TDC Marketing Meeting – New Web Site Update, Summer Marketing Talk

Tuesday’s Marketing Committee meeting should bring joy and laughter as we all dance around a silly little hat singing kumbaya.  Wait, scratch that, what?!

On the agenda is discussion (or updates, rather) of the new destination web site and discussion of the summer marketing campaign.  With last year’s failure of the Summer White Sale, I’m sure very anxious to see what they’ve come up with this year.  The nature of the Summer White Sale had promises of creative success, perhaps the way it was carried out and the essence of the body was what failed.  Anyway, I digress, it’s in the past.

Agenda can be downloaded here, or observed below:


Panama City Beach Convention & Visitors Bureau, Inc.
Panama City Beach
Tuesday, January 27, 2009           2:00 p.m.            Board Room, Visitor
Information Center




IV.    UPDATE ON DESTINATION WEBSITE, Ms. Susan Estler, VP of Marketing

V.    DISCUSSION OF 2009 SUMMER MARKETING CAMPAIGN, Ms. Susan Estler, VP of Marketing, and Ms. Kathy Fordham, YPartnership



New Aerials of the New Airport

No talk, all pictures:

This is looking from the south towards the north.  The segment off to the right will be the cross-wind runway.  To the far left of the property, you can see a portion of the road that leads up from highway 388.  The main runway, obviously, is right down the middle.

In this photo, you can see the terminal and main parking area.  the upside down U shape is where the terminal will be, I’m not sure that I can tell the overall footprint shape in this picture.

This is looking west from the east, the terminal is on the far side with an exterior service road shown leading to the bottom of the picture.

This picture more highlights the cross-wind runway.

Local Businesses gather at Baja Grill

012309_chamber_1Last Thursday, I joined some of the 980 Panama City Beach Chamber of Commerce members that flooded Pier Park for an after hour meet and greet, hosted by Baja Grill. The atmosphere exuded an enlivening blend of jovial comradery with subtle networking. Crowds flocked the open bar and full gourmet buffet; enjoying dishes such as herbed lamb, cheesecake and shrimp primavera.

Guests participated in a raffle, complements of Regions Bank. Some went home winners, others not so lucky.  In addition to various other items, a lime green bike was raffled to promote the bank’s new “green” account programs.  This is dueling fitting as Regions’ trade color is green.

012309_chamber_3I had the opportunity to speak with a few business owners. The first was Bobby Griggs, who has run The Beach Butlers (out of Rosemary Beach) with her husband Jeff for around five years now. The Beach Butlers make coming here on vacation one step easier, eliminating the need for those late first night shopping trips to be sure you don’t go without the essentials, and non-essentials.  “You enjoy the shore, while we stand in line at the store.”

Some of the more recent additions to Pier Park include Solace Day Spa and Salon and Massage Envy. Solace has been open in Rosemary Beach for six years, but owner Jennifer Staerker decided it was time to open her second location in Pier Park just last year.

As far as expanding to Pier Park-  I moved to the area in 2000 and i have watched the Panama City Beach area grow over the years.  We have had wonderful success with Solace at our Rosemary Beach location and many of our guests are from the Panama City Beach area.  When the opportunity to expand Solace and Aveda to the Beach to make it more convenient for our beach locals and visitors…Pier Park was a natural fit.  As an Aveda Lifestyle Salonspa, Solace is about quality, customization and creating an experience for the guest.  Pier Park shares the same philosophy. ~ Jennifer Staerker

Pier Park’s Massage Envy, owned by Lynny Conklin, is also rather new and will celebrate one year of business in March. Offering health and wellness through thearaputic massage, they give locals, tourists and shoppers alike a way to unwind and relax.

With so many new businesses on the rise and the busy season only a few months away, PCB’s economic future looks to be a bright one.

Education still pays

For several years Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft, and others have been talking about the importance of math and science proficiency. With the recent downturn and many highly educated people out of work, it has become more apparent why these visionaries have been pushing us in this direction.

In the tough economic environment, as Kathleen Parker suggests in her article, What if a college education no longer pays, it is no longer enough to have a liberal arts degree and an MBA. Instead employers are searching for individuals with broad backgrounds.

It is cheaper to hire one person who can easily move from technical subjects to marketing to cultural interface issues and then on to accounting than it is to hire four or five people who each have a narrow focus. So it is not that education no longer pays, it is that the competition for jobs has increased. Employers expect a higher, broader skill level from each employee.

As a result, parents should think carefully about what their children are learning in primary and secondary school and about the breadth of extra-curricular activities they choose. In addition, college students should think carefully about what they study and about internships and other opportunities that may help them secure a job on graduation.

Change is tough, but with the current economic environment it is imperative. Make sure your kids have opportunities. Think ahead and make sure your child gets the best, broadest education possible.

Don't miss the Bay County Education Forum

boyJuliann Talkington

On the Saturday, January 31 form 2:00 – 4:00 pm, the first annual education forum will be held at the St. Andrew Episcopal Church Community Room located at 1608 Baker Court in Panama City.

Learn about how to find the right school for your child; financial planning for education and the link between diet, exercise and learning.

The event is sponsored by the Florida Department of Health, Ryan Dobbert of Merrill Lynch, Northwest Florida Surgery Center, Hans Caspary of Head and Neck Associates, the Panama City Renaissance School, Chautauqua Learn and Serve Charter School and David Kozan of CDM. For more information, visit the event website at or call 850-215-8712.

Few Borrowers Benefiting from latest "Refi Boom"

I can remember back sixteen years ago when thirty-year mortgage rates fell below 7% sparking a flood of refinances. I also remember 2003 when rates dipped again and another “refi boom” ensued. So with thirty year mortgage rates now at their lowest levels in history, why are we not seeing the kind of refi hysteria we have seen in past? Ironically, the cheap mortgage money of the past that helped drive up homeownership rates and property values has left us between a rock and a hard place. Despite historically low rates, much tighter underwriting guidelines coupled with the crash in home values leaves few borrowers in a position to refinance.

The Mortgage Bankers Association reported on Wednesday that the national average interest rate for thirty-year, fixed-rate mortgages stood at 4.89% at the end of last week, down from 5.07% a week earlier and down from 6.50% in October. Much, if not all, of the decline in interest rates can be credited to the Federal Reserve’s program of buying up to $500 billion in mortgage-backed securities from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac which started on January 5th. This has narrowed the risk premiums associated with mortgage yields leading to the unprecedented drop in long-term rates.

However, according to Doug Duncan, chief economist for Fannie Mae, only a third of outstanding mortgage debt is eligible for refinancing. “Nearly 70% don’t make the cut,” he said ” because their credit isn’t good enough or they owe more than the current values of their homes.” Another set of homeowners locked out of the refinance opportunity are “jumbo” loan holders whose loan amounts exceed the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac maximum. Rates on “jumbo” loans have failed to follow the downward trend of conforming loan rates and have stayed stubbornly around the 7% mark.

Mortgage lenders are reporting that while refinance activity is up, only 50% of applicants end up closing due to credit or appraisal issues. In Florida, where home values have fallen sharply, only 25% of refinance applicants make it to the closing table. While Fannie Mae is looking into the possibility of allowing borrowers to refinance up to 120% of the current property value to help more “upside down” borrowers refinance, there is still no viable program in place. So while refinance “booms” of the past allowed a majority of homewowners to benefit from lower rates and monthly payments, along with the relatively cheap access to their home’s equity through cash-out, the only ones benefiting this time around seem to be those who need it least.

Borrowers who have been in their homes for a number of years and have substantial equity along with excellent credit are taking advantage of the lowest rates in history while those struggling in “upside down” mortgages are stuck with their higher rates. A silver lining would be if the rates stay low enough for long enough, borrowers may begin to choose to move up rather than sit tight in their homes. It will be that slow increase in demand that, ultimately, will stabilize home prices and spread the opportunity of lower rates to more homeowners.

Bed Tax – 4th cent passed, 5th cent tabled

I’ve been getting emails that are telling me that if we pass the bed tax increase then people will stop coming here because the rates will be too high and all the businesses will shut down and we’ll all go away, and I’ve been getting emails that say that if we don’t pass the bed tax increase then people won’t know about us and we’ll all just wither away and all the businesses will shut down – so, I don’t know what’s going to happen," said Jerry Girvin, Chairman of the Bay County Commission.

It’s just not the right time to be doing this, I don’t believe it is the right thing to do." – George Gainer, commissioner.

Girvin and Gainer were the two that opposed the bed tax increase this morning.  At the beginning, Girvin said he wasn’t sure how he was going to decide when it came time to vote.  Mike Thomas, sensing uncertainty in the air urged that they vote on the 4th cent and table the 5th so as to provide more time for other board members to learn more about the issues at hand.  The 4th cent only required a majority vote, whereas the 5th required a super majority or 4 of the 5 members.

When it came time to vote for the 4th cent, Dozier, Thomas and Nelson voted yes, while Girvin and Gainer voted no, passing the 4th cent.  They all agreed to table the 5th until next month’s meeting.

Commissioners, you did a very great thing today in passing the 4th cent.  We now have the money to broaden our marketing efforts and increase our feeder market potential.  We now will have the marketing dollars to draw new vistors to our area that previously had not known we were here.  That is important, very important.

However, there is still another very important decision to be made.  We need the 5th cent.  We have to improve our sporting and special events facilities.  We have good business that will leave us if we don’t improve.  There are thousands of athletes that are counting on the improvement of our area so that they can continue to come back here in the future.  There are hundreds of condo owners that rely on this business every year.  Pier Park and other shops and restaurants in Panama City Beach rely on this business to give then a shot in the arm during tournament season.

I don’t think you truly understand how big this business is or how important this particular issue is. I urge you and encourage you to do your homework before the next meeting so that you fully understand the issue at hand.  In the mean time, I’ll get with the TDC and Richard Sanders and try and get a clear picture and post it here on pcbdaily.

On another note, technology was in my favor today and I was doing updates via Twitter all morning during the meeting.  I say technology was in my favor, but actually, my phone did crash towards the end but came back up after only 20 minutes of suspense!  argh

Enjoy the tweets (note, I’m sorry if the formating seems rough and unprofessional below, but there are so many of them, I just don’t have the energy to dress it up, but I wanted you to see all the commentary):

Dozier supports it. The fourth will pass. Will the fifth….. Gervin?

5th cent tabled along with the development plan for 2009

Girven voted no on 4th. Three voted yes so it passed

Thomas for it, hopes it all passes

Thomas says that if we do nothing it will be the greatest mistake they’ve made.

Thomas asks to table the 5th cent until the feb meeting

Says the experts are telling us to do this- why don’t we listen

Mike thomas asked if there was a dr – he’s about to have a stroke

Dozier talking. Says people don’t care about a 2 cent tax

Girven not totally committed which way he’s going to come down.

Also said that if we keep the fee where it is, people won’t come down here and we’ll go broke

Said that if we raise the fee people will go elsewhere and we’ll go broke.

Chairman girven talking now. Has heard from a lot of people that were not happy

Nelson rebuts. We’ve got to get our name out there.

Gainer still opposed

Gainer talking. Keeps comparing to his car business. It just isn’t applicable. Give it up george!

Motion to pass the 4th. And … Discussion

Nelson says we need to listen to the tdc and that they know the issues

We need three of five for the 4th and four of five for the 5th

Says bed tax increase is from the tdc doing its job. That they have been making great progress

Says tdc is not perfect. There are collection issues that will be addressed

Commissioner nelson talking now

Closed public hearing

Says the businesses should pay for their own advertising

Ron shranger. Doesn’t oppose advertising but opposes the way we want to pauy for it

He is not for eliminating college break all together but taking ot out in phases

Mark canfora up. Infinity blu. Says this market is the number one area for growth

Phone crashed, back up now. Julie hilton, russ smith spoke

We spent the money on frank brown and it worked. We spend the money on more and it will work.

Owns a small business and said his business grew when he spent money on it. Supports the increase

Bill mcneil pres of bay co chamber. Supports the 2 cent increase.

Wishes we could move away from spring break quicker but glad we are moving away

Peter bruchae is up. Hates spring break and agrees that we have moved away from it.

Said if we had to go to 15 percent- anything to get our area more discovered.

Says we can’t go backwards. We’ve got the development, now we have to tell people about it.

Knows we exist. Many from back home would like it down here.

Ben kernun is talking. From northeast and says that very few people that he knows back home

We can only do it with more money

Leanne leonard from by the sea. Says we need to attract more visitors and. . .

Julie hilton is here, waiting to see her go up- she is not for the increase.

Said it would be a stimulus to our area.

Beth oltman beach chamber pres supports strongly the increase from a business owner position

14000 weddings in the panhandle- avg $25k per. We can frow that is people knew about us.

Says tdc is only promoting bringing spring breakers here. Not a very good argument- nor very educated

With increased marketing $$ we can brand our destination is a broader scope of markets

Joanne banks with diva productions up.

Joy wants lifeguards and no underage drinking and for this to be a family destination- totally agree

Joy carlisle- feels like the tdc is throwing money away

Opening up for public comment

Dan rowe back up- said this year is the first that we are actively promoting family spring break

No vote puts us in a position to fail, yes vote puts us in a position to succeed

Less than 2 percent have asked what the tax rate is. He has polled those calling his rental business.

Do we want to support growth or do we step aside and just see what happens.

Bill dozier left, bathroom?

He says that this is something that we should have done four years ago

If we don’t have the ability to gain more visitors then how can we fill all the new opportunity

Worried that we will have a bad rental year. We need more marketing dollars now.

Marty mcdaniel speaking now representing 2000 units in pcb

Mexico beach is taling now- they are hurting and need more money "work like hell and advertise"

They did it despite immense public scrutiny because there was a need.

Buddy is comparing the bed tax increase to the county’s building their new facilities.

Southern living full page ad is over $100,000. Holy cow.

Buddy wilkes speaking now.

Says needs 2 pennies. Has to drive people to pier park and the new 6000 rooms.

Mike bennett is talking now. He agrees with the increase but his dad doesn’t totally

Patronis says our neighbors have more money than we do. We are not competitive

Patronis is focusing attention on gainer

4th cent for marketing only.

Yonnie patronis is talking now. Urging the 5th cent for sports marketing.

Thomas… Said the auto industry (gainer) has gotten plenty

Mike thomas asked if there had been a bailout planned for the tourism industry

Has cut spring break funding eaxh year.

I highly doubt we’ll get the vote of george gainer. He very much disagrees with raising any tax

Just reported that they would like to see the entire funding for spring break to come from coop

Increase in marketing budget by more than double.

Increase is the same cost for someone staying a week as two value meals at zaxby’s

7 out of 10 housholds in the us are planning to travel in the next 6 months. But they will travel differently.

Why now? He says that we are at a severe disadvantage with lowest marketing budget . . .

Lowest budget in florida for destinations

Peter yesawich is presenting now.

We just took a break, the are calling everyone to order. My prediction. . .

My prediction is the the commission will approve the fourth cent not the fifth

Bay county commission meeting for the bed tax increase – Photo:

Ok, meeting is flying by. Tdc tax rate is next on the agenda.

Looking around, it would seem that many have left-it doesn’t seem as packed as it did 30 minutes ago

Some seats still available, but pretty packed.

Tdc bed tax increase last on agenda. Going to be a long meeting.

Bring on the hike

In response too a letter to the News Herald editor on Sunday January 11th:

For years, the Bay County Tourist Development Council has discussed increasing the bed tax from 3 cents to 5 cents, and finally the motion was made and passed to do so.  The timing couldn’t be more perfect.  Now more than ever we need to be using every resource possible to increase awareness of our destination.  With increased inventory and overall traffic down, now more than ever we need to be sure that vacationers and tourists alike know that our little slice of paradise is here waiting for their arrival.  Thus, when the Bay County Commission meets January 20 to give final consideration to the issue, I urge a “YES” vote to increase the bed tax collection from 3 cents to 5 cents.

The idea of raising taxes during a recession is gut-wrenching for some, but for this specifically, there is no reason to puke – we’re only talking about 2 percent!  And, we’re not talking about 2% on hundreds of thousands of dollars, the average rate increase a visitor to our area would experience is around $20.  $20!  Opponents make this increase into a huge number that would serve catastrophic results to our area during an economically failing time.  This just isn’t true.

Look, I don’t like taxes being raised as much as the next guy, but we have a growing area and are on the cusp of being nationally and even internationally recognized as a world-class desination and we need to be sure that we are financially prepared to take full advantage of this.  Furthermore, our competition has higher overall revenue/visitor AND a higher bed tax, not to mention lifeguards (a whole ‘nother can of worms) putting them at a competitive advantage.  I’m not even mentioning the other destinations in other parts of the country that have a higher bed tax affording them great marketing and beautification capability.

The author in the letter states that we should promote that we are the lowest bed tax collector.  I can see the ad now: “Extra, Extra, read all about it!  Panama City Beach is offering $20 discount for every $1,000 spent – Vacation in Sunny Panama City Beach Florida and save an Andrew Jackson that won’t even take you to the Grande Movie Theatre anymore.”  Yea, real clever, that’ll work. (please note the sarcasm)

As a destination we have to look at this as a business decision.  This is not emotional.  We simply have to analyze the balance of risk versus reward.  If the reward is greater than the risk, we need to increase the bed tax – and in this case, the reward far outweighs the risk.  We stand to gain many more visitors to our area by increasing the bed tax, ergo increasing our ability to enhance our visibility to the vacation traveler than we stand to lose from an average increase of $20 per 1 week stay.  You always have to spend money to make money – anyone that is a business owner knows that.  I mean, this is a no-brainer.

Recently it was estimated that the new airport will bring approximately 500,000 new visitors to our area.  There are varying factors in making that estimation a reality.  One of those factors is ensuring that travelers in the cities that will have direct flights to PCB know about us.  Direct flights are great, but you have to MARKET to those visitors or they won’t even know the flights are available.  Marketing is expensive – very expensive, and we need to have a dominant presence in our new feeder markets.  People don’t realize how much an infusion of 500,000 NEW visitors to our area would change the dynamics of our local economy.  Everything here would pick up – restaurants would stay at capacity during peak seasons, there would be long lines at the movie theatre, you would have to search for a parking spot at your resort, etc.  And, yes, these are good things as it will mean our area is booming!  That’s right, I said it – booming.  And that’s just with the airport.

2008 was a pretty good year for events.  Panama City Beach has grown tremendously and is truly on the path to becoming a real destination resort town.  With Pier Park alone, we have been placed on a map that we’ve never before been on.  In addition, with the great events that we had last year and the promise of more to come this year, we will become a stronger destination each year in the future.  We need to upgrade our facilities.  We can’t keep doing the same thing year after year and expect the same results.  There was a quote in Rowland’s first issue of 850, which debuted last fall: “If you are doing the same thing this year you were doing 5 years ago, you’ll be out of business in 2 years.”

The quote said “out of business,” “not your business will be slow,” or “you won’t be doing that good,” but out of business.  We cannot go out of business in Panama City Beach.  Our whole local economy depends on it.  Sure it would be great to have some other industry here that supported us in addition to tourism, but there isn’t, and we need tourists to come to our area.  We need them!

I totally agree that a complete and total overhaul needs to be done on the current collection methods.  One person managing the collecitons and tracking down those who aren’t paying just isn’t enough.  I mean, just look at the IRS?  They employ like 700 billion people.  We need to have a team working on our local bed tax collection – funding cannot be an issue, it needs to be worked into the current operational budget – this is one area we can’t skimp on.  This is just another risk versus reward scenario.  The funds that we will be able to collect will more than pay for the increase in operational budget and we will have a more efficient system that is ready to handle future growth.

Furthermore, we need to enforce the tax collection with swift and strict consequences if you do not pay.  The criminal justice system uses deterents to persuade criminals to not commit crime – if you steal a car, you go to jail for X years.  So, if you don’t pay your bed tax, you are fined $1,000 for the first infraction, $2,500 for the second infraction, and $10,000 for the third infraction.  If you don’t pay your fine, a temporary injunction will be placed on your business license and you will not be allowed to operate.  If you are not a business, a lien is placed on your property.  Sounds severe?  You bet, but some people need the threat of consequence in order to obey the rules.  Sad isn’t it?

Another part of our area that is lacking and in need of improvement is our beach sporting facilities.  We have been counseled by Richard Sanders, our Director of Sports Marketing that as other destinations are spending millions in improving their sporting facilities they are becoming a more attractive tournament location for their events.  These events pump millions into our economy every season and if they go away, we will hurt.  If you don’t beleive me, just wait and see – this isn’t something we can overlook.  Not to mention that we were counseled by an independent third party that an increase in facilities and sports infrastructure was required to remain competitive and that if something wasn’t done immediately, we could be at risk of losing events now.

The author of the letter to the editor mentions that if the need was so great for increased sporting facilities then it would be a money-making opportunity for a private developer, therefore seemingly disqualifying this as a valid need. Now, this is just ignorant and plain untrue.  What the author fails to recognize is that the increase sporting facilities will not benefit one entity directly (a developer, etc.), but our destination as a whole, therefore it would NOT be a good money-making opportunity for a developer.  In fact, a developer wouldn’t touch this with a 20 foot pole – why would he?  Public sporting facilties should not be privatized if they effect a destination as a whole.

Commissioners, I urge you to consider the future of Bay County in your decision tomorrow morning. From one business owner to another, we need to make a good business decision and provide a vehicle to generate more money to grow our area.  We have an opportunity to give our area a shot in the arm that almost no other destination has at this time.  We can continue to grow, thrive and bring our children into an area that we are all proud of, an area that we grew through our good business decisions, an area that is alive because we chose for it to be, or we can watch it slowly wither away and die.  This is a long term decision and we need to think about our future.

At tomorrow’s meeting I urge you to vote yes for the increase in bed tax from 3 cents to 5 cents.

West Bay Parkway

A proposed road from State Highway 77 in Bay County to Highway 98 in Walton County is up for discussion.  Initially, the two lane Highway 388 that runs by the new airport will be widened to 4 lanes between Highway 79 and Highway 77.

The new addition to the roadway will extend from Highway 79 west to Highway 98 in Walton County just east of Peach Creek.  I’m unsure at this point how they will get over the water – maybe use the Highway 79 bridge as the connector?

Through a series of public meetings, planners will devise strategic development plans and engineering ideas to bring together both new sections of the proposed roadway.  Early estimates for the planning portion of the widening Highway 388 ring in at around 36 months.

Thursday, January 22 a public workshop will be held at the Panama City Beach City Hall at the intersection of Back Beach Road and Highway 79 from 5:30 to 7 pm.

Panama City Beach Seafood, Music & Wine Festival Success

October’s Panama City Beach Seafood, Music & Wine Festival was in my opinion a huge success.  Now, some of my readers may think that I’m taking after many of the local media outlets in reporting things successful just because the TDC said it was, even though the numbers don’t support it.  *cough- Summer White Sale -cough*  But, I do believe it was a success because it was good for our area, and did something that was never before done with an event on Panama City Beach – provided good solid numbers that are irrefutable.

You see, some may scoff at the attendance of 9,526.  But I say, what do you have to compare it to?  Previous Indian Summer Music Festivals?  You mean the events where 30,000 attendees were estimated, but never substantiated?  You do know those numbers were pulled out of the air, don’t you.  What about the Thunder Beach numbers?  I was told by a reliable inside source that those numbers were also pulled out of the air.  60,000 attendees is VERY pie in the sky.  But of course, to their credit, how could they determine their rally attendance – they don’t charge for anything.  What has made it a success has also created limitations as to determining what it really is.

The single element that made the PCB Fest a success was that they came back to the table with real figures.  The end result is clear and concise.  Although the numbers aren’t what some had hoped, they are real none-the-less.

Jack Bishop said in the TDC meeting last week when he presented these numbers that they made some mistakes and learned a lot and to his credit, this is the first time he’s pulled anything like this off.  Of course, he had help, but still, I think this is the most promising event we have right now for our area.

I attended and talked to countless people – many of which came down from Alabama and Georgia just for this event.  In many instances the goal of this event, actually worked.  I know Lee Sullival was critical of this event, and you know I was in the beginning as well, but kudos to Jack, CJ, and their team for not only putting on a good show, but bringing back some solid numbers that are real and will help us build not only this event, but others in the future.

Please enjoy the stats below:

  • First festival in area to offer advance discount tickets online
  • First tickets sold online were to Troy, Missouri
  • Total attendance over the 3 days = 9526
  • Zip Codes of Pre Sale Tickets were 62% out of Bay County
  • Parking lot surveys taken during the evening hours of the festival reflect a 40% non Florida attendee!
  • The Largest supporting areas outside of Florida are Alabama & Georgia respectively
  • Percentage of all tickets sold were sold in advance online = 28.21%
  • Percentage of tickets sold that were 3-day = 15.3%
  • There were 17,566 unique visitors to the official festival website: July-Oct 2008
  • In-Kind marketing partners provided an estimated $300,000+ in advertising of the event between July-Oct
  • Marketing efforts were focused on drive-to markets and included an emphasis on AL, GA, TN, MS, LA and Florida and included radio, television, outdoor, print, internet and over 2.25 million e-mail blasts between Sept 4-Oct 1
  • Local marketing included 9 radio stations, 4 television/cable outlets, 6 print media outlets, outdoor media, internet campaign
  • The organizers of the festival will be forming an advisory committee made up of hoteliers, food vendors, retail vendors, volunteers and others