Visit California hosted media, travel advisors, and travel partners at Toronto's Soluna restaurant for a Cali-themed evening to introduce a sneak peak of its new marketing campaign, Keeping Up With the Canadians.
"We're creating an episodic series of famous Canadians who now call California home and showcasing a day in their lives. It's going to be a social content series and they're going to take us through a day in the life of their 'perfect California'. This event is a teaser of what that's going to look like," Veronica Petcoff, Senior Account Director at Zeno Group and Trade Lead for the Visit California account, told Open Jaw. Marketing and PR agency Zeno Group took over the Visit California account in JUL 2022, in charge of promoting the Golden State as a vacation destination for Canadian travellers.
"California has always been a top destination for Canadian travellers. We are so similar, which is what the whole campaign is about, and a lot of our famous Canadians have called California home. It's a short flight, similar currency, same language, and it has all the great outdoors that Canadians love," Petcoff said. "Whether you're a skier, a surfer, into music, arts and culture, culinary adventures, California has that and it's why Canadians look to California as a second home."
For the trade, this can make selling California a bit of a challenge. The features that make California such an easy, accessible destination are also what inspire DIY trips from Canada--but travel advisors still have something to offer their clients, says Petcoff.
"Canadian travellers love value, they love a package, they love that one-stop-shop, and there's opportunity for that convenience for California. Canadians can book their hotel and flight via our travel partners and have that assurance, but still have the flexibility of exploring the destination on their own terms. WestJet alone has over 80 hotel partners in California that they work with," she says.
"California is better than ever and now is the time to visit," said Julie Georgas, Managing Director, Zeno Canada. "We're here to tell you that Visit California is back in the Canadian market in a big way and until we can host you in California, we wanted to treat you tonight. Tonight we're going to be previewing Keeping Up With the Canadians. Canadians and Californians are a ton alike. There are a ton of Canadians living in California and our new online series where we're going to have Canadians who live in California be tour guides and show you how they California."
Two Canadians-turned-Californians were at the event to share their stories about the state that lured them away from Canada: Canadian television personality, Liz Trinnear, and rock duo, The Darcys, who performed a smashing set.
The Inside Scoop on What to Recommend For Your California-Bound Clients
Open Jaw caught up with a few notable personalities at the event to hear the top California travel tips they think travel advisors should know.
Elvi Cal, Vice President, Product Development, TravelBrands Inc.
"California is one of our top destinations. Disneyland and Anaheim in general are really big for us. Other than that, there's Universal Hollywood, Los Angeles, San Francisco... We sell everything," Cal, who has also visited California for leisure, told Open Jaw at the event.
"I think California is a destination that appeals to Millennials because of the draw it has, but also families because of Universal Studios, San Diego Zoo, Disneyland, Legoland. It's also got something for the mature travelling adults."
What are Cal's top three California experiences?
Wine country is a must-visit. "Sonoma and Napa Valley are a must if you're a wine lover."
Stop by Carmel-by-the-Sea. "I love the city, it's fabulous."
Savour San Francisco. "It's a cool city with great vibes and great restaurants."
Liz Trinnear, Canadian television personality, eTalk correspondent in Los Angeles
Trinnear lived in Canada up until 2018, when she and her husband decided to move to LA after work opportunities brought them there. Almost five years later, she's one of the Golden State's biggest cheerleaders. Her highly recommended Cali activities for Canadian travellers are:
Experience a flea market. "The vintage finds are out of this world. People from all over the country and globally go to these flea markets to source their vintage and consignment store finds. They're a treat and a spectacle.
Visit a botanical garden. "This is where I find peace, and there are so many across California, from Santa Monica to Pasadena. It's a really neat place to take the family and see the dynamic landscapes of California. And it doesn't matter what time of year you go because they're always open and have some sort of neat exhibit going on."
Rent a car. "Don't be afraid of the LA traffic and California driving. I promise you, if this Canadian kid living in Ontario can do it, so can you. It's just so great to explore places like Joshua Tree and Palm Springs, or drive up the Pacific Coast Highway. Get a convertible, get the dream car you've always wanted to drive, and go explore."
The Darcys, indie rock band
Jason Couse and Wes Marskell are the two friends who make up the Darcys. The state's nature landscapes and outdoor activities are what initially drew them to the California, and here's what Couse thinks travels advisors should know about it:
Don't judge California based on reality tv shows. "It's a huge misconception. People think it's like certain things that are popular, but there's so much more. There's so much diversity going on here, from Comicon, the greatest surfers in the world, nature and snowboarding, cycling..."
Nature is always 10 minutes away. "You never have to travel far to be in a nice serene moment and get a nice view."
The street food. "You can try so many different things. It's so affordable, and it's everywhere. You can find different regional specialties."
Anna can be spotted attending events around town for Open Jaw. The Alberta Rockies, Hawaii and France's Provence region are among her favourite destinations. She's a proud cat mom and a terrible snowboarder.