PALM SPRINGS — Palm Springs International Airport, which boasted a record year of serving more than 2.3 million passengers in 2018, could soon have its own marketing person, City Manager David H. Ready told Uken Report.

The Airport currently uses the Greater Palm Springs Convention (CVB) and Visitors Bureau and the Palm Springs Bureau of Tourism to market the international destination.

David Ready

Palm Springs City Manager David H. Ready

“The City Council is also considering adding a new ‘marketing position’ for the Airport – at the recommendation of the Airport Commission,” Ready said.

Ready’s announcement comes as a prominent Cathedral City businessman and at least one member of the City Council express concern regarding how Cathedral City is marketed, or more importantly, not marketed. Cathedral City is the second largest city in the Coachella Valley. It is also home to a significant LGBTQ population.

The concerns about Cathedral City being snubbed surfaced during a recent City Council Study Session. Richard Altman, a member of the Airport Commission, gave a rather unsettling report to Councilors about his service on the board. Altman owns CCBC Resort Hotel,. At 3.5 acres, it is the largest clothing-optional gay men’s resort in Southern California.

He began by talking about his unfulfilling service on the Airport Commission, then told the City Council how Cathedral City, his business, and the LGBTQ population is being snubbed.

Airport Could Get Its Own Marketing Director

Richard Altman

“It’s a strange committee to be on since it’s controlled all by Palm Springs,” Altman told the City Council. “We sit there and just say, ‘yes,’ because everything is pre-planned by them. … Their budget this year is over $30 million. They make money. It’s a positive thing for the city of Palm Springs. …. We vote. But basically the agenda it put out by Palm Springs and there’s really no input from us.”

The biggest problem, Altman said, is that Airport does not market Cathedral City. Instead, he said, they market “down Valley,” catering to Rancho Mirage, Indian Wells, other Valley cities.

He made clear he does not fault the Airport, but the CVB because it does most of the marketing.

“They don’t market Cathedral City in general,” Altman said. He added that any Transient Occupancy Tax  the city pays “doesn’t benefit” the city. “We have a very small voice.”

Airport Could Get Its Own Marketing Director

Councilmember Ernesto Gutierrez

Councilmember Ernesto Gutierrez, who serves as the City Council’s liaison to the CVB, said he shares Altman’s concerns. Gutierrez said he will bring Altman’s concerns to Scott White’s attention. White is the director of the CVB.

Gutierrez said that as an Airport Commissioner, Altman also may reach out to White.

The Greater Palm Springs CVB promotes the Coachella valley as one, Gutierrez said.  Individual businesses can advertise themselves on the Greater Palm Springs Convention & Visitors Bureau website for free.  Businesses can promote any summer specials or events that they might be offering — all at no cost to the business owner.

“In recent presentations by the Greater Palm Springs CVB, they appear to be fair in promoting all cities,” Gutierrez said, taking a measured approach.

As for Airport Commission meetings that Altman described as rubberstamp, Ready provided context.

The Palm Springs International Airport Commission – is made up of members from the city of Palm Springs and other valley cities. All are chosen by their City Councils’ and approved by the Palm Springs City Council.  The Commission is advisory to the Palm Springs City Council, Ready said.

Monthly meetings of the Airport Commission include agenda items that will be on upcoming City Council Meetings. The Airport Commission may choose to make a recommendation.  Additionally, the meetings update the Commission Members on administrative activities – and discussion of policies.  There are also several Commission Sub-Committees that work with staff to bring recommendations back to the full Airport Commission (e.g. budget sub-committee, marketing sub-committee).

Altman said he recently got on the marketing sub-committee.

Airport Commission members are also free to raise any issue at the meetings and request information from staff and suggest action by the Commission, Ready said.

Image Sources

  • David H. Ready: City of Palm Springs
  • Richard Altman: The Blunt Show
  • Ernesto Gutierrez: City of Cathedral City
  • Palm Springs International Airport: YouTube