During Tuesday’s TDC Marketing Committee meeting concerning Fall/Winter marketing efforts, one of the most memorable, albeit most chuckle-inducing, comments came from Jack Bishop, who said, “selling Panama City Beach in the Fall is like selling swimsuits to Eskimos.” Well, while that statement has been true in the past, if the marketing committee and Y-partnership have their way, Eskimos everywhere might want to start shopping for sandals.
The phrase that stole the short meeting was a simple and catchy, “”Fall in Love Again with Panama City Beach,” a phrase unveiled by Peter Yesawich of Y Partnership which could provide a solid character for Panama City Beach’s spotty Fall Season. The romantic phrase may seem a bit transparent initially, but the idea behind it, as explained by Yesawich, is to target adult couples aged 45-64 who, once the kids have gone back to school, are looking for a reason to vacation. Based on Y Partnership’s research, 58% of leisure travelers took a trip with their spouses (no children) and did so most frequently during fall. He believes it’s possible to encourage that market by showcasing the many things to “love” about getting away to Panama City Beach.
This phrase’s lure hides within its applicability: create lots of small, festive events and tie in private sector business into one theme; i.e “Fall In Love with Shopping at Pier Park or Fall In Love with the Seafood Wine and Music Festival,” and all of a sudden you have mettle, a framework for which ideas can be attached. Yesawich’s plan is to apply the love theme as a seasonal draw similar to South Walton’s Autumn Tides promotion where a season’s worth of events are empowered by uniting them all under the same theme. Judging by South Walton’s success, it’s pretty a good idea.
The idea instantly became popular among the marketing committee and the meeting attendees. Even Mr. Buddy Wilkes found the love theme intriguing saying, “ ‘Fall in Love again’ may be the way to invite people to come see the new [Panama City] Beach and fall in love with it all over again. It’s easily applicable to other events.” Easy application to events, package deals and the hugely under-appreciated wedding market is what gives the theme life; the question remains as to what will make it work? The answer may not be as easily accepted.
Mr. Yesawich’s theme is merely a spring board idea. For the idea to take off, businesses locally have to buy into it collectively. Within the theme, condos, hotels and attractions are encouraged to promote couples and feature promotional rates and incentives to potential tourists. If everyone gets on that spring board and actually get out and promote it, the theme has a real chance of lifting off. This idea isn’t necessarily something that will boost fall business over one season, but could, over time, create a bit of a buzz for future seasons. If you can imagine a season filled with street festivals, outdoor concerts, wine tastings, music and art shows coupled with the seasonally low rates tied in to packages for couples, it all seems, from the onset, like a can’t-miss deal. But, its a long way from done.
The marketing committee plans to reconvene in 2 weeks to talk media, costs and coordination of what could be a truly successful attempt at generating fall business.
As Dan Rowe put it, “We must provide [potential tourists] a compelling invitation.” Is there a better invitation than good ol’ fashioned romance? You be the judge.