Crisis Control Through Collections

In the tourism industry, time is of the essence, especially when it comes to communication during crisis control. No case exemplifies the importance of this timeliness more than Santa Barbara CVB’s wild fire emergency. In particular, when wild fires swept through the area in 2017 and then were contained, Santa Barbara’s tourism remained low, despite the fact that most areas were safe and restored. Santa Barbara needed exceptionally quick and efficient delivery of new assets to the public and media to ensure a key message was clear, “we’re open for business and a great place to visit.” With Barberstock’s help, the CVB was able to quickly deliver new photos, videos and assets to the public and media, thus rectifying the area’s public image to bring much needed tourism back to local businesses and attractions.


Widely known as ‘The American Riviera ®’, Santa Barbarais a stunning city on the central Californian coast. Surrounded by blue, coastal waters and the majestic Santa Ynez Mountains in the background, it is a vibrant destination offering a wealth of sun, beach-side resorts and outdoor activities.

Its Mediterranean-style buildings and quaint red-tile roofs attract many visitors every year, while wineries, festivals and famed attractions have made it world famous as a vacation destination.

The Challenge

In December of 2017, a devastating wildfire in Santa Barbara burned 280 acres of land. At that time, tourism came to a halt due to poor air quality. Many businesses had to close or evacuate, while the media, news and social media spread countless images depicting fire-torn landscapes and people in facemasks. To make matters worse, once Santa Barbara was clear of the fires, a mudslide hit, resulting in additional images of catastrophe getting spread across the media.

Shortly after, the destination recovered from both crises and the land began to flourish again. However, despite the repaired region, the pubic had a lingering perception of a destination in distress. This caused tourism to remain extremely low, affecting local businesses who already had been hard hit in the previous months. The situation was so bad that, for many, closing shop seemed imminent. The Santa Barbara CVB faced a huge challenge: They had to change the narrative of what was being portrayed in the media, and also bring tourism back to the destination.

The Solution

The Santa Barbara CVB quickly realized that they needed to get accurate and up-to-date images out to the media quickly. They also identified who was still sending outdated images of the destination to the mainstream media. They learned that the fire-torn images were propagated not only by locals, but also by partners who didn’t realize that these photos and videos were having a negative impact on tourism. Knowing this, Santa Barbara pushed forward with an immediate recovery plan.

First, they needed to get new and accurate images and videos into the hands of their partners. To do so, they worked with local photographers and videographers and took real-time visuals of the destination, including videos, aerial footage and photos of iconic landmarks and locations, such as Sterns Wharf and popular hotels. All of the visuals were also time stamped to ensure people knew they were taken recently.

Then, Barberstock jumped into action.

The new images and videos were uploaded to Santa Barbara’s Barberstock library and placed into a Public Collection, entitled: Membership Toolkit. The link was then emailed out to all partners and made available on Santa Barbara’s CVB website. This move ensured all the videos and photos in the collection were up-to-date and recent—a function that continues to benefit the destination to this very day.

The Results

Santa Barbara’s quick thinking and expedient efforts worked; tourism began to shift and businesses started to recover. Finally, the media and visitors were seeing and receiving accurate and up-to-date images of the destination, resulting in an increase of visitors to the area. Meanwhile, The Toolkit continues to work wonders, providing not only members and partners with up-to-date assets, but also sales teams, who rely on them to bring leisure and group travelers to Santa Barbara. Additionally, Santa Barbara now has a cohesive PR crisis plan in place, this has proven useful for any emergency situation, as well as weather related incidents.

The Santa Barbara team also uses Barberstock’s analytics to see who is downloading the files within the system and how many times these files are downloaded—a feature that provides the bureau with insight and strategy for future distribution and management of assets.

“ We have everything we need in one place, searchable, categorized and our platform is so easy to use. Thank you to everyone on the Barberstock team for talking us through the process, being on hand all of the time regarding questions. We cannot recommend this company enough.”


Celine Beurle, Managing Director - Europe
Future iQ Partners

“The features that I have found most helpful in Barberstock is the ability to allow vendors to upload assets for approval, to upload images myself, add and edit permissions and meta data individually or in large batches. I am also impressed with the level of customer service and dedication to continuing to improve their product and services.”

Sarah Myers
Director of Digital Content & Engagement, Visit Park City

“What I like about Barberstock is that it’s really user-friendly, the different formats that are available and we don’t have to manage it – we just send the link to someone and it’s all taken care of.  It allows us to expand what we’re offering from a marketing and destination perspective.”

Sonya Bradley
Chief Marketing Officer, Visit Sacramento