“Pivot” became a key word at the Frisco Chamber of Commerce’s State of the City panel discussion Tuesday.
Four city representatives fielded questions from chamber president and CEO Tony Felker during the virtual event.
Visit Frisco Executive Director Marla Roe said the pandemic had been devastating for the tourism industry nationwide and worldwide.
“We went from having one of our strongest years on the books to basically 8 percent occupancy in a matter of days, which is just unheard of,” she said.
Now, “day-trippers,” which make up about 77 percent of the city’s visitors, are significant to its recovery, she said.
“They were considered the red-headed stepchild, and now, that is like the key to bringing Frisco back are those visitors that come in for the day, spend on the retail,” she said.
Roe said that before, the focus had been more on things like meetings, conventions and sporting events.
“And while those are critical for the hotels, in terms of recovery, we need those day-trippers back,” she said.
Roe also said Visit Frisco is putting a lot of focus on smaller corporate business, but they are looking at the next few years for larger business. She added that sports would be an important component.
Frisco’s recent listing as the most recession-resistant city in the country comes down to the city’s diverse economy, Mayor Jeff Cheney said.
“While tourism is a big part of our local economy, we don’t put all of our eggs in that basket where if it shut down, it really impacts our budget dramatically,” he said.
He added that the city has remained on budget for the year for sales tax revenues despite seeing dips.
“We think there’s a real opportunity here for Frisco to come out of this stronger than ever,” he said.
Economic Development Corporation Vice President Jason Ford said prospects are currently showing interest in the city.
“We’re actually seeing a healthy pipeline of prospects looking in Frisco right now, because they’re saying by the time they identify the property, procure it, design it, get the project up and open, hopefully we’re going to be past all of this,” he said.
Cheney said the city’s approach to reopening didn’t involve being “heavy handed” in telling businesses how to keep employees and customers safe.
“Our approach from the very beginning was it’s really on the business community to figure that out and to kind of figure out ‘what are your specific needs that your customer feels comfortable walking in those doors, or your employee does,’” he said. “And that has worked really well, in my opinion.”
He said the council felt the government’s role was to advocate for and assist businesses. He said customers will “vote with their feet” based on how comfortable they feel about businesses’ safety efforts.
“Our businesses were adapting immediately and already going above and beyond anything that government would ever mandate,” he said, “so why not just allow them to do what they need to do?”
In closing remarks, Cheney said the long-term outlook for Frisco’s future had not stopped.