February 21, 2013 TDC Recap

Thursday, February 21, 2013

  Dear Industry Partner:

Below you'll find just a few highlights from Wednesday afternoon’s Tourist Development Council meeting. Please note that starting this month, the date and time of the monthly TDC meeting has moved to the third Wednesday of each month, from 3-5 PM (the location remains the same---the 5th Floor meeting room of the Board of County Commissioners).

As usual, we have posted the agenda online on our industry website with clickable links to all of the individual monthly departmental reports.


“iNeedSun.com” Campaign Sets Participation Record in First Month
In the month since the start of VSPC’s annual winter marketing campaign---iNeedSun.com--- VSPC has already received more than 40,000 entries, making it the most actively engaged sweepstakes campaign in VSPC history. The results stem from blanketing both New York and Chicago with messages directing audiences to iNeedSun.com, where they can enter to win one of 30 beach getaways being offered this year. Another positive sign is the mobile phone participation with more than 35% of the entries coming from text messages.

December Bed Tax Continues Double-Digit Gains
FY 2013 hasn’t slowed down following a record FY 2012, as December’s Tourist Development Tax saw a double-digit increase year-over-year with a 10.8% gain. The month’s nearly $1.8 million in bed tax puts the three-month old fiscal year more than 10.5% ahead of last year, which set the pace for record collections that year. Optimism for continued upward trends remains strong, based on reports of solid advance bookings for March and April and upbeat reports from from industry partners attending January’s Florida Huddle.

Get Smart: VisitStPeteClearwater.com Knows Where You’re Coming From
Thanks to the latest in “Get Smart” website technology, VSPC can now detect where visitors to VisitStPeteClearwater.com are logging on from and deliver specific messages to them based on that information. For example, a website visitor logging in from the New York area would receive cold-weather messaging, while a resident in St. Pete/Clearwater might be served up different, weekend-specific messaging. Also, other factors---such as previous web browsing patterns---can be used to fine-tune messaging to site visitors moving forward. This “content catering” will allow the site to grow upon its most successful year, in which it received more than 1.5 million visits, an increase of 50% year-over-year. In addition to increased traffic, users are engaging with content at a higher rate, including the BookDirect function that allows users to book hotels directly on the site.

New Video Touts Emeril’s Florida Episode This Weekend
As part of a cooperative marketing partnership with Visit Florida, VSPC teamed with Emeril Lagasse to highlight the growing culinary offerings of the area on his new Cooking Channel show, Emeril’s Florida. The half hour episode of the new series, which was shot on location at venues throughout St. Pete/Clearwater, can be seen this Sunday, February 24, at 10:30 AM on the Cooking Channel (Brighthouse Channel 142, Verizon 166).

The Cooking Channel released this new video trailer, which gives a glimpse of the broad range of coverage the area received, including culinary segments in Clearwater Beach and downtown St Pete---as well as a visit to Clearwater Marine Aquarium. The episode will air six times in the coming weeks.

We hope you find this information valuable, and we look forward to a busy season.

See you at next month's TDC meeting at 3 p.m. on Wednesday, March 20, 2013. Regards,


David Downing
Deputy Director
Visit St. Pete/Clearwater