Linsey Gallagher, the President and CEO of Visit Napa Valley, joins Tim to talk about what she and her team are doing to bring travelers back to one of the most popular wine country destinations in the world. Linsey has had to regroup and pivot with Napa Valley’s 400-plus vintners to help the region’s second-largest economic drivers – tourism – recover after the COVID-19 pandemic and economic shutdown.
The state of California has its share of wine-growing regions. There is the South Central Coast, the North Central Coast, and the North Coast. But perhaps no wine-making region is more popular or more well known than Napa Valley in the North Coast Region.
Napa Valley sits one hour north of San Francisco and is home to some of the most popular and awarded wines in the world.
This place of distinction is the major reason why the region has a second thriving industry, which is tourism.
In 2018, the Napa Valley welcomed 3.85 million visitors, and they spent $2.23 billion dollars. The tourism sector is the second largest employer in Napa County. The wine industry is number one.
Like every other industry and part of the country, Napa Valley suffered the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown. In fact, the tourism sector was hit particularly hard as millions stayed home.
Airports, highways, hotel rooms and hotel lobbies – all empty or at minimal capacity for months. And the challenge for tourist destinations only begins when the lockdown ends.
Not only do destinations have to make up for lost time and lost revenue, but they have a lot of work to do to rebuild confidence among travelers and re-establish themselves as attractive places to go.
Linsey Gallagher is discusses how she is working with Napa Valley Vintners to launch a three-stage marketing campaign to mirror the recovery process and to help restore Napa Valley’s economy. The interview is wide-ranging, from how Napa Valley became a global destination for wine tourism and plans for the future.
About Visit Napa Valley
Visit Napa Valley is the official destination management organization for the Napa Valley, with a mission to promote, protect and enhance the region’s position as an attractive travel destination and enhance its public image as a dynamic place to visit, live and work.
The Napa Valley consists of the following distinctive towns, including, from north to south, Calistoga, St. Helena, Rutherford/Oakville, Yountville, the city of Napa, American Canyon, and the outdoor recreation area of Lake Berryessa.
- Visit Napa Valley (website)
- California Wine Institute (website)
- Diurnal Shift Definition, Wine Spectator
- Discover California Wines (website)
- California Wine Regions, Wine Enthusiast
About this Episode’s Guest Linsey Gallagher
Linsey Gallagher is the president and CEO of Visit Napa Valley, the official destination management organization for the Napa Valley, with a continued mission to promote, protect, and enhance the region’s position as an attractive travel destination while also enhancing its public image as a dynamic place to visit, live and work.
Linsey joined Visit Napa Valley (VNV) in February 2019 after serving 10 years as Vice President, International Marketing for the California Wine Institute.
In her current role as president and CEO of VNV, Linsey’s primary responsibility is to provide leadership for strategic planning to meet multi-tiered sales, marketing, and industry key objectives for VNV’s team members, as well as ensure the objectives set by the Board of Directors are successfully accomplished.
Under Linsey’s leadership, VNV, along with the Napa Valley Vintners (NVV), is working with Napa County Supervisor Alfredo Pedroza, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC), and the Napa Valley Transportation Authority (NVTA) to help reduce traffic congestion through a newly established private-public partnership, “Napa Valley Forward.” The program encourages Napa Valley’s tourism and wine industry employers and employees to adopt sustainable transportation solutions such as carpooling to reduce traffic on Highway 29 and Silverado Trail.
As part of COVID-19 tourism recovery efforts, Gallagher joined forces with the Napa Valley Vintners to launch a strategic three-stage marketing campaign to mirror the recovery process and help restore Napa Valley’s economy. The Napa Valley Spirit campaign, targeted to the local community, and the Better with Time campaign, which focusses on the drive market, are designed to assure visitors that they will experience the world-class hospitality they have always enjoyed, with the added assurance that all Napa Valley businesses are committed to practice the highest safety standards, above and beyond the mandated requirements, in order to protect the health and welfare of guests, employees and the community.
Linsey sits on the Board of Directors for the Napa Valley Vine Trail and the Napa Valley Transportation Authority’s Citizens Advisory Committee. She is also the Board President for the Vichy Elementary School Parent Club. In June 2020, Linsey was named one of the top “North Bay Women in Business” by the North Bay Business Journal.
Gallagher earned an undergraduate degree from the University of Vermont and an MBA degree from Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. Her interests include travel, tennis, and reading, and she speaks fluent Spanish. She lives in Napa, CA with her husband and two young children.
In 2018, when the last visitor profile was conducted, the Napa Valley welcomed 3.85 million visitors, who spent $2.23 billion and provided $85.1 million in tax relief to residents. The tourism industry remains the second largest employer in Napa County (after the wine industry), supporting the livelihood of an estimated 15,872 people in the community, with a combined payroll of $492 million.