The Sonoma County Lodging Association (SCLA) was formed in 1999 by a group of forward-thinking hoteliers who saw a need for an organization that represented the lodging industry in a variety of areas. First and foremost SCLA was to serve as an advocate to build consensus within the industry and to promote the interests of its members to the community, government and other outside organizations. Furthermore SCLA was formed to provide training and educational opportunities as well as enhance the general image of Sonoma County area as a leisure, convention and business destination through marketing efforts.
In March 2001, leaders in the tourism industry and the public sector began to formulate ideas and investigate ways of creating a funding structure to support a comprehensive tourism marketing program where the idea of creating a special county-wide tourism business improvement area emerged. SCLA became the lead organization advocating the development of a new business improvement area. In 2004, SCLA promoted the development of the business improvement area to its members, community leaders, public officials and tourism-related organizations. In November 2004, SCLA saw their vision become reality when the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors established the Sonoma County Tourism Business Improvement Area (SCTBIA).
Soon after the establishment of the SCTBIA, the organizational framework for the Sonoma County Tourism Bureau (SCTB) was developed, including articles of incorporation and by-laws. In addition, the five-member SCTBIA Advisory Board was appointed to act as liaison between the Board of Supervisors and the new SCTB. On Jan. 1, 2005, the SCTBIA went into effect. In February 2005, a 22-member board of directors was appointed and had its inaugural meeting. Then in June 2005, the Board of Supervisors ratified a contract with SCTB to market Sonoma County and promote overnight visitors. On July 1, 2005, the SCTB officially became the destination marketing organization for Sonoma County.
In 2018, the Sonoma County Lodging Association board began investigating the idea of expanding beyond lodging to represent the 20,000 member hospitality workforce, which accounts for 10% of Sonoma County jobs. There was a growing sense that a unified voice would serve all members well, creating a unified voice for the industry that previously did not exist. Along with advocacy, the new organization would provide education and networking opportunities across the guest-facing sectors of all tourism. An ad hoc committee was created to hold a series of meetings and gather input from all sectors on what offerings were most needed in such an organization and what the value proposition would be. In November of 2018, the SCLA Board voted to move forward with state and federal filings needed to change the name and scope of the association. The Sonoma County Hospitality Association was incorporated in the state of California in late 2018, with the official launch of the new organization starting in January 2019.
SCHA and SCT each serve different and unique roles in the lodging and hospitality industry. While SCT markets and sells Sonoma County as a destination, SCHA represents the 20,000 people who work in the hospitality industry by providing training and education; networking opportunities; and by advocating and serving as the voice of our industry to government officials, the business community and all of Sonoma County.