston, Texas. Internationally, we're seeing more and more people--the visa restrictions have changed--coming from China. [They're] very important customers for us. We also see more customers coming from South Korea [because of] the visa changes that allow easier travel to the United States. Japanese tourists have been and continue to be very intportant customers of ours. We have [had] a lot of customers come to us from Australia this year. Beverly Hills is a worldwide destination. A lot of it depends on the time of year. During the summer we see more people from the Middle East. Is summer the busiest time of year for tourism in Beverly Hills? We really see tourism year-round. Different people tend to take their vacations at different times, but if you walk down the street you'll hear so many different lan- guages. It's really terrific. What is the status of the new visitors center? The city.is constructing the building at 9400 Santa Monica Boulevard and the base building is just getting under construction now. The plan is for them to complete that in February of next year and we expect to have the visitors center open about four months from the time that we get it, to build out the visitors center and the CVB offices. We're in the process of doing the space planning. What will the visitors center look like? What it will look like is to be determined. What its functions are we can talk about. The office component of it is where the different team members and staff work and execute the strategic plan that we've set up for the CVB, and the front of the house is the visitors center. When people come to Beverly Hills, this will be the first place that they'll want to stop at to find out what's going on, to purchase Beverly Hills branded merchandise, everything from where do I stay, where do I eat, where should I shop, what's going on, what are the cultural events going on? It will be right across from the [Wallis] Annenberg [Center for the Performing Arts], so that's another great plus for it. We envision this as a place where visitors are going to want to come whenever they stop in Beverly Hills because they'll be able to find out all the great things the city has to offer. Do you have a current visitors center where tourists can get information? The current CVB offices that they share with the Chamber perform that function now. We expect [the new center] to be much more up to Beverly Hills' standards and expectations of really having a place that reflects the image of the City. The Rodeo Drive Concours d'elegance is coming up on June 19. Tell us about that. This year is going to be very special. The theme this year is the Art of Italian Motoring and it's the 150th anniversary of the uni- fication of Italy, We're celebrating Italian motorcars and Italian food. The cars that will be on the street will be some kind of tie- in with Italy. Fiat's one of our big sponsors. They're going to be unveiling the Fiat 500. We expect to see many beautiful cars from Italy. We're actually even working on right now having a 36-foot gondola on the street. I think this year is going to be spectacular. How will the CVB be involved with this year's Taste event? We're just getting started in getting involved in that now, so we definitely want to see this be a successful event, an event that reflects well of the city. Certainly, [we'll be involved with] promotion. We also want to make sure that the concerns of the businesses as well as of residents of having a big event on our main street are addressed as well, How does the CVB interact with city council and staff?. Our liaison is [Councilmember] John Mirisch and Vice Mayor Dr. Willie Brien, so we interact with them on a fairly regular basis, but certainly in my role and Julie [Wagner's] role, we want to be available any time anyone from the city council or city staff wants to meet with us [about] their vision for the CVB and goals they feel are important. We want to make sure that we're hitting the priorities that the city's elected officials envision for the marketing of the city. At the city staff level, the city manag- er's office is principally where our interac- tion is, and it depends on what the initiative is. We talk to [Deputy City Manager] Cheryl Friedling, [Assistant City Manager] Mahdi Aluzri, and [Deputy City Manager] David Lightner. Principally, we've been talking to them about ongoing business, our work plan and our budget. Do you think it was a good move for the CVB to split from the Chamber of Commerce? I wasn't involved with the CVB when it was part of the Chamber so it's hard for me to compare the two. I can tell you we're just looking forward now, we're not look- ing back at whether it was better. I think in many senses it's better because we have some of the best people in the business and marketing community involved in the orga- nization. That makes it special. We've got a great staff at the CVB that is dedicated and works extremely hard. I'm very happy to be a part of it quite frankly. How does the CVB work with the Chamber of Commerce and the Rodeo Drive Committee? With the Chamber of Commerce there's tie-ins where we want to attract and retain businesses in the city. One of our big strategies is supporting signature events and developing events and supporting city- funded events. These are things that are very good for business. The hotels are a huge economic engine for the city. [We're] work- ing closely to bring people to stay in the hotels so that when they're here to be aware of what's going on, what restaurants to dine in, stores to shop in. The CVB just launched a new website [www.lovebeverlyhills.com]. There's an opportunity there for so many businesses in Beverly Hills to participate, to have their information there and to make it a kind of one-stop website for booking your hotel, finding out what's going on, where to dine. We've really expanded quite a bit and in the coming year we'll be expanding it even further. Are you looking forward to working regularly with Chamber President Bruce Schulman and Rodeo Drive Committee Chair Tom Blumenthai? I see Tom all the time. I don't ki.ow Bruce that well, [since] he's new to that position. I've known Tom Blumenthal from RDC because he's been chair for the last two years there. I'm a member of the Chamber, so I talk to people at the Chamber all the time. I'm also on the EDC [Economic Development Council]. How do you feel about the CVB's deci- sion to let go the official ambassador Gregg Donovan? i think it was time for a change. I think really the new ways that we're looking at doing this is with the visitors center and a stronger online presence. I think it's a more up-to-date way of getting out the word and assisting our visitors that come to the city. Will the CVB be hiring a permanent - executive director any time soon? I think Julie [Wagner's] the fight candi- date for the permanent executive director position. She was the marketing director, so it's a great natural fit for her to migrate into that position. It's a marketing organiza- tion and Julie has more than 20 years in the luxury and hospitality marketing business, so she is a great find for us. She is extremely dedicated [and a] very hard worker. I really enjoy working with Julie. Tell us about your responsibilities as general manager of Two Rodeo. I'm responsible for the marketing, leas- Page 8 Beverly Hills Weekly