Tourism Summit - Visit Santa Monica
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Tourism Summit

Join Us For The 2021 Tourism Summit:
The Power of Travel – Connecting People

Thursday, October 21
9:00am – 11:30am
Virtually via Zoom
Only confirmed attendees will receive the Zoom link

You are invited to Santa Monica Travel & Tourism’s Recovery & Forecast Outlook. Learn what’s new in the destination as we recognize the people behind the power of travel.

What to Expect:

Join us as we reflect on Santa Monica’s recovery over the previous year and look forward to what the future holds. Hear industry professionals discuss what lies ahead for tourism in the United States and California, as well as what this means for Santa Monica.

  • Sue Himmelrich, Mayor, City of Santa Monica
  • David White, City Manager, City of Santa Monica
  • Keynote Speaker: Caroline Beteta, President & CEO, Visit California
  • Travel outlook for the U.S., California and Santa Monica: Wendy Kheel and Lauren Schlau
  • What’s been done and what’s to come from Santa Monica Travel & Tourism
  • A panel of industry experts: Ann Hsing, COO, Pasjoli; Jeff Klocke, VP & General Manager, Pacific Park; Sam Jagger, General Manager, Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows; Julia Ladd, Vice President of Property Management, Macerich
  • Thelma Parks Spirit & Tourism Champion Awards

To attend, please RSVP to by Tuesday, October 19. Please note that only confirmed attendees will receive the Zoom link

Nominate Your Employees for Recognition:

This year we will be recognizing employees throughout Santa Monica with two different acknowledgments:

Champions of Change Recognition
At the Tourism Summit this year, we’re highlighting people who are the power of travel in our community – our Champions of Change. The period between 2020 and 2021 has been difficult for businesses and SMTT wants to recognize individuals who went above and beyond over the past year. Help us acknowledge people for who they are and the job they do.

Send us an individual’s name, photo, and a quote from them about working in Santa Monica or provide a quote about why they deserve recognition. Please send your submission to

Image specifications: PNG or JPEG file format; 1600 pixels wide for landscape images; 1200 pixels tall for portrait | Minimum DPI: 72

Thelma Parks Tourism Spirit Award
Santa Monica Travel & Tourism in partnership with the Santa Monica Chamber created the Thelma Parks Tourism Spirit Award to honor one employee each year who goes above and beyond in the tourism industry. This award provides hotels, restaurants, taxi companies, attractions and services an opportunity to recognize exemplary performance and exceptional service by an employee in either a management or non-management position. Nominees are judged on performance that goes above and beyond normal job responsibilities, outstanding and exemplary service to the property, to the guests, and to the community. Submit your nomination.

Speaker Bios

Caroline Beteta, President/CEO of Visit California
Caroline Beteta

Caroline Beteta serves as president & CEO of the industry-led Visit California, a nonprofit organization created to market California as a premier travel destination to increase the state’s share of tourism-related revenues. She simultaneously serves as a strategic advisor for the Governor’s Office of Business & Economic Development (GO-Biz). Beteta is responsible for implementing Visit California’s global marketing program on behalf of the organization’s 21,000 investors and serves as the lead spokesperson for California’s travel industry. In her tenure, she has overseen a decade of growth for California’s travel industry, peaking in 2019 with a record $144.9 billion in economic benefit to the state. She has shepherded the growth of Visit California into a global marketing franchise and helped restore travel and tourism following numerous natural and economic crises.

Caroline serves as a member of the United States Travel and Tourism Advisory Board, which advises the Secretary of Commerce on issues that affect the U.S. tourism industry. She has previously served as Chair of the Board, as well as Acting CEO for Brand USA, where she provided strategic direction for the $200 million global program, interfacing with national congressional leaders and the administration. During a two-year term as National Chair of the U.S. Travel Association, she guided the successful merger of the Travel Industry Association with the Travel Business Roundtable and the creation of Brand USA. Caroline currently serves on the Executive Committee of the World Travel and Tourism Council — Visit California was the first destination marketing organization invited to join the WTTC.
Caroline has received numerous awards for her creative work and leadership in the travel industry, including induction into the U.S. Travel Association’s Hall of Leaders.

Caroline holds a bachelor’s degree in International Relations from the University of California, Los Angeles and a master’s degree in Public Administration/Intergovernmental Affairs from the University of Southern California. She also completed the Stanford Graduate School of Business Executive Marketing Management Program.

Wendy KheelWendy Kheel

Wendy Kheel is acknowledged for expertise in tourism research, data, trends and marketing strategy and for presentations at a wide range of travel industry conferences and seminars.

She joined Tourism Economics in the role of Client Manager, focusing on Symphony, a customizable market intelligence platform. Symphony is designed to help Destination Marketing Organizations eliminate the time and drudgery of processing and visualizing a myriad of data sources and data sets.

Prior to Tourism Economics, she was Vice President of Tourism Insights for the Los Angeles Tourism and Convention Board where she oversaw global research and data analysis enabling the organization and its stakeholders to formulate fact-based marketing, sales and business decisions.

Prior to LA Tourism, she was Director, Consumer Insights at Universal Studios Hollywood, Director of Market Research at Walt Disney Imagineering, and a Senior Manager at two hospitality-industry consulting firms; Laventhol & Horwath, and PKF Consulting (now CBRE).

She has a Masters of Hotel Administration from Cornell University, an MBA from the University of Miami, and a Bachelor of Speech from Northwestern University.

Lauren SchlauLauren Schlau

Lauren Schlau has extensive and successful research and consulting experience. Prior to forming LSC, she was a senior manager at PKF Consulting, (now CBRE), and research director at the San Diego Convention & Visitors Bureau. Ms. Schlau is active in professional organizations including; CalTravel, Travel & Tourism Marketing Association, California Downtown Assn., Travel & Tourism Research Association, L A Tourism & Convention Board, LA5 Rotary, and LA Downtown Center BID.

She has been active in local community economic development, having been appointed by Los Angeles elected officials to local advisory/planning groups, a proposed business improvement district (BID), and a design board for a public/private retail center.

Ms. Schlau earned a Master of Public Administration, University of Southern California and Bachelor of Science, Northwestern University. She holds two professional certificates; Leadership Development from UCLA Extension, and Management Development for Entrepreneurs from the premier UCLA Anderson School. She taught hospitality & foodservice marketing at UCLA Extension.