Convention bureau narrows search for new leader
'It's not just about promoting Livermore wineries and the restaurants in Pleasanton'
The Tri-Valley Convention and Visitors Bureau is hoping to name a new president and CEO by the end of February, following the ousting of Grant Raeside late last year.
Raeside resigned from his position as president and chief executive officer effective Sept. 10, with no notice to the media.
Tom David, a member of the bureau's executive board and general manager of the San Ramon Marriott Hotel, said a third-party search firm was hired to screen potential candidates.
"I believe we're down to five or six and we're conducting interviews next Wednesday and Thursday with the hope of narrowing it down to one or two, which would then be presented to the executive committee of the board," David said last week.
Faye Cater, manager of special events at the Alameda County Fairgrounds and a member of the CVB board, said the bureau wants someone who can speak to everyone from hoteliers to vintners.
Beyond that, she said, "We really wanted somebody with hospitality experience, and a good financial background and some sort of board experience."
The CVB is looking for someone with sales and marketing experience as well, she said. "The role of the CVB is to increase room nights (hotel stays). We want somebody who knows what that means."
Whoever's hired will pay more attention to San Ramon, David said.
"I honestly think that's the direction of the entire committee and the executive board, that they're well aware of Sam Ramon, which has spoken with a loud voice," he said. "First and foremost, their goal is to drive room nights into the Tri-Valley. It's not just about promoting Livermore wineries and the restaurants in Pleasanton."
The additional focus on San Ramon came in part when David sent a letter to San Ramon Economic Development Director Marc Fontes suggesting that it pull out of the TVCVB.
"During my two years of involvement on the Tri-Valley CVB Board of Directors, I cannot recall any specific promotional activities, other than an occasional listing on their website, to market a San Ramon Hotel, community event or other business in the city," David wrote in the May 1 letter.
Acting on the letter, San Ramon's City Council voted 5-0 in a May 8 resolution to send a letter to the bureau's board of directors, asking it to "redirect the Tourism Business Improvement District fees generated by San Ramon hotels ... so that those funds may be better utilized to promote and market hotel stays in San Ramon."
San Ramon hotels generated nearly $404,000 to the CVB for 2010-11 and an estimated half million dollars in 2011-12, more than 21% of all the rooms to which the fee applies.
The city's five-year contract with the CVB was renewed in 2010. That left the city with three years' obligation to provide the visitors bureau with funds generated by San Ramon hotels.
Raeside served as president and CEO of the Convention and Visitors Bureau for 10 months. He was appointed in late 2011.
A statement posted on the CVB website says that Raeside "is leaving to pursue other avenues."
Raeside was the second CEO that left with little notice.
The position was vacant for much of 2011 after Amy Blaschka, the TVCVB's longtime executive director, resigned "to pursue other interests" in early 2001 -- and without explanation.