Eastern Sierra Wins Big at Visit California Poppy Awards

Eastern Sierra, Calif. (February 24, 2020) — Earlier this month, the Eastern Sierra triumphed at Visit California’s biennial Poppy Awards contest. This competition honors the best and brightest of California tourism promotion and awards are bestowed in even-numbered years as part of Visit California’s Outlook Forum conference.

To kick off the evening, the Bishop Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Bureau, Inyo County, Mammoth Lakes Tourism and Mono County walked away with the award for Best Cooperative Marketing Campaign for the collaborative efforts to promote fall colors in the Eastern Sierra.

“I really love that the Eastside was recognized for our cooperative effort on the fall color campaign,” said Tawni Thomson, Executive Director of the Bishop Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Bureau. “There are honestly no boundaries between us when it comes to the visitor experience. Our guests identify all of us as the Eastern Sierra and the success of this campaign proves that working together can produce a great outcome.”

The agencies partnered to capitalize on the area’s lengthy fall colors season. The concept was particularly clever, as elevation changes cause the different partners to experience peak colors throughout autumn, which allows the area to market a lengthy season without bringing destinations into competition with one another.

“It’s a great honor to be recognized for our long-standing partnerships to promote the fall season to our visitors,” said MLT’s Executive Director John Urdi. “I am proud of our efforts and even prouder of the results for our Eastern Sierra communities. Winning the Visit California Poppy award for best cooperative marketing program is just the cherry on top.”

Judges declared that the campaign provided impressive occupancy increases across the cooperation and was a great concept that joined competitors in an effective campaign for a low investment. The judges also appreciated the use of multiple marketing tactics that they felt have potential for further applications.

The award was given as a tie with another joint cooperative campaign between San Francisco Travel Association and San Diego Tourism Authority.

Additionally, Yosemite National Park along with Yosemite Gateway Counties — Mono, Tuolumne, Mariposa, and Madera were selected as the winner in the surprise inaugural category, Excellence in Destination Stewardship for their collaborative digital influencer campaign. The funding for the campaign was received as a grant from Yosemite National Park for the purpose of encouraging travelers to arrive on off-peak days or seasons, take public transportation into the valley, and to arrive early if taking your own vehicle.

“Both of these Poppy Awards really affirm the top priorities for all the agencies involved — one, regional collaboration and two, sustainable tourism through stewardship and best practices,” said Alicia Vennos, Economic Development Director for Mono County. “We also share these honors with our local business community and all those who joined the effort and used their own channels to help promote the Eastern Sierra Fall Color Campaign and the best ways to visit Yosemite Valley. I congratulate everyone involved for a fantastic team effort.”

And the final icing on the Eastern Sierra cake was Bishop winning the award for Best Overall Brand Identity (with a budget under $1 million), beating out Visit Carmel and Visit Santa Maria County.

“Our team was so proud to bring home the Poppy for Best Overall Brand Identity,” Thomson said. We’ve really got a great group of local professionals that are passionate about telling Bishop’s story to our guests. We love our Small Town with a Big Backyard slogan as it resonates with locals as well as our guests.”

Poppy winners are selected by a panel of industry marketing experts in nine categories ranging from best public relations campaign, to best digital campaign to best cooperative marketing campaign.