Visit California Launches First-Ever Campaign to Lure Professional Meetings and Events

November 23, 2021

The Golden State’s official marketing organization was popping plenty of Mumm Napa cuvee at IMEX America 2021 in Las Vegas earlier in November, as it officially unveiled a $4.5 million initiative to invest and market in the professional meetings and events space for the first time in its history.

“We're here today to celebrate that California has reopened and is ready for business, and we really feel like 2022 is going to be a monumental year for the state, said Caroline Beteta, president and CEO of Visit California, before revealing the state’s new “Meet What’s Possible” campaign, which includes an online platform as well as sales and marketing initiatives.

The campaign, which is part of a $95 million stimulus championed by Gov. Gavin Newsom to help the state’s tourism industry recover following the shutdowns and losses of the pandemic, aims to deliver the message that California is ready to host safe, distinctive and memorable meetings and events, according to Beteta.

“Meet What’s Possible is an open invitation to [event professionals] and attendees across the world to consider California's dynamic blend of destination attributes, from state-of-the-art facilities and well-appointed venues to the iconic attractions and trademark experiences that are uniquely California,” she said.

The messaging zeroes in on the state’s kaleidoscopic appeal, according to Beteta, from its culture of inclusivity, collaboration and innovation that has led to some of the most successful and creative businesses in the world, to its geographic beauty, culturally rich destinations, plethora of event venue options and only-in-California experiences.

“We're all about celebrating abundance and diversity, and we found from our research that our brand purpose is also all the culture around the Golden State’s accepting, open, inclusive attitude,” she said. “It’s the culture that connects us all around the diversity in this embarrassment of riches, and it's really what got us to our key positioning as we launched into this era of meetings and professional events—the power of possibility and the breadth of experiences available in California.”

When event professionals do consider California, they’ll have a wealth of new offerings to tap into.

“California has been very busy since the beginning of the pandemic,” Beteta said. “We've experienced, essentially, a new renaissance, such as reinvented urban areas, 7,000 new hotel rooms and new experiences in the attractions landscape.”

As a meeting and event destination, California has more convention centers than any other state, according to Beteta, 10.5 million square feet of function space, 6,500 hotels and resorts and an abundance of commercial airports and flights.

Meanwhile, health and safety are of utmost importance for residents and visitors alike, according to Beteta.

“We know from research that travelers value safe destinations, and I think you all know that California really put their best foot forward to look at safety first of not only the residents and workforce but our prospective visitors,” she said. “We continue to do so with the many announcements going forward about continuing with safety first.”

To jumpstart the landmark Meet What’s Possible initiative for professional meetings and events, Visit California assembled a task force of destinations to advise on the state’s initiative to promote it as premier events destination. Task force organizations include Long Beach Convention and Visitors Bureau, Los Angeles Tourism and Convention Board, Monterey Convention and Visitors Bureau, San Diego Tourism Authority, San Francisco Travel, Santa Monica Travel and Tourism, Visit Anaheim, Visit Greater Palm Springs, Visit Napa Valley and Visit Santa Barbara. 

“Meetings and events play an integral role in California’s economy, and in close concert with these campaign partners, we look forward to charting a path towards a powerful recovery,” Beteta said.

Photo: Aerial view Long Beach, Calif.

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Partner Voices

As event professionals and destinations adjust, adapt and evolve in these uncharted waters, it is imperative that substantial resources be put in place for all of the people responsible for planning and executing trade shows, expositions and conventions. An example is Mohegan Sun, which built an industry-leading, COVID-19 Resource Center with a combination of pictures from recently held successful events (the property reopened on May 1, 2020) along with several widely available and informative documents, such as an evolving operational framework: