For this assignment, I chose the non-profit organization
“Visit California”. Tourism and travel industries are major players for The
Golden State, generating 126.3 billion US dollars in visitor spending and 10.3
billion US dollars in tax revenues in 20161.
In 2011, “Visit California” released a 5-year business to transform the
negative perception of Tourism in the Golden State as being an invasive force
rather than focusing on the opportunities and advantages that this sector
present. For it to be successful, “Visit California” presented three key
strategies2:

1.    Reinforce “Visit California’s” Value to Travel-Related
Business

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2.   
Unify Industry Leaders to Raise the Relevance of the Travel Industry

3.    Position Travel and Tourism to Elevate California’s
Overall Image

To help “Visit California” with its
objectives, I would implement a Portfolio Management Strategy to effectively
elevate the organization’s name locally and abroad by focusing on a strong
Strategic Meetings Management Program (SMMP). Corbin Ball Associates defines a SMMP
as a “strategic management of enterprise-wide meeting related process, spend,
volumes, standards and suppliers to achieve quantitative cost-savings, risk
mitigation and superior service”3.
The purpose of using a SMMP is to be as efficient as possible by using specific
resources available and reduce costs to have the best Return of Investment (ROI)
for all the stakeholders involved. This approach will help to build or complete
a strong Portfolio Management.

 

1.   
Position Travel and Tourism to Elevate
California’s Overall Image

For this objective, “Visit California” sets a
target of reaching 91% of favorable votes in the 2013 Outreach Referendum to
renew the 1996 Creation Act for 6 more years as mandated by the CA Senate Act
257. Since its inception, the organization had two referendums with similar
purposes: in 2001 and in 2007. There are 5500 assessed businesses that vote in
the referendum and ultimately decide the fate of the organization. If they are
not satisfied with “Visit California’s” performance, they will stop their
monetary contribution.

To help reach this goal, as a portfolio
management strategy, I would suggest that “Visit California” diversifies its
market segments, since 56% of the assessed businesses are restaurants/retailers
and 34% are accommodations. It would be interesting if other actors could have
their voices heard such as the Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, and Events (MICE)
industry, especially due to the importance of that sector in the economy.

According to PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), in
2009 there were 1.79 million meetings with 204.7 million participants with a
direct spending of 113 billion US dollars in the United States4.
 If “Visit California” could increase
their portfolio by adding that sector, it would enable the ability to reach
other markets through this marketing strategy. They would thus be able to find
a reliable partner that could result in increased satisfaction with the
organization and reach its objective of 91%. As a SMMP approach for this
portfolio management strategy, I would organize small events with those
professionals so that “Visit California” can recruit new members to its
organization.  The organization can
showcase its strengths through its marketing strategies to make sure that the
MICE industry will feel welcomed as part of the “Visit California” family. I
would also suggest the use of technological software tools such as a diverse social
media platform to spread additional awareness and enable an increased investment
in advertising so they can feel that California is THE location for the MICE
industry.

2.   
Unify Industry Leaders to Raise the Relevance
of the Travel Industry

Tourism and travel related business are
catalysts to any economy, if planned and managed well. It is crucial to have governmental
entities on board since they are the guardians of the destination. Each
destination in the world is inside a nation, a country, or a region led by a
governmental body that sets the laws and regulate, to a certain degree, its
economy. “Visit California” aims to foment a relationship between industry
leaders to create one unified voice that will enable greater awareness for legislators
about the benefits of tourism.

As a portfolio management strategy, not only would
I emphasize the obvious economic benefits of tourism (jobs, economic growth,
and investment, etc.) which are already covered by “Visit California” business
plan, but I would also develop a broader message to be used by the organization.
My message would reflect one that would highlight bringing people together to celebrate
their cultural differences but also reveal their similarities to one another. Most
importantly, show Californians they can benefit through the engagement of its
visitors. If Tourism is well coordinated with legislators, everyone can benefit
from it – from the industry leaders to every single citizen whose job is
directly or indirectly related to Tourism. This can help reduce inequality in
many aspects: increased wages, transportation, and urban planning, to name a
few. “Visit California” not only would have an impact on the economy but it can
also be perceived as contributor to social responsibility. The SMMP will mainly
focus on a major event with the industry leaders, legislators and professionals
where “Visit California” can be presented as an organization that brings everyone
together.

 

3.   
Position Travel and Tourism to Elevate
California’s Overall Image

This objective has a broader target audience.
While the first two objectives targeted industry leaders, and government legislators,
this one is aimed at the public in general with a specific goal: to promote
California as a destination through media and other venues according to their
strategic plan. Traditional awareness techniques such as featuring the state of
California in TV shows, movies or through partnerships with celebrities are
pretty well covered on the organization’s business plan. As an additional
portfolio management strategy, I would also consider a subtler approach since
not everyone watches TV nor follows celebrities. For example, to elevate California´s
awareness, I’d suggest product placement on agricultural grocery products that
are made in the Golden State. Since California agriculture (i.e. dairy industry
measured impact of $6.3B in revenue5)
is a titan of economic strength for the state, becoming a partner can only
increase tourism advocacy beneficially. The SMMP would focus on revealing to
the agriculture industry members the benefits in partnering with “Visit
California”. One example could be a national product placement of the “Visit
California” logo with its dairy products. The organization could have its logo
stamped on products so that the consumer can be aware of the origin. It would
be a very effective tool and less expensive than hiring a celebrity. In the
end, both “Visit California” and the CA agriculture industry would benefit
mutually.

1
Runyan, D. Associates, Inc. (2017), “California Travel Impacts by County, 1992-2016p”,
p.6

2
“It’s a Word…It’s a Plane… – Visit California’s Strategic Business Plan •
2011–2016” (2011), p.2, accessed on 01/17/18,
https://industry.visitcalifornia.com/-/media/PDFs/Publications/FINAL-Visit-California-Business-Plan-93011.ashx

3
Corbin Ball Associates (2009), “Strategic Meetings Management Program (SMMP)
Implementation and Idea Guide”, p.3, accessed on 01/17/18, http://www.corbinball.com/assets/SMMPWhitePaper.pdf

4
The Economic Significance of Meetings to the U.S. Economy (2011) p.7, PriceWaterhouseCoopers,
accessed on 01/18/2018, http://www.eventscouncil.org/docs/default-source/ess/CIC_Final_Report_Executive_Summary.pdf?sfvrsn=0

5
Bertone, R. (2017), in “California’s Top 10 Ag Products”. Accessed on
01/19/2018, https://www.farmflavor.com/california/californias-top-10-ag-products/