Tourism Update – June 2019

Posted July 1, 2019

Santa Monica Participates in 51st Annual IPW Trade Show Held in Anaheim

Santa Monica Travel & Tourism (SMTT) and partners participated in U.S. Travel Association’s 51st annual IPW Trade Show, the leading international inbound travel trade show, which was held in Anaheim, CA this year. Each year, over 1,000 U.S. travel organizations and more than 1,300 international and domestic buyers from more than 70 countries conduct business negotiations at IPW that generate more than $5.5 billion in future travel to the USA.

From June 3-5, Santa Monica’s delegation conducted over 180 travel trade appointments with buyers from nearly 30 countries, including the United Kingdom, Australia, Germany, France, Brazil, India, Japan, China and more. SMTT was joined by destination partners Hotel Carmel, Hotel Shangri-La, Huntley Santa Monica Beach, Santa Monica Proper Hotel, Shore Hotel, The Lobster and Viceroy Santa Monica for the trade appointments.

SMTT was also represented at IPW’s Media Marketplace. During a full day of appointments, Lauren Salisbury, Public Relations Manager, met with 20 journalists from key target markets of Australia, India, the United Kingdom and more. Following the conclusion of the media marketplace, Lauren attended the MICHELIN Guide California live star reveal press conference where it was announced that two Santa Monica restaurants – Dialogue and Rustic Canyon – received a one-star distinction.

In addition to the travel trade and media appointments, SMTT engaged in the following events to garner further exposure for our beach city:

  • Santa Monica Client Event – welcomed 90 top clients from a dozen countries for a morning of health, wellness and spa treatments in Anaheim; the clients also had an opportunity to network with Santa Monica’s nine destination partners.
  • California Plaza – participated in the California Plaza, a first-of-its-kind immersive, interactive brand experience which was positioned at the entrance of the Anaheim Convention Center to showcase destinations and suppliers across the state.
  • California Beach Festival – sponsored Visit California’s special invite-only beach party at Huntington Beach, where over 1,000 key global trade buyers and travel media gathered for food, fun, music; these VIP clients were also able to network with California DMOs and experience unique California products.
  • Post-IPW FAM – hosted 14 global travel trade buyers and 12 journalists on a Visit California FAM; FAM participants enjoyed the best of Santa Monica while cycling along the South Bay Bike Trail, dining beachfront at Perry’s Café and cooking at the Gourmandise School of Sweets & Savories.

Key Takeaways from Social Media Week Los Angeles

Amy Mason, SMTT Marketing Manager, Content & Brand Strategy, and Lisa Barker, SMTT Marketing Coordinator, recently attended the 10th edition of Social Media Week, which was hosted at The Eli and Edythe Broad Stage in Santa Monica on June 12-13, 2019. There were speakers from a wide range of companies, including Hot Wheels, Reddit and GrubHub, as well as social media personalities and influencers from around the world. The theme for this year’s conference was “Stories: with great influence comes great responsibility” and dove into the trends of storytelling, influencers and all that is happening in the social media world.

Key takeaways include:

  • Instagram stories is continuing to grow. Over 150 million Instagram users use stories each day.
  • Instagram has many features: IGTV, stories, static posts, video posts, etc. and each feature has its own audience and algorithm. Using all of Instagram’s features increases your overall engagement.
  • Don’t over curate Instagram photos. In the past it was better to have overly curated static posts, but people want something more authentic. Don’t be lazy – keep brand rules – but don’t over “perfect” your posts.
  • 64% of consumers are more likely to buy a product online after watching a video of it first.
  • 56% of kids have social media accounts by the time they are 12 years old.
  • When using an influencer, make sure they fit well in your brand and it makes sense using your product. Don’t force it.
  • By 2021, videos will represent 80% of all online content.
  • 92% of people who engage with mobile videos share them with other people.
  • 58% of people say they’ve been more interested in a brand after seeing their stories.
  • When working with an influencer, it’s OK to give direction, but allow the influencer to use their own creativity for a genuine authentic post.
  • Be informed and know as much about the influencer as you would like them to know about your brand.

What is the Perception of Santa Monica as a Destination Brand?

Over the course of a year, SMTT worked with Portland-based consulting firm The Coraggio Group to understand the evolution of the destination’s brand perception over time and the trajectory it’s taking given the range of complex challenges the city is facing. Read on to learn about the project and the key findings.

The research project included extensive stakeholder, resident and potential visitor outreach, including:

  • Analyzed 7.8 million Santa Monica-focused conversations on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Reddit, YouTube, Forums, Consumer reviews and blogs from January 2015 – May 2018
  • Surveyed over 2,300 residents
  • Issued digital surveys to potential visitors in 5 languages
  • Interviewed 39 community leaders/stakeholders (SMTT Board of Directors, SMTT Tourism Marketing District Committee, Business Improvement Districts, City of Santa Monica staff, Visit California staff, etc.)
  • Conducted focus groups among travel agents in Brazil, India, Australia, United Kingdom, France and Germany
  • Benchmarked feedback as compared to destinations (Palm Springs, Santa Barbara, San Francisco, Seattle, San Diego)


The results of the research centered around 4 key insights:

  1. The pier and the beach are our primary assets, but their value to the Santa Monica destination brand may be at risk.
  2. Visitors love Santa Monica’s luxury accommodations, but this positive perception may be at risk.
  3. Negative perceptions of homelessness, safety, and cleanliness, collectively termed, community livability concerns – threaten positive brand perception.
  4. The high costs of living in and running a business in Santa Monica are changing the vibe of the community.

Next Steps

Santa Monica Travel & Tourism will continue to focus on strengthening the destination with the Santa Monica Experience Management Plan. This important project will build on the findings of the Destination Brand Perception Study, providing a vision for the destination experience we strive to create for residents and visitors and the actions we will take to reach that vision. This plan will include actions that require consistent participation from key community stakeholders.

Welcome Santa Monica Proper Hotel & Cayton Children’s Museum!

SMTT is so excited to welcome to two new additions to the Santa Monica community – Santa Monica Proper Hotel, which opened June 17, and Cayton Children’s Museum, which opened June 30!

Santa Monica Proper, located on Wilshire Boulevard, is a luxury hotel designed by world-renowned designer, Kelly Wearstler, with 271 rooms, suites and spaces that optimize the city’s abundant ocean breezes and natural light, while the interior design finds inspiration in the organic tones and textures of the local coastline.

Brian DeLowe, President and Co-Founder of Proper Hospitality, says “We couldn’t be more excited to open a hotel in our hometown of Santa Monica. This will be the first high-end luxury lifestyle hotel to open in Santa Monica in decades, and we’re looking forward to bringing many new social spaces to guests and locals alike, including the city’s largest rooftop, with a sweeping deck with lounge and event space, and the only rooftop pool in Santa Monica. We’re fortunate to have Chef Kaleo Adams as our Executive Chef (previously Beverly Hills Hotel) and a partnership with celebrated chefs Jessica Koslow (Chef/Owner of Sqirl) and Gabriela Camara (Restauranteur/Chef of Contramar) for a unique collaborative restaurant concept that will bring amazing new dining options to the community. We also have incredible flexible meeting spaces, including a large ballroom with capacity for seated events of close to 300 people, and a number of other indoor and outdoor spaces that are perfect for personalized events for the local community.”

Additionally, the Cayton Children’s Museum is opening in Santa Monica Place! The Cayton Children’s Museum offers 10,000 square feet of discovery-based exhibits and more than 20 classes and free public programs each week in art, music & movement, cross-cultural exchange, school readiness, early childhood education and foreign language. “We sought to find a new home that was accessible, visible, and welcoming. Santa Monica is all of that and more” says Esther Netter, Founder & CEO of Cayton Children’s Museum. She continues “We are surrounded by willing partners, creative visionaries and the beauty of nature. The Cayton is ready to serve, to engage, to welcome and to inspire.

How to Work with SMTT

Need to increase your tourism business? Santa Monica Travel & Tourism can assist to increase your tourism revenues through a number of marketing, advertising (Official Visitors Guide, Official Map) public relations and sales opportunities.

For more information, please find contacts for each department below or visit Santa Monica Travel & Tourism’s Business Opportunities page.

Marketing & Interactive:
Kim Sidoriak, Chief Marketing Officer

Public & Community Relations:
Lauren Salisbury, Public Relations Manager

Partnership Opportunities:
Visit for more information


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