Josh Herman serves as Regional Director of Marketing for KSL Resorts, a unique collection of destination Golf, Spa, and Ski Resorts, where he has multiple property marketing oversight. KSL Resorts holdings include Hotel del Coronado, La Costa Resort and Spa, Rancho Las Palmas Resort & Spa, Montelucia Resort & Spa, The Homestead and Grove Park Inn. Part of Josh’s responsibility is at Rancho Las Palmas Resort & Spa where he directs and manages all aspects of marketing, branding and communications. He guided the resort to become the area leader in leisure market share in an extremely competitive market. Josh lives with his family in Palm Springs.
Josh, we met through our advertising partnership with PalmSprings.com and I’ve always been impressed with your professionalism and insight. I’m intrigued by your title at KSL Resorts–what does it mean to be the Regional Director of Marketing for such an exclusive and geographically diverse group of properties?
Thanks, Kate. It really means I drive Highway 10 a lot! Actually, KSL gave me a great opportunity to apply some of the successes we’ve had at Rancho Las Palmas to other properties. The most interesting part to me is to see the ebb and flow of markets that geographically aren’t very far apart, but in terms of visitor growth and decline can vary tremendously.
You’re originally from the East Coast–New Jersey, right?–and went to college in Maryland. What brought you to California, and specifically Palm Springs?
Correct, and in a lot of ways am still an East Coast person at heart. We moved to California to see another part of the country since my wife and I had spent most of our lives in the Washington, D.C. area. We had talked about the idea of moving, and I remember calling her and saying I have an opportunity to move to a great company in Palm Springs, and she said “Great, I love Florida, lets go!” Ha! Certainly shows you what people on the East coast know about Palm Springs, but once she realized I meant California, she was even more excited and we called the movers.
Josh, you’ve spearheaded some impressive efforts with Rancho Las Palmas Resort & Spa’s relaunch and repositioning following a $40MM renovation and expansion. What challenges did you face and how did you overcome them?
Our biggest challenge was taking a brand that had a long-standing image in the market and trying to quickly change it and attract new customers. We set about some extensive renovations after acquiring the resort and tried to turn a product that ran a very high occupancy at a very low rate into a product that could consistently attract customers willing to spend more. We probably lost some customers initially, but ultimately, we built a product and service experience that customers believe is worth the money.
What unique opportunities for hotels and resorts do you see in the current market, and how can tourism professionals–along with the City and industry organizations–best take advantage of them?
It’s an interesting time in the hospitality market. After several years where we were all hanging on and hoping to simply be flat to the year before, we’re seeing some really strong growth again. As a marketer, there are more ways than ever to communicate with people. Now is absolutely the time to be aggressive, seek out new customers and embrace the ones you already have.
Working in tourism at the level that you do, you must have your finger on the pulse of civic events and issues affecting Palm Springs! What upcoming Palm Springs area project or event are you most excited about?
It’s certainly exciting to hear that hotels, resorts, restaurants and retail outlets are investing money in both improvements and new developments, but I’d point to the overall direction our valley is going rather than individual products. I’m really excited about the direction Scott White and the Greater Palm Springs CVA team are headed in terms of changing perceptions about our overall brand and trying to attract the next generation of visitors. I ‘m also incredibly enthusiastic about the work our team at the airport has done–we’ve seen great growth from partners like Westjet and new flights and connectivity this year from Virgin. While we’re fortunate to have terrific drive-in traffic, ultimately our future will be determined by our airport, and I like what I’ve been seeing.
Yes, the new Virgin flights are an incredible boon for Palm Springs. Josh, how do you spend your free time? I know you’re a dedicated husband and father–please tell us how your family spends a typical weekend.
My life has certainly changed the past couple years. As I said we moved to California to explore and travel, and my wife was pregnant almost the second she got off the plane! Traveling as much as I do I spend a lot of my weekend with my kids–swimming, activities, etc.
Josh Herman, please share with us some of your family’s favorite restaurants, shops, and activities to enjoy in Palm Springs.
People don’t usually think of the Valley as a place for family activities, but there are a lot of great, unique events in town. From polo, to golf and tennis tournaments, to different events like golf cart parades and a variety of festivals, we try to expose our kids to lots of new and unique experiences, and there are certainly many of those here in town.
Thank you so much for talking with me today, Josh, and sharing your experience with us!