8 of the 9 board members were in attendance. Rick Russell was absent.
Bed Tax Collections: Ms. Charlene Honnen, Tourist Development Tax Specialist, reported that while YTD collections were up 1.8%, the July collections were down from the prior year. She also reported that there are currently 1522 collectors representing approximately 12,000 units registered with her office.
PCB Seafood, Wine & Music Festival: Mr. Jack Bishop made an extensive presentation on his organization’s planning for the October festival. The CVB is the festival’s primary sponsor and is contributing $50,000.00 in financial support. He gave a walk-through of the festival’s web site, explained all of the marketing efforts, and also explained the festivals “green” efforts. He also explained that his organization will be collecting demographic date from all ticket purchasers and expects to provide extensive date to the CVB. Bishop also reported that his organization was already considering hosting a spring festival for 2009 during the shoulder season between Easter and Memorial Day. Finally, he expressed his belief that the community should continue to make improvements to the grounds at Frank Brown Park to assist with future festivals. He discussed the electrical improvements made by the circus and explained how they were more specifically geared to the needs of the circus than he would have desired. He reported that his organization hopes to make permanent facility upgrades with each festival that will be helpful to future users.
Fall Promotion Update: Ms. Susan Estler, the CVB’s VP of Marketing, explained the extension of the Summer White Sale through October. Although online marketing designed to draw visitors to the CVB’s site continues, the primary print and radio advertising has been completed. The partner offers have been recently updated and now include 52 partners. Since the program began, there have been 85,000 website sessions and 23,000 coupon downloads.
Strategic Plan: President Dan Rowe thoroughly discussed the final Strategic Plan that is the result of two public sessions and input from the board and community. The final key initiatives are: 1. Enhance the visitor experience at Panama City Beach; 2. Develop Panama City Beach into a year-round destination; 3. Effectively market Panama City Beach to build occupancy; 4. Diligently protect Panama City Beach’s primary natural resource – the beach. “Potential strategies for funding the initiatives” has been added as a separate section. At the President’s request, the board unanimously voted to adopt the plan.
Marketing Committee Update: Committee Chairman Buddy Wilkes advised the board that he had made the decision to make some changes to the committee membership to add some new voices. Phillip Griffitts, Jr. (Sugar Sands Resort/La Quinta) and Russ Smith(Towne of Seahaven/Sharky’s/Hammerhead Fred’s) will retain their seats. New appointees are: Felicia Cook(Marketing Director for Pier Park), Amy Harris(Royal American Hospitality), Annie Holcomb(Oaseas Management), Lee Ann Leonard (By the Sea Resorts), and myself, Bryan Durta. The board voted unanimously in support of the new committee. I would like to thank Mr. Wilkes for including me on the committee as an involved citizen. The committee will continue to meet on an as needed basis as the board requests. The first meeting has been scheduled for September 23rd.
Off Shore Drilling: President Rowe discussed the possibility of the board reconsidering previous positions opposing drilling off the shore of Florida. Rowe explained that a meeting of Florida CVB’s is being held next month to discuss the issue and he suggested the board delay any action until he can report back.
Beach Damage from Hurricane Gustav: President Rowe reported that it is still unknown whether there has been any damage to the beach resulting from Gustav. While the profile is currently deflated(flatter), Ms. Lisa Ambruster has advised that the height will likely build back. There is a possibility of seeking emergency repair funds from governmental agencies if the board desires. This will likely require a survey costing approximately $100,000.00 and Rowe suggested that the board wait for a recommendation from its beach contractors before making a decision.
Interactive Agency Search: President Rowe reported that the application deadline has passed and 6 proposals have been received. The sub-committee will bring its recommendation to the board after a complete analysis.
Delta In-flight Magazine Article: Although it was not an agenda item, Board Member Yonnie Patronis brought up an issue concerning a 10 page article on the Emerald Coast that appears in the current magazine. Mr. Patronis reported that the article included information on Coastal Vision 3000 and most of the panhandle, while totally ignoring Panama City Beach.
My Last Meeting Report: Due to my appointment to the CVB’s Marketing Committee announced today, my personal standards require that I discontinue preparing the TDC/CVB meeting reports for PCBDaily. I would like to thank Jason for providing the opportunity to write them over the past year, and know that Jason and Kirk are ready to take up the slack. I will, of course, still be here contributing to the site where appropriate. I have enjoyed preparing the reports and hope that everyone has found them to be informative and fair. I welcome comments and suggestions from anyone interested in our destination, regardless of whether you are a resident or a visitor. Thank you.
-Bryan DurtaPrint Story