PCBDaily Twitter Weekly Updates for 09-30-2008

  • Bikes all over pier park lavela #
  • Fall is here with a cool morning at 66 degrees #
  • Bikers everywhere. #
  • Marty mcdanial is saying that our 2 percent increase this year in bed tax over last year may have been directly from recovery collectios #
  • At revenue enhancement meeting. Talking about how to increase bed tax #
  • Frank brown park and la vela are coming to life #
  • Airport meeting over check pcbdaily.com for the full update this afternoon. #
  • 10,000 foot runway not final. 15 depth is. Waiting on final permitting from faa for 10,000 feet. Also centerline lighting approved. #

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Bike Week on Panama City Beach, Day 4

Saturday was the last day of Bike Week, for me at least.  There were still venues open and bikers abound yesterday, but since it was Sunday and I was completely worn out, I stayed home with the fam.

Saturday was crazy busy, although it seemed like there were more bikers on the road than at the venues.  Riding around, it seemed like there were bikers everywhere.  Talking to a friend yesterday, he said that it seemed like everywhere he looked, there weren’t just a few bikers, but several packs of bikers – streetside, hanging out, at gas stations, etc.

Talking to several local businesses, many thought this year was actually up from last year’s fall rally.  If anyone has any quantifiable evidence to exactly how many people were here, please share!  In the future, we’ll have to figure out how to make a count – I know that it hasn’t been figured out yet.

I spoke to the camp site across from La Vela, and they said they were busier than last year, but were unsure if it had something to do with more people wanting to camp because it was cheaper.  Talking to vendors, I was told that sales were way up.  Apollo Choppers sold 7 bikes!  Ms. Newby’s had motorcycles parked all the way down Thomas Drive almost to where Red Rose is and Ruthy T’s used to be.

Check below for pics, and comment on the fun you had over the weekend!!

Bike Week on Panama City Beach, Day 3

Me?  I’m great, other than my legs feel like they are about to fall off and I’m totally and completely wiped out.  But, I had fun.

What many may argue as the first day of Bike Week on Panama City Beach, today was awesome.  Technically the festivities started Wednesday.  Some of the venues were open, some bikers had come in town, but for the most part, many of us were worried about the turnout for this rally.  Things started picking up yesterday, but today, man o’ man, the bikers rolled in.

Talking around, the numbers still seemed down from this time last year, and I think most agree the current state of the economy and gas prices are to blame.  However, overall the vendors I talked to seem to be pretty pleased.

The Apollo Chopper guys were ecstatic having sold 6 bikes between today and yesterday.  Merchandise sales seemed to be going very well all around, and at 10 o’ clock tonight, Club La Vela and Ms. Newby’s seemed to be the only party in town.  People were almost fighting for a parking spot at La Vela, bikers and cars alike.

I rode all day, and went pretty much everywhere; so did everyone else.  There were bikers everywhere – from Back Beach Road, to Pier Park, all up and down Front Beach Road, at all the gas stations, condos, hotels.  They were packed in groups on the side of the road, talking, hanging out.

Tomorrow should be fun.

Airport Intentions State 10,000 feet

Airport Authority Approves Preliminary Work on 10,000 foot Commercial Runway

Construction of New Airport Months Ahead of Schedule

The Panama City – Bay County International Airport Authority announced its intentions this week to construct a 10,000-foot main runway at the new airport in West Bay, subject to obtaining necessary permits and approvals. The Authority previously authorized the design of the runway extension which takes this runway from 8,400 feet to 10,000 feet and today approved a thicker runway and centerline lighting to accommodate a 10,000 foot runway.

Earlier, the Airport Authority had approved an 8,400-foot concrete runway with the option to extend it to 10,000 feet, if funding became available. The Florida Legislature, during its 2008 legislative session, awarded the airport an additional $4.5 million in funding to lengthen the runway to 10,000 feet.

The Airport Authority has begun the permitting process for the runway extension.  The change in runway length is not expected to impact the construction schedule.  The Airport Authority currently expects to open the new airport on Memorial Day 2010, with the 10,000 foot runway completed.

“We appreciate the tremendous support we have received from the State of Florida for this new airport,” said Airport Authority Chairman Joe Tannehill.  “The State knows how important this new facility is to the future of air service and economic development in Northwest Florida.  It is an investment in the future of the Panhandle – and the future of Florida. This new runway will be the only 10,000 foot commercial runway in the Northwest Florida region.”

“From the beginning, our goal has been to build a new airport capable of serving the transportation and economic development needs of our region for decades to come,” said Tannehill. “The longer runway will put us in the strongest possible position to compete for better air service and large aviation-dependent economic development projects.”

“Our focus now must turn to marketing our new facility to commercial airlines, transportation and logistics businesses and other aviation and defense companies we have targeted as potential tenants of the new airport,” said Tannehill. “We are committed to improving the regions air service and expanding the economic base of Northwest Florida.”

Construction of the $318 million state-of-the-art airport began in January 2008 and is now nearly three months ahead of schedule. The runway has been graded and paving is scheduled to begin in early October, four months ahead of schedule.

The two-mile long main airport entry road has been completed, 80 percent of the storm sewer pipes are in place and the parking lot’s curbing and lime-rock base will be completed by the end of September.

“Construction of the new airport is going very well,” said Randy Curtis, the airport’s executive director. “It is truly amazing to see 10 years of planning coming to life.”

New Airport lauches New Web Site

The Panama City – Bay County International Airport announced that it has launched a new web site to help educate the public on the progress of its new $318.5 million airport.

The user-friendly site includes a timeline of milestones leading up to the groundbreaking of the airport, the first built in the U.S. in the past 13 years, as well as constant photo and video updates on the development of the airport.  Current video updates featured are from pcbdaily.com!

“The development of the new airport is moving forward ahead of schedule and on budget,” said Airport Executive Director, Randy Curtis. “This new web site is a vehicle to carry useful and interesting project information to the local community, traveling public and those in the aviation and transportation industries.”

The website, www.newpcairport.com, features numerous photographs and videos of the many elements of construction and illustrates the progress now underway. Navigation tabs found on the site’s home page also allow users to easily access information regarding environmental impact, project partners and important contact information.

The daily countdown feature on the website lets readers know how many days are left until the Airport Authority’s target opening date of Memorial Day 2010.

All visitors to www.newpcairport.com are invited to use the site’s subscribe feature to have project updates sent directly to their e-mail.

Bike Week on Panama City Beach, Day 2

I didn’t have the pleasure of spending much time out and about this afternoon, but I was out tonight.  As always, Ms. Newby’s was slammed.  I had the great pleasure of meeting John McVeigh, who said business was good.  There were people (and bikes) everywhere.

The weather was cool, and even almost cold riding a motorcycle, but the days have been absolutely gorgeous and clear.

It’s hard to say yet if the numbers are down from last year, but many are predicting they will be.  With the current state of the economy and fuel prices, it is expected that many bikers stayed home.

I stopped by La Vela to find I just missed Kelly and The Healers.  I’ll catch them tomorrow.  Everything was slowing down by 9 pm, except the bars, of course.  Edgewater was dead, but I did have the opportunity to see the Dan Lawson Band and the young Patrick jam it out.

Salty’s was busy with some pretty sweet bikes out front, one had a Jack Daniels bottle built into the take, cool.

Tomorrow should be a blast, I’ll have more time to visit the venues and check everything out.

Coastal Cleanup 2008

This time next year, we will be aware of and report the Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup before the event happens.  But this year, we are pleased to report that the event did take place in Bay County in four locations: downtown St. Andrews, St. Andrews State Park, Camp Helen State Park and Tyndall Air Force Base.

I chose to do my own little “KeeptheBeachClean.com” cleanup in the area of the weekend’s best event, Schooners Lobster Fest.  I am pleased to announce that the beaches between Access #1 and Schooners were very clean, and I picked up less than 5 gallons of trash on both my morning trip and sunset run.

Thanks to Schooners for putting on events like Lobster Fest to improve activities for locals and tourists alike.  It was such a perfect beach day…

TDC Revenue Enhancement Committee Meeting

The TDC/CVB pulled together an impressive report on Bed Tax collections in competing destinations.

Numbers are clear:  Tourists visiting Panama City Beach pay less bed tax than in most other vacation destinations in Florida and the Southeast.  The full report will be posted here as soon as possible; email lancaster.kirk@gmail.com if you want me to email it to you..

There is no doubt we could improve TDC revenues by adding 2 cents, and the only people who would notice are the Bed Tax Collectors themselves.  (Sorry BTCs, I love you and am on your side, wishing you didn’t have to collect it all by yourselves, but that’s a bigger fight I’d join you on…)

There were other discussions of increasing TDC/CVB revenue, such as marketing co-ops and adding a new employee to collect back-taxes from the owners who are not paying up, but the 1 to 2 cent bed tax increase is by far the real revenue stream.  And it’s the topic that supposedly was the crack that caused the previous TDC Board breakup.  So it’s a hotty alright.

Since this is such a debated topic, please join in the comments and give your 2 cents on increased Bed Taxes (Revenue) for Bay County.  PCBDaily.com gives us all a voice on these issues, and you wouldn’t believe how many local business people and residents read this website and subscribe to the weekly newsletter.  So whether you’re on the TDC Board, a Bed Tax Collector, a concerned tourist, or a reporter for the major media outlets in town… if you have a solution or opinion on our Bed Tax and Tourist Development Revenue, let your voices be heard!

Here’s my 2 cent offering to the Revenue Enhancement Committee.

1. Raise the tax 2 cents, build sports and special events facilities only

2. The TDC serves Bay County.  Bay County serves tourists and thrives on tourism.  All hotels and motels in Bay County should be required to collect the Bay County Bed Tax.  I pay bed tax in Tuscaloosa, AL, and they’re no where near a beach.

3. Increase percentage of Bed Tax spent on product, and less on promotion.  All our competitors in the report spend more on beach/product improvement than on advertising and promotions.  We should follow that lead.  They have a better product as a result.

Scallops Tonight!

A release from Friends of St. Andrew Bay:

The Friends of St. Andrew Bay (FSAB) and the Resource Management Association (RMA) will host Dr. Steve Geiger of the Florida Marine Institute as he presents “Status of Bay Scallops (Argopecten irradians)  in Florida West Coast Waters.”  Dr. Geiger’s presentation will address his research on the trends and status of the Florida Bay Scallop population along our shores, and factors that may be affecting our scallop population.   Dr. Geiger will also discuss scallop restoration conducted over the last three years in St. Andrew Bay, Pine Island Sound, and Tampa Bay.

Dr. Geiger, an Associate Research Scientist in the Marine Fisheries Research section of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, is in charge of monitoring the shellfish population along Florida’s Gulf Coast. His work focuses on shellfish monitoring and restoration, primarily with scallops, hard clams, and oysters.  Ongoing projects regarding scallops include an annual survey of bay scallop abundance, bay scallop restoration, and surveys of the distribution of offshore calico scallops.

Dr. Geiger’s presentation will be held on Thursday, September 25, at 6:30 PM, at the Gulf Coast Community College Student Union East Conference Center. For more information, contact Jim Barkuloo at the RMA at 763-1820 or, FSAB at 215-5590.

Gorgeous Outside, Heavy Brainstorms Inside

Tuesday, September 23: TDC Marketing Committee Meeting

Highlights of ideas from the new marketing committee.

Russ Smith of the Towne of Seahaven  brought up the success of filling beds through wholesalers (Expedia, Travelocity, Bay County’s very own BookIt, etc.)

Probably the single easiest and most effective tactic the TDC/CVB could execute would be to buy ad space on the major wholesaler sites, driving travelers to the independent properties who sell rooms via these websites.

How Wholesalers Work (in a nutshell)

  • Properties provide inventory to the wholesaler.  At a wholesale price, of course.
  • The Wholesalers already have working websites that would enable a hotel or condo to sell rooms, then and there, online, 24/7.
  • They have HUGE amounts of travelers booking through their sites daily.. or at least shopping rates.
  • They spend HUGE amounts of advertising dollars to drive visitors to their sites

How Should the TDC Participate?

  • Bring all the wholesalers to our beach for workshops that show our Bed Tax Collectors how to get involved and sell rooms online.  Smith indicated that his reps at Expedia told him they were very willing to help us sell all this new inventory.
  • Buy advertising within the wholesaler sites, introducing travelers to Panama City Beach as they make vacation or business travel plans.

Concern about Wholesaling

  • The hospitality world must move online, and the tourist markets LOVE this wholesaling concept.
  • Property owners like retail concepts. We can’t wholesale the whole beach, year round.  Improving price and value, by ensuring the product is as clean, safe and rewarding as possible, will also increase wholesale value.


Lee Ann Leonard of By The Sea Resorts  brought up an idea for the Family Spring Break campaign: kids storming the beach, as in “reclaiming” the beach after the college students are gone.  That’s a brilliant message, it addresses the reality of the anti-spring break identity and moves ahead in a positive direction.  Proof that we don’t need better brains from out of town making up our creative messaging.


Annie Holcombe of Oaseas has the unique opportunity to sell in both Bay and Walton counties.  She said when selling group accommodations to Atlanta, they won’t even talk to you if you say ‘Panama City Beach.’  Say ‘Destin’, and they’ll listen.  This is such a very important opportunity that no one wants to focus on.

We must change that perception because we have many new facilities at a much greater value than South Walton and Okaloosa.  Whenever I mention those in Atlanta who hate us, I must remind you of the hundreds of thousands who don’t even know us. Proper research would prove me right or wrong, but I would venture to say that between 1-2 Million Metro Atlanta residents do not know who we are, what we have to offer nor that we’re only a short 5 hour drive down the road.


Bryan Durta… all the PCBDaily readers know who he is… brought up a couple things.  He quickly noted that an online “win a vacation” contest wouldn’t be very newsworthy with just one winner, so he suggested a juicier option, such as a giving away a free month every day to multiple winners.  That got the committee excited.  Something like “900 Nights Free at the Beach” was one of the  rough concepts.  It would be smart to give people a taste of what we really have to offer down here… but will the condo and hotel owners give up that many rooms?

Bryan questioned the drive-to market spending and suggested ideas relating to new markets.  This is a common argument on the beach.  I’m a drive-to market believer.  Regarding outer “emerging” markets, I’m convinced that if Mom and Dad are going to pack up the car to drive 12 hours to Florida, they’re going to take the extra few hours to go see Mickey.  Just a hunch, but I bet most outer-market families cannot afford to fly to PCB at this time. Or if they do have that kind of vacation budget, they’re not going to choose us.

None of us will know who is right or wrong on this issue until proper research is conducted.


I called Amy Harris of Royal American Hospitality and asked her thoughts on the marketing plan; she discussed the idea of targeting University Alumni to reach DINKs (double income, no kids) and KISs (Kids in Strollers) for the shoulder seasons.  That’s a smart idea, especially if Y Partnership is still figuring out where to post online ads.

So, rest assured that the new marketing committee has a lot of brain power, even though I am no longer on it. :c)

Why Ask Y?

It was “deja vu all over again” as the new TDC Marketing Committee reviewed the CVB / Y Partnership 2009 marketing plan.  Some faces were new, but many of the questions remained the same:

“Should we really target that $75K demo?”
“Are we missing opportunities in the Midwest, Northeast and other emerging markets?”
“Are you sure it’s best to spend most of our budget in the drive-to markets during the summer?”

We have had the same advertising / marketing agency for over 5 years.  These questions should be answered by now – posted up on a wall in big, colorful graphs and maps.  It was requested of the agency more than once by the former marketing committee to start delivering — at the very least — Google Analytics.  This simple (and free!) data would give the TDC Board information about new target markets.  For instance, Google Analytics will tell you — down to the city — from where your site visitors came.

So why ask Y these questions?  You might as well not, because they have proven that they “just don’t know.”  (“I just don’t know” was an exact quote from the account exec when discussing a proper message and target market for the summer campaign.)

I’m as sick of bashing the work of these nice folks as you are of hearing it, but this is business.  We deserve better results for the investment.  And if any single one of you TDC Board members, committee members, Y Partnership agents, business owners or Bay County residents wants to discuss with me all the other ways this agency has disappointed from a client’s perspective, please feel free to take me to lunch for clear explanations.  Yes, that means you’d buy lunch… but satisfaction is guaranteed.

We need a TDC Beat Reporter

Bryan Durta, PLEASE reconsider posting your thorough notes and the TDC/CVB collaterals, leaving your opinions and ideas for the committee work.  As you can see, a commentator is all I be!

Any other detail-oriented, organized fact-takers, please contact Jason@PCBDaily.com.