Tour Buses on West Portal?
Probably not, but certainly tourists
The Northern California Concierge Association holds a trade show every two years in downtown San Francisco. Professional concierges from all over Northern California attend to gain more information on what’s out there so they can more effectively serve their guests.
At the last show in 2013, the West Portal Merchants Association shared a table with the Castro and Upper Market Merchants to promote our respective neighborhoods. Surprisingly, there was a great deal of buzz surrounding our table. The Castro has long been an attraction and destination for visitors but what’s a “West Portal”?
Using MUNI maps to show how West Portal was a short and safe ride away from downtown many of the local (SF) hotel concierges stopped to talk about West Portal. If nothing else it was a novelty, something new. The conversations seemed reminiscent of proud parents talking about their children. The variety of local restaurants, the retail gems, being safe and friendly and a little less hectic than other parts of SF were all mentioned in explaining the charm of a very non-touristy place, ironically to attract tourists.
At the end of the four hour show it was very clear that there was a genuine interest and intrigue surrounding West Portal. With no budget or formal plan on attracting tourist not much happened with the business cards and contacts obtained after that event. The West Portal Merchant Association is volunteer based and just doesn’t have the resources to take full advantage of these opportunities.
This type of opportunity wouldn’t slip away with a CBD in place. The executive director would serve as a reference and contact for West Portal. Marketing materials could have been prepared for not only the concierges but more importantly something that could be given directly to their clients, the tourists. The proposed CBD budget allows for taking advantage of exactly this type of opportunity.
The next trade show is on April 1st. West Portal Merchants will be there again sharing a both with the Castro Merchants.