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Media Take a Virtual Road Trip Through California’s Gateway Cities

By Kristen Bonilla 10/14/2020

Visit California hosted its first Virtual Media Event on Oct. 6 to share destination news from across the state with 40 in-state media outlets that included the Los Angeles Times, Conde Nast Traveler, Thrillist, Travel + Leisure, Lonely Planet, and San Francisco Chronicle. The organization coordinated the virtual gathering due to the importance of communicating factual information and maintaining an open dialog with the crucial in-state media market.

The event began with a statewide updated from Visit California President and CEO Caroline Beteta. She showcased partner submissions to cover new and upcoming tourism product. She also reviewed new statewide safe travel protocols and Visit California’s new approach to wildfire messaging, the organization’s Responsible Travel Code and its new “Never Normal” campaign.

Journalists departed from this statewide update on a virtual road trip through California’s urban gateway destinations — San Diego, Anaheim, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Oakland — which have been especially hard hit by the pandemic but have an abundance of safe options for visitors to discover. 

Aquarium   Festival

Creating a Tactile Virtual Experience
While nothing replaces the immersion of an on-site tour, Visit California did the next best thing by mailing “engagement boxes” to media in advance of the event with items such as crafting materials and wine, which allowed viewers to play along with the livestreamed activities. Additionally, Visit California sent a visual artist to bring the road trip to life with real-time sketches.

Starting from the south and heading north, the first stop, San Diego, offered a cultural heritage experience. Shop owner Elexia de la Para of Artelexia in the trendy North Park neighborhood led a tutorial on making paper marigolds to celebrate the upcoming Dia de los Muertos holiday. Paper marigold kits were included in the engagement boxes.

In Anaheim, journalists received a sneak peek of the new JW Marriott Anaheim Resort and The Westin Anaheim Resort. The hotels’ world-class culinary talent demoed their hotel’s signature cocktails while the chefs shared insights into their history and ingredient sourcing.  

The Los Angeles experience showcased innovation through the city’s unparalleled and diverse fashion scene. Desiner Dechel Mckillian, who owns Galerie.LA, and Geraldine Chung, who owns LCD, met at ROWDTLA to pull looks from their collections suited to a variety of LA activities and occasions.

In San Francisco, media explored the city’s outdoor dining options, which have considerably changed the vibe of some well-known neighborhoods. Laurie Thomas, executive director of the Golden Gate Restaurant Association and owner of Rose's Café and Terzo explained how local restaurants had to quickly adapt and implement new sidewalk seating and parklets.

The last stop took the journalists to an unexpected wine destination — Oakland. Robin and Andréa McBride, of the McBride Sisters Wine Collection, shared the remarkable story behind their businesses, which is the largest Black-owned wine company in the U.S., and a bit about the wine collection. McBride Sisters wine was included in each journalists engagement box so they could taste during the presentation.

Virtual IMM USA
Looking to January 2021, Visit California will once again partner with TravMedia on their Virtual IMM USA event, which reaches a nationwide media audience. This event is open to partners, and California will once again have the largest number of delegates in attendance, making a clear statement to media about the centrality of California tourism. There are only a couple spots left! If interested in attending, please email Domestic PR Manager Kristen Bonilla.

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