Here are the thoughts I summed up for the TDC board after comments Tuesday.
1. Advertising Budget
We should not advertise until the “product is fixed.” What is wrong with our product?
* Lack of Cleanliness
* Lack of Safety
* Lack of Proper Marketing Research distributed to all Tourism Businesses
* Lack of Sports Complexes to meet Demand
* and above all – A broken image. Our current advertising cannot improve an image. An image must be improved by providing a great product and service… which starts with clean, safe beaches.
I realize Mr. Rowe and Staff are aware of many of these issues and are working to improve them. But if we put our advertising budget into our problems, they will be resolved more quickly.
Another problem I have with spending tax dollars on advertising – no matter what event or message you promote, you’re going to be held accountable by the community. If you quit advertising, and just provided infrastructure support, marketing research and public relations, no one could blame the TDC on problems such as Spring Break disasters, drownings, etc. Can you imagine having TDC meetings without people like Charles Mason, Bryan Durta and myself because we have nothing to complain about? ;c) Get rid of advertising, replace it with tangible research and infrastructure, and get rid of complainers.
So, if we did not advertise, how would we promote our destination?
a. Market Research. This is being done with our existing guests (400 surveys per month), but much more could be accomplished in this area. Imagine giving a report to all local businesses that show who is most likely to visit, where they live, and how to reach them. Then let the hotels, condos, restaurants, fishing boats, retail, attractions and events do their own advertising.
b. In-house creative: Imagine the CVB/TDC offering a beautiful catalog of stock photography and video of Bay County that small businesses could use in their own advertising.
c. In-house Public Relations: I am thankful there is now an in-house marketing team; they should be able to handle Public Relations.
d. Most Importantly – provide a reason for our guests to return home and say “Panama City Beach is a great place to vacation.”
But since we do have an agency, and we are advertising and outsourcing Public Relations…
* Please hold our agency to REMARKABLE standards. The White Sale did not provide remarkable results, and quite honestly, wasn’t even remarkable out of the gate. It was status-quo. Mr. Yesawich said that himself, basically, when he said others are doing “coupon / value / sales” campaigns and it worked for his clients in the past.
* Please consider that we pay this agency hundreds of thousands of dollars that go out of Bay County into Orlando’s economy. With an in-house marketing team, and the ability to outsource tasks (website development, photography, video, press release writing and distribution), we do not need to spend that kind of money on an agency when we have such a small budget. Perhaps one day when our beaches are clean, beautiful, and Richard even has a little problem filling up all our new sports arenas… then we can afford to invest in advertising
I am thankful you realize this is a serious problem. The method we use is not working, and the county should review other options.
My comment I say often about our beaches and trash … “Do you think Buddy Wilkes lets someone walk through his park with a glass bottle? Do you think he lets a diaper sit around in a public space? Are there cigarette butts everywhere? Is there trash floating in his wave pool? Of course not! So why can’t we protect our beaches just as a private attraction would protect their park?”
We must implement a process of prevention instead of cure when it comes to trash on our beaches. When/if the time does come to discuss new trash ideas, I request that I am notified so I may either assist in planning or pitch my own proposal for beach cleanup.
I also made comments in the meeting that $6 per website visitor is too much to pay for our particular tourism industry. I have seen great numbers of people seeking information online for Panama City Beach, and a proper ad campaign can drive thousands of visitors to a PCB vacation website for $1-2.Print Story