Marketing Travel and Adventure Ideas to Vacationers
Nearly fifteen hundred vendors and five hundred travel agencies represented tourist attractions around the world. They marketed events and attractions in their corners of the world at the Santa Clara Travel and Adventure Show on February 11-12, 2017. Potential tourists from the San Francisco, Santa Clara County area packed into the Convention Center to plan their summer vacations.
Chambers of Commerce and city representatives from across Tulare County meet monthly as the Sequoia Tourism Council. This body proposes ways to promote tourism in Tulare County. Part of this promotion is to attend three travel shows across the state. The first show is in Santa Clara, followed by the Los Angeles Travel and Adventure Show, completed by the San Diego show.
It was my privilege, along with four other representatives from Tulare County to attend the Santa Clara show. We set up our booth in the California rows ready to greet visitors and pass out free Sequoia Tourism Visitors’ Guides. We urged our neighbors from the north to come to Tulare County.
Total attendance was up two thousand to nearly 20,000 visitors in Santa Clara’s 108,000 square foot Convention Center Exhibit Hall. Before the doors opened crowds lined up encircling the auditorium while the vendors put finishing touches on their booths. Presenters and their representatives wove through the lines passing out admission tickets to their events. The show had broad appeal. Young families, retired couples, and out of country tourist groups waited patiently for the doors to open. Once they did, we were so busy we did not even notice when Rick Steves came and went.
Sequoia Tourism Council Booth
As a new tourism vendor, I learned quickly that the broad appeal of Tulare County is the Sequoia National Park. Working with esteemed colleagues, Eric Coyne, Deputy CAO, Economic Development Film & Tourism and assistant Ally Vander Poel from the Tulare County Resource Management Agency taught me much about the film industry and economic development opportunities in our county. Kelly Evans, the Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Park Education Program Director, and Krista Matias, Programs Coordinator for the Sequoia Parks Conservancy shared about park programs available both in and out of the park. Their goal is every fourth grader in the park. Together we handed out Visitors’ Guides and educated attendees who showed an interest in visiting the National Park. As a member of the Woodlake Valley Chamber of Commerce and representative on the Sequoia Tourism Council, I encouraged the streaming thousands to stop long enough to consider visiting the small to medium-sized towns leading up to the park, primarily Visalia, Woodlake, Three Rivers, and Exeter.
Our space was packed. There was often a line spilling into the walkway waiting to sign up to win our basket. People could not move through the main hallway.
Sometimes we migrated across the hall next to the Yosemite Rock Wall to hand out our Tourism Guides. The four of us chatted with visitors as fast as our mouths would go.
Only four hours from either San Francisco, the northern large population hub of California, or Los Angeles, the southern bubble, Tulare County makes a quiet alternative to the hustle of busy city life. So many attendees told us that the Sequoias were on their bucket list. My personal goal was to add our small artistic and historic communities to their schedules.
My opening catch phrase as I stuck my arm bravely in front of the molasses moving line was, “Want a book?” It was hard to refuse those big trees with the tagline, “Find Your Awe.”
If they took the guide, I asked, “Are you interested in history?”
That question stopped people from their mad rush through the booths. Most of them answered positively. It would be unAmerican to say otherwise.
If the visitors liked history, I told them that I had something special for them.
Chris Brewer, from the Book Garden in Exeter not only gave us five beautiful books to give away at each of the three shows but collectible colorful fruit box labels. This artifact from the 1940s or 1950s, perfectly preserved in his museum storage, created conversations with potential tourists.
“Do you know what this is?” I asked.
Many of them guessed it was a can label. Their reply opened the door to briefly discuss small towns and the agricultural communities in Tulare County. Sometimes I threw in a pitch to the students about participating in Nationa History Day, California. I couldn’t help myself.
We all tried to slow down the wave of people long enough for them to sign up for our beautiful basket of products from Tulare County. You can’t see all the products inside. You would have loved to win this basket of goods from Tulare County!
Two of the 94 press members, Maria Perez and her friend Madonna stopped by our booth. I had met Maria online just the week before. We discussed phoning each other as fellow twitter followers from California. Then, we found out we both had plans to attend the Show. Problem solved.
Over the two-day weekend, February 11-12, 2017, we handed out 1,188 Tourism Guides down from 1,540 in 2016. We collected 230 names on two iPads down from 474 in 2016. (OK we talked too much!)
Our prize winners, practically screamed with delight when they picked up their winnings. And they should have. The basket contained hundreds of dollars worth of Tulare County goods. There were a plethora of items including books, honey, olive oil, a hoodie sweatshirt, a custom clay teapot, stuffed animals, trinkets, office supplies, and candy.
One young woman won the 1892 edition of the Tulare County Atlas reprinted by Bear Books and donated by Chris Brewer.
She exclaimed, “This is the only think I wanted! I’m so happy! This was the best booth here!”
Thank you to our wonderful donors for their generosity.