2019 Game Changers: Rhanee Palma, CDME, Visit Oakland

Rhanee Palma, Visit Oakland

Rhanee Palma, CDME, is vice president of sales and services at Visit Oakland in Oakland, California. As a 2019 Connect Sports Game Changer, she discusses her passion for sports tourism.

*Connect with Palma on Instagram. What I do: As a strategic business leader, my role leads the sales efforts of Visit Oakland and for our local hotel partners in building lasting, customer-focused relationships. My main objectives are to position and market Oakland as a viable destination to visit, and more importantly to host sporting events, conventions and meetings that make good business sense for my destination. How I got here: I served as director of sales for Hilton San Francisco Financial District before coming to Visit Oakland. The majority of my hospitality career was spent with Marriott International for nine years and the last position I held with the organization was leading the proactive business development efforts as the sales executive for the Oakland Marriott City Center. Within a year and a half as the director of sales with Visit Oakland, I was promoted to the vice president of sales and services after producing record breaking numbers for the organization.  Why I am a Game Changer:  Visit Oakland was able to secure the bid for the 2018 U.S. Rowing Nationals Regatta after we presented an experience that would increase registrations to Oakland, despite being over the same dates as a separate worlds regatta that was taking place for the first time in another U.S. location. We rebranded the U.S. Rowing Masters Regatta with a new logo and created specialized pixilated marketing videos that helped us gather analytics to attract visitors. We also secured a list of rowing organizations and personalized marketing collateral to attract them to register. Lastly, we curated an Oakland Rowing Week experience that involved hosting an opening reception for all race registrants and families with appearances from the U.S. Rowing Olympic team, as well as provided educational workshops facilitated by the US Olympic Rowing Team Coach. The event was the largest regatta to take place outside of Massachusetts. We surpassed the goal of 650 rowers by 137 percent, with 1,542 rowers registered and we generated $7 million in economic impact for the city. Big-time Events:  Oakland Running Festival:  For the 10th anniversary, Visit Oakland partnered in a rebranding project for the event with a new logo and new marketing collateral to attract out of town visitors from target markets to stay in Oakland hotels. In addition to strategic advertising placements, I led Visit Oakland to enter an agreement with the race organizers to utilize analytics to make data-driven decisions to target visitors from key feeder markets like Portland, Seattle and Los Angeles. By incorporating “smarketing” tactics, the Oakland Running Festival was able to fill their hotel room blocks for the first time in history and resulted in having the most out of town runner registrations coming from the Pacific Northwest. Genesis Smash Bros Tournament: Genesis is an annual international Esports tournament that Visit Oakland secured in a multi-year capacity. This last January 2019 tournament saw a 43% increase with an additional 1,500 registrations. Under my lead, Visit Oakland will take data from Genesis and partner with local airlines, online travel agencies, local vendors and hotels to fuel marketing campaigns that will attract overnight stays in Oakland for the tournament. In addition, I will be connecting Genesis with local tech organizations to generate sponsorship dollars and with local community organizations for Genesis to donate proceeds towards.  Impressive stats: Visit Oakland had a 364% increase in booked room nights that the CVB actively participated in bringing for 2018, and there was a 48-percent increase in economic impact in 2018 vs. 2017  What I do outside of work: I am the awards and recognition committee co-chair for MPI Northern California Chapter, a PCMA Northern California Board of Directors member and a volunteer speaker for career development programs with Oakland Unified School District. SportsPittsburgh