Visit San Luis Obispo County

Case Study

Planting the Seeds for a Strategic Growth Transformation

Visit SLO CAL inspires travel and fosters economic growth in San Luis Obispo County, a region known for its diverse Central Coast landscape of Pacific Ocean, oak-dotted hills and expansive vineyards. When the organization transitioned from a modest, county-funded marketing team to an industry-backed Tourism Business Improvement District (TBID), funding dramatically increased—as did stakeholder interest.

The Lay of the Land
Under the new model, local hotels began contributing funds directly to the TBID, and they wanted a speedy return on their investment in the form of a more productive organization and a vigorous tourism industry. In the face of these expectations, Visit SLO CAL needed to prove to stakeholders that it was shifting momentum and nurturing new opportunities across the region.

Like many teams establishing themselves, Visit SLO CAL’s was intent on developing its identity and clarifying its direction. The organization partnered with Coraggio to get a fresh look at the area’s tourism environment and produce a strategic plan to guide and stimulate growth. Doing so also meant transforming the group from a small-scale marketing agency to a flourishing community advocate.

Out in the Field
To form a long-term, collaborative plan with community support, we had to understand stakeholders’ expectations: What did they need? How did they envision the future of San Luis Obispo County tourism? We interviewed hotel owners, community leaders and other residents to gather a holistic view of the region’s interests. Their feedback gave clarity and guidance on our next steps.

Visit SLO CAL’s survival depends on the support of its constituents, so transparency was vital. With each two-day strategic planning workshop, we concluded the working sessions with Board input and stakeholder feedback. The insights from these meetings were incorporated into the strategic plan to create a stronger, more relevant final product.

The Fruits of our Labor
This commitment to communication and transparency paid off. By including board members and stakeholders in the development process, we were able to address any potential issues before finalizing the strategic plan. The enthusiastic team at Visit SLO CAL facilitated a smooth planning process, and our success gave invested stakeholders confidence that the group was serving their interests and capable of developing new economic opportunities for the county. They respected the breadth of the research and plan, which spanned everything from a review of higher-level community values to specific advice to increase daily flights into the regional airport.

Reaping the Benefits
The benefits of this process branched out beyond tourism marketing agencies. With the insights and experience he gained working with Coraggio, Visit SLO CAL’s President and CEO advised groups like the local Chamber of Commerce and SLO Wine Country Association to be more strategic with resources. Visit SLO CAL—and the entire region—were empowered to lead on their own.

Visit SLO CAL Five Year Strategic Plan

“ We came out of the strategic planning process with a clear understanding of our North Star. It was a game changer for Visit SLO CAL. ”

— Chuck Davison, President and CEO