The Travel Forecast

July 28, 2022

VSCC Welcomes Four New Board Members

Visit Santa Cruz County (VSCC) recently announced the election of new members to the Board of Directors. Each member began their duties on July 1, 2022, and will sit on the 25-member Board for two-year terms.  New board members are: 

Zachary Davis, The Glass Jar

In 2009 Zachary Davis co-founded The Glass Jar, Inc., a Santa Cruz-based restaurant group focused on the nexus between sustainable food and community. As CEO of The Glass Jar, Zachary’s current brands include four locations of The Penny Ice Creamery, an ice cream manufacturing and retail business dedicated to the use of organic, locally-sourced and seasonal ingredients, and The Picnic Basket Café, in Santa Cruz’s beach area.  In 2018 The Glass Jar was selected by Senator Bill Monning to receive the Small Business of the Year Award for the 17th Senate District, and in 2014 The Glass Jar was the recipient of Business of the Year from the Santa Cruz County Chamber. Zach is a board member of the Santa Cruz Downtown Association and the Santa Cruz County Chamber of Commerce and serves on the Small Business Council of the Small Business Majority, a national small business advocacy group. Zach holds an MBA from Dominican University of California in San Rafael and a BA from the University of Washington. Zach lives in Santa Cruz County with his wife and three children.

Grant D’Entremont, The Hotel Paradox

Originally from Austin, Texas, Grant began working in the field of hospitality as a valet and grew his career within the Marriott brand.  He accepted his first General Manager job at the Fairfield Inn Austin South in 2007. Over the next several years, he served in leadership positions with a variety of Marriott properties, and in 2014 departed White Lodging, a hotel management company after 10 years of service, to pursue an Area General Manager and Asset Developer role with Austin-based Pathfinder Hospitality. While overseeing three area properties, Grant also assisted in the development and building of the Residence Inn Austin Southwest and the initial development of the Aloft Austin Southwest. He is the winner of several industry awards, including Extended Stay General Manager of the year.

In 2020 Grant was offered the opportunity to be the General Manager for the new Residence Inn by Marriott Steamboat Springs in Colorado, which began the next phase of his career in resort-based markets with Remington Hotels. After a successful opening in December 2020, the hotel continued to be a top performer for the Marriott brand and was selected as one of Forbes “Best New Ski Hotels in North America.”  When it was announced that Remington Hotels, in partnership with Barings LLC, would be managing the Hotel Paradox, an Autograph Collection by Marriott in Santa Cruz, in June 2021, Grant was selected to lead the transition and accepted the position of General Manager. The Hotel Paradox will begin an extensive renovation of all meeting spaces, public areas, pool space, dining facilities, and guest rooms at the end of 2022, and Grant will guide this landmark property into its next iteration.

Grant is an avid outdoorsman and enjoys mountain biking, golfing, skiing, hiking, and camping. He has participated on various boards and lodging associations throughout his career and has been involved in a variety of charitable endeavors to benefit the communities in which he has lived. 

Bijal Patel, Redwood Hospitality

Bijal Patel is CEO of Coast Redwood Hospitality, a 44-year-old company based in Santa Cruz County that owns and operates a portfolio of hotels and other real estate. Bijal is a third-generation hotelier who signed his first hotel franchise agreement at the age of 18.  He is also the youngest chairman in the California Hotel & Lodging Association’s 128-year history and is the first person to fully serve two consecutive terms in that role. Over the past five years, Bijal has held leadership roles in the Asian American Hotel Owners Association, notably as a member of the Young Professional Hoteliers Committee and as an ambassador in the North Pacific Region. He is committed to exposing more young people, especially second and third-generation South Asian Americans, to the sophistication – and legacy rewards – of managing a generational family hotel business.

Lynette Valdez, Bailey Property Management

Lynette Valdez joined Bailey Property Management in 2000. As vacation rental manager, she is responsible for ensuring that the 70 homes within the company’s portfolio are properly managed and manages the coordination of schedules with owners and clients, providing a smooth reservation process from check-in to check-out. Lynette also supervises maintenance projects, housekeeping duties, property inspections and is involved in advertising efforts, strategic planning, and business development for Bailey Property Management.

With these newly appointed members, the VSCC board determines policies that govern the agency, review and approve VSCC’s annual work plan and budget and serve on committees that directly support tourism promotion for the County.  

VSCC Announces International Marketing Campaign Results

VSCC is releasing the results of reactivation efforts to reach the FIT market. “Foreign Independent Travel,” or “Flexible Independent Travel,” as it is commonly known in the industry, represents the majority of inbound foreign travelers to Santa Cruz County. Following a hiatus during the pandemic, VSCC embraced a direct-to-consumer platform to attract this segment of the market, leveraging the high visibility of Brand USA (BUSA) Affinity Programs to maximize exposure for Santa Cruz County hotels, motels, bed and breakfast inns, and vacation rentals. Affinity programs are programs that Brand USA has developed with media, online travel agencies (OTAs), or other travel-related publishers to advertise and promote U.S. destinations, experiences, attractions, and other travel opportunities. They are a particularly valuable way to highlight hotels, partner offers, and inspire USA travel experiences. 

VSCC utilized BUSA’s Expedia Affinity Program and Sojern Affinity Program and the proprietary search and booking travel data each platform offers to reach VSCC’s three key markets abroad, providing top-line exposure for partner properties. The BUSA Affinity Programs began in January 2022 and continued through June. With a total combined investment of $30,000, Expedia generated over 950,000 impressions, 521 click-throughs, and $66,000 in gross bookings – which represents room revenue only. The campaign with Sojern generated over 2.7 million impressions, over 6,000 click-throughs, and an estimated economic impact of $316,000. These Affinity Programs included matching funds from BUSA.  The BUSA campaigns focused on Santa Cruz County’s pre-pandemic top three international markets only: Canada, the UK, and Germany.

The results of these campaigns will help inform VSCC’s international marketing efforts as the travel industry continues through the pandemic recovery process.

VSCC Hosts Meeting Planner Mixer in San Jose

In an effort to market the destination to conference and meeting planners, over 20 meeting planners gathered in San Jose last month at an industry mixer hosted by Flavia Oliveira, VSCC Sales and Marketing Director. The event was designed to educate and inspire meetings and conference decision-makers about Santa Cruz County and what it has to offer corporate meeting attendees.

The evening mixer, held on June 29th at the Adobe Terrace at San Pedro Square Market, included a hotel, group activity, and general destination information. Santa Cruz County hotels were also present, with the following directors of sales and marketing and other sales staff team members in attendance:  Anna Borrego, Hilton Santa Cruz/Scotts Valley; Christine Carwell, Chaminade Resort & Spa; Frances Hester, Four Points by Sheraton Santa Cruz Scotts Valley; Judy Hilton-Spears, Seascape Beach Resort; Victoria San Nicolas, Hampton Inn – Santa Cruz West; Katie Tillock, Dream Inn Santa Cruz; and Jacob Youngblood, Hotel Paradox, Autograph Collection. Hoteliers shared information with planners about meeting and banquet space, amenities, and unique off-site activities available to conference attendees.

Arrivals and Departures

Bijal Patel, CEO of Coast Redwood Hospitality and VSCC board member, is the newest member of the California Travel Association! Welcomes all-around to Jimmy Legg, new Director of Sales, and Jeromey Lopez, new Assistant General Manager of the Hilton Santa Cruz/Scotts Valley – as well as to Sean Woodruff, new Director of Sales at the Hyatt Place Santa CruzRene Mendez has officially taken the reins as new City Manager at the City of Watsonville. The former Coastview Hotel is undergoing renovations and will reopen this fall as the Marea Sol, and the Best Western All Suites Inn has completed and increased their inventory to 80 rooms!

Retail Spaces Available

Thinking of opening a retail space in downtown Santa Cruz? This virtual tool from the Economic Development Council shows retail spots currently available. Zoom Prospector features a virtual image of each of the retail storefronts available, as well as property features, square footage, and lease rate. 

Register for CHLA’s SAFE Seminar

The California Hotel & Lodging Association’s August 4th SAFE conference in San Francisco – planned by hotel security professionals for hotel security professionals – will feature critical updates about best practices, protecting facilities, and alleviating workplace tensions – all key to hosting a safe and secure environment. This must-attend event promises to update participants on active shooter procedures and essential de-escalation techniques. Register here. The City of Scotts Valley recently completed a similar training for its employees. 

SCPD Hosts Community Open House

Get to know your Santa Cruz Police Department, Santa Cruz Regional 9-1-1, local California Highway Patrol staff, and members of the Santa Cruz Fire Department on Tuesday, August 2nd from 4PM to 7PM. This event, in honor of National Night Out, will feature station tours, live demonstrations, and other activities. Stop by the City of Santa Cruz Police Station at 155 Center Street in Santa Cruz and get to know your community!

Did you know……

that members of the California Hotel & Lodging Association (CHLA) and the California Bed & Breakfast Association (CABBI) can obtain free Save Our Water/Save Our Planet cards for guest rooms? The cards ask guests to delay room cleaning services until check-out to help save water and reduce energy use and waste. This effort is a partnership with the State of California’s Save Our Water program, coordinated by the California State Water Resources Control Board. As a reminder, VSCC has sponsored all TMD members for CHLA membership. Click here to learn about more CHLA member benefits!

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