New PCB Website and Summer Marketing Campaign

On the agenda for the next regularly scheduled TDC meeting will be a presentation of the launch of the campaign, the summer marketing plan, “Focus Group Learnings”, and a report of the visitor’s surveys from the first quarter from the Klages Group.

You can download the agenda here, or read it below.


Bay County Tourist Development Council
Panama City Beach Convention & Visitors Bureau, Inc.
Panama City Beach
Tuesday, April 14, 2009                    9:00 a.m.        Council Room, PCB City Hall



A.    Invocation
B.    Pledge of Allegiance
C.    Approve Minutes From the March 10, 2009, and March 26, 2009 Meetings


IV.    UPDATE ON BED TAX COLLECTIONS, Ms. Charlene Honnen, Tourist Development Tax Specialist


A.    Discuss and Consider for Approval CVB/TDC Financial Statements Dated February 28, 2009, Mr. Dan Rowe, President
B.    Discuss and Consider for Approval FDEP Grant 05BA2, Amendment #3, Mrs. Lisa Armbruster, Sustainable Beaches, LLC
C.    Discuss and Consider for Approval FDEP Grant 07BA2, Amendment #1, Mrs. Lisa Armbruster, Sustainable Beaches, LLC
D.    Discuss and Consider for Approval FDEP Grant H6BA1, Amendment #4, Mrs. Lisa Armbruster, Sustainable Beaches, LLC
E.    Discuss and Consider for Approval Coastal Planning & Engineering 3-Year Monitoring Survey Scope of Work and Fee Proposal, Mrs. Lisa Armbruster, Sustainable Beaches, LLC
F.    Discuss and Consider for Approval Coastal Planning & Engineering Invoice #90326 and Invoice #90338, Mrs. Lisa Armbruster, Sustainable Beaches, LLC


A.    Launch Campaign for, Ms. Susan Estler, VP of Marketing
B.    2009 Summer Media Campaign Plan, Mr. Peter Yesawich, YPartnership
C.    Review of Focus Group Learnings, Mr. Peter Yesawich, YPartnership
D.    Review of Visitor Survey Results for First Quarter of 2009, Dr. Walter Klages, The Klages Group


A.    Review of 2009 mtvU Program, Mr. Dan Rowe, President





Summer Marketing Campaign for Panama City Beach is LOADS Better This Year

As many of you remember, I (along with many of our contributors) was very vocal in the obvious failure of the Summer White Sale campaign that was rolled out last year.  Although the idea wasn’t quite right, it was the creative that I was so outraged by.  We spent a lot of money for an all around crappy campaign.  Now, with that lovely negative intro, this year’s campaign looks MUCH better.  The creative is way stronger.

I have some exclusive footage of what some of the animated banner ads may look like posted to my Facebook Fan Page.  Check it out. Be sure to become a “fan”.

I’m going to keep this short and let you see some of the advertising ideas.

You may, from time to time, notice I use words like “loads” or “brilliant”.  Today’s random fact of the day about Jason Koertge is that I LOVE Harry Potter (actually our whole family does) and I have a secret desire to speak with a British accent.  I know, lame, but I don’t care.

New Summer Marketing Campaign to Brand "FUN"

“Best dang beach vacation ever. Period.” – Funculator – Funtastic – These are some of the ideas that came out of the brain-storming session yesterday with regard to the summer marketing campaign.  The “brand” for this summer is FUN with an emphasis on creating the perception of value when vacationing on Panama City Beach.

Last year’s Summer White Sale, touted as wildly successful was surely a media ploy in that the actual results were not actually wet with success, but the image of the whole campaign from a PR perspective certainly was.  Featured in the likes of the New York Times and other coveted news publications, the estimated value in PR placement was in the hundreds of thousands.  However, the actual deals were nothing to call home to mom about.  As pointed out by Bryan Durta, “The deals that were to be had were nothing more than what you could find on the rack cards or local discount books.”

This year the marketing committee wanted to place an emphasis on value enhancement rather than discounts.  The idea is to create incentives that didn’t give the appearance that we were a discount location that would in turn devalue our image.  By placing an emphasis on increased value, i.e. getting more for your money, instead of saying 20% off, we look bettter.

I agree with this, but the only question, and this resounded in the room yesterday, was how do we do this and give (as Hoot Crawford so famously put) everyone a fair shake.  What is the best strategy for being sure everyone can benefit from this outside of just a few select hoteliers, attractions and restaurants?  Well, that seemed to be the presiding issue and concern.  In fact, for quite some time, there was quite a bit of discussion as to exactly how to handle this very issue until Marty McDaniel stepped in.

Marty is the new Director of the TDC and kindly reminded everyone that the details are just the details – we still need a big boom, a hook that people will grab on to and follow to Panama City Beach.  We’ve got to have a very powerful message that will capture the attention of visitors and potential visitors.  Whatever we do has to be revolutionary.  If we can come with something that is WOW, it will work.

YPartnership wanted to brand “FUN”, with maybe a Funculator on the main page of the web site that could calculate how much ‘fun’ you would have on your trip here.  The idea is to emphasize more fun, more beach, more entertainment, more summer for you, etc.

At the end of the meeting, YPartnerhship left with some ideas as to what direction we want to go and hopefully enough amunition to come back with something great, because we need it.

Bay County TDC Approves Bed Tax Increase

In a meeting that ended in great applause, the Bay County Tourist Development Council unanimously voted to approve the increase in bed tax collections from 3% to 5%.  With public comment from pillars of the Panama City Beach community, such as Charlie Hilton, Julian Bennett, Julie Hilton and Joe Tannehill, good arguments were made for and against the increase with a unified concern for our area.

The motion to approve suggested that one penny go towards marketing, including helping attract a low-cost carrier.  Half of the second new cent would go to beach cleaning, safety awareness and signage throughout the beach.  The second half of the second new cent will go to capital projects such as new ball fields at Frank Brown Park or the proposed improvements to Aaron Bessant Park in Pier Park.

“I think we should delay, not defeat the 5th cent increase,” Bennett Sr. said discussing that we need to put together a comprehensive plan as to how the 5th sent will be spent.

“We need to work on collecting what we have,” said Julie Hilton, “before we try and get more.”

Joe Tannehill, chairman of the Airport Authority board was the first to comment during the public comment portion of the meeting.  He voiced his support of the bed tax increase and assured the board and confirmed to the board and the audience that the airport was ahead of schedule and under budget.  He stressed that essential to the area’s success was the success of the airport and essential to the airport’s success was getting the word out to the rest of the country that we are open for business.

He emphasized that a growing number of travelers to our area will be from out of the country, but we need marketing dollars to underscore that effort. He also confirmed discussions with British Airways and Virgin Atlantic.

Peter Yesawich from YPartnership presented on why we need to increase our bed tax stressing that any increase had no direct impact on his firm or his firm’s relationship with the Panama City Beach Convention and Visitors Bureau.

His presentation explained that we had advertising budgets that were 1/2 and 1/3 of that of our direct competitors.  He also stressed that we needed to have a vehicle in place to support the new airport and any low-cost airline that may come into our area.  He mentioned that these are perilous times for the airline industry and that any airline would find great comfort knowing they had some financial support here in Panama City Beach.  His presentation explicated the importance of having a harmonious allocation of marketing dollars and capital improvement dollars.

Yesawich said that our future visitors are not “legacy visitors” or those returning to our area, but new visitors.  He explained that we need to expand our marketing reach to outside our traditional market and that we need a broader visitor base.

Buddy Wilkes, owner of Shipwreck Island Waterpark underscored this point in saying that we’ve lost our legacy visitors already and that we must focus on new customers.

There has been much discussion elsewhere and here on pcbdaily that we need to work harder to collect the rent collectors that aren’t paying instead of trying to raise the tax.  I agree and disagree with this.

We need to change our collection process and the way it is enforced.  Actually, that is a false statement.  We need to enforce the bed tax collection as right now, it is not being enforced at all.  What happens to those that do not collect?  Nothing.  Period.  So, how do they figure out who is collecting rent, but not paying the bed tax?  I don’t know, but there are smart people than me that can figure this all out, and it needs to happen, NOW.

Bill Kinsall, Bay County Clerk-elect reassured the board and audience during the public comment section that he would do everything in his power to make their collection process and research to who isn’t paying more efficient.  He said the whole process will be under scrutiny and they will figure out how to fix the system.

Julie Hilton mentioned that she thought that we may be seeing 50% of the total possible bed tax revenue due to people not paying and that an increase may push more to not pay.  I cannot speculate on the number, but I totally agree with her in that the number is probably larger than we think.  We need to figure out a way to determine this.  I also think we need to enable some sort of enforced consequence to be imposed on those that do not pay.

Yes, we need a very comprehensive plan to exactly how we’ll spend each penny of the increase, yes we need to figure out how to collect from who isn’t paying right now, but we also need more money to be sure we are ready to spread the word about Panama City Beach to the world when the new airport comes online.  We also need to be sure we continue to improve our area at the same rate our competition is improving their areas, or we will become a has-been.

The argument that if we increase our rates that we’ll lose tourists just isn’t valid.  An increase of 2% will yeild an increase in room rates of $20 for a week’s stay at $1000.  Is someone going to be deterred by this?  No.  Will they even know about the change?  No.  Tourists don’t ask what tax rate they are paying and they aren’t going to change their mind for a measly 2%.

Good job TDC, Bay County Commissioners, please take heed, we need this for our area.

Related:  Bed Tax Increase Set in Motion

TDC Bed Tax Committee Meeting Agenda for Wednesday

I know, I know, they changed the name to Revenue Enhancement Committee.

Wednesday December 3, 2008, the Revenue Enhancement Committee will meet to further discuss development costs from the strategic plan and get an update on destination marketing from Peter Yesawich from Y partnership.

If you remember from the last Revenue Enhancement Committee, 4 major points were discussed, TDC Marketing and Awareness, Special Events Marketing, Sports Marketing, and Destination Marketing.  The estimated costs tagged with everything proposed totaled more than $52 million.

This meeting, I believe we should see a greater explanation into these costs and some greater detail as to what is feasible and what is not.

Download the agenda here.


Bay County Tourist Development Council
Panama City Beach
Wednesday, December 3, 2008              1:00 p.m.        Board Room, Visitor
Information Center





V.    UPDATE ON DESTINATION MARKETING, Mr. Peter Yesawich, YPartnership



Panama City Beach CVB is Getting a New Web Site

I find it interesting that the Panama City Beach Convention and Visitors Bureau is soliciting for a new web site vendor. They apparently are seeking to replace with something new. Currently, I beleive, Y Partnership is the vendor handling the site development and hosting.

Unfortunately I don’t have much more detail than that at this time, but at 9:30 I’ll be attending a meeting that should tell more about what is going on.

Here is the form that they are sending out.


I was at the meeting, but unfortunately it wasn’t much more than a discussion on the RFQ that is linked above.

Continue reading “Panama City Beach CVB is Getting a New Web Site”

Destinations around the country searching for tourists

“What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” has been swapped for “do Vegas right now.” According to the New York Times, the slogan was swapped for something that had a stronger call to action.

It is no secret that the cost of living is going up in real time. With gas prices here quickly approaching 4 bucks a gallon, the cost to travel is also quickly becoming a huge deciding factor on where people are going, if they are going at all.

In the New York Times article, Urgency Replaces Subtlety in Summer’s Struggle for Visitors, the second destination mentioned as making a change in their advertising direction was Panama City Beach. Peter Yesawich was quoted, “There is a palpable nervousness on the part of everybody in the industry.” “We’ve seen some of these conditions individually,” Mr. Yesawich said, referring to problems like high fuel prices and reduced capacity on airlines, “but never all of them at once.”

Continue reading “Destinations around the country searching for tourists”

Dr. Peter Yesawich of Ypartnership to present at Gulf Coast

A public presentation by Dr. Peter Yesawich, chairman and CEO of Ypartnership will be held at Gulf Coast Community College on Monday in the East Student Union Building.

The topic of discussion will be emerging travel habits and preferences and their implications for marketing for Panama City Beach.  The program is sponsored by the Bay County Tourist Development Council and the Panama City Beach Convention and Visitor’s Bureau and I encourage you to attend.  I will be there if I can.


Monday 1/21/2008 from 3:30 pm – 5:30 pm

Gulf Coast Community College
Continuing Education Center
East Student Union Building, 2nd Floor

For more information, call 850-233-5070.