Jack Bishop asks TDC; "We Need More Help with the Seafood, Wine & Music Fest

Tuesday’s combined TDC/CVB meeting at City Hall covered topics such as the impact of extra sporting events and sports marketing on Panama City Beach, (numbers are up and new events keep coming!) approval and discussion of various financial items, an update on the Panama City Beach vegetation project (very well executed so far, almost 60% complete with lots of new sea oats and vegetation planted), and, most importantly, the Seafood Wine & Music Festival for 2010.

Jack Bishop, local restaurant owner and former member of the Bay County Tourist Development Council is one of the festival organizers, and took to the microphone at the meeting to put his thoughts and ideas to the board. Mr Bishop talked about how far the festival has come since it’s roots and how he sees further growth and improvement in the future. “The Seafood, Wine & Music Festival has gone a long way towards restoring the image of Panama City Beach.” Bishop stated. “We need something like this, something for people to do in addition to 4th July, especially now we are appealing to an upper level demographic with the arrival of the new airport.”
Mr Bishop continued to say; “We need to make some short term decisions, and some long term decisions. In the short term, let’s think about 2010. We need to address the issues of security, garbage and sanitation, and production, all of which we need to step up, and will need extra resources for. We need extra promotion and sponsorship, extra marketing, and extra financing.” Mr Bishop then asked for an additional $50,000 on top of the current $60,000 the board has already committed in order to execute these changes. “We know exactly where we are now with the Seafood, Wine & Music Festival, and I have learned many lessons along the way. If I am to take on this extra responsibility, then I am going to need more help.”

Panama City Beach’s New Era Starts With Fahlgren & Lou Hammond

The era of Y-Partnership is over. Y-Partnership’s replacement as the ad agency to represent Panama City Beach is Fahlgren, a sharp group based out of Ohio with ties to VisitFlorida and Southwest Airlines. The agency chosen by the board to handle Public Relations for PCB will be the Lou Hammond agency out of New York, strong in crisis management with international ties.

Both agencies presented to the board alongside 3 other agencies, LKM, Beber Silverstein, Hayworth Creative, all talented and thorough in their respective disciplines, competing to carry Panama City Beach into its very bright future.

Fahlgren, represented by Neil Mortine, impressed the board with ties to Southwest as well as a strong belief in the need to develop co-operatives locally and regionally. Fahlgren proved to have a broad enough knowledge of the area’s diversity, great social media marketing understanding and were balanced with creativity and the range of contacts capable of pulling off what Y-Partnership could not; make Panama City Beach a top destination. Representing 45 companies like McDonald’s, Cooper Tires and others, Panama City Beach will be one of Fahlgren’s top 10 clients and should receive a great deal of attention from an award winning agency.

The Lou Hammond Agency, an award winning agency in its own right, with offices in New York, Charleston and Miami, wowed the board to a hands-down decision. Lou Hammond herself, the agency’s president and owner, conducted the presentation and the board loved every second of her outgoing attitude and creative ideas. LH, won the board over with an impressive resume, long line of contacts and previous work in crisis management and airport related Public Relations.

The benefit of having separate agencies in both disciplines, unlike previous years where a single group handled both creative advertising and public relations, can be summed up in one word: synergy. What Panama City Beach can expect are totally fresh ideas, new and far-reaching campaigns cooked up by a talented group of individuals. Lou Hammond will bring big-time contacts and a great understanding of fly markets while Fahlgren will invigorate Panama City Beach with ultra-creative ideas and new ways of implementation.

The timing couldn’t possibly be better and both agencies acknowledged how the new airport makes Panama City Beach a prime expansion city in America as the economy picks up. These two agencies will be presented contracts in the future and if negotiations can not be reached, the board will move to the companies that landed second in the rankings which were LKM and Hayworth.

In related news, we here, at PCBDaily are giddy just thinking about Panama City Beach’s future sans Y-Partnership.

Website, Summer Marketing and The End of Spring Break?

The Website is coming! The Website is coming! I’m totally excited, the city is excited and, with an ultra-comprehensive summer media marketing campaign, everyone will be excited. . . or theoretically persuaded to be excited… about the new PCB website. The socially interactive site is determined to rebrand PCB using promotions like a video competition, social media networking, microblogging and even username and passwords for local business to update their individual pages.

Marketing dollars are being spent, in partnership with Buffalo Rock, to drive summer bookings and launch the new branding campaign. Buffalo Rock will provide large exposure in the form of Pepsi wrappers, shelves and displays throughout the Southeast. This is only a portion of the whole plan. The rich media campaign will focus on promoting Panama City Beach as a destination using the message “Real.Fun.Beach.” and saturate the target market with repetitive engagement.

Who’s the target market you ask? Well, based on reports from Y partnership, the TDC’s advertising and marketing partner, the primary targets are Atlanta, Birmingham and Nashville and the media mix for the campaign breaks down like this: 40% cable advertising, 30% online, 24% outdoor and 6% magazine. That means television promo ads on stations like CNN, ESPN and others. That means a greater internet exposure from previous years (around 7-9% in past years) and a stronger focus on the market. All this to channel tourists to a website packed with enough umph to make them want to visit our great city.

The money spent and future spending has been validated by the Klages report numbers from the previous quarter. While other destinations throughout the state are in the red, in nearly every category Panama City Beach is up. Based on the Klages report, total average daily hotel rates so far are up from last year’s numbers by 12.4%. Last year’s total economic impact was $975,379,655.00 and winter 2009 numbers are already up 9%. That’s some tasty cream.

But not all the news from the meeting was good. Previous marketing dollars, specifically Spring Break, took complaints from the audience. Several community members spoke on behalf of distancing PCB from spring break entirely. It is well documented that Spring Break complaints are an annual occurrence; every year SB happens and every year people complain. But this year’s round of complaints hit hard with passion. Mark Canfora, a local businessman, actually came to tears and bashed the Lil Wayne concert and charged the artist with provoking the spring break incidents throughout the beach.

Jennifer Etheridge, a member of the sales team at Ocean Villa, said some of her owners were considering suing the city of PCB for negligence because they couldn’t rent their rooms. The sentiment was felt by some of the board members as well, focusing their attention on MTVu rather than spring break as a whole. Andy Phillips said, “Spring Break will be here whether we throw a million dollars into marketing or nothing at all.” He added, “I think MTV was a waste of $150,000. Plain and simple.” MTV met their contractual agreement, generating the amount of web impressions, unique visitors and television promotions as promised, but turned out to be difficult to work with as a partner to the TDC.

An example of the relationship was the show “Wasted Memories” which was supposed to be a show that followed Spring Breakers around and at the end of their stay tested how much they remembered. The show turned out to be completely different than what was promised and is still a PR nightmare for a beach trying to change its image. But, amid all the anger towards spring break, most beach businesses did well financially. Mr. Phillips acknowledged this by saying, “It is a double-edged sword and a difficult process.”

The board leaned heavily towards not spending money in the future on the likes of MTV, but recognized how what was learned from the experience of working with them would help in the use of summer marketing dollars.

In related news, Dan Rowe, Chairman of the TDC went up for review and received a 7% increase in salary. Based on the committee’s review parameters Mr. Rowe scored “very effective” on a scale that ranged from ineffective to outstanding. Good work, Dan. Can’t wait to see how the summer campaign turns out.

Click Here To Download The Focus Group Presention

Click Here To Download The Summer Media Plan

Notes and Comments from the 2/6/08 TDC/CVB Marketing Committee Meeting

9 of the 11 committee members were present. Absent were Debi Knight and Ann Henry.

Holiday Celebration

Committee member Paul Wohlford made a presentation on the options for a holiday-oriented event to increase tourist visitors in December. A short discussion took place and a more through discussion was scheduled for the March meeting.

Brochure Rack Policy

President Dan Rowe advised the committee that he felt that the TDC Visitors’ Information Center Brochure Display Racks Policy of June 1995 needed to be updated. Rowe felt that the current policy might be overly restrictive and possibly should be revised to allow brochures for additional businesses/attractions such as attractions outside the taxing district(PCB only), vacation rentals by owners, and nanny services. Some members expressed concern that allowing brochures from outside PCB would end up helping Destin, while other members felt that promoting the entire area was important. Kirk Lancaster made the important point that PCB has a major price advantage over Destin.

PCB’s price advantage could be very useful this year due to the slowing economy and economic uncertainty. In addition, the fact that a large portion of our available accommodations have modern advantages that comparable accommodations to our west lack could be a successful marketing tool. We need to attempt to attract these tourists who are already used to visiting the Emerald Coast rather than just assuming that the Destin visitor will not come here. Continue reading “Notes and Comments from the 2/6/08 TDC/CVB Marketing Committee Meeting”

The 2008 TDC/CVB Strategic Planning Process Begins

The Bay County TDC/CVB began its 5 year strategic planning process with a 6 hour workshop held at Edgewater Beach Resort on January 22nd. The workshop was moderated by Bob Allen, Chief Storytelling Officer, from Integrity Arts and Technology, Inc. (http://www.integrityarts.com) Approximately 33 round-table participants included local businesses and government representatives, CVB staff members, representatives from Y Partnership(the CVB’s advertising and public-relations agencies), and educators from both Gulf Coast Community College and Florida State University. All TDC/CVB board members were present with the exception of Rick Russell and Mike Nelson. There was no participant from Paradise Found Resorts in this important process which this writer believes is unfortunate.

Continue reading “The 2008 TDC/CVB Strategic Planning Process Begins”

TDC/CVB Indian Summer Festival Meeting – January 3, 2008

The Indian Summer Festival Committee met on January 3rd, 2008 to discuss the CVB’s options for the 2008 festival. The festival is quite different from other special events receiving CVB financial support in that it is actually owned by the TDC/CVB. The committee is a subcommittee made up of 4 members of the CVB’s Marketing Committee (Kirk Lancaster-chairman, Jack Bishop, Ann Henry, and Joe Kennedy) all of whom were present. The subcommittee will make their recommendation to the Marketing Committee, which will then make their recommendation to the CVB Board.

The meeting was chaired by Lancaster in an open workshop fashion with extensive input from the audience. The audience included CVB Board Members Andy Phillips and Buddy Wilkes. The discussion included:

  • The history of the event that originally was operated by a local committee with the support of local charities. More recently the CVB operated it in-house for two years before hiring Sound Associates/Ron Johnson as festival promoter for the past few years. The CVB exercised it’s right to cancel the 2008 contract with Sound Associates.
  • The importance of the festival attracting non-residents, rather than just being a local draw, if the CVB continues to provide financial support. There was a clear consensus that the 2007 festival was mainly a local festival that attracted few out-of-area visitors. However, some expressed their belief that tourists rarely travel to any festivals today. Past successful tourist marketing efforts, including the Winn-Dixie program arranged by past president Bob Warren, were also discussed.
  • Who should run the festival? President Rowe advised the subcommittee that the CVB lacks sufficient staff to operate the festival in-house.
  • What the elements of the festival should be? This included the type of music and whether the festival should seek big-name performers or performers with a lower cost and a corresponding lower admission charge. Also discussed was the appropriate type of food vendors for the festival. Some voiced opinions that the festival had too many carnival-type vendors and not enough local restaurants, while others were of the belief that carnival-type food was an important element. The difficulty of local restaurants operating in a temporary location and the possibility of building permanent vendor facilities to alleviate these problems was also mentioned.
  • Whether there was enough support in the tourist industry to make the festival happen? Traditionally, the festival has relied on financial sponsorships from the tourist-oriented businesses; however, some past sponsors have expressed their disappointment over the value being received. The possibility of engaging the tourist industry in marketing discount packages that include lodging, tickets, and other elements was also suggested.
  • The date of the event and the importance of considering the dates of other festivals in the southeast. The event was originally held every 2nd weekend of October. Recently it was held on Columbus Day weekend, but this past year it was moved to the following weekend to better fit the schedule of the festival promoter.
  • What type of control the CVB should retain over the festival’s elements, operation, and advertising?

Although no formal vote was taken, the consensus of the subcommittee was to turn the matter over to President Rowe to prepare a RFP for distribution to potential festival operators. Rowe plans to distribute a survey to local businesses, to speak with other CVBs, and to review prior RFPs to provide additional assistance. The sub-committee will consider Rowe’s draft RFP at their next meeting that has not yet been scheduled.

Panama City Beach TDC Meeting Notes from Tuesday's Meeting

Notes from the November 27, 2007 Combined Board Meeting of the Bay County TDC and the PCB CVB

Eight of the nine board members were present with Buddy Wilkes absent.

The board voted unanimously to approve the 9/30/07 financial statements.

2008 Spring Break Program Update:  President Dan Rowe advised the board that commitments totaling $84,500 have been received from co-op participants.  No lottery was required as the available packages exceeded those requested by local businesses.  He also explained that additional co-op opportunities remain available, but that the CVB would not be actively marketing them.  However, he encouraged the current participants and the Marketing Committee to seek additional participants.  Rowe also reported that the agreement with MTV had not yet been signed, but that he expected it to be soon.

Sea Turtle Draft Lighting Ordinance Update:  The President reported that the community workshop would probably take place during the 3rd week of December.  [Subsequent to the meeting, the TDC announced that the community workshop has been scheduled for December 19th, 2007 at 9:00 AM at the PCB City Hall.]  Rowe also reported that staff would be meeting with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Department to gauge their response to the draft ordinance.

FSU Flying High Circus Update:  Rowe advised that everything was proceeding well with the circus scheduled for next summer.  He also reported that a press conference was scheduled for December 5th concerning the event.

Indian Summer Festival Update:  The President reported that staff had terminated the contract with Sound Associates as directed by the board.  He also explained that he planned on discussing the 2008 festival with the Marketing Committee at their next meeting.

December Marketing Committee Meeting:  President Rowe advised that the December Marketing Committee meeting has been rescheduled for December 12th at 9:00 AM.

Sports Marketing Activities Update:  Director of Sports Marketing Richard Sanders made an extensive report to the board concerning his department’s current activities.  He reported that future bookings are very strong, but advised that the board should be mindful about competing destinations that are engaging in expansion plans that may be attractive to event organizers.  He also advised that planning for the facility expansion feasibility study was proceeding on schedule.  He expected the study to commence after the holidays and that the report can be expected about 90 days after commencement.  Chairman Phillips reported that Director Sanders will be inducted into the National Softball Association Hall of Fame at their 2008 annual meeting.

Strategic Plan Framework:  The President reported that he is planning a board workshop during late January 2008.  The purpose will be to develop a 3-5 year strategic plan for the CVB.  He also advised that he expected to hire an outside facilitator to assist with the workshop.

CVB/TDC Media Policy:  Rowe advised that he as in the process of developing a draft Media Policy in conjunction with the CVB’s agency, Y Partnership.  The purpose of the policy will be to formally answer the question of how the CVB/TDC should speak as a body to the media.

President Rowe also reported that he would be meeting with Y Partnership on November 29th at their Orlando offices.  He planned to meet with both their public relations department and their advertising department to better understand their work on the CVB’s account.

Rowe also reported that the search process for the current staff vacancies would begin within the next couple of weeks.

Meeting notes courtesy of Bryan J Durta. Thanks Bryan.