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CEO Update: Destination Stewardship
Setting the Stage for a Pivotal Outlook Forum

By Caroline Beteta
Posted 13 days ago

With Visit California’s virtual Outlook Forum only a month away, I’d like to set the stage with a preview of some of the major conference themes and topics I’ll be covering in my keynote. I’ve also included some related industry resources to help you prepare for the conference and that may be of use to your organization right now.

It’s Up to Us

The pandemic remains the elephant in the room. It has certainly affected Outlook Forum, down to the virtual format. But in every crisis there is opportunity: this year’s conference is the most accessible: A record number of industry members have registered already, with more than half attending for the first time.

Our industry is in a position to lead the way in the next stage of recovery. The tourism industry cannot, on its own, stop the spread of COVID-19, prevent wildfires, or solve the myriad of persistent issues that are tarnishing the California brand. And make no mistake — California was hit hard in 2020. However, we are California’s brand stewards and the first movers of economic recovery.

I look forward to sharing more about the importance of tourism industry leadership in times of crisis:  

  • How California’s tourism industry and Visit California have led the way out of past crises
  • Visit California’s strategy to encourage responsible travel
  • Visit California’s pandemic-era marketing and its agile, cost-effective strategy
  • How a destination stewardship mindset is shaping Visit California’s crisis response
  • California’s structural advantages in combatting the pandemic and restoring tourism 

Additional resources:

  • Coronavirus Update  – Track key tourism indicators through a weekly research dashboard and download industry resources
  • Travel Matters – Learn more about Visit California’s foundational work communicating tourism’s importance to California’s key opinion leaders
  • Subscribe to Newsletters – Stay up-to-date on the issues facing our industry and Visit California initiatives with industry newsletters and a weekly CEO email

The way forward

California’s tourism industry is well positioned to recover economically, but there’s no denying the industry has a steep hill to climb.

To overcome this setback and shorten the recovery window, we need to understand how the market and consumer sentiment are shifting and prepare to ramp up marketing when demand returns. Economic forecasts indicate a five-year recovery, and we’ve already experienced that it will be a jagged one, at least in the near future. To help you prepare, several high-profile economists will be giving U.S. and international forecasts at Outlook Forum.

One undeniable lesson from the past year is importance of a strong, cohesive California brand. California’s statewide marketing program may be most visible in times of prosperity, but it’s most essential during recovery.

Most importantly, the industry must continue to embrace collaboration and speak with one voice. The challenges of the pandemic, I hope, will create opportunities to rise together — to this end, this year’s Outlook Forum will feature sessions on new Visit California resources and partnership opportunities.   

One of the biggest shifts for the Visit California organization and a major conference theme is the pivot to an in-state and domestic audience. I’ll explore how the organization is adapting its strategy and programs to reach this audience — alongside our eventual plans to resurrect travel from California’s tier-1 international markets.

I look forward discussing the way forward for Visit California and California’s tourism industry:

  • Visit California’s consumer sentiment and behavior research and its impact on marketing decisions
  • Economic forecasts
  • Visit California partnership opportunities for your organization’s marketing and travel trade programs
  • Visit California’s 2021 marketing plan
  • The pivot to in-state and domestic travel
  • The return of international travel

Additional resources:

See you soon

While I’m excited to speak with you at 2021 Outlook Forum, I’m most looking forward to experiencing the conference as an attendee. Previewing the conference’s 20 sessions has already sparked fresh ideas and focused my thinking about the future of our industry and how we can build back better.

Until February, be well and Dream Big.

California STAR Travel Agent Training Banner
CA STAR Agent Training Encourages Domestic Travel Trade to Book California

By Katie Meissner
12/10/2020

With International travel still on pause, Visit California has continued to amplify its focus on domestic travel trade on California travel and tourism. A lynchpin to these efforts is the California STAR online platform for agent and advisor education.

Due to the likelihood that domestic travel will remain more accessible than international for the foreseeable future, an increased number of domestic travel trade representing western feeder markets and long-haul domestic travelers are looking to California as a desirable destination. However, the rapidly changing travel landscape has created uncertainty about the state’s current offering and travel restrictions. It’s become more important than ever to educate this domestic base on California’s current offerings and how to travel safely and responsibly.

So far, STAR has been well received by the domestic travel trade audience. There are currently 3,457 travel advisors registered on the platform, and since switching to a domestic focus in March, an additional 1,206 domestic travel advisors have signed up. In the same period, STAR educational content featuring local  California destination has generated 415 partner handoffs.

About CA STAR
The California STAR platform gives agents, advisors and tour operators the confidence to book successful itineraries in California. The free-to-access platform serves a guided training that walks through California’s tourism segments and activities, such as outdoors, culinary, luxury, and family. The platform also helps agents identify tourist-friendly destinations and businesses across the state.

Travel advisors can also access a directory to search information about certain destinations, a fast-facts tab with information such as a digital map of California, top spots to visit, sample itineraries, and a toolbox tab with video and image assets. Visit California’s industry partners have an opportunity to showcase their destinations at a high level to travel trade professionals who are learning about the state and building itineraries for their clients.

Learn more about the CA STAR partnership program.

 

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