Sonoma County Tourism on Wednesday recapped its last fiscal year and presented goals for its new one, which began July 1.
Hinting of upcoming national exposure on a network morning show before an audience at its annual meeting, held at Sonoma State University, the tourism agency set out targets which include:
– achieving a 5% year-over-year increase in revenue to the county’s lodging properties
– encouraging more overnight visitation on weekdays
– restarting international travel trade and public relations efforts in the U.K., Germany and Australia.
Destination stewardship efforts are also high priority, said Claudia Vecchio, president and CEO of Sonoma County Tourism. That includes a variety of efforts, such as encouraging visitors to protect the region they visit and aim to leave it better than they found it.
Jonny Westom, vice president of business development, discussed efforts to improve the perception of Sonoma County to meeting planners.
The agency commissioned Northstar Travel Group to perform a national survey of meeting planners, which found 67% had never heard of the county, and of those who have, 66% described their perception as “very good” or “excellent.”
To win over more people and raise the county’s profile, officials outlined plans to create a meetings and events video series that showcases area attractions and venues. The videos will be released in the coming weeks, Weston said.
In the next few weeks, SCT will officially introduce its mobile app, but over the summer, the tourism agency jumped on the TikTok bandwagon.
“Just to speak to the popularity of TikTok, it’s the first social media platform to reach 1 billion users, faster than any other social app,” O’Leary said. “As SCT works to reach the coveted millennial and Gen Z audiences, and as a tactic to increase brand awareness and engagement, our TikTok channel is already working hard. Since launching this channel earlier this summer, we have already garnered nearly 10,000 views.”
O’Leary also said a national partnership is underway.
“We’re working with NBC on a project that will include not only a ‘Today’ show broadcast from Sonoma County,” he said, “but also a brand-new concept for ‘Today’ show fans that will include ‘Today’ show personalities and lots of opportunities to share our beautiful destination on a national stage.” Final dates and details are to come, he added.
On the budget side, on July 1, SCT entered its fiscal year 2022-2023 with an estimated budget of $9.9 million, Vecchio said. That’s higher than its pre-pandemic budget of $8 million in fiscal year 2019-2020. The majority of the agency’s funding comes from a 2% assessment on applicable lodging rooms within the Sonoma County Tourism Business Improvement Area.
Lori Angstadt, Sonoma County Tourism’s vice president of finance and operations, said SCT spent just under $9.5 million for fiscal year 2021-2022.
“As always, the largest portion is spent on marketing and public relations, (which) was almost 60% of total expenditures,” she said. “Business development and travel trade received 16.2%; community engagement 7.4%; and administrative programs (received) 16.6%.”