One of the cool things about bringing in Southwest Airlines to the new Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport was that we get to take advantage of SWA’s amazing marketing success. This proven track record of creating an immense brand awareness so far has proven invaluable so far in marketing Panama City Beach, and it couldn’t come at a better time.
When it was proposed to increase the bed tax from 3 to 5 cents early last year, the whole idea was to pump our tourism board full of marketing ammunition. The bed tax was increased in time to allow plenty of reserves to be built up so when the time came, the TDC could flood the country with an enormous awareness campaign. That awareness campaign came at the compliments of Southwest Airlines genius.
Tourism officials this week at a regular TDC meeting reported that many industry leaders have commented on their guests having seen the television commercials that Southwest Airlines has been airing. “Southwest is well known for their edginess in their TV commercials,” said one of the board members.
One commercial was actually shot at Gulf World Marine Park using their acrobatic dolphins, then super-imposed into an emerald green gulf shot. Thud showcases our amazing water, beautiful beaches and fun opportunities to spot dolphins in the gulf.
The TDC unanimously approved to pay a $2 million bill from Southwest Airlines this week. The bill was for the agreed upon ad placements that Southwest Airlines has been running since spring of this year. All board members seem to agree that this was money well spent.
This year, we are paying for 75% of all the ad placements with the Walton County Convention and Visitor’s Bureau paying the other 25%. Next year, the Panama City Beach Convention and Visitor’s Bureau will pay two-thirds with the Walton County CVB picking up the remaining one-third.