Feedback: June 2017

by Dick Bates | Geoffrey Gray | Craig Jackson | Munira Smith

Question: What are you doing now to attract business among tourists that is different from what you were doing 10 years ago, and why?

Dick Bates

General Manager
Arizona Biltmore Golf Club
Sector: Golf

The golf business continues to evolve, and marketing to visitors has changed as well. Ten years ago, we were dependent on third-party advertising vehicles to get our message and brand in front of potential customers. We ran ads in national and regional golf publications and had varying degrees of success. Today, the Arizona Biltmore Golf Club has a much more targeted approach. Through social media and other digital assets, we’re able to specifically market to golfers in our feeder markets and, more precisely, to golfers who travel to Phoenix/Scottsdale.

In addition, thanks to upgrades in software, our tracking of past customers has improved. We’re now doing a better job of communicating with past guests. Whether it’s through player surveys, bounce-back offers or email messaging, we’re regularly reaching out to past guests.

One thing that hasn’t changed over my 37 years in the golf business is the need to provide guests with a quality and consistent product while providing top-notch service. If we deliver quality and consistency out on the golf course, guests tend to return.


After an eight-year professional baseball career with the Washington Senators and Seattle Pilots, Dick Bates hung up his cleats and glove and began a career in golf management. Bates has more than 37 years of golf course management experience, having worked at Camelback Golf Club in the 1970s and the Arizona Biltmore Golf Club for more than 28 years as general manager.


Geoffrey Gray

General Manager
Royal Palms Resort and Spa
Sector: Hospitality

Over the past 10 years, the team at Royal Palms has continued to curate exceptional experiences as travelers now expect unique, share-worthy opportunities instead of traditional hotel amenities. In years past, for example, the event planner’s primary focus was availability and rates, whereas now, the decision factors have shifted, relying on the ability of the resort to share and ideate personalized options for groups and travelers.

The Royal Palms is fortunate to have a rich history, inviting guests to step back in time. Incredibly unique event spaces are found throughout the property, including the popular Orange Grove, where trees more than 100 years old still bear fruit and the scent of neroli lingers in the air while guests dine al fresco. Royal Palms has played host (and still does) to the stars, and guests can walk in the steps of the Hollywood’s Golden Age with winding stone paths, trickling fountains, outdoor fireplaces and 100-year-old rustic doorways. In the end, visitors seek to write their own stories. Our place in history provides the setting for that story, and our job is to share the extraordinary possibilities.

Geoffrey Gray began his hospitality career as director of rooms at The Statler Hotel at Cornell University. Most recently, he served as general manager of Hyatt Centric Park City, and, in 2013, Gray was the executive director of rooms for the opening of Andaz Maui at Wailea Resort.


Craig Jackson

Chairman and CEO
Barrett-Jackson Auction Company
Sector: Collector Car Auctions

Having been in business for more than 46 years now, Barrett-Jackson has developed into a strong global brand, and we are honored that many people regard attending one of our four auctions around the country as a “bucket-list” item. Many plan trips to attend our Scottsdale event in particular, sometimes years in advance.

One of the biggest changes we’ve made in the last 10 years has been to grow our social media presence. While 10 years ago people largely got their information from print media, they now rely more on social media to keep up to date on everything. We have also added more lifestyle and interactive elements to our auctions, such as a “second-screen” experience at the new Shell Pennzoil Pioneering Performance Stage and a DIY Pavilion where guests can watch automotive projects come to life before their eyes. It is important for us to appeal to every member of the family and also to begin building brand loyalty at a younger age, so new generations are attracted to the collector car hobby.

Barrett-Jackson Chairman and CEO Craig Jackson is honored to be at the helm of a family-owned company founded by his father, Russ Jackson, and Tom Barrett in 1971. Jackson has been named twice to Motor Trend’s Top 50 Power List in the automotive industry, and has also captured the coveted Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award (Business Services category, Arizona/Orange County region).


Munira Smith

Director of Marketing
Arizona Mills, A Simon Company
Sector: Retail

We work closely with the Tempe Convention & Visitors Bureau to promote Arizona Mills to the Northern Mexico drive market during peak shopping seasons. In Mexico, we advertise in grocery stores, luxury magazines and on billboards, plus we host radio station giveaways. We also work with an organization in Mexico called Descubre Phoenix that promotes the Phoenix market in Northern Mexico. Our partnership with the Arizona Office of Tourism, which hosts Arizona Showcase annually in Northern Mexico, provides us excellent exposure to high-society ladies from Hermosillo with an interest in fashion. We host familiarization tours with tour operators from Canada and the UK.

Domestically, we announce new stores, amenities and events to the thousands of Tempe-area visitors through public relations and social media outreach. We partner with local hotels and resorts to create compelling packages around our entertainment destinations for visiting families. We are creating a summer event series for families that will be promoted via local resorts and hotels. Our goal is to position Arizona Mills as the premier shopping and entertainment destination for the entire family.

Munira Smith is the director of marketing for Arizona Mills, the largest outlet and value retail shopping destination in Arizona, and has responsibility for marketing programs and retailer, community and public relations. She previously worked at several shopping centers throughout the Valley, and her 15 years’ marketing experience encompasses expertise in events, business development, national and local marketing campaigns, sales driving programs, digital, social media and more. 

Speak Your Mind

In Business Dailies

Sign up for a complimentary year of In Business Dailies with a bonus Digital Subscription of In Business Magazine delivered to your inbox each month!

  • Get the day’s Top Stories
  • Relevant In-depth Articles
  • Daily Offers
  • Coming Events