The BP Effect – Best Beach Getaways’ 40% Gains – Lost

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by October 29, 2010 • 12 comments

The BP Effect series is brought to you by attorneys Reich & Binstock and Seeger Weiss LLP, which are helping businesses in Panama City Beach recover losses sustained directly and indirectly from the Deep Water Horizon oil spill. They can help your business too,

“Sonny’s Oil Free Guarantee” was designed to reassure guests and customers that it was safe to travel to the beach.  We had no oil on our beaches over the summer, but with the seemingly imminent threat and false reporting by national media on the condition of our beaches, travelers were scared to risk their annual vacation money on a Panama City Beach vacation.  The “oil free guarantee” was a tactic used by businesses all up and down the beach to reassure their guests that they would not be obligated to keep their reservation and payment commitments should oil muck up their vacation on the Emerald Coast.  It worked for some, but business was still down dramatically for Best Beach Getaways.

Best Beach Getaways is a vacation rental company on the Emerald Coast, with about 50% of their properties in Panama City Beach and 50% outside the Panama City Beach area.  Most of their properties are Resort Condominiums, but they have a large selection of beach homes.  They’ve been doing business in the area since 2007.

“We were on pace for a 40% business increase over 2009.  We now anticipate a slightly better year than 2009,” said Jim DeVos, of Best Beach Getaways.  This story is absolutely consistent with everyone else we’ve talked to.  This, for most, was poised to be the best summer ever in Panama City Beach AND Northwest Florida.  When missed opportunities are pondered, often teary eyes and emotional rushes ensue.

Immediately upon news breaking of the oil spill, they started seeing effects on their business.  Not only had new rental inquiries stopped, the phone calls that WERE coming in were existing reservations canceling their summer vacation.  Some had been coming every summer for years, this summer was the first break in their family tradition.

Customers’ reasons for canceling were simply: “We don’t want our vacation ruined by an oil spill which could close beaches.”  Some save up all year to see the very thing that makes our area so magical, the very same element that we all so often take for granted – our crystal white sand beaches.

Before the oil spill, Best Beach was pacing 40% gains.  They were literally booming.  The Southwest Effect, hadn’t even had a chance to occur, but news of affordable fares and ease of access had begun to drastically change the perception of the area.  People from all over the country were booking for summer.  Best Beach Getaways did everything from offer incentives, clean beach guarantees, and consistently updating their blog to do all they could to counteract what was being said about us on mainstream media.

And, like igniting gun powder in an open wound, Best Beach Getaways is experiencing difficult pain working through the claims process in an attempt to reclaim some of their summer BP-related losses.  If you remember, the BP claims process was supposed to reassure businesses that despite devastating losses, there would be some compensation.

DeVos explained to me that his regular customers that decided to risk everything and come to the beach anyway were not let down.  We had a beautiful summer down here, and despite threats, we really didn’t have hardly any oil reported on our beaches at all.  The ones that came, had the time of their lives.

Next season is already looking bright for Best Beach Getaways.  Summer bookings are already rolling in from those that missed out this year.  It’s too early to tell if next year’s gains will be what they could have been this summer, but time will tell, and can heal everything.

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1 William October 29, 2010 at 3:40 pm

I’m getting kind of tired reading about the BP effect. The oil spill is overm and is now history, let’s move on and look to the future.

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2 Cathy November 2, 2010 at 8:38 pm

William, I could not have said it better. I really think it’s high time we let this “bad” news pass as the tide washes in & out each day. It’s time to look toward the future and make positive vacation plans for next year!
Our family enjoyed our vacations in 2010 & hopefully we will in 2011.
Thank you

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3 Jan October 29, 2010 at 7:50 pm

I’m with you William, ENOUGH ALREADY!

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4 Greggt October 30, 2010 at 6:47 am

Well I’m enjoying the series, keep them up!

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5 captgeobob October 30, 2010 at 7:31 am

Ditto, Jan & William

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6 Greggt October 30, 2010 at 10:11 am

By the way, based upon the number of comments this series gets, it must be pretty popular.

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7 Bearabull November 2, 2010 at 11:05 am

The Oil Spill may be over, but not the effects.

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8 Justin November 2, 2010 at 7:33 pm

I was down in June and in October. The crowds were pretty normal looking to me for the time of year. I have been coming down there for the past seven years around those times and didnt notice much of a drop off. I think the business owners are being a little over dramatic. I own condos at edgewater and I didnt see, but maybe a few cancelations and it was business as usual.

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9 Cathy November 2, 2010 at 8:41 pm

Great observation Justin, our family & friends were in PCB vacationing in April, July, September and October……. we really didn’t notice a “slump” anywhere we went. I think in all consideration things were spread a little thick and over-dramatized.

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10 Jasmine Williams November 6, 2010 at 3:07 am

”…With the seemingly immanent threat and false reporting by the local media…’ is an exert from your own story and yet you are local media and seem just as hungry to capitalize on a disaster. As we are one of the biggest REO teams in northwest Florida, we see the effect of the spill daily. However, we also see foreclosure sale dates, lis pendis filing dates, and other indicators that are separate from and often preceding the oil spill. Real estate was on an upswing and the media was grossly irresponsible and sensationalized the spill to the point that the market could not recover. But at what point do we thank God that we did not experience disasters that were even a percentage as damaging and deadly as what was taking place across the globe and decide that we are lucky to live in a county that has received national attention from major media outlets due to our growth potential and future development? My team has investors and home owners alike calling all day and new listings practically daily. The key to being successful in this volatile marketplace is understanding what it is, learning how to maneuver and continue to be pliable, and accepting that there is no comfort at the moment nor will there be for years to come. However, we are most fortunate to live in one of the only areas in the country that is expected to see growth in the near future. BP squashed 2010 and hurt us tremendously. But, unlike most 2010 disasters there were no local fatalities and our infrastructure remains. We can pull through this and we will. I’m not belittling the impact on everyone financially and emotionally, but I will not accept a lawyer’s solicitation as being the truth behind the fall of our local economy. I’m real estate we saw the effects first hand via cancelled contracts and buyer anxiety which lead to our office phones going eerily silent. I refuse to close the coffin- I’m too determined.

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11 Jasmine Williams November 6, 2010 at 3:08 am

Sorry- the quote should say national media

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