February 18, 2015 TDC Recap

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Dear Industry Partners:

Below you'll find a few highlights from Visit St. Pete/Clearwater's recent efforts as February's Tourist Development Council meeting was canceled. As usual, all of the individual monthly departmental reports are available online.

Visitation Numbers Outpace State's Record-Setting Growth
In Florida's best tourism year ever, the St. Pete/Clearwater area outpaced state averages in a number of key metrics, including percentage growth in international visitation and the significant barometer of average daily room rate (ADR). In calendar year 2014, St. Pete/Clearwater saw a 6.5% increase with international visitation compared to a 2.6% increase statewide. Similarly, ADR averaged 5.7% growth around the state, but rose by 7.4% locally. Rounding out the record year was the single-highest December  Tourist Development Tax total in Pinellas County history, a 17% increase over last year, pulling in more than $2.4 million. That total helped push the calendar year 2014 collections to a record $35,823,246, re-qualifying Pinellas as one of Florida's high-impact tourism counties---a title originally received in 2013.

NYC, Chicago Campaigns Employ Sun, Snow and Mystery
Visit St. Pete/Clearwater's annual winter marketing blitz in the area's massive feeder markets of New York City and Chicago has received a lot of attention lately---thanks in part to a first-ever guerrilla campaign aimed at Millennials. This year, in addition to captivating beach scenes on subways, buses (video), office tower elevator screens and coffee cup sleeves blanketing both cities, VSPC initiated a second campaign featuring snowmen , snow stencils and magnets touting a sole "WinterBlows.com" call to action. The mystery campaign was featured on ABC 7 in Chicago and Fox 5 in NYC in addition to garnering headlines across Florida. So far, the campaign has generated more than 1 million impressions across Twitter and Instagram.

New Responsive Design Website Goes Live
Visitors to VisitStPeteClearwater.com will experience an all-new website this month, after a year-long process of moving from a traditional website to a responsive design website. After a planned roll-out of the new site, Miles Media, VSPC's tech vendor, started funneling a portion of web traffic to the new site last December, allowing designers a chance to see how visitors interacted with the site and make appropriate changes before this month's complete unveil. Responsive design tailors content to the device one is using to access the site and follows best practices based on web research, which shows that more than 50% of VSPC's web traffic will stem from mobile phones and tablets this year. As with all digital initiatives the site is not a finished product---instead it will be modified as necessary based on industry trends and ongoing usability studies.

And, finally, a reminder the March TDC meeting will be a joint workshop discussion with the Board of County Commissioners at 9 a.m. on March 18 in the Clerk's Large Conference Room on the Fourth Floor on the Pinellas County Courthouse. The agenda for that meeting is still being developed and will be available, along with any pertinent collateral, well in advance of the meeting.

Look for an update next week on our first-ever nationwide UK campaign---as well as the results of a survey that's gauging consumer attitudes of VSPC-commissioned efforts in that market.


David Downing
Executive Director