San Luis Obispo Issues Destination Marketing RFP

San Luis Obispo Issues Destination Marketing RFP
San Luis Obispo Issues Destination Marketing RFP

The TBID program is overseen by a City Council appointed Advisory Board. The Board is comprised of seven SLO lodging members. Board members serve four-year staggered terms. The leadership consists of a Chair and Vice Chair. TBID Board members, excluding the Board Chair, serve on the board appointed Management and Marketing subcommittees. The TBID is currently staffed by a team of two full-time City of San Luis Obispo employees. The program functions of the staff TBID staff are project and contract management, local partnership development and management, organizational planning and operations, stakeholder management and industry relations. The team holds memberships with several industry professional organizations, including CAL Travel and California Hotel & Lodging Association, and committee/board seats with a number of organizations, including Visit SLO CAL, SLO Coast Wine Collection, Central Coast Tourism Council, Visit California and others.

The TBID is requesting proposals from full-service marketing agencies to conduct the organization’s overall marketing and branding efforts. The TBID is looking for passionate, committed, creative people with big ideas and possess the ability to execute those ideas effectively on behalf of the destination. Responding agencies should have experience in marketing travel destinations and/or lifestyle brands. The contracted agency will be responsible for creating and executing a comprehensive marketing plan to support the TBID’s branding, marketing, advertising and digital initiatives.


San Luis Obispo is a leading tourism destination on the Central Coast of California. Located halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles, the city is at the heart of the vibrant San Luis Obispo County region (also known as “SLO CAL”). Approximately, 1.5 million visitors annually visit San Luis Obispo to enjoy the destination offerings like the charming downtown, iconic attractions like the Mission, Bubble Gum Alley and Farmers Market, Cal Poly State University, or use SLO as home base when visiting the nearby beaches, wine regions or other attractions.

In October 2008, after decades of city directed efforts and at the request of the local lodging industry, the San Luis Obispo City Council established the San Luis Obispo Tourism Business Improvement District. The TBID is a special assessment district within the city that provides specific benefits to payors, by funding marketing, advertising, promotions, and sales efforts for assessed businesses. To manage the district’s activities, the City Council appointed an Advisory Board of hoteliers to make recommendations to Council regarding the use of the assessment funds. The Board’s primary focus is to promote San Luis Obispo as a visitor destination to enhance the economic wellbeing of the lodging industry.

In the eleven-year history of the TBID, the lodging businesses have seen great benefits from the tourism marketing efforts of the district in the form of increased annual occupancy and average daily rate, and subsequently the City has benefited from the increase in transient occupancy tax revenues. However, within the past few years hotel room inventory within the city and the region has expanded dramatically and will continue to grow. In order to combat that shift, the TBID desires to evolve their destination marketing efforts to remain competitive and expand their market share.

Scope of Work:

The selected agency is responsible for the comprehensive destination marketing functions across all channels of paid, owned and managed. The work effort and production encompass development of all creative, content, optimization and reporting for the TBID’s brand marketing program.

I. Marketing Service Elements

The following are the minimum expected elements of the marketing services efforts included in the work program for the selected agency.

Brand Amplification & Management: The agency will deliver recommendations to position the existing brand in an impactful way. The agency will define and amplify the unique selling proposition for San Luis Obispo as a visitor destination to achieve increased awareness and drive demand resulting in overnight stays.

Marketing Strategy, Plan & Execution: The agency will develop and successfully execute a two-year Marketing and Advertising Plan based on research and insights that supports the strategies approved by TBID. Includes Strategic Direction, Target Market/Persona Development, Creative Strategy, Brand Amplification & Management, Digital Strategy, Content Strategy, Promotional Campaigns and Media Plan. Once developed, the agency must have the ability to work the approved plan, and when needed provide insight and reasoning for tactful pivots in order to achieve the goals. The selected marketing agency is responsible for the concept creative materials/campaign elements (online, print, broadcast, etc.) as described in the Marketing and Advertising Plan. Once approved, the agency will produce and bring to final form the approved advertising materials to run on behalf of TBID.

Media Buy: The agency is responsible for developing and executing the media plan presented in the Marketing and Advertising Plan approved by TBID Board. Execution includes placement, optimization, cancellations, auditing, payment to vendors and billing.

Creative Services & Content Development/Management: The agency is responsible for all additional creative and content creation and/or curation for entirety of marketing efforts. This includes creating and managing content on the website (including general descriptions, ShareSLO blog, SLO Happenings event calendar), all social channels, digital newsletters & emails, advertorial copy and partner content contribution. On a regular basis, the selected agency shall provide concept and creative services including but not limited to print, web, digital media and event activation. Collateral and asset development will be provided on an as-needed basis, the selected agency is responsible for maintaining relationships with any subcontractors or vendors.

Digital Management: The agency will be the principal advisor and provider to the TBID for all online and website marketing strategy, including website services, blog management, social media and subscriber database management. The website is the central marketing element for the TBID. The board is not seeking recommendations for a website redesign of The agency will be responsible for ongoing design and development enhancements, content development, site development, maintenance and hosting. This includes all written and visual content (photos, video, etc.) and applicable alt tags, metadata and key word optimization, SEO and link building & management, site ranking & Google score. The marketing agency will be responsible for creating and managing content on the ShareSLO blog including writing and posting blog copy on the website, ensuring that posts are search engine optimized, creating feature graphics and adding photos from our library and/or stock assets into the post and publishing. The agency is responsible for developing, executing and managing an annual social strategy and program including community management, engagement campaigns and a digital influencer strategy. ShareSLO is the TBID’s social identity. Current social channels include Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and YouTube. The agency is responsible for maintaining an e-mail automation system, managing subscriber lists and utilizing lists accordingly. The selected agency will also be responsible for the design/template customization, copy and distribution of the TBID e-newsletter. The agency will be responsible for procuring and utilizing digital service tools or resources.

Public Relations Integration: Our public relations contractor (San Luis Obispo Chamber of Commerce) leads efforts to engage media with press visits/FAM tours, press releases, pitching, industry submissions and more. Our selected agency will be expected to work in conjunction with our public relations contractor to ensure that messaging is coordinated across all channels. Both our marketing contractor and public relations contractor will be expected to work from the Marketing and Advertising Plan.

Reporting: The agency will be responsible for reporting on all work program outcomes to the board, staff and stakeholders. This include the production of monthly activity reports, delivery of written and verbal quarter production reports, and annual contract review reports. In collaboration with staff, the agency will produce annually the comprehensive TBID Board Annual Report in written, presentation and video forms.

Due Date:

Feb 28


Molly Cano 805-781-7165     

Hunter PR and M Booth PR are relevant agencies.

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