From Front Desk to Vice President: Letty’s Journey in Hospitality Excellence

Letty Canizalez’s journey in the tourism and hospitality industry has been nothing short of remarkable. Inspired by her father’s deep commitment to providing exceptional service at Anthony’s Fish Grotto on San Diego’s Embarcadero, Letty sought to create her own path in this vibrant field from a young age. 

“Hospitality is not just a word for our family. It’s a way of life,” Letty said. “I call my parents on the way home from work and my dad is always excited to hear about my day. They know how hard I work because this industry is as fulfilling for me as it was for him.”

Rising Through the Ranks 

Beginning her career as a front desk agent at the age of 18, Letty’s passion for her work propelled her through the ranks. She ultimately earned the position of Director of Sales at the iconic Hard Rock Hotel, one of San Diego’s premier properties. 

Reflecting on her journey, Letty is grateful for the opportunity to lead the sales team by working hard, taking chances and leveraging the support of her family, fellow colleagues and great mentors. “As Director of Sales, it’s so fulfilling to become the person helping others succeed and grow in their careers,” she said. 

Inspiring Excellence and Shaping the Future 

Now, Letty has begun another remarkable chapter in her story by joining the San Diego Tourism Authority as its newly appointed Vice President of Sales. With an impressive tourism career spanning 25+ years, she’s bringing invaluable knowledge and expertise to lead high-performing sales, catering and event teams. 

In this role, Letty spearheads the SDTA’s group sales efforts, providing crucial support to the team by helping cultivate strong relationships with hotel partners. Her dedication to creating exceptional experiences for hotel guests aligns with the SDTA’s mission to showcase the best of San Diego to visitors year-round.  

Letty is excited to help further enhance San Diego’s position as a premier tourist destination, showcasing the city’s unique charm and hospitality for the world to see. Her success story serves as an inspiration to other aspiring travel professionals and underscores the rewarding opportunities tourism offers to the vibrant community of San Diego. 

 

Remembering Founding Board Chair C. Terry Brown

Terry Brown led the San Diego Tourism Marketing District as its first board chair and continuously served as a director until his passing in July 2023. In September 2023, our board elected to recognize his lasting legacy to the SDTMD by conferring Terry with the Director Emeritus title ensuring that his enormous contributions are permanently memorialized.

Please take a moment to read the remembrances and tributes from those who worked closely with Terry on the San Diego Tourism Marketing District board.

The Foremost Legacy Hotelier

Tourism in San Diego would not be where it is today without the long service and enormous contributions of our late vice-chairman and founding board member C. Terry Brown.

Through his thoughtful and steady stewardship of tourism marketing grants, Terry helped maintain a healthy local tourism industry and supported many thousands of local livelihoods and career opportunities. We are so honored that he gave so much of his time and caring to our industry. Terry has also been a generous champion of the next generation of San Diego hospitality leaders through his philanthropic support of SDSU’s Hospitality and Tourism Management program. And, as president and CEO of Atlas Hotels, Terry’s impact has been equally impressive. Under his leadership, the Town and Country evolved from a modest motor inn to a thriving resort and conference center providing employment and careers to so many San Diegan hospitality professionals as well as happy memories for visitors.

Even prior to the SDMTD, Terry was involved in the formation of so many events and attractions that we all take for granted today, from the Holiday Bowl to the USS Midway Museum.

Terry has been a beloved member of our board since its 2008 inception, mentoring many of us throughout the years. As our first board chair, serving in that capacity for many years, we have all relied upon his wisdom, leadership and vision for these past 15 years. In spite all of his accomplishments, Terry was always humble, modest and understated. He served because he cared and was truly passionate about hospitality, tourism and San Diego.

Terry was the foremost legacy hotelier in San Diego for over 50 years. Our sincerest condolences go out to Terry’s family, all of his friends and many industry colleagues during this sad time. He will be deeply missed.

 

 

Richard Bartell
Board Chair & President, Bartell Hotels

A Generous Leader

I met Terry shortly after moving to San Diego in 1991 to open the Hyatt Regency San Diego (now the Manchester Grand Hyatt). As someone coming to open a new competing convention hotel I wasn’t sure of the reception I would receive when I first met Terry. Not surprisingly he saw the new hotel as another step in furthering the growth of tourism in San Diego. That to me was the essence of Terry. “What can I do to better the industry?’’ was ingrained in his DNA. His approach was to always put self-benefit aside for the betterment of the industry as a whole.

His vocal support for the original Convention Center, the initial expansion and proposed future expansion are great examples. No longer the HQ hotel for large conventions he none the less was always a driving force in ensuring San Diego had the infrastructure to accommodate tourism and the hundreds of millions of dollars that flow to San Diego annually. Although Terry’s business was frequently not the primary beneficiary from the many initiatives he passionately supported, if it was good for Tourism and in turn the community, he as was all in.

Looking back to the mid 2000’s it was time to make a bold move to ensure San Diego Tourism marketing was continually funded. Terry was a driver helping to create what would become the engine powering San Diego’s third largest economic contributor. San Diego’s Tourism Marketing District achieved first mover advantage over the competition. Terry then led the organization for many years as Board Chair. His impact on the economic benefit to San Diego is in the billions of dollars.

Thanks to Terry and the other founding fathers, our TMD model has been widely replicated across the country. More than 10 years after its founding it was the driver for to San Diego to emerge from COVID with funding to market our destination when others did not have the resources to do so. As a result, our market recovered faster, widely outperformed the competition and accelerated the recovery of an industry decimated by COVID.

Quite simply Terry devoted his professional life to making San Diego Tourism better for everyone in our community. As a community we are better for having him play a major role in driving the benefits of tourism to our destination.

 

 

Scott Hermes
SDTMD Director & San Diego Hotelier/Consultant

The Architect of the SDTMD

I recall feeling quite intimidated before meeting with Terry the first time. He was a hotel legend and I was a relatively new GM hoping to join the TMD Board. Rather than intimidating, I found the exact opposite. He was understated, kind, always spot on with his insights and had a great sense of humor. San Diego’s hotel industry owes so much to Terry for his tremendous commitment. He was the architect of the SDTMD and put Mission Valley on the map. He will be sorely missed.

 

 

 

 

Colleen Anderson
Executive Director SDTMD

One of the Great Giants of the Industry

Founder, passionate, community, and leader are a few words that come to mind when I hear the name Terry Brown. His dedication to the lodging industry, its people and expanding its impact will be felt for generations to come. He was always willing to be there when needed and personally sat with me as a mentor. He will forever be one of the great giants in our industry and he will be sorely missed.

 

 

 

 

Elvin Lai
CEO & President, Ocean Park Inn

How to Get Your Event Funded in San Diego

One way to get event funding in San Diego is with a tourism marketing grant from the San Diego Tourism Marketing District.

Every year, the SDTMD collects an assessment on each hotel room night at its member hotels creating a pool of funds for marketing events or supporting programs throughout the year that bring more overnight visitors to stay in district hotels.  

Events and programs that the SDTMD has funded in the current fiscal year include sporting events like the national amateur tennis championships or the San Diego Crew Classic as well as cultural events like the San Diego Bay Food + Wine Festival. Yours could be next!

In this article, you’ll find great tips to help you secure event funding in San Diego:

  1. Checklist on how to get event funding
  2. Steps to submitting a funding application
  3. Application tips and workshop details
  4. Why should you get event funding in San Diego?

Let’s dive in:

How to Get Event Funding in San Diego: Checklist

Think your event might be a suitable candidate? Great! Here’s a checklist for securing event funding in San Diego with a SDTMD grant:

  1. Is your event in the City of San Diego?
    The district’s boundaries are the City of San Diego. So, only events that drive visitors to the City of San Diego and the district’s member hotels, which are those with 70 rooms or more, will be considered.
  2. Will a marketing grant increase the number of overnight visitors in the District’s hotels?
    Be creative. Could you add a second or third night to an event to give attendees or participants a reason to spend the night? Would your event potentially be larger and attract more overnight guests if you had some assistance with the marketing budget and the ability to get the word out?
  3. Is your promising event new and needs some assistance to get it launched?
    Assuming it’s intended to be an annual event, it may be suitable for a grant application from the SDTMD. In the past, the SDTMD has helped incubate ambitious events that have evolved to become signature events for San Diego from Kaboo to Wonderfront and the Holiday Bowl to Breeder’s Cup.
  4. Are you confident that an investment in your event marketing or marketing program could drive major room night bookings?
    The SDTMD measures the return on investment from each grant measuring incremental room night revenue from each event funded. Check out our past annual reports to learn about our ROI measures and performance.

Next Step: Submit an Application to Get Event Funding   

The SDTMD awards grant funding each year to applicants who can demonstrate the ability to generate incremental room night stays at TMD assessed hotels and a measurable return on investment (ROI) on TMD dollars. The typical time like looks like this:

  1. October — General Application Available
  2. October — Application Workshops (all applicants encouraged to attend)
  3. November — Applications Due
  4. January — Applicant presentations at SDTMD Board Meeting
  5. March — Funding decisions made at SDTMD Board Meeting
  6. April/May — TMD presents budget for City Council approval
  7. June — TMD issues contracts

The San Diego Tourism Marketing District will begin accepting applications for Fiscal Year 2025 funding beginning October 11, 2023 via our online submission system.

Applications are due by 5 p.m. on Friday, November 17, 2023. Applications received after the deadline will not be accepted for annual funding requests.

Click here to learn more and start your application.

Helpful Funding Application Tips: Attend an Application Workshop

SDTMD strongly recommends that all applicants attend one of its workshops prior to completing the application. What you’ll get:

  • An overview of the application process
  • Insight on criteria used to select events for funding
  • An introduction to the online submission system
  • Q&A opportunity with financial and tourism marketing measurement experts

Virtual workshops will be held on Wednesday, October 11 at 10 a.m. and Friday, October 13 at 1 p.m. Register in advance by emailing Executive Director Colleen Anderson.

Why Should You Get Your Event Funded?

Hotels with 70 rooms or more within the City of San Diego are assessed a two percent fee on each room night. SDTMD uses these dollars to support the marketing and promotional efforts of a variety of programs, services and special events that help increase room night sales. How does this help?

It helps the local San Diego economy

Aside from San Diego’s great weather, food, people and culture, having your event in the city helps the local economy.

San Diego’s economy depends on tourism. It helps create thousands of jobs for our residents, billions in economic activity for our businesses, and millions in hotel taxes for the city. Visitor spending supports jobs for residents and results in important tax revenues for the City to support services that make San Diego such a great place to live, work and visit.

It helps improve the City

Having fun and diverse events creates a buzz that brings more out of town visitors to the City.

Moreover, guests who stay multiple nights in San Diego create a ripple effect with their dollars spent, impacting not only lodging businesses, but multiple other commercial entities, including restaurants, entertainment, transportation and shopping retailers.

This also includes public safety, road repair and other City services that are funded through taxes collected by the City on hotel room nights.

RELATED: Why TMDs Work

For more details on application guidelines, types and supplemental funding information, visit our application page.

Learn more about the San Diego Tourism Marketing District here.

 

SDTMD Awards a Record $52.5 Million in Annual Grants to Sustain Tourism’s Recovery

San Diego Tourism Marketing District (SDTMD) has allocated $52.5 million in funding for marketing programs and events over the next 12 months to continue attracting tourists and increasing local hotel occupancy.  

SDTMD’s funding allocation for the 2024 financial year, which begins July 1, is the largest in the organization’s 15-year history, surpassing the $48 million available in the 2020 financial year which was later cut short due to the pandemic. This year’s high-water mark results from a very strong tourism rebound in the City of San Diego over the past 12 months. 

“Our TMD board provides reliable and critical financial support for a great cross-section of effective marketing programs and exciting events that attract out of town visitors to San Diego while driving increased hotel occupancy,” said SDTMD Board Chair Richard Bartell. “The industry’s recovery last year exceeded expectations, but growth is beginning to level off and these funds will be vital to keep San Diego among the top destinations in its market.” 

The SDTMD is self-funded through a small assessment on room nights in City of San Diego hotels with 70 rooms or more. The proceeds are designated for tourism marketing to help increase overnight hotel stays. Overnight visitors generate transient occupancy tax, or TOT, which helps fund city services, and tourism supports thousands of direct jobs while attracting billions in visitor spending to the region.  

In its 2022 financial year, SDTMD awarded $26.6 million in marketing grants that delivered a return on investment of $31 in hotel room night revenue from every $1 of grant funding invested. The 2024 financial year grants include:  

  • San Diego Tourism Authority – The City’s destination marketing organization continues to be SDTMD’s primary recipient of funding and will receive more than $50 million for strategic marketing programs.  
  • Sports San Diego – Now in its second year of operation, Sports San Diego markets San Diego to athletic tournaments and competitions, which have become a big driver of travel to San Diego. It is receiving over $1.5 million to market the San Diego Holiday Bowl, the California State Games and the Rady Children’s Invitational Men’s College Basketball Tournament by the Beach to overnight visitors and to market San Diego to attract future major athletic events. 
  • Other Events – An additional $501,000 will support several established tourism generating events and programs that have received funding previously and have yielded a strong return. Returning events include U.S. Police & Fire Championships, San Diego Crew Classic, San Diego Open, USTA Billie Jean King Girl’s 16 & 18 National Championships and the USTA League National Championships and San Diego Bay Wine and Food Festival.   

SDTMD targets events scheduled for traditionally slower travel periods for its funding. This helps to sustain steady year-round tourism. It also looks for programs that drive tourism across the city.  Additionally, SDTMD seeks to support events that give back to the local community.  

Examples of funded events featuring community programs include the San Diego Bay Food + Wine Festival’s partnership with Fast Forward Futures to support hospitality, culinary and enology arts scholarships and the San Diego Crew Classic Freedom Rows event that supports military veterans recovering from injuries, emotional trauma and PTSD. 

Collectively, the SDTMD’s grants are projected to drive approximately 5.7 million room nights to generate over $1.1 billion in room night revenue in addition to $115 million in TOT for the city. For more information, visit www.sdtmd.org. 

Event organizers around the City of San Diego are encouraged to prepare and submit grant requests in October 2023 when the SDTMD issues its next call for applications. Learn more at www.sdtmd.org/applications. 

 

About San Diego Tourism Marketing District 
The San Diego Tourism Marketing District (SDTMD) is a nonprofit, mutual-benefit corporation dedicated to improving lodging room night consumption in the City of San Diego. SDTMD provides a private, nonprofit funding vehicle to stimulate City of San Diego lodging room demand through tourism promotion, marketing and advertising programs. The judicious allocation of these resources creates a positive economic, fiscal and employment impact on lodging businesses in the City of San Diego. For more information, please visit: www.sdtmd.org 

SDTMD FY24 Funding Applications Available Oct. 14

San Diego Tourism Marketing District (SDTMD) will begin accepting applications for Fiscal Year 2024 grants on October 14, 2022. Tourism-generating events and programs occurring July 1, 2023 – June 30, 2024, that can demonstrate an increase in stays at SDTMD-assessed hotels (City of San Diego hotels with 70 rooms or more) and a measurable return on investment (ROI) are encouraged to apply. 

Interested applicants can access the application through SDTMD’s online portal at www.sdtmd.org/applications beginning October 14. Applications must be completed by 5 p.m. on Friday, November 18, 2022. 

All applicants are encouraged to attend a virtual application workshop to learn more about the process, funding criteria, and application. 

  • Workshop #1: Monday, October 17, 2022, from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. 
  • Workshop #2: Wednesday, October 19, 2022, from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. 

To register for the workshop, please email or call Executive Director Colleen Anderson.