The first item on the schedule for the second full day of the 2023 Visit California Outlook Forum
began with a 6:45 am meeting time. I was one of a couple dozen who set the alarm clock early and ventured out in the rain for an outdoor activity.
Technically, we met indoors at 6:45, then moved outdoors at 7:00 for the official start. I was surprised to see that there was a light breakfast waiting for us at 6:45. I shouldn't have been surprised, but with a full breakfast scheduled for 8:00 am, I didn't expect pre-breakfast to be served. I don't normally eat that early, so I had a single blackberry because it was enormous and looked delicious. It was.
So what was our outdoor activity? It was a fabulous Art Walk, led by Heather Fortes of SacTown Bites
food tours. Sacramento is home to a lot of public art, which is just one of many things I love about our state capital. Most of that public art is large-scale murals. Wide Open Walls
is an annual festival that brings diverse mural artists from around the world to beautify Sacramento. Since 2016, WOW artists have painted 210 permanent works.
I'm in Sacramento fairly often and have obviously seen many of the murals, but having Heather explain them was so much better than just seeing them.
Speaking of food, as soon as we returned to the convention center, it was time for breakfast. Since I'd skipped pre-breakfast (except for the blackberry), I was ready to eat. This time, I chose a souffle with hollandaise, a berry muffin, scrambled eggs, bacon, and another yogurt parfait. And a smoothie, which I got after setting this plate down to photograph it. There were tons more options, but this was more than enough food for me.
We had breakfast in the ballroom. Our first presentation was a conversation between Caroline Beteta, President and CEO of Visit California, and Eleni Kounalakis, Lieutenant Governor of California.
That was followed by "Facing Industry Challenges" by Michael Dominguez.
Next, a big announcement. Outlook Forum 2024 will take place March 11-13 in Palm Springs. Based on the crowd response, there will be a great turnout.
Next was my favorite presentation from the entire Outlook Forum: "Visit Native California: A Platform for California's Native Voices." This panel included three guests: Wade Crowfoot, California Secretary of Natural Resources; Reid Milanovich, Chairman of Auga Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians; and Sherry Rupert, CEO of the American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association (AIANTA).
I am a huge advocate for including Native voices in travel and am always looking for opportunities to learn about Native cultures. (You may remember the our visit to Owamni in Minneapolis
.) I've been following the progress on the Agua Caliente Cultural Museum
closely; it was so neat to hear the chairman of the tribe speaking about it.
I was really excited to hear Sherry Rupert of AIANTA mention the Chickasaw tribe of Oklahoma as a success story in the area of Native tourism. We were supposed to have visited the Chickasaw Cultural Center
over winter break (instead, we had a 12-hour trip to nowhere
When we had to cancel our trip, that was one of the locations I was most disappointed to miss. A second was the highly-regarded First Americans Museum
. I'm in the process of rescheduling that trip, so I'm thrilled to announce that we will be visiting both locations soon.
Next was an absolutely fascinating interview with Vivek Ranadivé
, who among other things, is the mastermind behind Golden 1 Center.
It is the first arena in the world to be 100% solar powered and achieve LEED Platinum designation. It is ranked the 6th best arena in the world - right here in Sacramento! Ranadivé is incredibly interesting and well-spoken. If he ever writes an autobiography, I'll be the first to buy it.
At this point, we had gone a full four hours since the start of our last meal (excluding the snacks that were on offer between speakers), so naturally we had an enormous lunch. It was called "A Taste of Sacramento" and featured lots of delicious choices from some of Sacramento's best eateries, including: Camden Spit & Larder, Chando's Tacos, Frank Fat's, Ginger Elizabeth, Localis, Séka Hills, and Urban Roots. Once again, we had lots of time to chat while we ate.
After lunch, we had a presentation about Web3
. Since I was starting at literally zero knowledge before this session, I learned a lot.
Speaking of learning, I now know that Visit California has divided the state into 12 tourism regions. When I set up my California Travel Page
, I broke up the state into 10 regions, based on what made sense to me. My 10 are similar to the official 12, but I will be updating my site to reflect the 12 official regions. Eventually. It's a big task.
Next, we had a breakout session. I chose "Keeping Tourism Accessible." Speakers Hannah Grant, Cory Lee, Yat Li, and Jenn Martin were all outstanding. I don't have much experience traveling with someone with accessibility needs, so this was very eye-opening. I'm glad it's a big part of the conversation in the travel industry.
Naturally, we were all on the brink of starvation 2 hours after lunch ended, but fear not! Bags of popcorn and bowls of Gunther's Ice Cream
awaited us when we exited our classes.
The final breakout session I chose was "Mining Consumer Insights: Evolving Tools and Techniques for Today's Modern Marketers." It was fascinating. I don't know much about marketing, so it was really interesting to learn all that goes into promoting everything from small businesses to the entire state of California.
When we left that session, the pillows in the lounge area had been replaced with sparkly, sequin-covered ones.
We had a break to change, then returned to find the lounge all dressed up for evening. As usual, the food was abundant and the drinks flowing.
Once in the ballroom, we dined on an incredible feast. This vegetarian appetizer was to die for.
Following dinner, it was time for the Finale and Outgoing Officer Recognition.
And with that, Outlook Forum 2023 ended for me. Everyone else went to a dessert reception, because somehow they could still eat. The following day was the Visit California Winter Board Meeting, but it didn't make sense for me to spend money on an extra hotel night to attend.
Overall, I had a great time at Outlook Forum and am very glad I went. It definitely wasn't tailored toward a travel blogger, but I knew that going in and did my best to use my time beneficially. I left with new connections, ideas for blog posts, resources for travel, and lots of California destinations on my travel bucket list.