Insider’s Tips for your Next Beach Trip

The Panama City Beach Convention and Visitor’s Bureau sent out an email asking for insider tips and it got me thinking about what I often tell our guests when they ask for the same thing. When I think of insider tips, I think of ways to save money, time and effort so that a vacation can be as easy and relaxing as possible.

Being in the property management business, I’ve learned over the years the best time of year to be here, the best places to stay and what to bring when you come to make things easier.

The best time of year to come.

This is the biggest question I get on a regular basis. Of course, the answer depends on a lot of things, like school schedules, whether you’re coming with your kids (or not), what you’re wanting to do while you’re here, etc.

Most come during the spring or summer time, based on school schedules for the kids, and inherent in the principles of supply and demand, rates and occupancy is higher during those periods.

But, if you’re willing to take the kids out of school for a vacation, or if you’re traveling without the hinderance of school schedules, you should definitely try the beach during a shoulder season.

What is a shoulder season?

A shoulder season is a time of year where it’s warm enough to justify a beach trip, but it’s not during a time when the majority of travelers can come down.

March is super busy and that business peaks out the first week in April and sometimes bleeds over to the second week. However, the remaining weeks in April and the first two weeks in May is a phenomenal time of year to be here and usually the beach is pretty quiet. Along with the fewer numbers of people here, property management companies and property owners are typically very willing to work a deal to keep their place rented. All you have to do is ask for the deal or make an offer.

Although, be careful with low-balling as some will see that as a red-flag that you won’t take care of their property.

If you prefer the Gulf waters a little warmer (mid 80 degree water temps as opposed to mid 70’s), you should definitely come in late September or October. The weather is fantastic, the water is still very warm from summer, there is almost no one here and rates are sometimes half what they are in summertime.

And as a general rule of thumb, if you’re looking for a 3 bedroom or larger place, book as far in advance as possible for the best deal. If you’re looking for a 1 or 2 bedroom, the best deals are usually to be had the closer you are to your arrival date.

The best places to stay.

Again, this largely depends on preference and what you’re wanting, but generally, if I can park the car for the week and walk everywhere, I’m a happy camper.

There are a lot of areas in Panama City Beach where this just ins’t possible, but if you can stay around Pier Park, you can easily accomplish this.

Here are some of the resorts around Pier Park that are easily within walking distance:

Most of these, are just a short walk on the beach to Pier Park, which offers pretty much all the dining, shopping and entertainment you could want while you’re not at the beach.

What you should bring with you.

Most of the accommodations options in Panama City Beach are gulf-front condos, homes and townhouses. When you’re staying in one of these options, typically you’re responsible for groceries and sundry items.  And if you’ve done this before, you’ve probably got your first day grocery list all planned out already. 🙂

Typically check-in day is Saturday, and if that’s when you’re coming in, you know that evening the grocery stores are packed and mostly sold out of anything you’ll need.  Savvy travelers come with the basics that will carry them through the first day or two and hit the stores after everyone else has frenzied the shelves and staff has restocked.

If you’re flying, this probably isn’t possible, but if you’re like the majority of our visitors, you’re driving.  Pack enough toilet paper and non-refrigerated food items to get you to Sunday or Monday morning and you’ll save the headache of finding the grocer out of stock and waiting in super long check-out lines.

Also, plan your grocery trip for an early morning time, when it’s likely most others are wanting to be sleeping in after the previous day’s travels.

Have some tips of your own?

You’re a veteran tourist, right?  Leave some of your pro-tips in the comments below!

TDC/CVB Meeting- 2011 Marketing Plans

TDC/CVB Feb 8 meeting offered an in-depth look into the 2011 marketing strategies as well as an opportunity to check out the newest TV Commercials.

The Real. Fun. Beach commercials were created to hit specific markets and have two versions in rotation, aimed at targeting Couples and Families.

More Info Below

Continue reading “TDC/CVB Meeting- 2011 Marketing Plans”

TDC Meeting, Spring Break, Swordfish & Snowbirds

Jan 11th’s TDC meeting offered an eclectic mix of information.

Starting with the Vice-President of the Canadian Snowbirds, Nancy Hopcraft,  who caught my attention with the mention of the ‘Birds working on a potential “Retiree Visa” allowing those who qualify an opportunity to spend more time in Panama City Beach (or anywhere in the Nation).  It’s a wonderful idea, and one that’s sure to bring about an economic boost but we’re looking at least 2 years, before hearing any final words.

Continue reading “TDC Meeting, Spring Break, Swordfish & Snowbirds”

New Airport Set to Triple Numbers 2011

This is the first article in a series that explores 2011 Tourism Predictions for Panama City Beach.

Spring is right around the corner, and along with the knowledge of the coming season, we’re finding that our town is divided into three parts. The Optimists, The Pessimists and The Realists.

At times, it looks as though the Realists Team and the Optimists Team are on the same page, leaving the Pessimists to bemoan, well – everything.

For the most part, the Panama City Beach community is fanning those beginning sparks of excitement, while remaining optimistically cautious, over the vast potential of the 2011 tourism season.

Instead of sitting around speculating any longer, we decided to check in with some of PCB’s seasoned pro’s, those business savvy locals, who’ve been through this whole tourism thing a time or two.

Continue reading “New Airport Set to Triple Numbers 2011”

New Airport STOMPS Old Airport Numbers [REPORT]

Northwest Florida International Airport is always a fun topic. Everyone loves to talk about it, read about it and quote words like “projected passenger travel” and “estimated” while throwing numbers around so fast, that even Superman is starting to look a little windburned.

While numbers and statistics are a necessary evil in the realm of progress, reports and city planning, I’m the kind of person who lives life in the blunt lane, so instead of telling me percentages, I need to know how these numbers translate into simple Good Move/Bad Move terms.

On the off chance, that you, too, might be this kind of person, let me translate the newest numbers from our lovely Northwest Florida International Airport.

Continue reading “New Airport STOMPS Old Airport Numbers [REPORT]”

Vision Airlines Brings New Low Cost Destinations to Fort Walton Beach

Good news with regard to low cost air travel! On Wednesday, November 10th 2010, Vision Airlines announced that it will begin offering low-fare, non-stop service next month to two destinations from Northwest Florida Regional Airport in Fort Walton. The two destinations will be Niagara Falls and Miami – and more than 100 business and government leaders showed up at the airport for the official announcement. Continue reading “Vision Airlines Brings New Low Cost Destinations to Fort Walton Beach”

BookIt Moves into New Building, Already Outgrowing It

Having doubled in size in just the last few years, is finally in a place big enough to house the talent needed to operate a serious contender in the web travel booking industry.  Originally in the Poeple’s First building at the intersection of Middle Beach Road and R Jackson Blvd, they were bursting at the seams with absolutely no room for expansion.  In a permanent home, everyone from the owner down to the call center reps are finally comfortable in a cutting edge, modern designed facility.

Continue reading “BookIt Moves into New Building, Already Outgrowing It”