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Tourism Authority Rolls Out ‘Yay WeekYays’ Campaign

With conventions and group meetings at a standstill due to COVID-19, the San Diego Tourism Authority is aiming to encourage vacationers to stay in San Diego hotels during the middle of the week.

The “Yay WeekYays” campaign will target locals and the rest of Southern California as well as the drive-in market like Phoenix and Tucson, Arizona. The program, launched Oct. 5 and running through Jan. 3, will suggest staying in local hotels from Sundays through Wednesdays while business travel continues to be down.

Occupancy on Weekends

“We were fortunate over the summer, to see a steady increase in occupancy on weekends, but found that the midweek business continued to lag behind, primarily due to a lack of convention and group meetings,” said Julie Coker, president and CEO of the San Diego Tourism Authority (SDTA). “This campaign will focus on the midweek and it encourages visitors to travel to San Diego during the week.”

While SDTA doesn’t have official San Diego-based partners for the “Yay WeekYays” marketing promotion, Coker said the nonprofit’s website, SanDiego.org, will include a lengthy list of local hotels with their respective lower rate packages. It will also name more than 440 attractions in San Diego, including the San Diego Zoo and Balboa Park, as well as its 31 beaches, as a way to entice travelers.

One of the local hotels highlighted on the site is the Town and Country San Diego Hotel. April Shute, general manager, said the hotel is advertising its “No Hassle Getaway,” which includes a hotel room with free parking and free Wi-Fi and no resort fees for $129 as part of the initiative.

“I think people want easy right now, so I think that is why this package is such a top seller for us,” she said. “We know weekends are fairly robust, but we still need to drive business on the weekdays. With families wanting to get out right now, particularly after being cooped up due to COVID-19, driving the leisure market is key.”

Previous Recovery Programs

SDTA has several larger media partners, including Pandora, Spotify, Facebook and Pinterest, said Coker. The campaign cost $136,700, she said, and complements the previous recovery programs. “Yay WeekYays” will be in rotation with the organization’s $18 million “Stay Diego” and $6.2 million “Happiness Is Calling You Back” recovery pushes, she said. Kicked off in June and July respectively, the two motivate residents to stay local and be tourists in their own city.

Both “Stay Diego” and “Happiness Is Calling You Back” will run through December, Coker said. She added that, thanks to the previous pushes, San Diego has been among the top performers in terms of occupancy and hotel rates when compared to other large metropolitan cities.

Coker said this is reassuring.

“We know folks can work remotely as long as there is Wi-Fi and children can do distance learning from nearly anywhere,” she said. “We have excellent weather in San Diego and great outdoor activity. We think that can add to the cultural and educational experience, which I think can ultimately augment the online experience.”

To help promote “Yay WeekYays,” SDTA will use its website as well as its social media channels and paid advertising. As part of the campaign, SDTA will also push its Safe Traveler’s Pledge, which reminds travelers that San Diego wants all its visitors and locals to be safe. To do so, it will promote social distancing and handwashing on the site and will also remind all to adhere to the CDC safety protocols.

Current State of the Marketplace

“Yay WeekYays” was formulated based on the current state of the marketplace and demand, said Coker. What California Gov. Gavin Newsom decides in terms of reopening guidelines between now and January will not only determine what direction this promotion might take, she said, but also any future marketing pushes from SDTA.

“We will see where we are with the government and reopening guidelines for meetings, and then we might go back to our core campaign, which is ‘Happiness is Calling Back,’” Coker said. “If we are opening back in terms of those other segments, then we will take this campaign and extend ‘Yay WeekYays’ past this region and go national in 2021.”

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