San Francisco hires three firms to rep SFO abroad

SAN FRANCISCO: The city of San Francisco has established a pool of pre-qualified organizations to provide international strategic marketing services to promote San Francisco International Airport.

SAN FRANCISCO: The city of San Francisco has established a pool of pre-qualified organizations to provide international strategic marketing services to promote San Francisco International Airport.

The selected firms are Burson-Marsteller, Hill+Knowlton Strategies, and The San Francisco Travel Association. Their total combined budget is not to exceed $1.15 million per year, said Charles Schuler, associate deputy airport director for communications and marketing. The three-year contracts have options for additional two-year renewals.

The scope of work for the organizations includes coordinating programs with airlines, working with overseas tourism bureaus, purchasing media, and providing in-country representation. The firms may also organize international sales missions and arrange for a presence for the airport at international travel and tourism events, said Schuler.

The San Francisco Travel Association recently said the city had nearly 2.9 million international visitors last year, an increase of nearly 10% from 2010 and a nearly 30% jump compared with 2009. Key markets include Europe, China, Australia, and South America.

The international market represents nearly 20% of San Francisco's total visitors, up 2.7% compared with 2010. Overall, tourists spent $8.5 billion in the Bay Area last year.

The airport is seeking to build awareness in key international markets, noted Cheryl Heinonen, MD and market leader for Burson in San Francisco.

The airport hired the firm as its AOR earlier this year. Its three-year contract is worth $1.8 million.

A representative from the San Francisco Travel Association did not immediately return a request for comment.

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