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Santa Monica Set to Shine for Travel Tradeshow  


By Melonie Magruder
Staff Writer

April 17, 2012 -- Every year, the Santa Monica Convention & Visitors Bureau (SMCVB) pumps up “Destination Santa Monica” at the annual POW WOW tradeshow, the travel industry’s international market showcase.

But this year, with POW WOW coming to Los Angeles in April for the first time in a decade, SMCVB is teaming up with Downtown Santa Monica, Inc. (DTSM), Santa Monica Place, Shop America, Mark International and Gray Line Worldwide to welcome top market buyers directly to the city. And an evening Shop America event will welcome buyers to the beach city to highlight Santa Monica’s greater allures.

“We want this to be the quintessential California beach experience,” said Ashley Walkley, Director of Marketing for DTSM. “This event will feature all that’s best about the Santa Monica experience -- walkability, shopping, entertainment, culture and dining.

The show offers the city a chance to strut some Southern California stuff to 1,200 domestic and foreign industry buyers from more than 70 countries in an effort to grab some $3.5 billion in tourist and travel dollars.


According to the City’s business leaders, it’s a plum opportunity. “The business that will be conducted with international buyers during this marketplace will offer a direct benefit to Santa Monica,” said Misti Kerns, SMCVB's president and CEO. 

“Additional tourism revenues create more jobs, and we are thrilled to have the opportunity to not only engage with international buyers and travel media at POW WOW, but also to showcase our beautiful beach city in person.”

“To see it is to know it” seems to be the operative philosophy, and Shop America buyers can expect a figurative red carpet rolled out for them on April 24, the scheduled showcase date. 

According to data tracked by the U.S. Department of Commerce and the U.S. Travel Association, California is the number one shopping destination in the U.S., and shopping, dining and cultural-heritage travel are consistently ranked as the top three travel activities.

Accordingly, some 400 buyers and media experts (who in turn sell Santa Monica shopping tours abroad) will be transported from the POW WOW Downtown venue to Santa Monica on motor coaches, complete with on-board videos and Santa Monica trivia designed to whet their appetites for an evening in Santa Monica.

Guests will enjoy restaurant tastings, fashion previews from Downtown Santa Monica and Santa Monica Place retailers and a guide to enjoy Downtown’s best shopping, attractions, dining hot spots and beach lifestyle.

As part of the evening, remaining POW WOW delegates and suppliers have an opportunity to see Santa Monica with LA Inc’s, “Dine Out Tuesday,” Registered POW WOW guests can explore 10 local Santa Monica restaurants with special offerings.

Delegates can choose to dine in Santa Monica, Beverly Hills or Pasadena on the open night as part of the program developed by LA Inc. Santa Monica is working hard to attract patrons to the beach. And 40 of Santa Monica’s top industry buyers and producers of visitor business will have the chance to unwind and develop new tour group initiatives at an exclusive client event at Casa Del Mar on Sunday, April 22.

"A tour operator from, say, Brazil, can negotiate directly with business contacts here," Walkley said. "How often will you be able to speak face to face with your international operators?”

Santa Monica welcomes more than six million domestic and foreign visitors annually, generating some $1.2 billion in revenue for the local economy. About 47 percent of them come from overseas. With a continued strong Euro, Santa Monica can expect an influx of visitors from the United Kingdom and other parts of Europe.

“Over the past few years, we have been very focused on strengthening Downtown Santa Monica’s brand presence,” DTSM Vice President Debbie Lee said. “Delivering an excellent in-market experience is the best way to guarantee that larger brands, like Brand USA, will seek to use our equity to strengthen theirs.

"It’s a very symbiotic relationship. Many of the buyers who attend this show have never been to Santa Monica and, like any other product, the more you know and love about it, the easier the sell.”

Downtown officials want to make sure that those European POW WOW buyers get a proper taste of all Santa Monica has to offer.

“We’re taking it up a notch for our guests,” Walkley said. “Beauty bar treatments, a Visitor Reward book with incentives for shopping at different featured stores and our best restaurants.

"Then there’s the Pier, Montana and Main Streets and even the beach. Santa Monica will really have the chance to shine.”


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