Feb. 23, 2022 (LAKE TAHOE/TRUCKEE, Calif/NV.) – The Lake Tahoe-Truckee region was recognized in five categories and six awards at the Visit California Poppy Awards, more than any other regional destination in the state. The event was held in San Francisco, on Feb. 15, 2022, honoring the best and brightest of California tourism during the conclusion of Visit California’s Outlook Forum Conference.
The Poppy Awards occur every other year and for 2022, Visit California received a record 218 entries from tourism businesses and destinations. There are eight categories to enter, including Best Overall Destination Brand Identity, Best Paid Social Media Campaign, Best Public Relations Campaign, and the Destination Stewardship & Sustainable Travel Award. Entries are submitted and judged by a panel of industry leaders and experts.
In the Best Overall Destination Brand Identity category, businesses and destinations were nominated for creating a brand that represents the essence of a destination, one that is a reflection of a place’s unique character, lifestyle, and assets. In the $1 Million and Above Category, Palisades Tahoe was recognized for its renaming campaign and new brand launch. The 72-year-old ski resort took on this effort after acknowledging that its former name was a racist and sexist slur against Indigenous women. More than a year of behind-the-scenes work culminated in September 2021 with a surprise digital launch of the new brand identity. Palisades Tahoe introduced its new name and logo to the world with a reveal video narrated by Olympian Jonny Moseley, a digital content campaign that used storytelling to link the celebrated history of the resort with its new identity, a media strategy that resulted in in-depth coverage of the journey to the new brand identity, and on-site, all major signage was changed over on the same day of the announcement.
The North Lake Tahoe Marketing Cooperative (comprising the Incline Village Crystal Bay Visitors Bureau and the North Lake Tahoe Resort Association) was honored in the Under $1 Million Category for creating a cohesive destination presence across two state-lines and multiple jurisdictions. Partnering with their agency of record, Augustine Agency, the Human Nature brand position was created as a way to define North Lake Tahoe and invoke a feeling of being more than a destination to just visit. “Our collaborative work with the Incline Village Crystal Bay Visitor Bureau to tell the story of the North Lake Tahoe region is such a valued partnership and to collectively receive this recognition for a project that is near and dear to us is a great honor” said Amber Burke, marketing director, North Lake Tahoe Resort Association.
Effective public relations puts storytelling front and center, supporting marketing initiatives with invaluable earned media. The Best Public Relations Campaign category recognized Palisades Tahoe for its media strategy around its renaming. The PR team secured coverage in high-profile publications like The New York Times, the Associated Press, and Outside through media outreach that included compelling spokespeople, a storyline that connected the new name to the unwavering soul and character of the resort, a burgeoning relationship with the local Washoe Tribe, and in-depth FAQ materials to help educate the public on the change. The PR team also took on the responsibility of educating Palisades Tahoe’s thousands of employees on how to answer guest questions about the renaming.
“This renaming was one of the most significant moments in our resort’s long history, and I am so proud of our team for the creativity, passion, and high caliber of work they all brought to this project,” said Alex Spychalsky, public relations manager at Palisades Tahoe. “This was a long and involved process, and every step of the way we considered whether our choices would resonate with our resort community, near and far. To see our work honored affirms the paths we chose and our dedication to getting this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity right.”
The Incline Village Crystal Bay Visitors Bureau and Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority, executed by Noble Studios, was recognized for Best Paid Social Media Campaign with their “Trade Texas for Tahoe” campaign. The VCB’s launched a cooperative digital effort that focused on driving consumer interest and travel to the region through a comprehensive paid media and promotional plan, leveraging nonstop flights from Dallas and Houston to Reno. Efforts resulted in more than 26 million impressions, exceeding industry benchmarks for performance. The landing page for the campaign totaled 66k sessions and 55k users and earned 5k partner referrals.
“As part of our recovery efforts, collaborating with partners and executing a nimble, responsive, high-performing creative campaign in a key flight market helped our businesses beyond what would be possible individually, further reinforcing Tahoe’s ongoing resilience,” said Carol Chaplin, president, and CEO of the Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority.
“I am incredibly proud of Team Tahoe and the high level of work produced by our region,” said Andy Chapman, president/CEO of the Incline Village Crystal Bay Visitors Bureau. “Receiving recognition from our industry peers from throughout California is an acknowledgment of the hard work and dedication of our committed staff, partners, and stakeholders.”
The Destination Stewardship & Sustainable Travel Award was given to the team at Visit Truckee-Tahoe, who was recognized for their efforts to reset and create a more balanced recovery — one that continues to deliver economic benefits but also addresses negative environmental and socio-cultural impacts. The hallmark message and branding launched in 2020 is “Sustainable Truckee.”
“We are so proud of the Sustainable Truckee initiative,” said Colleen Dalton, CEO of Visit Truckee-Tahoe. “Given direction from the Visit Truckee-Tahoe Board of Directors, we laid the foundation to be decisive and take action needed to promote, protect and enhance Truckee as an authentic mountain town. To receive this award out of 22 applicants in our first 12 months of existence as an organization truly validates the direction we are headed in – a new era of building a sustainable Truckee for generations to come.”
Boreal Mountain California & Woodward Tahoe was awarded a poppy for Best Recovery Campaign as a result of their successful efforts in driving visitation back to the region after a crisis. “This past year we have all been given the challenge to be elastic in how we think about the outside industry, in parallel we modeled our recovery strategies and efficiencies that support our business continuity,” Amy Ohran, Boreal general manager. “While many of our strategies have been designed to adjust to the realities of COVID-19, we are finding that our industry is eager for evolution. Go Time Tickets™ have drastically improved the arrival experience and pacing of traffic through our parking and service areas, eliminating historical pinch-points and wait times.”
“Go Time Tickets™ have a bright future,” said Matt Peterson, director of brand & marketing, Woodward Mountain Centers, “Boreal / Woodward’s new ticket model has shown that there’s a way to bring in new customers by offering a premium price, and simultaneously offering a discounted tickets throughout the day to be more inclusive to everyone.”
Lake Tahoe and Truckee were widely represented at the state’s most prestigious tourism awards ceremony, from visitor bureaus to mountain resorts and the local residents who serve them. Tourism is one of the highest economic drivers for the Sierra region and visitor spending helps fuel a vibrant local business community while fostering jobs within the hospitality and outdoor recreation sectors. Their collective work was celebrated and recognized as best-in-class by colleagues, partners, and friends.
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