January 12, 2011 TDC Meeting Recap

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Dear Industry Partner:

Below you'll find just a few highlights from this month's Tourist Development Council meeting, which was the first meeting of 2011. As always, we invite you to attend the meetings in person or view them online at your leisure at PinellasCounty.org.

International Media, Spanish Royalty Descend Upon Area for Dali Debut
The VSPC Public Relations team worked with its PR firms---Fleishman Hillard in the UK and Nancy J. Friedman PR in New York---to draw high-value media coverage of the new Dali, both for the opening ceremonies and in advance of the event. Advance international coverage included pieces in the Times of London and in El Pais, which has the largest circulation of any newspaper in Spain. Major domestic outlets on hand to cover the opening included the New York Times, Boston Globe, Miami Herald, Associated Press and Reuters. International newswires had the story online before the opening ceremonies were concluded, and a second wave of media attention in the coming weeks is expected as well.

2010 Sees Area Visitation Hold Steady; Bed Tax Collections Up for November
November's bed tax collections were up nearly 8% over 2009 and despite suffering through the coldest December on record for the area, calendar year 2010 ended with visitation to the St. Pete/Clearwater area slightly up, according to Walter Klages of Data Research Services, VSPC's research and statistics contractor. But due to continued slumps in room rates and RevPAR (revenue per available room), this slight increase in occupancy---a little more than one percent for the year---did not translate into a similar increase in tourism revenues. Klages expects the modest growth to continue throughout 2011, with an estimated 2% to 3% increase in visitation for the year.

New Ad Campaign Brings New Imagery, Freshness to St. Pete/Clearwater Brand
With the winding down of VSPC’s award-winning Ambassador Brand Campaign, VSPC is preparing to launch its newest print and television ads in the coming months. The new campaign incorporates multiple images of the destination into each ad, instead of relying upon a single iconic image. Also, the highly stylized shots of recognizable icons have been replaced with newly shot imagery of locals from all over the county. Simple taglines such as "Every Day is Sun Day" and "Gulf, Anyone?" combine with the images to create a fresh, youthful feel to the campaign. The first of these will debut in the coming months in major advertising installations in New York City.

New Cutting-Edge Visitor Guide Now Available for Distribution
The brand-new version of Visit St. Pete/Clearwater's most popular piece of printed collateral, the yearly visitor guide, is now available for distribution. The new guide features cutting edge interactive elements, such as an augmented reality card that allows readers to experience a 3-D environment via a WebCam, as well as "snap it" tags that bring readers directly to specific URLs via web enabled camera phones. The guide, which also features a two-cover design that invites readers to flip the guide at the center spread, will be distributed at all five Visit Florida welcome centers, as well as at all of the bureau's tradeshows, consumer shows, industry events, etc. Individuals can order a copy either online or via a toll-free call to Phase V, Visit St. Pete/Clearwater's fulfillment house. A downloadable digital version will be available in the coming weeks.

Newly Revamped Homepage, International Websites to Launch in March
VSPC's Internet Marketing Department, together with VSPC's technology vendor of record, Miles Media, have been working on revamps of all three of our international language websites---French, German and Spanish. In addition to updated articles and destination coverage, several videos have been translated with real-time voiceovers into their respective languages. An update of the VisitStPeteClearwater.com homepage, which will reflect the look and feel of the direction of VSPC's new advertising campaign, will be ready by March as well.

VSPC Announces New Meetings Rep for Washington DC Market
Visit St. Pete/Clearwater is pleased to welcome Michelle Jones as the DC Meetings and Conventions Sales Manager. Michelle has nearly 20 years experience working in DC area associations, most recently as the Director of Convention and Meeting Services at Associated General Contractors of America. Michelle's area of expertise includes meetings management, event planning, communications (print & electronic), exhibits, and overall customer service excellence. Her office is located in the Destination Marketing Association International (DMAI) headquarters complex, which is on M Street in downtown.

Big East/Big Ten, Iron Girl Competitions Heat Up in Coming Weeks
The 2011 Big East/Big Ten Baseball Challenge will be returning to Pinellas County February 18 - 20, with 8 teams from each conference kicking off the college baseball season. Games will be played at Al Lang Field in St. Pete, Bright House Field and historic Jack Russell Stadium in Clearwater and Florida Auto Exchange Stadium in Dunedin. Schedules and ticket information can be found on www.BIGEASTBigTenbaseballchallenge.com. Also, the Sports Department is pleased to announce the launch of a new Iron Girl half-marathon and 5K Run/Walk in Clearwater this April, which will kick off the 2011 Iron Girl Event Series. The half-marathon, which will replace the 15K option seen last year, features a scenic one-loop course that will include 12 entertainment zones featuring a DJ spinning motivational music and pre-requested songs. More information can be found at www.irongirl.com.

Familiar Faces Return to TDC in 2011
St. Pete Mayor Bill Foster was pleased to announce that starting in February, City Council member Leslie Curran will be returning to her post as St. Pete's TDC representative. We couldn't be more thrilled with the news. Also, with the New Year comes a passing of the gavel to a new TDC Chair. We are indebted to Commissioner Karen Seel for her dedication and leadership in 2010, particularly for her skillful handling of issues surrounding the BP Gulf Oil Spill, one of the most serious crises ever faced by the destination. Simultaneously, we welcome Commissioner Susan Latvala as the incoming TDC Chair, and we look forward to working with her and the rest of the Council to ensure a prosperous 2011 for Pinellas County's number one employer and economic driver: tourism.

Again, these are just a few highlights of the meeting. Also, as a reminder, in addition to the streaming video of the entire meeting available from PCC TV, you can view all of the CVB's individual monthly departmental reports on our industry web site, PinellasCVB.com.



David Downing
Assistant Director
Visit St. Pete/Clearwater