Best Idea Program Achievement Awards

Four destination marketing organizations received achievement awards in a recent competition with their colleagues from the West. Sponsored by Destination Marketing Association of the West (DMA West), the annual Best Idea Program showcases innovative projects and creative marketing strategies as submitted by DMA West members.

This year’s Best Idea Program awards were presented during the 2023 DMA West Education Summit, October 11-13, 203, in Lake Tahoe, Nevada.

Following receipt of the entry forms, a Board-appointed Task Force reviewed the submissions and selected several ideas for presentation. Representatives presented their best ideas during the recent Education Summit.DMA West congratulates the following member DMOs for receiving outstanding achievement awards for their organizations in the 2023 DMA West Best Idea Program.

Embrace Whidbey and Camano Islands

Project Title: Regenerative Places, a Community-Based Tourism Model, by Embrace Whidbey and Camano Islands

The people of Whidbey and Camano Islands have been successful at preserving a sense of place that is attractive for residents and visitors alike. However, challenges such as a lack of affordable housing, inefficient transportation, socio-economic imbalances, pandemic-fueled overcrowding, and delicate environmental considerations, are realities. The community embarked on the regenerative places program in partnership with the Transformational Travel Council to reimagine tourism for the county, ultimately creating a community-based tourism model. The 24 months of community listening during workshops discussions, surveys, and conversations begat further engagement, strategic planning then implementation to redirect systemic and strategic operations.  The new overarching vision and desired future state will be incorporated into future tourism strategic action plans and strategies, to continue moving forward towards regeneration.

Sonoma County Tourism (California)

Project Title: Assembling a Coalition for the Preservation of Parks and Open Spaces

The Sonoma County Leave No Trace Coalition, a first-of-its-kind partnership between Sonoma County Tourism, Sonoma County Regional Parks, the Leave No Trace organization, and 60+ local businesses—was formed during the pandemic to help mitigate environmental impacts in area parks, preserves, and other outdoor recreation locations. The Coalition promotes responsible outdoor use through the guiding Principles of Leave of Trace, an easily understood framework of minimum impact practices for anyone visiting the outdoors. The 60+ local businesses involved in the Coalition share this messaging with customers by incorporating Leave No Trace language in reservation confirmations, displaying collateral in their businesses, linking to the Principles on their websites, or even by sharing these values in their everyday interactions with customers. By working together, sharing best practices, and speaking with a unified voice, the Coalition strives to preserve Sonoma County’s natural environment for generations to come.

Travel Santa Ana (California)

Project Title: Santa Ana Signatures & Proud Santanero

Rather than creating a traditional corporate logo, Travel Santa Ana partnered with local artists to create four interchangeable signatures, each with their own individual feel and perspective on how they depict Santa Ana. There are four different color schemes for each signature and there is also a "Travel Santa Ana" version. As the city of Santa Ana is ever-evolving, the goal of this project is to tap more local artists and continue to expand the signatures in the future.

The Proud Santanero campaign features eight artists and artisans who both live and work in Santa Ana and whose identities are inherently tied to the vibrant city. The variety of the featured participants and their independent businesses echo the diversity of the city. Asked “What makes them a proud Santanero” and “What do they recommend to visitors,” the participants’ answers were genuine and authentic, nothing was scripted, and no cue cards were utilized. Playing on the destination’s city pride and close community, the video series also uses the tagline “When it’s Santa Ana vs. Everybody, Always Bet on Us.” The campaign is used in a myriad of ways to showcase local businesses and creators, including the inclusion of the participants’ quotes in the visitors' guide and throughout the website. The video series is on the organization’s YouTube channel and a designated landing page. Additional Santa Ana individual business owners and community members will be included in this ongoing video series.

Visit Salt Lake (Utah)

Project Title: Cottonwood Connect Emergency Ski Shuttle for Salt Lake Ski Resorts

As a Destination Marketing Organization, it is imperative that we make good on the promise of an amazing visit to Utah. A top winter focus for our marketing efforts revolves around winter recreation at Salt Lake’s world-famous resorts in Big and Little Cottonwood Canyons. While Salt Lake’s population grows and our “Greatest Snow on Earth” gains worldwide recognition as one of the nation’s top ski and snowboard destinations, traffic congestion has become an increasing problem up our steep, narrow canyons, negatively affecting the local and visitor experience, creating substantial traffic jams and long commute times. Last winter, it was critical that we ensured out-of-state visitors could reach their recreation destination, contributing to the economic impact for the resorts. Out-of-state and international tourists spend $1.92 billion during the season on lift passes, lodging, restaurants, food, and shopping compared to the local spend of roughly $433 million. Following a reduction in ski bus services from the Utah Transit Authority (UTA) because of bus operator shortages, leaders from Salt Lake County, Visit Salt Lake (VSL), UTA, Sandy City, Alta, Brighton, Snowbird, and Solitude collaborated on creating a viable micro-transit solution to shuttle locals and visitors to Salt Lake area ski resorts. The Cottonwood Connect Ski Shuttles were launched to reduce traffic congestion, improve air quality, and enhance the local and visitor experience with a strategy that demanded close collaboration between stakeholders. This was all accomplished in a two-week time frame due to the emergency nature of the need for all partners. 

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The Destination Marketing Association of the West (DMA West) is a regional professional association serving more than 150 destination marketing organizations (DMOs) in the West. Membership is open to DMOs in the western U.S. and western Canada.

Destination Marketing Association of the West | DMA West

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Melyssa Reeves
Destination Marketing Association of the West | DMA West
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