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Woman speaking with man at the 2017 San Francisco Media Reception. People conversing in background.
Experience the magic at 2018 Outlook Forum

By Angie Pappas

This year, the California travel and tourism industry's premier annual event comes to life in "The Happiest Place on Earth."

The Golden State's iconic Disney Resort will be the site of 2018 Outlook Forum, which will gather more than 600 attendees for two days of immersive and engaging sessions in Anaheim Feb. 14-15.

With registration now open, here are some key things you need to know leading up to the event.

What is Outlook Forum?

Outlook Forum is the California travel and tourism industry’s flagship conference, where leaders representing all corners of the state and industry gather for a week of events and engaging sessions.

The conference brings speakers from all over the world to participate in a variety of dynamic session formats. For two days, experts share insights on the latest trends, research and marketing strategies shaping the modern travel landscape, and attendees are afforded unparalleled networking and relationship-building opportunities throughout the experience.

Last year’s sold-out conference in Santa Barbara was the biggest year yet. And with 2018 marking the conference’s tenth anniversary, this year’s event will certainly be one to remember.

Magic comes alive

The 2018 host destination is one of the most unique to date, embodying some of the very best qualities that make Golden State tourism shine.

Each year, more than 18 million visitors visit Anaheim’s Disney Resort to experience the premium mix of attractions, accommodations, retail and – of course – magic that make the park one of the state’s top travel destinations.

Conference attendees will be in for a wholly new experience, however, when Visit California transforms Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa into the nerve center of the tourism industry for a whirlwind week.

Conference registration is open now, with special early-bird and bundle pricing rates available through Dec. 15. Attendees who book today can also secure their room at the special room block rate of $239.

Celebrating tourism’s best and brightest

Every two years, the conference concludes with a biennial celebration of the Golden State’s top tourism promotion efforts: Visit California’s Poppy Awards.

In 2018, the Poppies return as the grand finale to Outlook Forum. Given the number of California communities affected by recent wildfires, the submission deadline has been extended into November.

Industry partners throughout the state can still nominate the inspirational campaigns and individuals who embody the best in California tourism now through Nov. 13 in a host of diverse categories.

A decade of discovery

In 2008, Visit California hosted its very first Outlook Forum, originally as a gathering for staff and international offices.

The next year, the event took on a life of its own and transformed into a full-blown conference. Every year since it has grown in size and stature.

Today, Outlook Forum serves as the California tourism industry’s biggest gathering point, where partners from across the state can come together as members of the state’s greater tourism community.

In an industry uniquely defined by the strength of its collective, the event’s tenth year will serve as a celebration of California’s unprecedented successes to date — and a platform from which to build toward even bigger dreams ahead.

Because of course, when it comes to the Golden State’s tourism community, it really does feel like a small world after all. 

Grateful Table in wine country
Uncrushable: Wine Country’s resilient spirit shines at The Grateful Table

By Ryan Becker
Posted 20 days ago

Last week, more than 500 people gathered in the heart of California’s Wine Country for a once-in-a-lifetime feast that served up much more than what was on the menu. 

On Nov. 21, The Grateful Table brought together diners from across the state for a fundraiser to help communities affected by recent wildfires. First responders, community members, local business owners and journalists joined paying guests from as far away as Mexico City, São Paulo and Toronto at the 500-foot-long table set in a vineyard along the Napa-Sonoma county line.

Visit California – along with destination partners in the region – hosted the event in partnership with Food Network chef Tyler Florence and Outstanding in the Field, delivering a world-class menu in unforgettable fashion. Ticket sales raised nearly $150,000, all of which is being donated directly to the Mendocino County Disaster Fund, Napa Valley Community Disaster Relief Fund, Sonoma County Resilience Fund and California Restaurant Association Foundation.

“This Thanksgiving, we are incredibly thankful for the support our Wine Country communities have received from around the world,” said Visit California President & CEO Caroline Beteta. “Our guests came from far and near during a holiday week to share our table and support this community. I want to thank the hundreds of people that came together at The Grateful Table and the countless travelers who continue to visit the region and support the local economy.” 

The Grateful Table served as a celebration of the region’s strength, resilience and uncrushable spirit, fostering a unique moment of togetherness for a region that continues to recover from October’s wildfires. Guests included firefighters, 911 dispatchers, California Highway Patrol and more, as well as families who lost their homes or businesses.

As recovery efforts continue, rebuilding the region’s robust tourism economy continues to be an ongoing challenge. To that end, media coverage of The Grateful Table shined a much-needed international spotlight on the region, amplifying an “open for business” message around the world. Coverage continues to pour in, so far reaching 14 million people with an earned media value of $2.7 million. 

The experience they captured could not have been more picturesque, as the vineyard’s vivid fall colors shone under a beaming sun that glinted off hundreds of wine glasses, toasted by Californians who stood strong together in support of their neighbors in the iconic region.

“This was the dream — to have this beautiful autumn day right on the 50-yard line between Napa and Sonoma — and to be able to do something really, really special like this,” Florence said.

Nearly 20 All-Star chefs from some of the region’s most acclaimed restaurants – including Chris Cosentino (Cockscomb, Acacia House), Tonya Holland (Brown Sugar Kitchen) and Steve Litke (Farmhouse Inn) – joined Florence in putting on the Thanksgiving-themed feast. 

The menu featured dishes prepared almost entirely with ingredients sourced from the surrounding region. Over the course of the meal, diners passed platters in true Thanksgiving fashion – family-style – while sampling lamb from Superior Farms, turkey from Sonoma County, butternut squash risotto and more.

Dozens of wineries, breweries, farms and businesses contributed generous donations to make the event possible: 

  • Alexander Valley Vineyard
  • Bear Republic Brewing Co.
  • Benziger
  • Bonterra
  • California Cut Flower Commission
  • California Grown
  • California Restaurant Association Foundation
  • California Wine Institute
  • Chandon
  • Groth
  • hint water
  • J. Lohr
  • J Vineyards
  • Korbel
  • Napa Flea Market
  • Napa Valley Vintners
  • North Coast Brewing
  • Outstanding in the Field
  • Plymouth Bay Winery
  • Pure Luxury Transportation
  • Rodney Strong
  • See's Candies
  • Sonoma County Tourism
  • Sonoma Raceway
  • Sonoma Valley
  • Superior Farms
  • Venn Floral Design Syndicate
  • Visit Mendocino County
  • Visit Napa Valley
  • Visit Santa Rosa

“We’ve come together because of the fires in Napa, Sonoma, and Mendocino counties,” said Sonoma Country Tourism President and CEO Claudia Vecchio, “but you can feel the warmth in the air as we all come together to celebrate being Californians in this extraordinary place we get to call home.”

For more information on how to support those impacted by the Wine Country fires and to make a donation in support of those affected, visit www.visitcalifornia.com/support-wine-country


Visit California Outlook Forum

Q1 2018 | Starting at $599


Winter Board Meeting

February 2018 | Cost FREE


California STAR

Ongoing | Starting at $3,500


Digital content submission - PR

Ongoing | FREE

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