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Never Normal PSA skydiving llama
Just Launched: Visit California's New Recovery Marketing Campaign

By Leona Reed
Posted 28 days ago

Visit California has just launched recovery marketing efforts to begin restoring California tourism: “Never Normal” and “Calling All Californians.” The campaign targets California residents, the focus of the organization’s marketing through the end of the year. 

Find additional information on the "Calling All Californians" partner opportunities page.

‘Never Normal’
The new PSA highlights that Californians are pioneers, eager to embrace diversity and new ways of thinking, doing and living. “You doing you” is California’s take on normal, and Californians can just as well do “normal” in a mask, socially distanced and with washed hands. 

The “Never Normal” message furthers Visit California’s broader strategy of promoting tourism and responsible travel in the same breath by positioning safety precautions as part of a fun, quintessentially California experience. In focus testing, the PSA received an overwhelmingly strong response from prospective travelers, in particular those self-identified as “cautious” and “risk-averse” —  which currently make up the lion’s share of those likely to travel in California.

“Never Normal” will air on OTV Sept. 14 – Dec. 31 and on linear TV Sept. 28 – Dec. 31. The California Broadcasters Association has generously offered a 3:1 match on the linear television flight to help Visit California achieve significant reach with only a modest investment.

'Calling All Californians'
Visit California’s new resident-focused brand platform just launched with digital banner placements on Expedia and Trip Advisor.

Calling All Californians digital banners

The campaign is a rallying cry to residents to stay in state, roam responsibly, spend locally and help jump-start California’s economic recovery. The digital campaign runs Sept. 14 - Dec. 31. The campaign will expand to include additional digital platforms Kayak, Sojern, Adara, and Google Display, where it can reach large numbers of high-propensity travelers.

Calling All Californians still

Looking ahead, Visit California has produced video creatives for TV and OTV, which the organization expects to run in early 2021 as travel becomes more accessible. Much like “Never Normal,” the "Calling All Californians" spots will promote a safe travel message that also inspires in-state travel and economic recovery. They will feature vacationers in beach, resort and wine country settings.

Golden Gate Bridge
PR Pulse Report September 2020

By Kristen Bonilla

Media Hosting
In response to growing concerns around the COVID-related liabilities of hosting travel journalists and influencers, Visit California implemented a Media Visit Travel Waiver & Release. While it does not constitute legal advice, the waiver can be used as a template by industry partners hosting media. All points should be reviewed by legal counsel before using the waiver. Earned media coverage is a key component of Visit California’s marketing strategy, and the safety and protection of both the journalists and hosting entities is critical. Get the template and read more about its development.

Media Trends
The U.S. State Department has lifted its international ‘Do Not Travel’ advisory, which is an encouraging sign for the travel industry. The tourism industry is now officially in Stretch Season, extending the traditional summer travel season well past Labor Day, and fall is shaping up to be an opportune time to make up for lost travel experiences. Remote work and learning also make midweek and weeklong stays more feasible than in years past. 

Unfortunately, European destinations such as Spain, France and Germany are seeing cases spike again. A few destinations, such as Costa Rica, have announced new requirements for entry, from international health insurance to COVID-19 antibodies. Meanwhile, NYC is bringing COVID-19 tests to JFK and LaGuardia Airports to prevent inbound travelers from spreading the virus. There is still debate about whether travel is responsible during this time, with The New York Times reporting that some are intentionally discreet about their trips for fear of being judged by peers.
Below is a summary of trends and industry shifts that MMGY NJF has compiled from media feedback, widespread coverage and webinars:

  • Outlets are looking to the industry for another round of updates on the future of travel. Condé Nast Traveler just launched its “What’s Next for Travel” newsletter to keep readers informed, as well as a new video series, “Traveler to Traveler,” to highlight noteworthy industry figures who can speak on world issues as they relate to travel.
  • 'Cottagecore— an aesthetic celebrating the country lifestyle, from DIY crafting and baking to foraging and picnicking — has gone viral by romanticizing life during quarantineLos Angeles TimesRefinery29 and others have reported how and where to book a “cottagecore”-inspired vacation.
  • Flexible airline booking policies are likely to survive COVID-19. After United Airlines eliminated change fees for good, competitors including Delta Airlines, American Airlines and Alaska Airlines followed suit
  • COVID-19 continues to interfere with major annual events. Tourism-heavy Art Basel, which was originally slated for December, is officially canceled, while the James Beard Foundation announced that it will not award any chefs or restaurant winners for 2020.
  • Virtual tourism alternatives and novel social distancing remain a trend. Goop announced its At-Home Summit. Stars such as Eva Longoria and Liev Schreiber partnered with Stella Artois to launch a “Hotel Artois At Home,” while several music and film festivals have switched gears to online attendance. Pier 17 in New York tapped into locals’ itch for a backyard and launched its own “backyard” rentals. Napa Valley’s wineries have debuted ‘Wine Cabanas’ to add elegance to safety protocols in the region. Skift added “Virtual Pivot” and “Contactless Travel” as new categories in its IDEA Awards for 2020.

Influencer Content
Most seemingly pandemic-related influencer trends are in fact pre-existing trends that have been accelerated. These trends include the move towards "unfiltered" and less-scripted content, the rise of TikTok and the popularity of "everyday" or niche influencers. During this period of rapid change and unusual market conditions, don't be afraid to experiment with influencer marketing tactics that haven't been tried before. 

More on influencer trends:

  • As of May 2020, U.S. and U.K. consumers who followed influencers were most interested in influencer content that entertained or helped them with their daily lives amid the pandemic.
  • The pandemic didn't end influencer marketing. In fact 96% of U.S. and U.K. consumers who follow influencers stated they are engaging with them more or to the same extent during the pandemic vs. before the outbreak.
  • 75% of U.S. marketers plan to use influencer marketing the same amount or more once quarantine restrictions have lifted.
  • Some data suggests travel-related influencer content has started to rebound since the beginning of the pandemic. The volume of brand-sponsored travel and tourism content fell by 66% between Feb. 20 and April 20 this year. By July, it had risen by 34% from its low point in April.

Crisis Response
While 2020 has been defined by a generational crisis in the COVID-19 pandemic, California tourism organizations should be prepared to respond to crisis year round, particularly with climate-driven wildfires becoming an annual event. As a best practice, update your crisis communication plans with current emergency contacts and a decision tree to guide your response.
Visit California is here to assist with messaging and community support. The organization has also activated its Crisis Evaluation Matrix, a framework for measuring the impact on the ground to tourism infrastructure, social and traditional media coverage globally, and consumer sentiment. The matrix helps the organization prioritize its response and combat sensationalized and misleading media narratives.

At Outlook Forum in February, Visit California gave partners an opportunity to hone their crisis response in a breakout session and two-hour workshop. In light of this extraordinary year, it’s worth reviewing four key takeaways:

  • Know your stakeholders. They are tourists in the destination, tourism employees and prospective tourists. Determine what they want to know, what may be driving their fear and how you can reach them.
  • Decide when to communicate. Don’t unnecessarily insert tourism into storylines. Only communicate for specific reasons to respond to a significant volume of inquiries or to correct inaccuracies. Monitor and analyze the landscape.
  • Understand the challenges. Your audience desires certainty, but it may not be possible. Be aware of selective reporting by the media.
  • Communicate real-time information. Help people make informed decisions. Don’t over-reassure and don’t be afraid to acknowledge uncertainty. Provide referral information to official sources. Show empathy and apologize if appropriate.

Trending Pitches & Story Ideas
Visit California’s earned media team continues to pitch stories to keep California top of mind and respond to topical reactive leads. These pitches have generated high-profile coverage over the past month: 

  • Private or standalone hotel experiences: Business InsiderGlobal TravelerLonely Planet
  • Glamping: LA TimesPopsugar
  • To align with U.S. Travel’s “Let’s Go There” campaign and encourage consumers to start planning their next trip, Visit California recently pitched new hotel openings for fall. The effort has already received coverage in Forbes, with additional coverage pending.

Most viewed story ideas for August in the Visit California Media Center:

Evergreen story ideas on Instagrammable California destinations continue to perform strongly month after month. Additionally, in August the regional profiles landing page was the second most visited on the site after the homepage. This indicates media are using the Media Center to search for basics on California, such as understanding the state’s geography and regional highlights. Because each region’s page links out to individual DMO websites, these searches by media create the opportunity for partner handoffs.


2021 Outlook Forum

February 2021 | TBD


Winter Board Meeting 2021

February 2021 | FREE


Public Relations Content Submissions

Ongoing | FREE


Visit California Social Media

Ongoing | Starting at $7,500

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