Over 200 people came to the Santa Monica’s Convention and Visitors Bureau headquarters at 1920 Main Street to celebrate the organization’s 25 years of promoting Santa Monica as a tourist destination.
The SMCVB, which opened its doors in 1982 on Main Street, provides a full range of tourist services including information on things to do, itineraries for visiting family and friends, public transportation information and fare cards, maps, and Santa Monica gifts and souvenirs. The Bureau’s other visitor centers include a cart on the Third Street Promenade and a center at Palisades Park on Ocean Avenue.
A press release about the event explained that the goal of the Bureau is to deliver its brand promise: “The best way to discover LA; an unforgettable beach city experience filled with eye-catching people, cutting edge culture, and bold innovations. It’s the essence of the California lifestyle.”
In an interview with the Mirror, SMCVB President/CEO Misti Kerns discussed the programs she has helped initiate to allow Santa Monica to live up to the brand promise. For the last two years there has been a Beach Summit where various community stakeholders get together and discuss ways to make the Santa Monica beach experience more “visitor friendly.” Then there’s the “I Am Santa Monica Program,” which was conceived to help the local hospitality industry give exceptional service to both residents and visitors.
Kerns explained that this educational program is being run by the Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce, the Santa Monica City Manager’s Office, and the Santa Monica College Small Business Center, and it is geared toward hospitality employers and employees to ensure that they “get factual information on what’s available in the city.” Kerns stated that such knowledge could include information on the new smoking ordinance, “respectful ways to handle situations, or being aware of different cultures.” She hopes the program will help sustain “good consistent delivery of hospitality services and knowledge” which could potentially help with the Bureau’s goals of “lengthening the stay of overnight visitors” and increasing tourist expenditures in the city.
According to both Kerns and Mary Ann Powell, the chair of the Bureau’s board, the main focus for the SMCVB in 2008 is to sustain Santa Monica’s tourism. Kerns noted that this would require “strategic” long-term investing so that Santa Monica can compete with destinations like Downtown LA and San Diego as well as other domestic and international locations. Powell also mentioned that the city could also obtain additional revenue by “sharing” the concepts of the “I Am Santa Monica Program.”