On a gorgeous, sun-drenched Santa Monica morning, with the pristine Pacific Ocean as a backdrop, civic, community and business leaders gathered at the Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel for the first Santa Monica Destination Brand Summit. Classical music, as well as yoga and swim classes, framed the outdoor reception reflecting aspects of the healthy Santa Monica lifestyle. Facilitated by Santa Monica Convention & Visitors Bureau, under the leadership of President & CEO Misti Kerns, the purpose of the Brand Summit was to inform the community of actions taken in establishing the Santa Monica destination BrandPromise, which according to BrandStrategy President Duane Knapp, “will require working collectively with the whole Santa Monica community.”The indoor presentation began with Mayor Bob Holbrook riding in on a segway against a beach scene. In a taped address, City Manager P. Lamont Ewell said, “In order to compete successfully for visitors’ time and dollars, a destination must treat its brand identity as a strategic asset, just as critical to tourism as its hotels, restaurants, attractions and arts and entertainment venues.” SMCVB Board Chairman Tim Kittleson and Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce President Kathy Dodson also spoke via video.A number of programs are being planned to accomplish brand implementation including: Guest Contact Service Training, Sales Staff Training, CVB Staff Brand Training and a Beach Summit, which would help identify methods that would enhance the experience of Santa Monica’s greatest natural asset – the beach. Many “catch phrases” were bandied about including “Santa Monica – The Best Way to Discover L.A.,” “Santa Monica – The Essence of California Lifestyle” and “Smile! You’re In Santa Monica” – a sign that should be plastered all over the city. TOP 10 STRENGTHS:1. Friendly/healthy people2. Beach3. Shopping4. Experience/atmosphere5. Cleanliness/safety6. Attractions/sightseeing7. Weather8. Location9. Transportation10. Visitor ServicesTOP 10 PERCEIVED WEAKNESSES:1. Homeless/solicitors/teen dropouts2. Traffic3. Expensive4. Lack of experience/atmosphere5. Lack of public transportation6. Cleanliness/safety7. Need more restaurants8. Grumpy or mean locals9. Weather10. Grocery stores
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