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Magic comes alive at 10th anniversary of Outlook Forum

By Angie Pappas 02/23/2018

When Visit California held its first Outlook Forum in 2008, the event was little more than a planning meeting to gather the organization's international offices under one roof. Ten years later, the international teams were still there — they just happened to be joined by more than 600 of their closest friends.

The sold-out 2018 Outlook Forum officially marked ten years serving as the California travel and tourism industry's flagship conference. To mark the occasion, it was only fitting for the conference to come to life in "The Happiest Place on Earth" in Anaheim — a destination has remained one of the defining pillars of the state's tourism identity for nearly two-thirds of a century.

Disney's Grand Californian Hotel & Spa exceeded even the loftiest expectations as the venue for the milestone occasion. From Feb. 13-16, the conference center was transformed into the epicenter of California tourism – even down to the foyer's replica California Welcome Center booth.

The core of the conference, as always, was the content. This year, Outlook Forum packed three dozen speakers and panelists into two days of immersive, interactive sessions. Highlights included:

The whirlwind week was capped off by the return of the Poppy Awards at City National Grove of Anaheim. California Dream Eater Chase Ramsey hosted the event and made his entrance in style — with a live rendition of his Anaheim Packing House song to the backing music of a live band.

Following the opening number, Beteta and the Visit California Commission Officers – Chair Sima Patel, Vice Chair of Marketing James Bermingham, Vice Chair of Operations Noreen Martin and Chief Fiscal Officer Gary Buffo – awarded nine campaigns with Poppy honors as the audience roared its support and approval. Filmmaker and cinematography pioneer Louis Schwartzberg was awarded the honorary California Dreamer Award before he, Ramsey and Beteta closed the evening with a signature "napkin drop."

Other unforgettable moments included:

2018 Outlook Forum went down as one for the ages and set the stage for another decade of discovery in the years to come. For more Outlook highlights, check out the photo gallery, tune in to the official 2018 Outlook Forum playlist on Spotify, and watch the highlights video.

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