The following is a press release issued by Visit Mendocino. For full disclosure, Visit Mendocino advertises on MendoFever:
Despite inclement weather, Visit Mendocino County’s annual meeting, held at the Little River Inn on January 11th welcomed a full house, including elected officials, vintners, cannabis industry leaders and members of the lodging, restaurant, arts, and events industries.
One of the day’s highlights was a rare visit to the region by Caroline Beteta, President and CEO of Visit California- the non-profit tasked with marketing the state as one of the world’s go-to travel destinations.
Beteta is also the strategic advisor for the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development and is considered to be the principal voice for the state’s tourism and travel industry. She has been at the helm for nearly two decades and is credited for the exponential growth of the state’s travel industry, peaking in 2019 with $144.9 billion in economic benefit to the state.
Beteta was introduced by Travis Scott, Visit Mendocino County’s Executive Director, and Administrator and Treasurer of the North Coast Tourism Council. He told attendees how Beteta has guided the state through both incredible growth and numerous crises. Her presentation focused on how to continue and expand upon California tourism’s post-pandemic rebound.
“Visit Mendocino County is a study in success. The level of sophistication on branding and destination approach is incredible, considering your limited resources. Travis understands the workings from the State perspective,” Beteta noted.
She went on to explain the overarching purpose of Visit California. “What is our role in this ecosystem? We do what industry can’t do for itself,” she explained. “We raise awareness, drive demand, partner, and work through the ‘handoff’ so people arrive at the Visit Mendocino County portal, with the dividend of booking travel and spending money.”
Beteta noted Visit California is just beginning to re-focus on international travel as concerns about the pandemic wane, employing statewide safety initiatives by publicizing a Responsible Travel Code. “This is very important, particularly with Covid. We want to continue to educate consumers globally.”
“We’ve re-entered the market, focusing mostly on Canada, Mexico and the UK’s primary, secondary and tertiary markets. Visit California is a global organization again.”
Beteta predicts it will be another two years for international travel to fully recover. “China was our Number 1 visitor market prior to the pandemic. I’m hopeful to see visitor spending with China continue.”
During the peak months of Covid, California was perceived as not being open to tourism whatsoever.
“Florida shut down for just a few weeks. We were the only state that was shut down completely and had to come completely back. When I spoke with Governor Newsom about obtaining stimulus funding, it was Spring, 2021. We would go dark by July 1, 2021 because the industry had no money, but with the infusion of stimulus funds, we’d be able to catch Florida.” This is what occurred. Beteta applauded the efforts of Senator Mike McGuire through his assistance in acquiring much-needed stimulus funding.
To facilitate recovery, Beteta and her staff formulated a multi-tiered campaign. They produced a television spot that ran before the Super Bowl kickoff game.
“The spot aired pre-game, reaching 50 million households, but it had to have legs beyond the Superbowl. We took different approach with this entertainment-based advertising- showcasing this magical place where you can experience all you missed during the pandemic.”
The ad campaign featured a whimsical, eye-catching clip called “Am I Dreaming?”
“We used the iconic song from Queen- ‘Don’t Stop Me Now,’” Beteta smiles. The ad was cut into three dozen iterations to engage consumers using any digital platform and has garnered 100 million impressions to date.
A survey conducted by Dean Runyon reported California travel-related spending topped out at $100.2 billion from 2019-2021, with 927,100 travel-generated jobs and nearly $10 billion in travel generated taxes.
For Senate District 02, which includes Humboldt, Lake, Sonoma, and Mendocino Counties, travel spending in 2020 was $2.13 million, with 29.2 thousand people employed in the travel industry and total state and local taxes totaling $223 million. “Though we are down from 2019, we appear to be coming out of this very nicely.”
California continues to be the Number 1 travel destination in the US, and Beteta credits the diverse approach Visit California is taking to attract many types of visitors.
“Our ‘Road Trip Republic’ campaign was produced right as we were going into the pandemic. Mendocino County is featured in the campaign. It has been very popular, especially with the resurgence of family road trips. It features great scenes of the county, using Steppenwolf as the theme music. We are the ultimate road trip destination. Mendocino is also referenced in eight ‘Dream Drives’ which include emotive and instructional Spotify playlists.”
Beteta notes family travelers spend 56% more than non-families and stay at destinations longer. For that reason, Visit California launched a “Kidifornia” ad campaign. “This is very important to our overall visitor mix, and it has the highest return on investment of our ad spending campaigns.”
Another new venture is “Native California,” a tribal tourism partnership. “We’re creating a content portal about sustainable Native experiences around California. We’re very excited to work with these communities. So many people don’t even realize they are having travel experiences on tribal lands. This is an incredible area of opportunity for tribal establishments to share the original stories of California.”
Finally, Beteta addressed the importance of stressing sustainable travel, particularly important for Mendocino County residents. Visit California’s Sustainable Strategies are encouraging tourism organizations to shift from destination “marketing” to destination “management,” thus balancing the visitor economy with residential quality of life, environmental impacts, and infrastructure impacts.
Mendocino County is peppered throughout the Visit California website, from a podcast on the Wild North Coast to a “Mendocino Explore” page as well as a “Mendocino County Road Trip” video, and more.