Plumas County Tourism Council to create countywide marketing plan

Laura Beaton
Staff Writer

“Tourism is about economics,” principal speaker Carl Ribaudo told a group of Plumas County Tourism Council members May 21. “It is just as competitive and brutal as any other industry.”

More than 50 people attended the brown bag lunch meeting, sponsored by Feather River College, at Serpilio Hall at the county fairgrounds. Ribaudo has 20 years of experience in the travel and tourism industries as a strategic marketer. He has given numerous seminars for chambers and tourism councils.

Ribaudo said that the newest tourism focus is on outdoor recreation — a perfect fit for Plumas County. The county has just about every major outdoor rec activity within its bounds, including snow sports, fishing, boating, golf, biking, camping, hiking, hunting, off-road riding, horseback riding, swimming, motorcycling and more. “That is your sweet spot. You’ve got the grocery store, but nobody knows about it. You’ve got to tell everybody about it.”

Ribaudo is an avid motorcyclist, and organizes road trips for bikers throughout California, including Plumas County. He said the county has some of the best two-lane roads for motorcycling.

Ribaudo suggested a three-step course of action for the council. First, he said, establish a TBID (tourism improvement business district). Next, establish a lodging advisory board. He explained that the lodging industry drives tourism. Finally, develop a specific marketing plan countywide.

“If you don’t work together it will not happen,” Ribaudo said. “Your competition is not the guy across the street. It’s Shasta County, Trinity County. You always want to be cross-selling.”

Ribaudo said Plumas is the only one of all neighboring counties to have seen a decrease in tourist dollars last year. The tourism industry gets no funding support from the county, and the visitor’s bureau is defunct because of lack of funding.

One woman who recently returned to Quincy after a 30-year absence said a big problem is that all the shops are closed on weekends.

Ribaudo said that businesses have to make two plus two equal five. Right now, “you’re at the chicken and egg stage. You guys have what we call good bones. You need a leadership group to get together. You have to have a well-thought-out, well-crafted plan.”

Ribaudo said that TBID has become the paramount funding model, then DMOs (destination marketing organizations) — formerly known as visitors’ bureaus.

Event facilitator Lisa Kelly, owner of Moon’s Restaurant, outlined some next steps. A leadership group needs to be formed, and a plan crafted, she said. FRC President Kevin Trutna agreed to sponsor another meeting.

“This is a kick-off,” Kelly said, “it ain’t the end of the road.”

Ribaudo concurred, saying, “You need a coalition of the willing in one room. Over time, you can change a lot of things.”

Plumas County Tourism Council meets the fourth Thursday of the month, 9 a.m. at Moon’s, 497 Lawrence St. For more information, call Kelly at 283-9900.

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