2018 Outlook Forum
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CEO Update: Finding True North

By Caroline Beteta 02/28/2018

As leaders from across the Golden State gathered in Anaheim for Outlook Forum’s 10th anniversary, the milestone moment provided a perfect opportunity to reflect on the past decade as we set sights on 2018 and beyond.

These 10 years have passed in a blink, and it puts into perspective just how profoundly things can change in the world of travel – as well as what remains the same. Today, California’s role on the global stage mirrors tourism’s role in the lives of communities throughout the state: Both are bigger, more robust and more important than ever in our history.

That energy and excitement came to life during an unforgettable week at the Disney Resort for Outlook Forum. The conference brought together a record-setting 630 industry leaders in “The Happiest Place on Earth” – a fitting setting considering how the destination has remained a pillar of California’s tourism economy for nearly two-thirds of a century.

After a whirlwind week, the Visit California Board of Directors gathered to map the course ahead through an important year in Golden State tourism.

New leaders join the Board. Disneyland President Michael Colglazier is leaving the Board to oversee Walt Disney Co.’s parks in Asia after serving as a truly gracious host for this year’s Outlook Forum, and he will certainly be missed.

Following his departure, the Board unanimously elected three new Commissioners. It is my pleasure to welcome the Disneyland Resort’s incoming President Josh D’Amaro, Gordon Biersch Brewing Company Founder and Chief Operating Officer Dan Gordon, and Universal Studios Hollywood President and Chief Operating Officer Karen Irwin to the Board.

Eighth straight year of growth. We unveiled another record-setting year for California tourism. The state’s travel and tourism industry generated a record $130 billion in visitor spending in 2017, directly supporting 1.1 million California jobs and $10 billion in state and local tax revenue.

As we continue to refine how we evaluate program performance, Visit California is moving toward a more holistic measurement strategy. This incorporates Return on Advertising Spend (ROAS) to quantify results from Visit California’s media spend, which accounts for roughly one-half of the brand and marketing budget.

In FY16/17, efforts in this space generated $13.1 billion in incremental visitor spending. Visit California is working with its team of research resources to measure the other half of the marketing budget through individual KPIs alongside ROAS to show overall program effectiveness.

Elevating crisis response. As you are all too aware, the past year has been devastating for partners across the state. From dealing with infrastructure damage and flooding to wildfires and mudslides, Visit California has refined and elevated our collective crisis response strategy. To this end, we have developed a comprehensive methodology to quantify tourism industry impacts during a crisis, which will help guide our industry’s response when crises strike.

New research informs future. Millennials are defining the future of travel more than any other demographic. Visit California unveiled findings from a $500,000 global study on the millennial traveler and the revamped audience personas that account for these findings, all of which will shape the marketing program as our audience evolves.

Bridge to 2019. As we look to the year ahead, next year’s Outlook Forum will be the final conference before the 2019 referendum. Since that last critical vote, California’s travel and tourism industry has recorded unprecedented successes and surmounted some of the biggest challenges we have ever had to face, and it is key that we remain united in pursuit of the goals we have set for ourselves and each other as we continue to position California as a global leader in the years to come.

While so much can change in a decade, our purpose remains fundamentally the same: To create desire for the California experience and foster memories that last a lifetime. This founding principle empowers us as leaders to pioneer, take risks and forge a path forward – all of which is possible if we stay true to our creed.

Let’s continue to show the world what it means to Dream Big!

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