Editor’s note: In this blog series, District Marketing Mojo, Verdin President and CEO Mary Verdin interviews a leader in the world of marketing and communications for special districts and business improvement districts each month. Check back here regularly for new interviews.
Time Well Spent in Arroyo Grande: A chat with Sean Dasmann, Chair of the Arroyo Grande Tourism Business Improvement District
“Off Highway 101, nestled between ancient oaks, rolling wine country and local surf spots is our little town of Arroyo Grande. It’s a community that’s truly unique, with a genuine warmth that puts you at ease before you even kick off your shoes. There’s our walkable downtown Village dotted with antique shops in old Victorian buildings, farm-to-table eateries and watering holes, and other treasures waiting to be found. There’s our historic Swinging Bridge overlooking the creek, where you’ll spot our beloved brood of local roosters. Most of all, there’s a feeling in the air like this is where you’re supposed to be, and we swear, it’s not just the perfect Central Coast weather. Spending time here is spending time well. Ready to join us?”
— Visit Arroyo Grande website
Situated halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles, along the coast on the 101, is the charming small town of Arroyo Grande. It’s a special destination that is off the beaten path, where visitors can find peace and relaxation and enjoy myriad outdoor experiences.
The Arroyo Grande Tourism Business Improvement District (TBID) Advisory Board is made up of representatives from lodging or hospitality-related businesses in Arroyo Grande appointed by the City Council. The TBID seeks to reach travelers whose interests and behaviors align with the genuine experiences found in our area. These travelers are ready to discover the magic of Arroyo Grande—a town differentiated by its quaint atmosphere, striking scenery and access to some of the California Central Coast’s most sought-after experiences. The Arroyo Grande TBID is funded by a 2% assessment charged by hotels for the purpose of promoting the city as a destination.
Sean Dasmann is the chair of the Arroyo Grande TBID and the general manager of The Agrarian Hotel, located in the city’s historic and welcoming downtown Village area of Arroyo Grande. Serving as the chair of the TBID, Sean actively contributes to shaping the board’s agenda and overall direction. His “day job” overseeing the operations and guest experience of the 54-room Agrarian Hotel gives him the expertise and insights to provide input and leadership on the marketing efforts of the tourism district. Sean joined the TBID right after he joined the Agrarian team, and he has held the chair position for the past two years.
Sean’s résumé is varied, working in the event entertainment business since 1989 (and, in fact, he still DJs weddings and other celebrations on the regular). This background has brought a focus on guest experience to his role at The Agrarian Hotel and the TBID.To reach the TBID’s goals, Sean and the TBID board have worked with Verdin to focus on the authentic experiences and meaningful memories that can be created spending time together in Arroyo Grande. Their recent ADDY Award-winning campaign, “Time Well Spent,” attracts families, couples and friend groups to enjoy each other’s company in an environment of relaxation, beauty and history.
Arroyo Grande, Past & Future
One special thing about Arroyo Grande is its rich heritage and history. The township of Arroyo Grande was established in 1862 as an agricultural town. The railroad came to AG in 1882 with a new depot, and the city was officially incorporated July 10, 1911. To date, agriculture is still at the heart of the Arroyo Grande Valley, boasting strawberry fields and row crops including broccoli, bell peppers and lettuce. The Arroyo Grande Valley is also a designated American Viticulture Area (AVA), producing award-winning Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, in addition to many other varietals.
Sean grew up in Arroyo Grande and graduated from AG High School, so he has a deep love of the area and is dedicated to its success. One priority for Sean and the AG TBID is supporting the businesses in the city, to help the city thrive. The TBID has done this through midweek campaigns to bring visitors in, through the “No Weekend Needed” campaign. Next on the list is to find a new experience in AG to offer visitors, something that shares the history of the city and adds to the two other captivating attractions for tourism, Lopez Lake and the Village of Arroyo Grande. Keep your eye on VisitArroyoGrande.org to see what develops.
As is typical in most communities with a destination marketing organization, there is not a lot of awareness from the community regarding the AG TBID’s work to promote the city and its assets, but the results show in community enhancement. Sean intends to continue to work with the board and the city to educate residents about the tourism district and its role. He said the best compliment he’s received in this role was from Arroyo Grande’s Mayor Caren Ray Russom, asking him to continue on the TBID as chair after some restructuring of the board. One area of opportunity he’s identified is to promote the TBID’s budget to support local events, if the organizers can show how the event could attract visitors and enhance their stay.
Mayor Caren has been an integral part of the TBID and appreciates the hard work of the volunteers who serve on the board for the betterment of the community. She particularly likes the TBID’s ability to collect data, allowing city leadership to better understand their visitor demographics and driving economic growth through informed decisions. The mayor would love to put a focus on envisioning more multi-day events during shoulder seasons to boost these slower times of year, adding to the city’s Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) and sales tax revenue and enabling the city to do more for residents and visitors alike. Both Sean and Mayor Caren feel there is opportunity to create more stories and experiences around Arroyo Grande’s history, adding another dimension to the main attractions for visitors, which are the quaint and welcoming Village of Arroyo Grande and Lopez Lake Recreational Area.
Sean invites the community and visitors to two upcoming events to celebrate the holiday season: the 2nd Annual Tree Lighting & Snow extravaganza and the Holiday Parade. The Tree Lighting & Snow event, held at Elm Street Park on Sunday, Dec. 10, 2023, from 5 to 7 p.m., offers a magical experience with tons of snow – literally. The celebration includes a tree lighting, photo opportunities with Santa, food vendors, a s’more station, horse-drawn wagon rides and other family-friendly activities.
The Arroyo Grande Holiday Parade is an annual tradition taking place on the first Sunday of December at 5 p.m. The parade starts near City Hall and will wind its way through a festively lighted and decorated Village. It is a joyful spectacle that marks the official start of the holiday festivities in Arroyo Grande.