November 2019


Beginning December 26, 2019, Visit Santa Barbara will launch a new winter hotel promotion to increase overnight demand and length of stay during the winter season. TBID hotels, motels, inns and vacation rentals are encouraged to post a winter promotion on the VSB website with a call to action linked to their property. For best results, participants are encouraged to promote a “Third Night Free” offer, although other offers are accepted for this campaign. 

VSB will invest in social media and banner advertising in key drive and flight markets. TBID lodging properties are eligible to participate in the campaign free of charge and are encouraged to actively manage their offers to meet their own revenue management objectives. The use of blackout dates for weekends and compressed dates is encouraged, along with any requirements that align with property best practices (ex. advance booking, prepayment, etc.). 

Unlike VSB’s “Third Night Free” fall promotion, the winter campaign will not be run in conjunction with Expedia or Priceline. After an evaluation on recent performance through these channels and feedback from participating hotel partners, future promotion of the winter campaign will focus on direct bookings only.

For lodging properties interested in participation, please contact Visit Santa Barbara’s Director of Marketing and Events Noelle Buben at [email protected] for details.


The Santa Barbara South Coast is made up of unique communities offering a diversity of people and experiences for all ages and interests. In the “Like a Local” video and content series, Visit Santa Barbara partnered with local tastemakers to highlight can’t-miss and must-see qualities of the neighborhoods where they work and play. “Like a Local” is back for a second season showcasing 10 new locals and nine unique neighborhoods through a series of one-minute videos and dedicated website articles. Videos and accompanying website articles will be released bi-monthly and promoted through VSB’s social media channels including Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, TripAdvisor and Pinterest. The series also has a dedicated microsite on Follow along at


California STAR Sales Companion™ is a Visit California training platform for travel counselors, designed to drive bookings and expand agent knowledge regarding the diversity of California experiences. The platform is accessed via web, tablet and mobile by a database of more than 26,000 already-registered travel advisors in 14 major domestic and international markets and translated into 13 languages. In November, VSB’s travel trade team produced a training chapter on the Santa Barbara South Coast with 8 interactive pages of photos, video, infographics and more. At the end of each training, agents take a multiple-choice quiz to become specialists on Santa Barbara. Agents wishing to attend familiarization trips to Santa Barbara sponsored by Visit California will be required to complete the training prior to visiting the market, bringing more educated attendees who can tell the Santa Barbara story to their clients.


Visit Santa Barbara along with Hotel Californian represented the Santa Barbara South Coast in the Visit California (VCA) booth at International Luxury Travel Market (ILTM) held in Cannes, France. California was the only U.S. state to participate at ILTM, with over 5,000 attendees including VIP media from 80 different countries and 1,880 exhibitors. During the December show, VSB’s travel trade team and Hotel Californian met with nearly 40 luxury tour operators and travel advisors who shared the following anecdotal insights:

  • There is a focus on conscious luxury travel, which is travel that balances personal fulfillment with human rights, sustainable communities and the environment. Conscious luxury travelers lean towards luxury brands with a social and ethical conscience.
  • While exclusivity is key, uniqueness and authenticity are more important than ostentation. Luxury travelers are looking for under-the-radar alternatives to major tourist destinations where they can have immersive local experiences.
  • Santa Barbara as a “laid-back luxury” destination appeals to this audience despite alternative international destinations that might offer ultra-luxury.
  • Political issues worldwide have caused a slight shift to domestic travel, with many clients wanting to stay stateside.

On the PR side, Visit Santa Barbara met with influential luxury travel editors and VIP media from leading international and domestic travel publications during media receptions and networking events in Cannes. 

Following the show, PR attended a VCA media mission in Paris for two days of networking events with representatives of top French luxury outlets, traditional media, online media and digital influencers. A highlight of the trip included a meeting at Michelin headquarters with publishers of the red and green travel guides, as well as newer travel publications.


Hotel demand across the Santa Barbara South Coast was flat in November 2019, leading to a 5% decrease in occupancy (67%). The average daily rate increased 3% to $243 per night. The growth in room rates lead to a 3% increase in hotel rooms revenue ($26.3 million). This unexpectedly soft performance was influenced by softer group sales in 2019 over 2018, the Cave Fire and wet weather during the critical Thanksgiving holiday weekend.