We packed up the car on Friday mid-morning and took off for Long Beach for the 9th Annual LA Travel & Adventure Show. We, being myself and my trusted, invaluable Marketing & Communications Manager, Danielle Laudon.
Google maps told us it was a 3 hour drive not counting traffic, and we had to have our stuff on the dock and loaded into the convention hall by 5pm. There were 100s of other (most much larger) exhibitors that had the same instructions to consider. Danielle had ordered SYV T-shirts and pullovers for the event but they hadn’t yet arrived. She was sure they would be delivered by noon, still giving us time to arrive at the back dock within the deadline. I wasn’t so sure so we took off at 11am, making a soda bet on whether they would make it or not. As we drove I was feeling more confident that I made the right decision to leave when we did. But at 11:58am Danielle received the text that the shirts had been delivered. Bummer!
The drive was as expected, long. We got to the convention center around 3:30pm and were lucky to find a fairly empty dock. We offloaded, the union delivered our supplies to our booth and we set everything up by 4:30pm. Smooth.
When we departed, the line was long to offload with irritable/frustrated faces. We decide it was best to leave when we did. Drove to our hotel and checked in and because we both had work to do, said goodbye with a plan to meet for breakfast in the morning before the show.
We had breakfast at the hotel on Saturday morning and walked a short way to the Long Beach Convention Center for a 9:30am start time.
Upon entering my senses were attacked by lights, colors and sounds. We passed China and most of Asia on the way to the California section. We were booth 441 out of 500 booths but placed very nicely next to our Marketing and SYV partners, Kathy Vreeland and Jody Knoell of Buellton Visitors Bureau & Chamber of Commerce. We had a Window replacement company (Huh?) on the other side of us, and across there was a Fly Fishing Adventure Company. On the other side of the curtain was a large guest speaker area and LEGOLAND.
It was early, so we took turns walking around to see the sights. Including a full sized pool for diving (they almost got me in there), several demo and dancing stages, and every country in the world that desires visitors. I met Miss Universe contestant, Miss Guam, while checking things out.
The closest region was Ventura, but there was also Oxnard, Big Bear and Yosemite.
Over the loud speaker we hear that the doors are opening for the Press in 5 minutes so I hurry back to the booth.
We speak with the interested press about our wine, about our burgeoning food scene and the SYV Craft Beer Trail. Most are familiar with the area and we invite them to return gathering many business cards to follow up.
The loudspeaker tells us the public is entering the floor after a fast half hour with the press.
They come in and it is game on! Most are familiar with Solvang but not the other towns in the Santa Ynez Valley. Having Buellton right next us is a great addition for both of us. As many times as people are mentioning Solvang to us, the same amount are saying they know Pea Soup Andersons in Buellton.
We hand out a total of 850 guides over the two day event. The demographic started out as baby boomers but shifted to a younger but established group in the afternoon. The ever more desired Millennials arrived in the late afternoon.
Besides Napa and ourselves, there were no other California Wine regions represented.
On Sunday the crowd was smaller but more personable and interested in what we had to offer, with many saying they had just been or already had a trip planned to come. Others who were thinking of coming were convinced they must come for a visit soon. The Destination Guide also was a great resource and tool to get folks to commit.
The Sunday attendees were pleasantly surprised by all the activities we have to offer, such as Ostrich Land, Miniature Horses, Hiking, Horseback Riding, Parks, Gliding, The Chumash Casino, and even Hot Air Ballooning.
We had a contest to win two tickets to the upcoming Vintners Spring Festival Grand Tasting in Buellton’s River Park on April 25th, and in doing so gathered over 100 emails.
I even caught the largest fish of my life on Sunday.
The show ended at 5pm and we swiftly packed up our booth and departed, feeling confident that 1000s of potential visitors were now aware of The Santa Ynez Valley and everything it has to offer.
About VisitSYV.com: Visit Santa Ynez Valley provides listings of the best Santa Ynez wineries, best places to eat in Solvang, Santa Ynez hotels and inns, and things to do in Santa Ynez Valley. Visit the website at www.VisitSYV.com for complete travel and visitor services. “Like” the Facebook page for ideas on planning Santa Ynez vacations. Email info@VisitSYV.com for help planning your next vacation in the Santa Ynez Valley.