Sonoma County, CA (Feb. 25, 2021) – Sonoma County Tourism (SCT) presented a strategic pathway toward recovery during its “Power of RE” virtual town hall on Feb. 24, 2021. The meeting provided the organization’s approach, strategies and initial tactics that will be used to REgenerate tourism into the County.

“Never has there been a more important time to REnew, REengergize and REcover the tourism industry than we have in front of us today,” said Steve Jung, SCT Board Chairman and General Manager, Doubletree by Hilton, Rohnert Park. “During the virtual meeting, SCT provided important trends and programs designed to drive visitation and critical revenue to small businesses, experience providers and lodging properties across the County.” 

Through conveying the programming initiatives included in the research, community engagement, marketing and group business development the organization showcased opportunities for local businesses to take advantage of a variety of initiatives designed to raise awareness of the Sonoma County brand and invite visitors into the doors of local businesses.

“Driving business is absolutely imperative right now,” Jung added.  “We cannot make any assumptions around recovery speed or numbers at this point and must be cognizant of the need to rebuild our businesses and support our employees.”

SCT provided insights into optimistic current consumer sentiment (as of Feb. 21, 2021) according to Destination Analysts:

  • Enthusiasm for travel, while still below pre-pandemic levels, shows 60% feel ready for travel.
  • The expected timing of leisure trips shows summer 2021 as a popular travel period. Percentage of Americans expecting to travel:
  • June: 22.7%
  • July: 28.6
  • Aug.: 22.2%
  • Sept.: 20.6%
  • Discounts and price cuts are appealing. Forty-three percent (43%) of Americans say discounts will make them more interested in travel in the next three months.
  • The top experiences people are seeking on their next trip are:
    • Have fun: 72.2%
    • Relax: 68.6%
    • Spend time with family: 65.6%
    • Escape stress: 63.3%
    • Find happiness: 62.2%

SCT’s integrated marketing program will begin in March with a public relations push to travel journalists. Key storylines will include:

  • Restorative experiences: well-being opportunities, rejuvenating road trips​.
  • Luminaries: characters of Sonoma County, expressive artists, small businesses, and our diverse, equitable and inclusive community​ members.
  • Passive outdoor activities: yoga in the vineyards, coastal excursions, forest bathing, etc.​
  • Approachable culture: opportunities for personal growth and new experiences (wine, food, art, history, inclusivity).

The paid media campaign will begin in April with a focus on driving overnight visitation.  The campaign will evolve in overlapping phases:

  • April – June: Focus on safe and easy travel; regional drive markets.
  • June – Aug:  Focus on wellness and restorative experiences; expanding to in-state flight markets.
  • Late 2021: Focus on having Sonoma County be a “must go/visit” destination with continued emphasis on wellness, sustainable travel and joy-filled experiences; regional flight markets are added to the mix.

“The focus on wellness and restorative travel matches key trends in the industry and those experiences consumers are seeking now in their own lives,” noted Todd O’Leary, SCT vice president of marketing and communications. “Sonoma County is the perfect destination to create that sense of well-being through the unique experiences available, complemented by our stunning natural beauty.”

SCT is working with Fahlgren Mortine, a leading travel industry integrated marketing firm, to craft the campaign creative and guide media relations efforts.

The town hall also launched a new program with Miles Partnership to provide local businesses with promotional opportunities designed to help drive visits into area restaurants, retailers, travel experience providers and lodging properties.  For 2021, an all-new digital Inspiration Guide will replace the printed visitors guide and program participants will now have a chance to advertise their business via SonomaCounty.com, consumer e-newsletters, and a weddings e-Guide.

Throughout the campaign, SCT will work closely with local sustainability organizations to identify partnerships that will help elevate the messaging around responsible travel.  Continued work with Kind Traveler will support the effort and provide a “give back” program for local non-profit organizations. SCT will continue its Tourism Cares initiatives and place a greater focus on supporting local communities.

“As we begin to recover and travelers come to Sonoma County, sustainable and responsible travel will be tremendously important,” said Claudia Vecchio, SCT’s president and CEO. “The tourism industry’s capacity to generate revenue for local business, provide critical jobs, and financially support programs and services offered through the County cannot be understated. SCT is committed to driving revenue and the economic recovery of the area while also working with local organizations to ensure that responsible and purpose-driven travel will help our communities not only recover but thrive.”

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Sonoma County Tourism is the region’s official Destination Stewardship Organization. Through a multi-channel sales and marketing program, the organization promotes Sonoma County to domestic and global visitors, meeting planners, media, and the travel trade. Pre-pandemic, tourism generated $2.3 Billion in visitor spending, $194 Million in tax revenue and employed more than 23,000 Sonoma Countians. Post-pandemic, SCT will work with partner businesses to rebuild the tourism economy, regain critical revenue and reestablish a vibrant workforce. 

Sonoma County Tourism offices are located at 400 Aviation Blvd., Ste. 500, Santa Rosa, Calif. 95403. For more information, call 707-522-5800 or 800-576-6662, or visit www.sonomacounty.com

 Birgitt Vaughan 
Director of Global Media Relations 
Sonoma County Tourism 
707-522-5826 
[email protected]  

Anna Yan
Public Relations Manager
Sonoma County Tourism
707-522-5818
[email protected]