January PCB Tourism Interest Activity Up

Jason Koertge has an awesome vacation rental business in Panama City Beach that focuses on remarkable properties right on the gulf.  They range from 1 to 4 bedrooms, they’re clean, and amazing.  He can be found lurking at PCBLP.com.

All signs are pointing to a great tourism season in Panama City Beach.  Last year we had record breaking numbers and we expect much the same for the 2012 tourism season.

Many of our rental condos at PCBLP are booked up all summer already and we’re hearing much the same from our industry partners.

Visitor Service Inquiries and Web Site Activity

On a monthly basis, tourists from around the country (and the globe) inquire on more information about Panama City Beach through a variety of sources.  The numbers below are approximate, here are the top 5.

  • Website Inquiries: 3,500
  • Rea.Fun.Beach.Club ’11/’12: 2,250
  • Oprah Magazine: 2,150
  • Compass Family Travel: 1,750
  • Beach Chamber of Commerce: 600

Website Activity

A couple years ago the Tourist Development Council (TDC) launched a new website and a whole new effort to market the beach.  The campaign, dubbed Real.Fun.Beach has done loads in acquiring visibility for our little tourist town.  And through the BP disaster and the subsequent compensatory marketing funds that came from it, they captured the attention of national media time and time again.

January 2011 activity

  • Number of visits: 93,430
  • Length of session: 4 minutes 22 seconds
  • Pageviews per visit: 5.85
  • Unique visitors: 77,222

January 2012 activity

  • Number of visits: 119,220
  • Length of session: 3 minutes 57 seconds
  • Pageviews per visit: 4.9
  • Unique visitors: 98,241

Top website visitor states

  1. Florida
  2. Georgia
  3. Texas
  4. Alabama
  5. Tennessee
  6. Illinois
  7. Ohio
  8. Indiana
  9. Kentucky
  10. Michigan

Top visitor service inquiry states

  1. Georgia
  2. Tennessee
  3. Ontario
  4. Ohio
  5. Florida
  6. Alabama
  7. Indiana
  8. Illinois
  9. Michigan
  10. Kentucky

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”

Thunder Beach Autumn Rally vs Seafood Festival [REPORT]

At Tuesday’s TDC meeting, the big guns of Thunder Beach approached the board asking to move their Autumn Rally to Columbus Day Weekend.

Currently, the rally is held on the first weekend in October. Reason for wanting to change the date were stated as follows:

  1. Ability to confirm more Vendors presence
  2. More Vendors = more attendants
  3. More Attendants = boost in Panama City Beach’s economy

Continue reading “Thunder Beach Autumn Rally vs Seafood Festival [REPORT]”

2011 Will Be The Most Important Spring Break EVER

Spring Break on Panama City Beach has always, always, been a very tough board to balance. In past years, no matter how brilliant the public relations strategies, no matter how well-targeted the advertising and no matter how many overall arrests, no Spring Break season has ever been considered the smoothest of our four tourist seasons. In fact, although SB is without question PCB’s biggest economic boost, it remains the most polarizing topic throughout our great town; some love it, some hate it, some make money from it, others lose cash by the bucket loads. But what can be said is that 2010 was arguably one of the best years to date. Hotels had record numbers, businesses boomed and the number of major incidents declined considerably. So what was the big difference? How was 2010 more balanced than years past? Continue reading “2011 Will Be The Most Important Spring Break EVER”

New Airport Passenger Traffic UP 170% over 2009

In case you’ve been wondering whether the construction of the new airport was in vain, 2010 passenger traffic since the new airport has been open is almost triple what it was in 2009, during the 2010 summer months.  Despite the threat of oil on our beaches, the new Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport and all the marketing horsepower that was brought to the market by Southwest Airlines has been considered a huge success.

A normal July and August usually brings about 30,000 people per month through the old Panama City airport, but this summer there was around 83,000 per month.  This number comes as a huge welcome and leaves immense speculation:  what would it have been like had we NOT had the oil spill scare?

Icing on the cake was October’s numbers, 73,000 passengers came through the new airport – attributed to fall breaks around the country, national holidays and a series of successful fall events on Panama City Beach.

As if increased traffic wasn’t enough, the new Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport seems to be drawing travelers regionally as well.  The parking lot frequently has cars from Tallahassee, Dothan, Ft. Walton, Destin, and even Pensacola.  The July and August numbers were also higher than Tallahassee’s passenger traffic numbers, for the first time ever – who normally come in at around 50,000 per month.

The word seems to be getting out that traveling to Panama City Beach is easier than it has ever been.  Mike Bennet, TDC Chairman and local restaurateur commented at Tuesday’s TDC meeting of a conversation he had with a visitor to one of his restaurants: “They were from Dallas, TX and normally took their beach vacation in Corpus Christi, and were surprised at how accessible and beautiful Panama City Beach was – they said they’d be coming back every year.”  This message was resounded by others recounting similar stories with customers.

Total annual traffic is now expected to be around 600,000 to 700,000 at the new Panama City Airport, which isn’t far off from big-city Pensacola, who passes around a million travelers through its gates every year.

Oil Spill Barely Hurts June Bed Tax Collections

Despite a very dismal looking outlook at the beginning of the summer, the actual numbers for June are showing nearly even bed tax collections this year, compared to last year.  In June, a total of $1,88,269.21 was collected.  This compares to $1,946,037.92 in tax revenue that was collected in June of 2009.  The actual variance is just over $61,000, or -3.17%.

This was an interesting summer, we had tons of things lined up to all but guarantee the best summer tourist season we’ve had in years.  Ironically, right before the season began, there was what some may call a monstrous accident just a few short hundred miles away.  After a summer of weekly and even daily threats, the damaged perception left our local industry practically starving for business and pleading with their customers to keep their reservations.  The rental climate changed from one of knowing how the numbers were going to be all summer before Memorial Day, to guessing what the next week would hold for rental revenue.  Shops and restaurants had no idea what to expect, but were bracing for the worst.  Talking to retailers and resorts, numbers were way off this year.  Obviously some fared better than others, but overall most suffered to some degree.

But lets get back to the bed tax numbers.  The numbers were only down 3.17% this year.  That doesn’t seem all bad, right?  Well, you have to consider that a deficit of any amount is going to spread hurt across the board.  You have to consider that with any new additions to the rental or retail inventory, plus some businesses ability to reach their customers over other businesses, that 3.17% can mean quite a different story for different people.

All in all, I think we are blessed to have done as well as we did, in Panama City Beach, despite the looming threat that impaled the perception of our beach this summer.  Hopefully next year no outside forces will impede all the work that has been put into increasing our local tourism business.

July’s numbers should be out within the week, which will be the real test to see how the summer really fared.  Stay tuned!