Front of Bacara Resort & Spa in Santa Barbara, CA for the 2017 Outlook Forum.
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Relive the biggest highlights from 2017 Outlook Forum

By Angie Pappas 03/11/2017

At some point among stirring keynotes, celebrity chefs trading quips, and some 600 attendees dancing around – and on – ballroom tables, it became clear that this year’s Outlook Forum would not soon be forgotten.


The California travel and tourism industry’s premier annual event will go down as the biggest to date, featuring an unparalleled lineup of 40 speakers from around the world in one of the Golden State’s most stunning settings at Bacara Resort & Spa in Santa Barbara.

The breadth and depth of the sold-out conference’s programming from Feb. 27-28 underscored that the industry is truly living in a new era of global travel.

Speakers impart insights, inspiration

Two days of immersive sessions featured some of the conference’s most memorable moments. 


British Airways Chairman and CEO Alex Cruz launched day one by painting a picture of the global travel landscape in 2017, followed by a live Q&A session with the audience, who submitted questions through the interactive Team California app.

Visit California President & CEO Caroline Beteta set the vision for the next generation of California, punctuated by an appearance by Olympic gold medalist Jonny Moseley, who joined her onstage for an interview and preview of his new Dream365TV content series “Jonny Moseley’s Wildest Dreams.” Her entire keynote, which streamed on Facebook Live for Visit California News followers, can be viewed here.

Attendees also dove into the latest global economic trends as TCI Research CEO Olivier Henry-Biabaud explored current consumer trends and research. 

Tuesday’s first session by cultural anthropologist Robbie Blinkoff of Context-Based Research set the tone early for his presentation, as Blinkoff leapt onto the closest table to the stage and declaring, “you’re going to be so glad that you came here today.” His electrifying — and wholly unconventional — session featured everything from ukulele playing to a massive impromptu dance party. In the end, attendees discovered the true meaning of “erehru.”

All-star panels engage, explore

From world-renowned culinary stars to leaders from different hemispheres, 2017 Outlook Forum brought together an eclectic collection of individuals for a series of lively discussions. 

outlook forum panel

Food & Wine Editor-in-Chief Nilou Motamed did her best to contain the raucous ribbing traded among celebrity chefs Tyler Florence, Richard Blais and Chris Cosentino. The energetic panel focused on how to engage audiences by honing authentic messaging (hint: no pictures of champagne flutes at sunset).

Beteta returned to moderate her panel about the challenges tourism industries face around the world, which featured a discussion with tourism pioneers from Iceland, Peru and Tahiti. And leaders from some of the state’s top gateway destinations explored the impacts of the home-sharing economy, while representatives from Google, Nat Geo, Facebook and WeChat discussed the paramount role of mobile in modern marketing.

Packed days turn into unforgettable nights

From networking at poolside with representatives from 14 countries, to a full-blown celebration of the California travel and tourism industry, there was no shortage of special moments for attendees in the American Riviera. 


Thanks to host destination Visit Santa Barbara, along with the host of dedicated speakers and industry leaders who made 2017 Outlook Forum possible, attendees left with an inspirational vision of the future of California — and were able to share those biggest dreams on a California-shaped “Vision Board” throughout the conference.

View the photo gallery from the biggest highlights and most memorable moments from Santa Barbara here.

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