Did the Summer White Sale Hurt Local Businesses?

by July 21, 2008 • 2 comments

There was a “letter to the editor” published in the News Herald on July 18th from Reggie Lancaster talking about how the Summer White Sale didn’t help local tourism, but actually hurt the existing businesses.

Quote:

Few people have more of an appreciation of what our Tourist Development Council members do than I. I spent 11 years on the board and chaired it for four years and have fond memories of serving with some great people. I would like to offer some constructive criticism to the advertising agency and the board in regards to the current advertising effort referred to as the Summer White Sale.

Although well intentioned, I don’t believe the advertising campaign produced the desired results. Instead of enticing new guests to come to Panama City Beach, it largely accomplished offering reduced rates and incentives to guests who already had reservations or at least plans to come here. Consequently, while everything else in the country was going up in price, we were reducing already stressed profit margins in the accommodation industry.

Stated another way, I’m afraid the only thing we really accomplished was to spread the business that we usually get over a larger market. It may have helped new properties with little repeat business, but it didn’t help the loyal and proven collector of the bed tax. In fact, it hurt these businesses. Once the advertised offers of free nights, free gas cards, or reduced rates hit, we were asked to meet these offers or risk cancellations on previously confirmed reservations.

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1 lbresort3 July 21, 2008 at 8:51 am

Mr. Lancaster is right on with the truth! The TDC’s high price advisors missed the need and thus the waste of money for ads this year. You can buy your way into a market but why the market you are already in? An example of bad judgement is the billboard ads that showed two large people hugging at PCB two years ago. What was bad was the billboard was only 78 miles from the beach on Hwy 231 just south of Dothan. People make a decision before they leave for vacation of what beach they are going to visit. They don’t wait for the Alabama state line to decide. I do think that the motel billboards help the people as they arrive in the area.

After looking at a dvd copy of a old tv program that spotlighted PCB back in the 60’s, I believe that buying time in different markets and showing a “info commerical” about the great things about PCB is a more productive way to promote our beach. Static billboards are not read after the 3rd day until the ad is changed. They become part of the landscape. The electronic billboards that change every few seconds are more successful provided the stop light cooperates. Newspaper ads are only read by a small number of people and that number is decreasing, too. Radio is good during drive times provided you get the right stations, the rest are just elevator music.

The next ad program should show a lot of white sand, calm Gulf waters, and people having fun in the sun. Sadly, our best ads for future spring breakers are re-plays on MTV and GGW. The same thing works for people that have never been to PCB. We need positive ads to get their attention, not ads that say we are cheap and will do anything for money. We have great food, shopping and a variety of places to stay. Play up the good, not the cheap.

One other thing that needs to be addressed is the lack of help that the TDC offers the small operator. Two times, I called the TDC to find out how we could be involved in the ad programs to help our small business on the beach. I’m still waiting for the call back. The TDC gladly accepts my bed tax each month but never calls and ask how they can help me rent more thus more tax collected. They can’t use the excuse that they don’t know the names and addresses of who to contact because if you miss a tax report you can be sure you will hear from them then.

The TDC needs to forget all the high price experts and get back to basics; The Beach!

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2 soccermom July 22, 2008 at 7:26 am

I purchased a condo on Panama City Beach, in 2004. I starting renting it myself, in 2006. In 2007 and 2008, I have been booked solid! I haven’t been able to visit nearly as often as I would like, due to the bookings.

I would never think of sitting around waiting for the TDC, or any other entity, to come up with a plan for my sales and marketing, nor would I blame them for my lack of business.

Sure, I would love to see the TDC work on a new image with 2009 advertising. I would also like to see it classed-up a little and more family-oriented, to compete with the overcrowded Destin market. However, it is MY responsibility to make the best of MY business …not the TDC.

I could not tell you what the summer white sale was, as it did not affect me. This year I focused on the positive changes since I have been an owner, that folks can actually see…. new restaurants and old favorites, things to do, Pier Point …even though I am at the opposite end of the beach, the boating opportunities, golf, amusements … or just the fact that you can stay at my place and enjoy the sun and sand, and stay away from all the chaos that you came to get away from to being with.

I offered a few discounts this year, but never more than what a rental agency would take as their percentage…. actually it was less. And I thanked God every day for every rental in these economic times.

Yes, it takes time to *do it yourself;* working for a living and earning money usually does. Spending time pointing fingers at an *ad agency* because you are not where you want to be with your business, is a waste of that precious time we have. If the TDC is important to you …. join, attend meetings and participate. Otherwise, get busy planning your work and working your plan …. you will see amazing results. And say a prayer along the way : )

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