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.

“The management side of the system provides us with the ability to generate reports on all activity associated with the files and users that we find to be incredibly helpful to track usage. We would highly recommend Barberstock to any DMO or business that is looking into an easy, organized way to manage their digital assets.”

Michael Reinhardt
Graphic & Video Production Manager, Discover The Palm Beaches

“I would recommend Barberstock because it’s very easy to use, and it’s an organized, simple way to archive and search for photos and video. I like that we can upload images ourselves and we are able to send links out to media and/or allow them access to our photography inventory very simply. On top of that, the customer service is excellent.”

Rachel Riley
Digital Content Manager, Visit Bucks County

“Storing our images in the platform frees up space on our system. It also saves so much time and effort having users search and download what they want directly. No more hours spent pulling images from a variety of places and then finding a way to send them to the journalist or member via Dropbox or other, then repeating the steps again for the next request.”

Jennifer Adsett
Manager, Destination Marketing, Tourism Victoria