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County tourism group announces new board members and a marketing agency 

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– One month after the creation of the first countywide tourism marketing district, Visit San Luis Obispo County has announced its first-year priorities and their new marketing agency partnership with Catalyst Marketing. The district will expand the marketing budget of Visit San Luis Obispo County, allocating an estimated $3.4-million in year-one to be used towards promoting and marketing the region.

The organization also named their new Board of Directors and Marketing Committee, launching the strategic marketing initiatives set forth in the new marketing district plan.

“We have big goals to increase demand and market share over the next several years, especially during the slower travel season,” said President and CEO of Visit San Luis Obispo County, Chuck Davison.  “It’s important that we align our programs with the needs of our constituents, giving them necessary support starting with the off-peak season. I am pleased to announce the Board of Directors’ decision to work with Catalyst Marketing, a major partner in meeting our first-year priorities.”

Targeting the off-peak, slower months for visiting travelers and tourist spending, the partnership will plan an integrated marketing campaign to reach new customers and encourage visitors to choose San Luis Obispo County as a preferred destination. Set to launch this fall, the campaign will be the most extensive outreach effort by the countywide marketing agency, and in the initial phase, includes advertising in key feeder markets: the Bay Area, Southern California and the Central Valley. As the plan fully develops, the campaign will reach key regional markets and extend to international markets, through partnerships with Visit California and Brand USA.

“We are thrilled to be working with Visit San Luis Obispo County and helping to market such a great destination,“ said CEO of Catalyst Mark Astone. “On both a personal and professional level, San Luis Obispo County holds a special place for me and many members of our company. We are excited to hit the ground running, bringing new ideas and opportunities, and sharing the many fantastic amenities the county has to offer with more potential visitors.”

In addition, the organization will invest in two research studies: one study to establish a baseline of the current visitor demographics and understand their purchasing power, and an awareness study to better understand why those in key feeder markets do or do not choose San Luis Obispo County as a travel destination.

Working alongside lodging and tourism constituents, Visit San Luis Obispo County announced the new Board of Directors and Marketing Committee. Members of the Board of Directors (and Executive Committee) include:

· Kevin Phipps, Embassy Suites, San Luis Obispo (Chair)
· Jay Jamison, Pismo Coast Village, Pismo Beach (Vice Chair)
· Clint Pearce, Madonna Inn, San Luis Obispo (Treasurer)
· JP Patel, Best Western Plus Colony Inn, Atascadero (Secretary)
· Noreen Martin, Martin Resorts, San Luis Obispo County Unincorporated (Past President)
· John Arnold, Holiday Inn Express, Paso Robles
· Kathleen Bonelli, Paso Robles Vacation Rentals, Paso Robles
· Lois Fox, Belvino Viaggio Bed & Breakfast, Paso Robles Unincorporated
· Mark Eads, SeaVenture Beach Hotel, Pismo Beach
· Rachel Patranella, Hampton Inn & Suites, Arroyo Grande
· Sam Miller, Holiday Inn Express, Grover Beach
· Val Seymour, The Front Street Inn & Spa, Morro Bay

There is currently one open seat allocated to Pismo Beach and two seats that remain open and will be determined by the board to further represent the unincorporated area of the county and the county administrative office.

Members of the Marketing Committee were vetted among the nominating committee, a subset of the new board, and selected based on their marketing expertise. Members include: Amanda Diefenderfer, Travel Paso Robles Alliance; Ashlee Akers, Verdin; Brent Haugen, Morro Bay Tourism Bureau; Cheryl Cuming, Wine Coast Country; Christen Goldie, Apple Farm; Gordon Jackson, Pismo Beach Conference and Visitors Bureau; Heather Muran, San Luis Obispo Wine Country Association; Jennifer Porter, Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance; Jim Allen, Hearst Castle; John Sorgenfrei, TJA Advertising; Judith Bean, Arroyo Grande and Grover Beach Chambers of Commerce; Lori Keller, Martin Resorts; Molly Cano, City of San Luis Obispo; and Terrie Banish, City of Atascadero.

Visit San Luis Obispo County is also pleased to announce that their offices will be moving to the City of San Luis Obispo at the beginning of August 2015, putting them back in the hub of the county. “We are thrilled for all the exciting changes and advancements in our organization and countywide tourism,” said Davison. “This is a new chapter for Visit San Luis Obispo County and we are eager to expand the promotion of this county and all of its beautiful assets. We sell fun. That’s our job!”

About Visit San Luis Obispo County

Visit San Luis Obispo County is the countywide destination marketing organization and promotes San Luis Obispo County through advertising, marketing, public relations and group sales. Its membership base is comprised of over 500 tourism industry-related businesses including lodging properties, restaurants, wineries, golf courses and retail stores.

About Catalyst Marketing Company

Catalyst is a 40 year old full-service agency, providing advertising, public relations, and marketing services for clients throughout the U.S. and internationally. Catalyst currently employs over 35 professionals in offices located in Los Angeles, Fresno, Hawaii, and has a presence in Florida and New York.


About the author: News Staff

News staff of the Paso Robles Daily News wrote and edited this story from local contributors and press releases. Scott Brennan is the publisher of this newspaper and founder of Access Publishing. Connect with him on Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, or follow his blog. He can be reached at