Welcome to 2018! We enter the New Year with excitement, caution and, in some cases, sadness.

The economy appears to be on an upward swing, and the new tax cuts are hopefully going to continue to keep the tourism and recreation industry strong and moving forward.  We also are cautious and look at global and political issues that could move consumers to reduce their travel and spending We also enter the new year on a sad note for tourism destination that has suffered significantly with devastating fires in California.  Hopefully, these destinations will rebind as their communities rebuild/\.

At SMG 2017 was a wonderful year full of challenging and interesting activities. A sample of projects we enjoyed including the following:

  • Catalina Island Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Bureau- We assisted the Chamber by developing an in-depth analysis identifying the need for reducing demand during their primary visitor season and developing a new visitor season all to increase revenues but minimize the impact on local community and environmental resources.
  • Vacaville Agritourism Strategy- SMG developed a new agritourism strategy for Visit Vacaville enabling the destination to increase its competitiveness by leveraging the agricultural assets.
  • Return on Investment Analysis for Santa Maria- A new player in the competitive Central Coast SMG assisted Visit Santa Maria with an ROI analysis of the resources helping them and their ad agency to refine their marketing efforts creating improved efficiencies and effectiveness.
  • New Marketing Action Plan for Buellton- SMG also assisted Buellton with a new marketing action plan to guide their marketing efforts in that incredibly competitive Central Coast market.
  • Visitor Impact Analysis for Oceano Dune State Vehicle Recreation Area- This project is one I always enjoy given my interest in motorcycle rising. We developed an economic analysis and understanding of how important this asset is to San Luis Obispo County.

These are just samples of the interesting projects we were involved in this past year. There were much more and we look forward to 2018 with some really interesting projects for clients already in the works.

In addition to consulting projects, we were also busy publishing a variety of think pieces for the industry.

  • Are California DMO’s Vulnerable to Funding Cuts- This paper focused on an interesting rend of municipalities cutting back and in some cases eliminated funding for tourism and local Destination Marketing organizations.
  • Overtourism: When is there too Much Tourism- This paper addressed the issue of new phenomena, too much tourism. As the population has continued to grow in many states it’s created an issue in many destinations of too many visitors especially on weekends resulting in significant impacts on residents. This paper is timely for many destination Marketing Organizations, as this issue is morphing into a political issue with potential ramifications.
  • The Changing Dynamics of Destination Tourism- This paper deals with the need for destinations to shift beyond the attributes of a destination when marketing a destination to look for new ways to create visitor connection to a destination.
  • Is legal Marijuana the next big thing in California Tourism? Maybe not.- This paper addressed the impending legalization of marijuana and its potential for tourism. The paper takes a hard and realistic look at this potential and compares it to wine tourism, and the introduction of gaming and the impacts both have had on California tourism.

All of these papers are available on my personal linked in page. Just download them and enjoy.

Additionally, I had some opportunities to speak at different destinations including Ventura West, Vacaville, the Central Coast Tourism Council and more. At each destination, the focus was always on destination, marketing competitive strategy, and the need to embrace continual change.

I have long realized the frontier for destination competitiveness lies not just in how much funding and what the brand may be, but instead how well a destination adapts and changed. After all, it was Darwin who said “Its, not the strongest who survives but the most adaptable.” For this reason, SMG Consulting is always available to assist Destination Marketing Organizations (DMOs to adapt and change. We will continue to provide a full range of services to help our clients including research strategic thinking/Planning, marketing strategy/planning, and organizational change dynamics.

Looking ahead to 2018 we wish everyone a prosperous and happy New Year.

Carl Ribaudo
SMG Consulting

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