The Travel Forecast

September 14, 2023


Meetings and Conferences Marketing Update

Smart Woman Award - Flavia

As the post-summer meetings and conference season begins, VSCC has completed a series of trade shows geared to market the destination for meeting planners. With an abundance of properties opening following construction and renovations, VSCC is working to support hoteliers’ critical shoulder-season revenue stream. Flavia Oliveira, Director of Sales and Marketing attended key trade shows to ramp up these efforts. 

In early August, Flavia was the recipient of the Innovator in Meetings award from Smart Meetings magazine. This acknowledgement is designed to advance the careers of women in the meetings industry, and each year recognizes the Top 100 Smart Women of the Year. Congratulations, Flavia!

Also in August, Flavia attended Connect Marketplace in Minneapolis, the largest meetings trade show in the country. Designed for corporate event planners, this event typically features over 2,000 attendees with five separate tracks, enabling destinations to connect with targeted, highly vetted planners. Flavia participated in the Corporate Track, hosting 22 reverse-style one-on-one appointments to discuss Santa Cruz County event space, conference facilities, and creative teambuilding opportunities.

Destination California  will be held September 28th – 30th in San Diego.  Flavia has scheduled 20 appointments with elite meeting and incentive planners at this destination-specific hosted buyer event. Attendees can experience firsthand the most desirable destinations, hotels and activities for successful meetings, while making invaluable business connections.

In October, Flavia will attend the International + French Travel Market (IFTM) Top RESA. With its prime location in Paris, this international tourism and travel exhibition brings together the best of the travel and tourism industry from around the world. Santa Cruz County will be featured alongside a diverse range of exhibitors and Flavia will have the opportunity to participate in a variety of activities and workshops, allowing attendees to gain valuable insights and knowledge from industry experts. With an emphasis on the French market, Top RESA provides a unique opportunity to promote the Santa Cruz region to the French travel industry. According to Tourism Economics, the French market accounts for 510,000 visitor trips and $1.3 billion in visitor spending in California.

Visit Santa Cruz County Participates in Regional Tourism Strategic Plan

Visit California Logo

Visit California has begun a process to create Regional Tourism Strategic Plans for each of the 12 tourism regions across the state. With a $5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce, these plans are being prepared to conduct extensive research with industry stakeholders, residents, and community leaders in each region. Ultimately, these customized plans aim to help tourism stakeholders, residents, and civic partners prepare for the future in their destinations.

In January, Visit California signed a contract with global consulting firm JLL, allowing the formal launch of the two-year project. JLL and its partners — including Ernst & Young, Tourism Economics and the World Travel and Tourism Council. 

Once the research has been completed, these plans will examine the full range of tourism dynamics, from destination brand perceptions to housing imbalances, environmental challenges, workforce development, public safety issues, infrastructure priorities and digital marketing performance. Tourism businesses and DMOs will use the findings and recommendations to inform business decisions, inspire partnerships with local governments and nonprofits and build a more sustainable future for the industry. The contract with JLL requires actionable recommendations and implementation strategies in each region at the end of this process. This project will help chart a course for tourism in destinations across California – as well as the state itself – over the next decade by identifying regional opportunities and challenges, providing valuable recommendations and implementation pathways.

VSCC Hosts Digital Influencers

Dylan Effron Social Media Collage

This month, VSCC hosted two high profile digital influencers on separate visits to the region. Based in-house, VSCC’s communications program includes traditional outreach to national and international media outlets and a stellar social media team that carefully curates the content that will resonate most authentically with fans and followers. However, when approached by Visit California, VSCC hosts social media influencers who are carefully vetted by the state to ensure the content they create complements our efforts.

Collecting content reflecting surfing history and culture across the state ahead of California Surfing Day on September 20th, Golden State native Dylan Efron embarked on a road trip from Los Angeles which included Palm Springs, Huntington Beach and Santa Cruz. While in-market September 5 – 7, Dylan stayed at the Dream Inn Santa Cruz, and was provided with surf-centric experiences that complement his social media content on Instagram, TikTok and YouTube, generating digital content for a variety of platforms.  He surfed with local Richard Schmidt, experienced a tour of the Santa Cruz Surfing Museum with legendary surfboard shaper and President of the Santa Cruz Surf Club Preservation Society Bob Pearson, and was shown Venus Spirits’ distillery with Sean Venus. Dylan’s content will be live by September 20th to coincide with the day devoted to California’s official sport.

Capitalizing on Annie Jiang’s aesthetic of “places that feel international” series, VSCC crafted a Capitola Village-heavy visit. With over 300,000 followers on Instagram alone, Annie produced stories, Instagram reels and TikToks while in market. Her itinerary included a walking tour of Capitola Village, dinner at Shadowbrook restaurant, wine tasting at Lester Estates, a Downtown Santa Cruz experience and other activities. The Chaminade Resort & Spa hosted her stay.

Hosting writer, editor, and influencer visits are critical to VSCC’s efforts to maintain a cohesive earned media strategy that supports the local industry by generating exposure across media channels: print, digital, broadcast and social.

Traveler’s Guides, Facemasks and Sanitizer Available from VSCC

Do you need more copies of Symmetry for your guests, clients, and visitors?  VSCC has a supply of traveler’s guides available for pick up. And, as the rate of COVID infections in Santa Cruz County has been steadily increasing since June, VSCC can offer surgical and N95 facemasks and a limited supply of hand sanitizer this season to lodging properties and local businesses. Please contact us if you need any of these items for your staff or guests.

Arrivals and Departures

Farewell and happy retirement to Gael Abayon and her husband Jack, owners of the Fairview Manor Bed and Breakfast. Gael and Jack announced that they will officially retire on Wednesday, November 1, 2023. Gael has served on the VSCC Board of Directors and has been an active member of the San Lorenzo Valley Community.

2024 Anniversaries

This was a banner year for business anniversaries around Santa Cruz County, including Charlie Hong Kong (25), Annieglass (40), Gayle’s Bakery (45), NHS Skateboards (50), Pajaro Dunes Resort (50), Dream Inn Santa Cruz (60), Roaring Camp Railroads (60), Bargetto Winery (90), and Martinelli’s (155), among others.  Is your business celebrating a significant birthday in 2024? Tell us about it! (we see you, Giant Dipper Rollercoaster!)

Nominate Your Hotel Employees or Programs

Through October 1st, the California Hotel & Lodging Association is accepting nominations for the Stars of the Industry Awards!  CHLA and CABBI members can nominate one employee from their staff in one of six categories. Properties may submit their best public relations programs in one of the four categories for CHLA’s property achievement awards — Good Earthkeeping, Guest Services, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, and Community Service. The top three nominees will be invited to attend this year’s awards luncheon at the Claremont Club & Spa in Berkeley on December 1st, where the winners will be announced.

Did you know?

Facial recognition technology is quickly becoming a common feature in U.S. airports, and San José Mineta International Airport is no exception. An innovation hub known by its penchant for technology, SJC was chosen by TSA to be one of the first airports in the U.S. to offer facial recognition software for some international travelers, another step towards making the security checkpoints experience even more seamless.