San Francisco Travel Association chairman John Cope on steering The City's largest industry

John Cope (Joseph Schell/Special to The Examiner)

John Cope (Joseph Schell/Special to The Examiner)

After an extensive career in hotel management, the Sacramento native and president and managing director of Nob Hill Properties was named chairman of the San Francisco Travel Association for this fiscal year.

What does it mean to you to be installed as the Travel Association chairman?
It actually means a lot to me. First off, it means a lot when people in The City put their trust in you, which is great because there are a lot of people to choose from for this position. But selfishly, it also gives me an opportunity to work with all the different industries in San Francisco — and not just the hotel industry. We get used to that. But to work with hotels, restaurants, all the attractions, transportation companies and commercial enterprises that make up S.F. Travel … is fun.

How will your leadership experience with Nob Hill Properties aid you as chair?
I think every chairman brings something unique from their area. In my particular case, for the last 35 years being at the Huntington [Hotel], I just had my feet nailed to the pavement in San Francisco. Being here in The City and running a family operation, it’s not one of those things where you got here three years ago. So I’ve kind of seen everything that’s happened for nearly four decades.

What are your goals as chair?
I don’t have any set goals that I came in with saying, “These are the things I want to accomplish.” We have a rolling, four-year strategic plan. It’s pretty comprehensive. It goes through what areas S.F. Travel wants to grow. It’s been done through the years and I just want to continue growing the strategic plan as it goes.

What do you see as your biggest responsibility being that San Francisco is a well-known hotbed for tourists?
The whole idea of S.F. Travel is to get people into The City and hopefully fill hotels and restaurants and have those dollars rebound around to all the attractions and right down to the taxi driver. We’ve always had God-given terrain that people want to see. But in saying that, this is a really, really competitive world now. All you have to do is pick up a magazine and you’ll see ads for every city in the United States and every location worldwide. We might have a little bit of a heads-up in the sense that we have a wonderful place to visit, but you still have to work hard in getting people here.

Can you tell us a little bit about your background?
I was born and raised in Sacramento and we were actually in the restaurant business there. I went to the University of Oregon — I’m a Duck — and I got a degree in urban planning. I came back down to Sacramento … then a few things in our family happened and I was asked to come down and run some of our family’s property. It was something I wasn’t going to do, but I ended up doing anyway. That was 35 years ago, and that worked out pretty well.


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