5/13/08 TDC/CVB Meeting: Indian Summer Festival, College Spring Break

Only 6 of the 9 Board members were present. Absent were Mike Nelson, Rick Russell, and Gary Walsingham.


President Dan Rowe reported that things have not gone as planned since the April 18th Marketing Committee meeting. To begin with, Mr. Jeffrey Wolfe of Multi-Media who was selected by the committee to operate the festival this year revoked his commitment to operate the festival with only $10,000 of the traditional $60,000 financial support from the CVB. In addition, Beach Events who I believe was not chosen by the committee mainly due to the reduced funding requested from Mr. Wolfe, now no longer is interested in promoting any fall festival for 2008. However, a group headed up by Marketing Committee member Jack Bishop is working on a proposal for the 2008 festival and expects to make a proposal and request for funding to the Board at the June meeting. Corky McCollum, from Beach Events, advised that his company was proceeding with their plans for an October 2009 festival, but did not anticipate requesting any marketing funds from the CVB. Board Member Buddy Wilkes asked Mr. Bishop whether his group was planning to operate the festival just for 2008. The response from Mr. Bishop seemed to show that his group’s interest was not limited to 2008. So we might end up with two competing Indian Summer Festivals in 2009.


Ms. Janet Ray, the CVB’s new account representative at Y Partnership, reported that it is the agency’s opinion that MTV delivered above and beyond what was required of them by the marketing campaign. She explained that MTV ran additional TV promotional spots in additional to providing additional online impressions. Ms. Ray’s presentation was silent about the fact that the flagship MTV network broadcast from the Miami area which was inconsistent with the proposal from MTV that PCB would the exclusive MTV networks spring break location.


Ms. Sharlet Brennan, from Y Partnership, explained how PCB’s College Spring Break was reported by the national media. She reported that 57 sources carried a favorable Associated Press story and that we received positive coverage from MSNBC. She also recapped what was described as positive coverage on NBC’s Tonight Show and from an upcoming episode of Hulk Hogan’s reality show. Unfortunately, Ms. Brennan also explained that the alleged rape and attempted murder of a College Spring Break visitor at the Sandpiper Beacon Motel was covered nationally by CNN, Fox News, ABC’s Good Morning America, and MSNBC. Ms. Brennan reported that the negative coverage ended shortly after the alleged perpetrator was arrested.


Mr. Walter Klages, president of The Klages Group, presented PCB’s First Quarter 2008 Visitor Profile that is the result of a total of 494 visitor interview between January and March. His presentation was mainly focused on visitors here for Spring Break which is a separate category in the report. However, Mr. Klages explained that this group includes all visitors who identified themselves as being here for Spring Break and is not limited to College Spring Break visitors.

Unfortunately, Board member comments showed that some were embracing a statistic that Spring Break visitors intend to return to PCB. At the same time, theses Board members seemed to be ignoring other important information from the report that clearly shows some of the College Spring Break problems. Some examples from the profile:

· 51.4% of those here for ALL Spring Break visitors were visiting PCB for the first time.

· 33.8% of those here for Spring Break were families.

· Only 56.8% identified as here for Spring Break were students.

· While 86.5% of ALL Spring Break visitors plan to return to the area, 59.5% of our other visitors during this period do not plan to return.

· Our Spring Break visitors surveyed only expected to spend an average of $65.53 per day including lodging. This seems to support the CVB’s research showing that the average College Spring Break visitor spends only $35.00 per day excluding accommodations.

· Only 56.1% of Spring Break visitors believe that PCB is a “Safe Destination”.

· Only 39.2% of Spring Break visitors believe that PCB is “Family Friendly”.


The Board voted unanimously to approve payment of a $10,800 invoice for supplemental beach cleanup during the 2008 College Spring Break season. The supplemental cleanup was mainly behind the clubs. Just as with 2007, this expense, along with the Celebrate Safely advertising campaign, has resulted in the CVB spending additional funds on College Spring Break that were reflected in the College Spring Break portion of the budget. Chairman Phillips, Buddy Wilkes, and Mike Bennett all expressed their opinion that they would like the upland property owners to assume responsibility for the costs of cleaning up behind their own businesses. However, it was reported that attempts to seek reimbursement from the clubs has been unsuccessful. President Rowe advised that staff would attempt to work out a workable solution prior to next year’s season.


Marketing Committee Chairman Wilkes expressed some concerns about how the committee is operating. Mr. Wilkes is concerned that the Board might have occasionally deferred their decision making responsibility to the committee and then just approved what the committee decided. As a result, Mr. Wilkes suggested that the marketing committee begin to deal solely with specific tasks assigned by the Board. Although no formal vote was taken, all Board members in attendance concurred with the opinion of Committee Chairman Wilkes. As a result, the Marketing Committee will be discontinuing its regular meeting schedule and will be only convene on an as needed basis.


Ms. Charlene Honnen, the Bay County Tourist Development Tax Specialist, updated the Board on bed tax collections. She reported that collections were up for both March and the first six months of the fiscal year, but cautioned that year to date collections included back taxes from prior year. Ms. Honnen also reported that one of our winter residents provided her a list of people that he believed were evading payment of the bed tax. Ms. Honnen advised that letters have been mailed to follow upon his claim.


President Rowe reported that Bay County has completed the TDC Audit for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2007. PCB bed tax collections for the year exceeded budgeted projections by approximately $885,000. The Board voted unanimously to request that the County Commissioners allocate $800,000 of the excess to the CVB and retain $85,000 in the TDC to pay for equipment upgrades. The current-year CVB budget already allocated $400,000 of this excess. In addition, $125,00 has been recently used for the Summer White Sale. Mr. Rowe expects to make his recommendations for the use of the $275,000 balance at the June Board meeting. Mr. Rowe also reported that the long-awaited FEMA reimbursement has been received increasing the TDC reserve fund to the desired $1 million.


President Rowe reported that staff was working closely with the Greater Panama City Beaches Chamber of Commerce to improve the vacation planner for next year. Mr. Rowe expects that the planner will have improved editorial focus similar to the planner’s from our competitors. A discussion initiated by Chairman Phillips took place about the fact that the Chamber retains 100% of the advertising revenues of the joint publication with nothing going to the TDC/CVB. Board member Yanni Patronis expressed his opinion that the TDC/CVB should not attempt to modify the arrangement and President Rowe concurred that any such attempt would likely be too traumatic. However, Mr. Rowe expressed his desire for the CVB to design and print smaller brochures for distribution at trade shows. Rowe suggested that the vacation planner could then be mailed or downloaded to potential visitors who desire additional information.


· CVB representatives are promoting PCB at the Florida Welcome Centers on I-10 and US 231 in celebration of National Tourism Week. In addition, a reception is being held for the public at the CVB’s visitor center on May 14th.

· Staff and counsel are continuing to work on the Sea Turtle lighting issue. President Rowe is confident that a compromise between the businesses and the state and federal agencies will be reached shortly.

· A natural disaster emergency preparation manual for the CVB is being prepared and will be distributed by the end of the month.

· 250 resumes have been received for the open staff positions. President Rowe will begin the interview process for the VP of Marketing position this week. Interviews for the other positions will follow.

-Bryan Durta

2 thoughts on “5/13/08 TDC/CVB Meeting: Indian Summer Festival, College Spring Break

  1. Isn’t Jack Bishop’s involvement with the guy from Ft Walton a conflict of interest? He admitted he was working with that guy and should have excused himself from the committee during discussions about the Festivals. Instead he gets to shoot down others ideas for his own profit. Someone should ask that question to those in charge.


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