Last summer, Scott Slocum—a hospitality guy who’d thus far spent his career working in hotels—stepped into some new shoes: regional director of sales and marketing for the newly formed Walnut Creek (California) CVB. It was a challenging role, no doubt (“Where is Walnut Creek?” is a question he hears often), albeit one that’s near and dear to his heart, as he hails from the East Bay region. He’s out to show why this emerging city 25 miles east of San Francisco might be just the place for meeting planners looking for something new and different.
What went into launching a brand-new CVB for Walnut Creek?
My role was added to the CVB, and a new focus and direction was set for pursuing conferences and events in Walnut Creek. We had a lot of work to do in the first year: a new logo; a new website; new collateral, photography and video; laying the groundwork for what we have; and getting people to know and experience us. It’s been a lot of work but a lot of fun. We’ve had good success in terms of bookings and getting awareness out in the events industry.
What’s your biggest challenge?
The one thing we face is eventually we’re going to have a small convention center up in our area. Most people know San Francisco and Oakland, but they’re confused about what’s considered East Bay. We’re not cohesive in terms of all the areas and valleys.
Can you share your goals for the CVB?
Our immediate goal is to tell the country about how great Walnut Creek is. But longer term we’re asking: How do we get our presence known in a major way? How do we build a convention center? How do we form a coalition of industry leaders to make that happen? Once [a convention center] happens we can announce this region in a whole new way. These smaller regions all compete for business, but if we had a center that accommodates 2,000 to 3,000 people, all the regions could accommodate more, and we would all win. In five years or so that will be happening.