Dreaming Big and Doing It

Last week I had the pleasure of attending the spring Yosemite Gateway Partners  meeting to present on the Sierra Nevada Geotourism Project. The purpose of my presentation was to call on local residents to nominate destinations they find distinctive to the Sierra so that small businesses, events, and communities can reap the benefits of being a Geotourism destination in time for summer travel. It’s honestly a pretty big task, promoting local destinations that find themselves in the shadow of the Sierra’s major draws such as Lake Tahoe, Mammoth, and of course, Yosemite National Park. After hearing Visit California’s Director of Consumer Marketing, Tracy Ward, present on California’s new “Dream Big” branding, however, I gained a renewed resolve that it is a task worth tackling.

COMM BT Blog Image3 2014 04“Dream Big, Do It”, is Visit California’s new marketing campaign, of which the popular “Dream 365 Project” videos are a part. You may have seen the “Dream Big” commercials or print ads displaying happy surfers, giddy theme-park attendants, quintessential celebrity actors, and cheerful Silicon Valley techies all fulfilling their dreams because simply being in California encourages one to do so. And it’s true; California’s enviable weather, diversity of ideas, natural beauty, and cultural meccas offer an abundance of possibilities for big dreamers. The presentation made me pause though, as I wondered if rural California, and the Sierra in particular, were enjoying the fruits of this campaign. After all, if travelers are focused on campaigns directing them to big-name destinations, where does that leave the small towns and independent businesses that are off the beaten path?

What I came to realize though, is that this is exactly why the growing relationship between Visit California and Sierra Nevada Geotourism is so valuable. In the funnel of California tourism, Visit California positions itself as “the top of the funnel”; they encourage travelers to visit California. It makes sense that the big-name destinations get top billing. Sierra Nevada Geotourism, on the other hand, exists next in the funnel with the purpose of creating an experience, encouraging travelers to “see the Sierra through the eyes of a local”, to explore the gateway communities and locally recommended destinations that can make their visit to the Sierra both unique and authentic. And the funnel is working: Ward stated that High Sierra tourism is up 3% over the past year.

We’re dreaming big in spreading California’s tourism economy, and we’re doing it together. Speaking of that presentation, if you can think of a Sierra Nevada destination that is authentic to the region and deserves some attention, why not nominate it for the Sierra Nevada Geotourism web map? You too can be a part of the dream by clicking here; it’s as simple as just doing it.