Last Thursday, amidst gourmet appetizers and fine wines at the Santa Barbara Historical Museum, the Santa Barbara Conference and Visitor’s Bureau and Film Commission officially announced that its name is now Visit Santa Barbara, a change that comes with new plans for marketing the county as a premier tourist and filmmaking destination while building upon the billion dollar travel industry.
According to Visit Santa Barbara’s five-year strategic marketing plan, which began in 2010, the organization’s “aggressive” marketing tactics have resulted in an increase of roughly $45 million in lodging revenues through the 2012-2013 fiscal year. The name was changed to ensure that “ongoing local success,” said CEO Kathy Janega-Dykes, who also revealed the new logo that incorporates an image of Saint Barbara and is, in her words, “contemporary, fresh, and truly evokes the meaning of Santa Barbara.”
In addition to more press trips, Visit Santa Barbara us also conducting a complete revision of the Santa Barbara visitor’s guide, which will do away with traditional advertising and instead offer partners the chance to collaborate with editors to create “custom content” for the guide. Those partners will pay the publication a sum of money that’s roughly equivalent to the editorial content they contribute and receive, according to Heather Buchman, representative for the guide’s publisher, William Lee Creative Agency. Buchman said this new editorial and advertising system will allow the guide’s imagery and written content to “blend seamlessly.”
Another change to the bureau’s overall marketing strategy is the film commission’s upcoming development of a “production incentive”’ that will reach out to several media production sectors — still photography, television, and film — and is expected to debut sometime in September. By providing a financial incentive that is unique to Santa Barbara and connects with so many sectors, the new fund will be the only one of its kind in the state, according to Geoff Alexander, film commissioner for Santa Barbara County. “We have to innovate,” said Alexander. “It’s really competitive for all the cities in Southern California.”
But Santa Barbara has the ability to stand out from the rest, with not only a continually growing travel sector, but a booming wine industry as well. Magan Kunin, owner of Kunin Wines, said the oceanside Funk Zone — in which several wine tasting rooms, restaurants and public art displays all mesh together — offers visitors with a travel experience unlike anywhere else.
“Santa Barbara is an exceptional and beautiful town where you can walk and visit 18 tasting rooms and never have to leave downtown,” Kunin said. “You can’t find that anywhere else.”