Chamber marketing plan showing promise for Catalina

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Jim Luttjohann

Year-end statistics issued by the city of Avalon indicate that a broadly focused marketing plan is working and the data suggests even greater results are possible with some tweaking.

So says Jim Luttjohann, president and CEO of the Catalina Island Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Bureau.

“The numbers indicate we have very much succeeded in creating awareness and generating business,” he said.

Year-end statistics issued by the city of Avalon indicate that a broadly focused marketing plan is working and the data suggests even greater results are possible with some tweaking.

So says Jim Luttjohann, president and CEO of the Catalina Island Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Bureau.

“The numbers indicate we have very much succeeded in creating awareness and generating business,” he said.

According to the numbers, sales tax collections were up 10 percent, cruise ship wharfage jumped 26 percent, transient occupancy taxes were up 2 percent, harbor fees increased by 3 percent, cross channel wharfage was up by 3 percent and visitor-generated income was up nearly $400,000, a 4 percent increase.

What was most encouraging, said Luttjohann, was more subtle and perhaps not evident in the overall statistics.

Officials have made an effort, with the cooperation of the local hospitality industry, to upgrade the hotels and especially event facilities as a means to attract tourists and meeting planners to Catalina.

“Our goal was to have 70 percent (hotel and motel) occupancy for double digit months and we achieved it this year,” said Luttjohann. “The credit should be shared with the owners because they are the ones that actually invested in the upgrades to their facilities.”

Looking to 2018, Luttjohann said the data suggests that tourists who come to Catalina from greater distances tend to stay longer and spend more.

If the Catalina Island Chamber can find a way to increase destination tourists while retaining the local visitors, Luttjohann thinks the city could close in on double digit revenue gains.

Using the lessons of the previous year, the Chamber president said they will collaborate with partners to tweak their marketing efforts. Further, he said they planned to engage in a strategic marketing partnership with the Island Company and the Catalina Express to specifically target visitors from San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose to lure more visitors from greater distances.

“The most recent report did show an upward trend,” said Luttjohann, who said he was very encouraged by the results.

“Now, we are going to continue to ramp up our sales and marketing efforts using enhanced digital targeting,” he said.

Luttjohann said now that many improvements have been made to event properties on Catalina, the CICVB will use what they have learned to better market them to host big events on the island. Most major events are planned at least one year out, so “we have work to do,” he said.

Nevertheless, as a result of the past year, Luttjohann added, “we now have much more to offer.”

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