November 9, 2011 TDC Recap

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Dear Industry Partner:

Below you'll find just a few highlights from this morning's monthly Tourist Development Council meeting. As usual, we have posted the agenda online on our industry website, with clickable links to all of the individual monthly departmental reports. Please note that each of these clickable agendas will be posted on this page of our industry site the Monday before the TDC meeting every month.

FY2011 Marks Third-Highest Tourism Tax Collection in Pinellas History
Walter Klages of Research Data Services, Inc. announced that Tourist Development Tax collections for the recently concluded FY2011 came in at more than $25.5 million, which is a 7.72% increase over last year and the third highest yearly TDT total in Pinellas County history, behind 2008 and 2007, respectively. The number of year-to-date visitors to the area also appears on the upswing, as Klages reported a 3.6% overall increase from 2010 figures, including a 59% increase in visitation from the Latin American market. For September 2011---which saw the highest TDT revenues of any September on record---the Tampa Bay area and Orlando top the list of U.S. feeder markets, followed by New York and Chicago. That news dovetails with the plans announced last week at VSPC's annual Marketing Debut to continue an aggressive push in NYC and ramp-up additional marketing efforts in Chicago. For a complete breakdown of VSPC's 2012 marketing plan, click here.

New Business: Sports Commission Lands 6,000 Room Night Event for 2013
The Sports Commission was pleased to announce that they have secured the 2013 Amateur Softball Association (ASA) Gold Cup. Scheduled for the third week of July, the premier tournament will be played over seven days at the Eddie C. Moore complex in Clearwater. Seventy teams are expected to participate, with all but one or two of those squads traveling from out of the area for the event. Kevin Smith, director of the Sports Commission, estimates the Gold Cup to result in more than 6,000 room nights for the destination.

TripAdvisor to Feature Multi-City Community Pages for Pinellas
Citing the scope and power of, BVK's Mary DeLong presented an examination of the wildly popular travel hub, detailing VSPC's upcoming promotion on the website. The "Tourism Sponsorship" campaign allows the destination to sponsor prime placement on the site's local community pages, fostering cooperative advertising opportunities for industry partners. Anyone interested in learning how to increase their own presence on TripAdvisor is invited to attend VSPC's TripAdvisor Workshop, November 16, at Ruth Eckerd Hall. Immediately following that session, a co-op advertising presentation will take place.

New Tools Optimize Web Traffic for Google Shift
Echoing DeLong's sentiments on the importance of a strong online presence, Miles Media's Nate Huff discussed the shifting landscape of search engine optimization and strategies to improve results. Chief among the changes is a modification to Google's search algorithm, where a new formula now displays results based on past searches and the user's location. New tools like BrightEdge, a platform utilized by Miles Media to track rankings, load keywords and perform competitive analysis, help to display trends and opportunity for growth.

Please note that an event-funding workshop will be held in place of December's regular TDC meeting on December 14 at 9 a.m. This workshop, which will take place at VSPC's offices at the St. Pete College EpiCenter, will be open to the public and media, but it will not be televised. As usual, all of VSPC's regular monthly departmental reports for that month will be posted on in advance of the meeting.

Again, these are just a few highlights of the meeting. Also, as a reminder, in addition to the individual reports and online agenda, you can watch streaming video of the entire meeting, available online from Pinellas County Communications.

We wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving, and hope to see many of you at the TripAdvisor and co-op meeting next week.


David Downing
Deputy Director
Visit St. Pete/Clearwater