August 8, 2013 TDC Recap

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Dear Industry Partner:

With the Tourist Development Council meeting on its annual August break this month, we wanted to update you on some of the latest developments in Pinellas County tourism.

TDC/BCC Discusses Bed Tax
This morning, the TDC and Board of County Commissioners met to discuss the future uses of the Tourist Development Tax. County Attorney Dennis Long explained the current breakdown of the tax, and fielded questions regarding possible uses for the monies as current funding commitments sunset and/or expire. After much discussion, a decision was made to schedule a strategic visioning session later this fall to determine guidelines the TDC and BCC can use to help determine the best uses of Tourist Development Tax funds moving forward.

Record June Collections, South American Update
June continued this year's record-setting trend for Bed Tax collections, bringing nearly $2.8 million, which is an 11.58% gain over last year's total. The funds will be put to immediate use, as Visit St. Pete/Clearwater has announced the formation of a new Latin American sales department, which will oversee all of VSPC's sales, marketing and public relations activities in that area. The announcement of this addition---which will be VSPC's first new department in nearly 20 years---coincided with last month's announcement of new air service between Tampa Bay and South America via Panama-based Copa Airlines. With connections to major hubs across Latin America, the new service will effectively connect Tampa Bay to the entire Latin American market for the first time in the area's history.

Industry Summit Recap
On Wednesday, about 100 industry partners came together for VSPC's Media & Communications Industry Summit at the Sheraton Sand Key on Clearwater Beach. The event, which was presented in conjunction with Paradise, VSPC's local Public Relations agency, focused on pitching media, the power of videos and the latest best practices in social media. The presentation was covered by the Tampa Bay Business Journal and tweeted live using #VSPCSummit on Twitter.

  • The "Power of the Pitch" presentation focused on six steps any business can use to increase their chances of earning media coverage. Examples included hitching your wagon to the zeitgeist (in this case, the explosion in the popularity of craft beer), and using video to explain a new trend (like land paddling).
  • The "Social Networking or Social Not Working" presentation offered useful ways partners can creatively use social media, such as establishing a regular tweet---for example, a "Two-O-Clock- Tweet" that could promote daily drink specials or other on-site offers.
  • VSPC's new video content team of Roy De Jesus and Anna Tataris De Jesus discussed the rise in the prevalence of online video, highlighting new videos they've produced to position the St. Pete/Clearwater area---such as Fort De Soto's place in the history of Florida. According to Google research, 89% of travelers watch video online when planning, and 45% of those book as a result of a video.
  • A new media site, featuring an Industry Partner Toolkit, was previewed. Currently in development and expected to launch by the end of this year, the responsive-design site allows media and partners easier access to updated destination story ideas, hi-def B-roll and hi-res images.
  • Bay News 9 reporter Trevor Pettiford gave a lively presentation entitled "9 Tips for Talking Tourism," which provided industry partners an inside glimpse into what makes a compelling story and how to appropriately work with media.

We hope you find this information valuable, and we look forward to finishing this record year in successful fashion. See you at next month's TDC meeting at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 18.



David Downing
Deputy Director
Visit St. Pete/Clearwater