In many cities, the Chamber of Commerce and Visitors’ Bureau are part of the same organization. In Laguna Beach however, the two are separate, each with their own staff, board of directors, and mission. While the organizations each have a unique focus, Visit Laguna Beach and the Laguna Beach Chamber of Commerce collaborate on a number of projects and events throughout the year.
This week, we spoke to Laura Henkels, Executive Director of the Laguna Beach Chamber of Commerce, about where her organization and Visit Laguna Beach are similar, and where they differ. At the end of the conversation, we couldn’t help but ask about her favorite beaches, restaurants, and secrets in town.
THE CHAMBER OF COMMERCE vs. VISIT LAGUNA BEACH
“The bottom line for the Chamber and Visit Laguna Beach is that we want to see this town thrive. Visit Laguna Beach continues to market the ‘destination’—bringing visitors into town for overnight stays. At the Chamber of Commerce we know how important that is too, because those guests will help our members thrive.”
“Ashley Johnson (the director of Visit Laguna Beach) and I work together more closely than previous directors of our respective organizations. I think we both see the importance of pulling together toward a shared goal. The bottom line for both of us is to keep the economy growing and vibrant.”
“Both organizations are like-minded, we want people to know what’s happening in town. We love to see tourists and locals alike using the trolley, dining at the restaurants, checking out the shops. We have the same goals—with a slightly different focus.”
“In a nutshell, if you’re a visitor-serving business that would like marketing exposure and a presence in front of visitors looking for suggestions and recommendations, contact Visit Laguna Beach for partnership opportunities. If you’re visiting town, go to the Official Laguna Beach Visitors Center, managed by Visit Laguna Beach. If you want to do business in town, then come see the Chamber of Commerce.”
LAURA’S FAVORITE FINDS IN LAGUNA BEACH
“Crescent Bay is my favorite beach—first, because it’s gorgeous; and second, because I have two boys and they love exploring tide pools and body surfing.”
“I don’t think I’m alone in my love for The Rooftop Lounge and K’ya Bistro Bar in La Casa del Camino hotel. A perfect evening for me starts with sunset drinks at The Rooftop and finishes with small plates and big laughs at downstairs at K’ya.”
“The R.U.F.F. Easter Brunch at Tivoli Terrace is so much fun. Everyone brings their dogs, dressed up, and it’s just one of those highly enjoyable Laguna Beach days spent seeing friends and making easy conversation. I also love the Charm House Tour—which I’ve been going to for over 30 years. But my best ‘Laguna Secret’ has to be the Sawdust Studio Art Classes that take place on the Sawdust Art Festival grounds every Friday and Saturday. Last year I made a glass cardholder that I tell people about constantly. What a great opportunity that’s available right under our noses!”