MTVu Coming… with full database and measurement

The TDC Marketing Committee voted today to move forward with the $250K MTVu Spring Break Partnership.  There seems to be a lot of kinks to be worked out, and there were definitely “wishes” put out by the committee and audience members that simply won’t be fulfilled, but the good news is that the CVB will begin properly gathering data with a “PCB Insiders” program, enabling Spring Breakers (and other future segments) to sign up for email and mobile phone updates and promotions.  We’ll be sure to get results of these efforts at the end of Spring Break 09.

This will all be accomplished through a fantastic rich media, interactive Spring Break 09 website that may or may not be developed by YPartnership of “Summer White Sale Website” infamy. The new staff at the CVB should be able to make this quantum leap from the failed email marketing programs of recent past, because the new mobile phone and email programs are outsourced services that are easily implemented.

The co-op partners who participate will be able to communicate with the new database being built by the CVB.  The database will be rich with information and accessible for clear measurement.

My question is… are paying co-op partners the only ones who should benefit from the TDC/CBV database?  I mean, if I were a bed tax collector, writing that check every month, I’d kinda’ like to think I had access to anything the TDC gathered.  But, you know, I’m not a bed tax collector. I’m just sympathetic to their collection burdens.  If you are a bed tax collector, this is a good place for you to voice your opinion.

MTVu is good for the local economy.  It worked last year for a lot of people. MTVu brings enough traffic that rooms are booked and promoters/sponsors have all kinds of opportunities to create relationships with these future guests and residents for a lifetime.

We’ll be writing more posts about Spring Break all the way up to the Big Bang, and welcome your opionions.  But here’s one thing you Spring Break haters can consider in the meantime:  How about planning to get out and meet the students face-to-face to accomplish some of your goals?  Why not plan drug and alcohol prevention pizza parties?  What about a job fair?  Maybe join the dozens of “Alternative Spring Breakers” who will be doing things such as cleaning the beach or ministering their faith in God?  Go help the Panama City Rescue mission collect cans every afternoon.

There is plenty of good and bad on this beach, 365 days per year.  You can choose to be a part of the Good.

Gorgeous Outside, Heavy Brainstorms Inside

Tuesday, September 23: TDC Marketing Committee Meeting

Highlights of ideas from the new marketing committee.

Russ Smith of the Towne of Seahaven  brought up the success of filling beds through wholesalers (Expedia, Travelocity, Bay County’s very own BookIt, etc.)

Probably the single easiest and most effective tactic the TDC/CVB could execute would be to buy ad space on the major wholesaler sites, driving travelers to the independent properties who sell rooms via these websites.

How Wholesalers Work (in a nutshell)

  • Properties provide inventory to the wholesaler.  At a wholesale price, of course.
  • The Wholesalers already have working websites that would enable a hotel or condo to sell rooms, then and there, online, 24/7.
  • They have HUGE amounts of travelers booking through their sites daily.. or at least shopping rates.
  • They spend HUGE amounts of advertising dollars to drive visitors to their sites

How Should the TDC Participate?

  • Bring all the wholesalers to our beach for workshops that show our Bed Tax Collectors how to get involved and sell rooms online.  Smith indicated that his reps at Expedia told him they were very willing to help us sell all this new inventory.
  • Buy advertising within the wholesaler sites, introducing travelers to Panama City Beach as they make vacation or business travel plans.

Concern about Wholesaling

  • The hospitality world must move online, and the tourist markets LOVE this wholesaling concept.
  • Property owners like retail concepts. We can’t wholesale the whole beach, year round.  Improving price and value, by ensuring the product is as clean, safe and rewarding as possible, will also increase wholesale value.


Lee Ann Leonard of By The Sea Resorts  brought up an idea for the Family Spring Break campaign: kids storming the beach, as in “reclaiming” the beach after the college students are gone.  That’s a brilliant message, it addresses the reality of the anti-spring break identity and moves ahead in a positive direction.  Proof that we don’t need better brains from out of town making up our creative messaging.


Annie Holcombe of Oaseas has the unique opportunity to sell in both Bay and Walton counties.  She said when selling group accommodations to Atlanta, they won’t even talk to you if you say ‘Panama City Beach.’  Say ‘Destin’, and they’ll listen.  This is such a very important opportunity that no one wants to focus on.

We must change that perception because we have many new facilities at a much greater value than South Walton and Okaloosa.  Whenever I mention those in Atlanta who hate us, I must remind you of the hundreds of thousands who don’t even know us. Proper research would prove me right or wrong, but I would venture to say that between 1-2 Million Metro Atlanta residents do not know who we are, what we have to offer nor that we’re only a short 5 hour drive down the road.


Bryan Durta… all the PCBDaily readers know who he is… brought up a couple things.  He quickly noted that an online “win a vacation” contest wouldn’t be very newsworthy with just one winner, so he suggested a juicier option, such as a giving away a free month every day to multiple winners.  That got the committee excited.  Something like “900 Nights Free at the Beach” was one of the  rough concepts.  It would be smart to give people a taste of what we really have to offer down here… but will the condo and hotel owners give up that many rooms?

Bryan questioned the drive-to market spending and suggested ideas relating to new markets.  This is a common argument on the beach.  I’m a drive-to market believer.  Regarding outer “emerging” markets, I’m convinced that if Mom and Dad are going to pack up the car to drive 12 hours to Florida, they’re going to take the extra few hours to go see Mickey.  Just a hunch, but I bet most outer-market families cannot afford to fly to PCB at this time. Or if they do have that kind of vacation budget, they’re not going to choose us.

None of us will know who is right or wrong on this issue until proper research is conducted.


I called Amy Harris of Royal American Hospitality and asked her thoughts on the marketing plan; she discussed the idea of targeting University Alumni to reach DINKs (double income, no kids) and KISs (Kids in Strollers) for the shoulder seasons.  That’s a smart idea, especially if Y Partnership is still figuring out where to post online ads.

So, rest assured that the new marketing committee has a lot of brain power, even though I am no longer on it. :c)

Why Ask Y?

It was “deja vu all over again” as the new TDC Marketing Committee reviewed the CVB / Y Partnership 2009 marketing plan.  Some faces were new, but many of the questions remained the same:

“Should we really target that $75K demo?”
“Are we missing opportunities in the Midwest, Northeast and other emerging markets?”
“Are you sure it’s best to spend most of our budget in the drive-to markets during the summer?”

We have had the same advertising / marketing agency for over 5 years.  These questions should be answered by now – posted up on a wall in big, colorful graphs and maps.  It was requested of the agency more than once by the former marketing committee to start delivering — at the very least — Google Analytics.  This simple (and free!) data would give the TDC Board information about new target markets.  For instance, Google Analytics will tell you — down to the city — from where your site visitors came.

So why ask Y these questions?  You might as well not, because they have proven that they “just don’t know.”  (“I just don’t know” was an exact quote from the account exec when discussing a proper message and target market for the summer campaign.)

I’m as sick of bashing the work of these nice folks as you are of hearing it, but this is business.  We deserve better results for the investment.  And if any single one of you TDC Board members, committee members, Y Partnership agents, business owners or Bay County residents wants to discuss with me all the other ways this agency has disappointed from a client’s perspective, please feel free to take me to lunch for clear explanations.  Yes, that means you’d buy lunch… but satisfaction is guaranteed.

We need a TDC Beat Reporter

Bryan Durta, PLEASE reconsider posting your thorough notes and the TDC/CVB collaterals, leaving your opinions and ideas for the committee work.  As you can see, a commentator is all I be!

Any other detail-oriented, organized fact-takers, please contact


TDC Agenda – Marketing Committee Meeting

Well, this will be the first meeting for the new marketing committee, and it’s sure to be a fun one!  Looks like they’ll be talking about Responsibilities and Procedures, and The Sunshine Law.  Can’t wait.

We’ll also be going over the marketing plan and hear from the YPartnership team.  See ya there!



Panama City Beach Convention & Visitors Bureau, Inc.
Panama City Beach
Tuesday, September 23, 2008                 1:00 p.m.        Board Room, Visitor Information




IV.    CHAIRMAN’S WELCOME, Mr. Buddy Wilkes, Chairman


VI.    INTRODUCTIONS, Ms. Susan Estler, VP of Marketing

VII.    OVERVIEW OF MARKETING PLAN, Ms. Susan Estler, VP of Marketing, Mr. Dan Rowe, President, and YPartnership Team





Click here to download the agenda.

9/8/08 TDC/CVB: Strategic Plan Adopted & More!

8 of the 9 board members were in attendance. Rick Russell was absent.

Bed Tax Collections: Ms. Charlene Honnen, Tourist Development Tax Specialist, reported that while YTD collections were up 1.8%, the July collections were down from the prior year. She also reported that there are currently 1522 collectors representing approximately 12,000 units registered with her office.

PCB Seafood, Wine & Music Festival: Mr. Jack Bishop made an extensive presentation on his organization’s planning for the October festival. The CVB is the festival’s primary sponsor and is contributing $50,000.00 in financial support. He gave a walk-through of the festival’s web site, explained all of the marketing efforts, and also explained the festivals “green” efforts. He also explained that his organization will be collecting demographic date from all ticket purchasers and expects to provide extensive date to the CVB. Bishop also reported that his organization was already considering hosting a spring festival for 2009 during the shoulder season between Easter and Memorial Day. Finally, he expressed his belief that the community should continue to make improvements to the grounds at Frank Brown Park to assist with future festivals. He discussed the electrical improvements made by the circus and explained how they were more specifically geared to the needs of the circus than he would have desired. He reported that his organization hopes to make permanent facility upgrades with each festival that will be helpful to future users.

Fall Promotion Update: Ms. Susan Estler, the CVB’s VP of Marketing, explained the extension of the Summer White Sale through October. Although online marketing designed to draw visitors to the CVB’s site continues, the primary print and radio advertising has been completed. The partner offers have been recently updated and now include 52 partners. Since the program began, there have been 85,000 website sessions and 23,000 coupon downloads.

Strategic Plan: President Dan Rowe thoroughly discussed the final Strategic Plan that is the result of two public sessions and input from the board and community. The final key initiatives are: 1. Enhance the visitor experience at Panama City Beach; 2. Develop Panama City Beach into a year-round destination; 3. Effectively market Panama City Beach to build occupancy; 4. Diligently protect Panama City Beach’s primary natural resource – the beach. “Potential strategies for funding the initiatives” has been added as a separate section. At the President’s request, the board unanimously voted to adopt the plan.

Download the entire 2008 Strategic Plan.

Marketing Committee Update: Committee Chairman Buddy Wilkes advised the board that he had made the decision to make some changes to the committee membership to add some new voices. Phillip Griffitts, Jr. (Sugar Sands Resort/La Quinta) and Russ Smith(Towne of Seahaven/Sharky’s/Hammerhead Fred’s) will retain their seats. New appointees are: Felicia Cook(Marketing Director for Pier Park), Amy Harris(Royal American Hospitality), Annie Holcomb(Oaseas Management), Lee Ann Leonard (By the Sea Resorts), and myself, Bryan Durta. The board voted unanimously in support of the new committee. I would like to thank Mr. Wilkes for including me on the committee as an involved citizen. The committee will continue to meet on an as needed basis as the board requests. The first meeting has been scheduled for September 23rd.

Off Shore Drilling: President Rowe discussed the possibility of the board reconsidering previous positions opposing drilling off the shore of Florida. Rowe explained that a meeting of Florida CVB’s is being held next month to discuss the issue and he suggested the board delay any action until he can report back.

Beach Damage from Hurricane Gustav: President Rowe reported that it is still unknown whether there has been any damage to the beach resulting from Gustav. While the profile is currently deflated(flatter), Ms. Lisa Ambruster has advised that the height will likely build back. There is a possibility of seeking emergency repair funds from governmental agencies if the board desires. This will likely require a survey costing approximately $100,000.00 and Rowe suggested that the board wait for a recommendation from its beach contractors before making a decision.

Interactive Agency Search: President Rowe reported that the application deadline has passed and 6 proposals have been received. The sub-committee will bring its recommendation to the board after a complete analysis.

Delta In-flight Magazine Article: Although it was not an agenda item, Board Member Yonnie Patronis brought up an issue concerning a 10 page article on the Emerald Coast that appears in the current magazine. Mr. Patronis reported that the article included information on Coastal Vision 3000 and most of the panhandle, while totally ignoring Panama City Beach.

My Last Meeting Report: Due to my appointment to the CVB’s Marketing Committee announced today, my personal standards require that I discontinue preparing the TDC/CVB meeting reports for PCBDaily. I would like to thank Jason for providing the opportunity to write them over the past year, and know that Jason and Kirk are ready to take up the slack. I will, of course, still be here contributing to the site where appropriate. I have enjoyed preparing the reports and hope that everyone has found them to be informative and fair. I welcome comments and suggestions from anyone interested in our destination, regardless of whether you are a resident or a visitor. Thank you.

-Bryan Durta

New TDC Marketing Committee = New PCBDaily Contributor

I was notified this weekend that my service is no longer needed on the Bay County TDC marketing committee.  I guess they know where I stand, and have decided that my suggestions and directions are not in the best interest of the Bay County Tourism industry.

Therefore, I am pleased and honored to announce that I will now have time to serve as a contributing author for the news site.  Thanks to Jason for inviting me on board.

While Bryan Durta will continue to be the “TDC Watchdog,”  reporting all the facts, I look forward to adding suggestions and analysis regarding Bay County’s Tourist Development efforts.

I will also have the opportunity to be the “Trash Reporter,” reaching the large audience regarding the conditions of our beaches.

The new committee will be announced at Tuesday’s TDC meeting.  Only 2 members, Russ Smith and Phillip Griffits, Jr. will continue to serve on the committee.

I welcome all members of the community to contact me to discuss concerns, issues and ideas regarding tourism in Bay County.  My email address is