Accommodations for island visitors ranged from the elegant Metropole and other hotels, to a few houses and cottages belonging to the Bannings and other residents, to tent cottages available for rent.
In the mainstream of a highly organized southern California promotional operation--orchestrated by the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce, the Southern Pacific Railroad, and other boosters with vested interests to attract visitors, new residents, and new capital--the Bannings carried out an increasingly ambitious publicity campaign.
In order to manage and properly finance their venture, the Bannings incorporated the Santa Catalina Island Company in October 1894 as a subsidiary of their holdings.
By 1898, the Bannings had put a third WTC steamer, the Hermosa, which had operated years earlier, back into the regular schedule of service.
Besides their principal business of transporting and entertaining visitors, the Bannings also were able to exploit other island resources for different uses.
During these years, the Bannings were at the center of the Santa Catalina social scene, a world populated mostly by the middle class and society's more affluent members who could afford to stay there for a prolonged period of time.
As owners of most of the island, the Bannings invited family and friends to stay in cottages owned by their company.
To protect the image of their investment as a family-oriented resort, the Bannings were vigilant concerning adult pleasures for part of the island population.
The Pilgrim Club occasionally was a thorn in the side of the Bannings and brought unwanted publicity during the county district attorney's periodic investigations of gambling; it was finally closed down in 1909.
By prohibiting certain people from their facilities based on their ethnicity or class, the Bannings hoped to keep their island true to the image they projected to their affluent white clientele.
To protect their investment and transportation monopoly, the Bannings enforced their policy of prohibiting all non-WTC ships from landing on their island property.
At a meeting in July 1896, most residents who owned lots sided with the Bannings, noting that the family's huge expenditures for infrastructure and amenities should be respected.