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Researching Rural Markets


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CTTC Rural Tourism Program Efforts
At the January 2009 Commission meeting, there was a Commissioner
recommendation that CTTC “do more” to promote tourism in rural California.
In order for all CTTC stakeholders to make an informed decision regarding the
appropriate strategic direction for rural tourism development by CTTC, staff
have prepared a background document and a recommendation for ongoing


The Rural Tourism Program was developed during the 1990s to assist rural
tourism regions with their regional marketing efforts. Over the years, the Office
of Tourism has allocated anywhere between $5,000 and $25,000 in hopes of
creating fully self-sufficient Regional Marketing Groups, as demonstrated by
the Shasta Cascade and Central Coast regions.

Mostly recently, CTTC has allocated $30,000. It should be noted that assessed
revenues from the rural regions of California are approximately $2.3 million, or
about 5% of CTTC’s $50 million budget. The goal of these allocations is to
provide seed funding for these regional organizations, to be a catalyst toward
encouraging local and county destination organizations to leverage their
efforts and resources to market their respective regions. There has been
interest among the constituency to have CTTC increase the funding levels to
the Regional Marketing Groups. However, CTTC has not seen the increased
levels of participation to warrant allocation of additional funding, as per the
co-op guidelines stated below.

It should also be noted that CTTC currently funds each Regional Marketing
Group with $30,000, which is secured by a formal contract outlining the
criteria that each group must deliver in order to receive their funding (See
Attachment A, California Tourism Rural Regional Cooperative Partnership
Agreement). The criteria was developed by the Rural Tourism Council and
ratified two years ago with the understanding that the match would grow to
be in line with the CTTC Cooperative Marketing Program Guidelines (which at
this time stipulate a 3:1 match). The Rural Regional Program is an effort
between California Tourism and regional destination management
organizations throughout rural California. By participating in this rural co-op
program, destinations of all sizes can stretch their tourism dollars while
partnering with successful state-branded promotions in domestic and
international markets. The intent is for this funding to be highly leveraged
beyond the 60/40 (CTTC=60/Regional Group=40) match that the Regional
Marketing Groups currently enjoy. However, most groups only match the bare
minimum of funds.
Strategic Planning

Two years ago, CTTC reinstated the Rural Tourism Development Manager
position, currently held by Jonelle Tannahill, that had been lost with the demise
of the Technology, Trade and Commerce Agency. Since that time, the Rural
Tourism Development Manager has assisted many rural destinations and
Regional Marketing Groups with their marketing efforts, brought additional
stakeholders into the program, and provided numerous hours of technical
assistance and support. Prior to CTTC’s allocation of this additional resource,
two rural regions were not using their funding, two were using all of their
funding, and the others used only portions of the funding allocated.

Additionally, a $50,000 matching funds award was added to the Rural
Tourism Program Budget two years ago to encourage regional marketing
groups to look at ways to further leverage their funds with other regional
marketing groups. Several important multi-regional projects have been
completed with this additional funding, including international marketing
programs, multi-regional marketing materials and most recently, the California
Mobile Welcome Center Airstream project. The Airstream has embarked on a
California Getaway Tour, a tourism marketing program that the Shasta
Cascade Wonderland Association has produced in conjunction with other
sponsors to benefit all of the rural regions of California.

Two years ago, Commissioner Anderson suggested that CTTC’s 5-year
Strategic Marketing Plan specifically profile a dedicated Rural Tourism Plan. A
professionally facilitated industry-wide discussion was held with local
representatives, cultural and heritage tourism representatives, public lands,
and California Welcome Centers (CWCs), which resulted in a Rural Tourism
Strategic Plan.

Rural Tourism Strategic Plan Goals:

   •   To promote rural California
   •   To promote and facilitate local partnerships
   •   To develop a viable public-private rural tourism collaboration
   •   To integrate public and commercial Web sites to optimize collaboration
   •   To encourage increased visitation and length of stay in rural markets
   •   To develop and sustain programs for participation by the smallest
   •   To support and synchronize with all California Welcome Centers
All CTTC programs, events, opportunities and projects include or
are open to rural attractions and destinations. In fact, the images,
locations, places, destinations and attractions CTTC uses in all its
programs and events are predominately rural in nature.
Advertising & Cooperative Marketing Programs

   •   The “umbrella” brand advertising spot, “Work,” features predominately
       rural destinations.
   •   The Land of Wine and Food Campaign, including the “You’ll Be Back”
       spot, print advertising and dedicated Web site, is also predominately
   •   The winter sports spot, “Ambitious,” and winter recreation Web page are
       exclusively rural.
   •   The themes (images, content, maps, destinations, attractions) of the
       cooperative marketing inserts are predominately rural.
   •   California Web sites both domestically and internationally devote
       extensive content to the eight rural tourism regions.
   •   The activity-based cooperative marketing programs are predominately
       rural (Shop California, California Fun Spots, Golf California and California
       State Parks).

The domestic TV media spend for 2008-2009 is $13.2 million, which includes
national cable and a spot market buy in the Western feeder markets (Seattle,
Portland, Denver, Salt Lake City, Phoenix and Las Vegas) as well as additional
spot markets through our Southwest Airlines partnership (Chicago, Houston,
San Antonio, Dallas and Denver). CTTC’s Canada TV media spend for 2008-
2009 is an additional $1.9 million on national cable networks and is running
both the “Work” and “You’ll Be Back” spots. All of the CTTC commercial spots
feature rural destinations:

   •   “Work” (brand spot): Lake Tahoe and Santa Barbara.
   •   “Ambitious” (snow spot): North and South Lake Tahoe and Mammoth.
   •   “You’ll Be Back” (wine and food spot): Mendocino County, San Ynez
       Valley and Sonoma County.

An additional $1.2 million was spent on print brand advertising ($814,882) and
co-op inserts ($377,930) in 2008-2009. There were 195 mentions of rural
destinations in the combined print pieces over the past year and a half. There
are 17 Shop California partners and an additional nine Fun Spots partners that
are all in the rural regions. In the California Golf Guide, (a 64-page guide,) 29
pages of editorial feature destinations within the rural regions, an ad-
equivalent value of $110,000.
California Publications

Rural editorial within CTTC print publications has an ad-equivalent value of
$3.2 million. California Road Trips is more than two-thirds rural. Both Road
Trips and the California Visitor’s Guide include all 12 tourism regions, eight of
them rural.

Publication          Distribution                        Editorial Ad-Equivalent
                                                         Pgs       Value
2009 CA Visitor’s    500,000 copies distributed             65       $2,132,470
Guide                annually; 100,000 downloads of
                     the digital version
2008 Road Trips      500,000 inserted into the June          8          $271,520
                     edition of Sunset magazine;
                     500,000 distributed direct to
                     consumers at key travel
                     destinations including all CWCs
2008                 215,000 copies distributed to           24         $814,560
International        overseas travel trade and
Guides (nine)        consumers

Web Exposure on

On average, the CTTC Web site generates 179,000 unique visitors a month
with over 945,000 page views. There are 2,418 total dedicated rural pages on, an estimated ad-equivalent value of $85,000. The rural
content on those pages also includes:

      71      Trip Ideas
      271     Inside Scoops
      102     Must Sees
      179     Events
      43      Home Page hero panels (out of a total 72 panels)
      120     Featured Pages
      1,612   Featured Hotel & other travel packages
      20      Keyword links from the online CVG

Much of the content on is generated by partners through
the Content Submission Tool on In fact, over 1,300
items have been submitted in the past six months and added to CTTC Web
sites globally. Additionally, to drive traffic to, CTTC has
invested $307,000 into a Search Engine Marketing (SEM) program, of which
an estimated $204,000 of the buy has rural and rural related keywords that
drive traffic to the rural pages within
Communications Programs

Individual/Group Fams
While there is never a guarantee that a journalist will produce a story based on
his/her fam trip to any region, it is a safe assumption that a story will be
developed based on a visit. Often, one trip can yield several stories from each
attending journalist. It should be noted that when CTTC is involved in
facilitating a fam, the journalist must be visiting more than one destination and
typically more than one region. Based on the caliber of the media outlet and
the length of each segment or story, a single fam-related media placement can
result in an ad-equivalency ranging from $9,000 for a story in the Fort-Worth
Star telegram, to more than $70,000 for a mention in USA Today. Based on
the journalist’s story ideas, CTTC continually sends media to experience
California’s rural regions.

Desk Sides
Much like fam trips, coverage resulting from a desk-side meeting is never
guaranteed. But in today’s fast-paced media environment, face-to-face
meetings with journalists can yield excellent results as reporters look to their
PR contacts for quick, accurate information. CTTC continually promotes rural
California on desk-side meetings, as it promotes all of California’s 12 regions.

With a newsworthy hook and new information to present, a national desk-side
tour could result in coverage such as:

   •   One national newspaper hit – USA Today, $120,000 in ROI
   •   Inclusion in the upfront of a leading travel magazine – Budget Travel,
       $40,000 in ROI
   •   A story or mention on a leading national Web site’s travel section –, $90,000 in ROI

A regional desk side tour could result in:

   •   A story in a regional magazine, such as Via – $30,000 in ROI
   •   A placement in a top daily for that market such as the San Francisco
       Chronicle - $80,000 in ROI
   •   A placement in a regional daily such as the Sacramento Bee - $30,000 in
   •   A regional daily Web site story like - $4,000 in ROI
“What’s New in California” Newsletter
Today’s shrinking newsrooms have forced journalists to spend less and less
time researching travel stories. The “What’s New” newsletter provides media
with a one-stop-shop for California travel information, making story generation
quicker and easier. And because the newsletter reaches more than 3,000
journalists with every distribution, a single newsletter mention can lead to
multiple coverage possibilities. Each issue of “What’s New” is created entirely
from partner-generated content – including coverage of each of the eight rural
regions, if supplied.

Media Marketplace Events
Marketplace events, like desk-sides, allow participants to forge relationships
with travel journalists who are often pressed for time at their jobs and in
search of go-to sources for tourism information. With average media
attendance ranging from 55-100 journalists dependent upon the event’s media
market size, the marketplace events provide participants with the chance to
have face-to-face conversations with leading travel journalists they might
never meet otherwise. Persuading just two attending freelance journalists to
write about your destination could lead to placements in publications like the
San Jose Mercury News and 7X7 magazine, with a resulting ROI of more than
$30,000. Rural destination and attractions partners are invited to participate
as delegates at each of these events.

Press Releases
CTTC Press Releases are developed by region and theme, the majority of
which are rural in nature. It should be noted that content for these releases is
typically shared with Sunset Custom Media Solutions for inclusion in the
California Visitor’s Guide and development of Web site editorial. Additionally,
press release content is sometimes used by Sunset to develop editorial for
Sunset magazine and other Sunset travel-related publications. Finally, all
relevant content is then defined and added to the California consumer Web
sites worldwide for themed editorial, venues, “inside scoops,” “must sees,” etc.
Each press release is created entirely from partner-generated content –
including coverage of each of the eight rural regions, if supplied.

California Welcome Center Program

CTTC also supports the California Welcome Centers (CWCs), located
predominately in rural areas. Promotions of those assets include a full page of
advertising in the California Visitor’s Guide, full page of advertising in California
Road Trips, mentions in State Parks Welcome Kit publications, and listings on
consumer Web sites worldwide (including “Things To Do,” itineraries, etc.).

CTTC Programming Opportunities

In order to communicate to the over 5,400 assessed businesses, 900
destination marketing organizations and tens of thousands of other tourism-
related stakeholders, CTTC provides the following communications vehicles so
that rural regional partners can stay apprised of opportunities on a daily,
weekly, or monthly basis:

Insights Online (
Insights, CTTC’s monthly stakeholder newsletter, has a section devoted to the
promotion of rural California, and contains thorough coverage of past program
results and upcoming program opportunities. Insights also has a California
Welcome Center section, cultural heritage information, grant and funding
opportunities, and resources.

B2B site (
  • Marketing Program Planner: Up-to-date information on all upcoming
     CTTC programs, including deadlines, registration prices, and program
     details. All of these programs include opportunities for rural destinations
     and/or rural regional marketing group participation – many for free or
     for a nominal fee.

   •   Content Submission Tool: Partners can submit content for PR or Web
       needs. Given the depth and breadth of content available for exposure by
       rural California, CTTC relies on its partners to input rural regional

   •   Research: Rural partners can find much of the information they need to
       develop their marketing plans, budgets, and justify their existence to
       their funding partners and stakeholders.

   •   Marketing Plans: Rural Strategic Marketing Plan, 5-year Strategic
       Marketing Plan and the latest annual Work Plan.

   •   Meeting Materials: You’ll find full reports on our latest activities in each
       set of Commission meeting materials.

   •   Presentations: Uploaded after each CTTC speaking engagement,
       including CTTC’s quarterly Commission meetings.

   •   Press Materials: Includes the latest issues of “What’s New” and the latest
       press releases.
Leveraging CTTC Funds

CTTC has approved guidelines for staff to use in allocating cooperative
marketing funds, which state that CTTC funds now are leveraged 3:1. The rural
tourism program does not meet these basic criteria of a 3:1 match. By
developing contract criteria for the regional marketing groups, CTTC aims to
drive planning and programming, which would ultimately stimulate additional
participation and memberships into the regional marketing groups. To best
leverage its global $50 million marketing plan to benefit stakeholders across
the state, CTTC needs reasonable involvement from its partners.

Each and every CTTC program and staffer has embraced the rural tourism
product. We are in the first quarter of the second year of the Rural Tourism
Strategic Plan, and continue to work toward the goals stated above.
Additionally, of the 28 Commissioners currently serving, 12 are from rural
regions, and three are rental car companies who have a vested interest in
convincing people to drive into rural California.

Rural Tourism Video Development Proposal

In a follow-up meeting with Commissioner Anderson and discussion with Chair
Chapman, it was suggested that CTTC develop a video about what rural
tourism in California is. California’s rural tourism is very well defined in our
Visitor’s Guide, Web sites, TV spots, print ads, etc. A better option to showcase
the importance of rural tourism, thereby increasing public funding for rural
California communities and counties, would be to develop a video to garner
support and recognition for the need to fund tourism promotion at local,
county and regional levels.

CTTC created a similar video during the 2007 Referendum with facts, figures,
and testimonials on why tourism matters at the local, county and regional
levels. With this promotional video supporting the need for their vital
industries, rural regional associations and partners will be able to garner
support from their stakeholders to continue and even expand their financial
commitment. They can also use this to reach out to new groups (arts, wine
and food, attractions, etc.), expanding partnerships and networks to further
promote rural tourism.
                                   Attachment A
                         California Tourism
         Rural Regional Cooperative Partnership Agreement

The California Travel and Tourism Commission (CTTC) is a non-profit organization,
with a mission to develop and maintain marketing programs – in partnership with our
state’s travel industry – that keep California top-of-mind as a premier travel

The rural tourism program has been operating for over 15 years. Through various
promotions and program names, including The Californians, and Discover the
Californias, CTTC has assisted with the branding and increased awareness of the eight
established California Rural Tourism Regions throughout the state.

The purpose of the CTTC Rural Regional Cooperative Partnership Agreement is to
have regional marketing groups, consisting of CVBs and travel industry stakeholders,
work together to extend the destination awareness to the domestic and international
markets. Program elements such as: collateral, Web site, advertising, trade shows and
other various marketing and cooperative programs are some possible usages for
these CTTC Rural Regional Cooperative Partnership funds.

In the past 12 years, CTTC has grown and significantly expanded its cooperative
programs with the addition of programs such as travel trade shows, media missions,
Shop California, Culture California, California Golf and many others. With the elevation
of the Rural Marketing Program throughout the Strategic Plan, original and enhanced
marketing programs have been developed which anchor and synergize the rural
program with the CTTC advertising and marketing programs.

In 2007, the CTTC developed a comprehensive five-year Strategic Marketing Plan and
Annual Work Plan to guide the organization in meeting its mission: “To promote
California as one of the world’s premier travel destinations in order to increase travel-
related revenues and tourism employment in California.”

The five-year Strategic Marketing Plan was created to help CTTC manage an annual
budget of $50 million from 2007 to 2013.

The five core strategies of the plan include the following:
   •   Protect and maintain volume in domestic primary markets
   •   Reach new visitors in national opportunity markets
   •   Expand marketing and seasonal coverage to drive year-round visitation
   •   Deepen efforts in primary international markets
   •   Develop technology platform to extend reach and impact

Rural tourism has been identified as one of the key programs to support domestic
marketing efforts—the first strategy.

CTTC identified the following Rural Tourism Program objectives in the Strategic
Marketing Plan:
   •    To extend awareness of the eight rural tourism marketing regions
   •    To act as a catalyst to partnership development between stakeholders and
        regional marketing groups
   •    To facilitate development of fully integrated regional marketing plans with a
        cohesive approach to incorporate California regional brand into cooperative
        marketing tactics, public relations opportunities and trade messaging

Participants in the Rural Tourism Program must meet the following criteria:

Criteria #1: Brand Alignment
Programs must align with current brand pillars/initiatives and/or support specific
assessed tourism industry segments not already supported by CTTC. Programs must
meet industry objectives, expanding reach and influence among leisure travelers
domestically and/or internationally.

Criteria #2: Integrated Communications
Programs must be multimedia (to include print, online, travel trade, PR, direct mail,
etc.). Messaging should reflect the CA brand.

Criteria #3: Scope
   • Must be region wide
   •    Must have tiered offerings so that it is viable for all levels of participation
   •    Partnerships can include DMOs assessed and non-assessed businesses

This agreement should be viewed as a Cooperative Marketing Partnership Agreement
with sponsorship requirements that must be fulfilled in order to obtain specific
amounts of funding.

Rural issues to be included in the Rural Tourism Program:

   1.   A complete list of the Board of Directors, including names, addresses, e-mails
        and Web sites, provided annual to the CTTC.

   2.    A designated “Communications Officer,” whose role will be to communicate to
        all regional tourism stakeholders, including the President of the regional
        association and the designate.

   3. Regional organization shall develop, plan and hold in cooperation with the
      California Cultural and Heritage Tourism Corps (CCHTC) at least one “Region-
      wide Cultural and Heritage Tourism Forum” inviting all interested parties to
      participate (see the CCHTC Memorandum of Understanding). In conjunction
      with this Forum, contractor shall develop a five-year (or more) plan to protect,
      develop, interpret and promote the CCHTC assets of the region. Contact with
      local higher learning institution to assist in this effort is recommended. Date,
      time, location of annual regional tourism forum should be identified as early as
      possible and should include podium time for CTTC and/or CCHTC.

4. Schedule in advance - date, time and location of all regional meetings and
   agenda items. Regional organization shall allow for 15 minutes at each meeting
   for CTTC program updates (by staff or program contractor) at least quarterly
   to keep membership apprised of statewide programs and opportunities.

   Example of items we may want to discuss at your regional meeting:
        Assessment Operations                         Publications & Web Site
        International Programs & Opportunities        Online booking Engine
        Media Relations Programs & Opportunities      Marketing Programs

   Meeting minutes shall be forwarded on to Jonelle Tannahill, Tourism
   Development Manager, and the CTTC Marketing Rep for the region.

5. Regional organization shall provide CTTC with contact information for all
   tourism stakeholders (members or not) in the region, including but not limited

      •   CVBs, CoCs, Arts Commissions, Heritage Societies, etc.
      •   Caltrans District Directors
      •   Regional Transportation Planning Agencies administering Transportation
          Enhancement Funds
      •   Caltrans Scenic Byways Coordinator
      •   Caltrans Community Affairs Coordinator
      •   State Parks District Directors and Cultural Affairs Liaisons
      •   National Parks Liaisons
      •   State Legislators
      •   County Supervisors
      •   City Managers

6. All collateral developed by the Regional Organization shall denote that the
   region is sponsored by the CTTC with the following blurb:

   “In partnership with the California Travel and Tourism Commission and the
   [Rural Regional Association Name].”

7. All Regional Organization Web sites shall include a logo and link from their
   respective Web site to the Web site. Contact for linking directions and logo.

8. At the request of CTTC Regional Organization shall assist with new content for
   refreshing the Web site on a no more than a quarterly
   basis with a 75 word description and photo of the top 10 “Must Sees” of the
   region to include the name, address, phone number and Web site link for the
   attraction. Regional organization shall also submit, on a quarterly basis, the top
   10 events for the quarter along with a 25 word description, dates/times, phone
   number, Web site link, etc. Directions will be submitted through e-mail.
9. Region shall facilitate a cooperative marketing effort to participate in a display
   ad in the Official California Visitor’s Guide or one or more of the following: 1)
   California Road Trips Guide; 2) Fall Print Insert Program; or 3) California Winter
   Sports Program.

10. Region shall facilitate a cooperative effort to participate in at least one in-state
    consumer travel show i.e. Orange County Register Show; Los Angeles Times
    Show, Sunset Celebration Weekend, or in one of the International Sportsman’s

11. A region must elect to participate as a partner in the CTTC program for
    international travel trade or public relations program in Germany, United
    Kingdom, Australia, or Japan, or in one of the following international shows.
    Participation will satisfy the complete international marketing requirement. See
    Marketing Program for complete list

       •   U.S. Travel International Pow Wow
       •   World Travel Market in London
       •   ITB in Berlin
       •   JATA in Japan
       •   CTTC’s Australia Trade and Media Mission
       •   UK/Germany Media Mission

12. Region shall facilitate a cooperative effort to participate in at least one CTTC
    media event, i.e. See Marketing Program for complete list

       •   Los Angeles
       •   San Francisco
       •   New York

13. Region shall facilitate cooperative efforts to leverage specific activity based
    cooperative efforts as appropriate. See Marketing Program for complete list.

14. Region shall submit an brief one page annual report on the region’s
    collaborative marketing efforts, including any available return-on-investment

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