Anne LeClair has served as President and CEO of the San Mateo County/Silicon Valley Convention & Visitors Bureau for 19 years. Prior to assuming that position, she was a vice president of the California Chamber of Commerce, serving as liaison to large companies in the state. A graduate of Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service and the US Chamber’s Institute for Organization Management program at Stanford, Anne has served as an officer or Board member for numerous organizations, including the Western Institute for Organization Management, Visit California and Peninsula TV.
The LeClair Story —
When we moved to San Mateo County years ago, we did it because it was the most beautiful place we could imagine to raise a family. With the area’s beaches, endless outdoor activities, easy access to top sports teams like the San Francisco Giants, San Francisco 49ers and Stanford Cardinal, and a sunny, safe environment, we fell in love with the area. We reminded ourselves daily of how lucky we were to live here.
When the CEO position became open, I immediately pursued it, as it was (and is) my dream job. As an association executive with a love of marketing and a passion for the area, it was a perfect fit and I’ve never looked back. The hospitality professionals here know how lucky we are to be here and our enthusiasm is immediately apparent to visitors. We all work together as ambassadors for San Mateo County/Silicon Valley and love to share it.
You wake up in the morning — what’s the driving passion?
Promoting and sharing an area I consider paradise is my driving passion. There is incredible joy in helping others to discover our incredible destination.
San Mateo is part of The Bay Area — how is its identity separate and unique?
While we have quick access to San Francisco via mass transit, we have unique characteristics. We have incredible scenic beauty, from giant Redwoods to the Pacific Ocean on one side and San Francisco Bay on the other, the convenience of San Francisco International Airport in our midst, abundant sunshine, “everything California” except snow sports.
The US Open will be coming to Pebble Beach this June — what impact will that event have on the immediate San Mateo area?
Since Pebble Beach is only an hour and a half drive south, we anticipate that many travelers will want to experience our area, Pebble and San Francisco, which staying in our area will allow them to do. Many visitors will want to stay in our area and take scenic Highway One along the coast to get to Pebble in order to soak in the world class views.
For those interested in golf what specific options are either in or nearby to San Mateo?
Half Moon Bay Golf Links has two world class courses: the Links course and the Ocean course. Locals like to point out that playing there offers a view of the Pacific from all of the holes. In addition, we have TPC Harding Park, a public course that will host the 2020 PGA Tournament, as well as a possible Steph Curry PGA event in 2021, the private Olympic Club, which will be home to the US Women’s Open in 2021, Lake Merced Golf Club, which will host the LPGA’s Mediheal tournament in 2019, 2020 and 2021, and the Crystal Springs Golf Course, an Audubon award winning course overlooking the beautiful Crystal Springs Reservoir. Additional public courses include the newly redesigned Palo Alto Municipal Golf Course and Poplar Creek Golf Course.
The biggest challenge facing the area is what?
There can be some rush hour traffic, but mass transit makes getting around easy. We have Caltrain running north-south along our peninsula and BART circling the Bay.
The most underappreciated aspect when coming to San Mateo is what?
The incredible scenic beauty! People hear Silicon Valley and think “high tech” and high rises. While visitors love heading to the Facebook sign to take pictures, they are surprised to discover our gorgeous open space areas, which comprise over 70% of San Mateo County.
For those coming to the area this year — what’s new and worthy of their attention?
This November will mark the 250th anniversary of the discovery of San Francisco Bay by Juan dePortola. There are three different ways to hike to the point the expedition reached in 1769 and the views are spectacular. Numerous tributes are planned for the event and the many sacrifices of the Ohlone tribe members who guided and helped the explorers.
How do you solicit and measure feedback from those coming to the area?
We do periodic formal research, but rely a great deal on social media feedback and how many visitors return to our website. We know that the first time people come to our area, it is because of the easy access to San Francisco. When they return, it is because of our area’s amazing beauty.
What key trends are you seeing with today’s up and coming Millennial generation?
A desire for more selfie spots — e.g. the Facebook sign, bike racks at Google, more community table layouts in the hotels and restaurants, keyless entry to hotel rooms, phone check in for hotel rooms, a desire for specialty cocktails.
On the visitor side — not counting Californians — where are those arriving coming from?
Boston, New York and Chicago are key feeder cities in the US. Outside of the US, we are seeing many visitors from China, India, the UK, South Korea, Canada, Germany, France and Japan.
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