September 17, 2015 TDC Recap

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Dear Industry Partners:

In lieu of this month's TDC meeting, below you'll find a few highlights from Visit St. Pete/Clearwater's recent efforts. This is a quick rundown, but if you want to take a more in-depth look at our activities all of VSPC's monthly department reports have been posted online.

Record-Breaking Year Continues With July Bed Tax Up 11%
For the 23rd straight month Tourist Development Tax collections increased year-over-year, jumping by 11%. Since 2010, July's monthly total of bed tax has increased from $1.9 million in 2010 to $3.5 million this year. With two months left in FY14-15, the TDT has nearly equaled last year's record-setting $35-million mark and sits 12.5% ahead of that pace at $34.3 million.

Visit St. Pete/Clearwater Takes Home State, National Awards
In the span of one week, VSPC topped destinations from across Florida and the country, earning two separate awards from Visit Florida and the U.S. Travel Association. VSPC's vibrant landing page earned top honors, "The Henry," for Visit Florida's Flagler Awards. The landing page is the hallmark for every out-of-home marketing campaign featuring user-generated content, videos and a sweepstakes entry portal. On the national stage, for the first time ever VSPC won a Destiny Award for its viral April Fool's Campaign--- the Manaphin. It's the second national award the Manaphin has won after earning a Platinum Adrian Award in New York City from HSMAI, Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International.

Beta Testing for New Hotel Booking Widget Begins Monday on
In an effort to keep pace with the ever-changing changing digital travel planning process, VSPC will begin beta testing of a new Expedia hotel booking widget starting Monday. The new widget will allow site visitors to use Expedia, one of the largest online travel agencies, to price and book accommodations on According to industry experts, travelers visit an estimated 38 sites before booking a vacation online, so the new widget is expected to function as more of a research tool for site visitors than a high-volume booking engine. This free Expedia tool replaces Book Direct, which saw significant falloff in usage since its introduction in 2010 and required an annual subscription paid by VSPC. As always, all available St. Pete/Clearwater properties will remain prominently featured outside of the widget. Usage and functionality of the Expedia widget will be reviewed by VSPC's digital team throughout the beta testing period, with updates expected in the coming weeks and months.

Save the Date: 3-7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 17 for the Annual Marketing Meeting
Join us for our Annual Marketing Meeting from 3-7 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 17 at The Palladium Theater in St. Pete, where we'll be unveiling our 2015-16 marketing plan, showcasing dynamic video content and highlighting what we're doing to keep our local industry top of mind with visitors from around the world. Please be sure to add this event to your calendar now and stay tuned for more information.
Again, these are just a few highlights from our recent efforts. The next TDC meeting will be at 9 a.m. on Wednesday Oct. 21. We hope to see you there.

David Downing
Executive Director