Fix our Beach, THEN advertise.

by September 8, 2008 • 4 comments

Here are the thoughts I summed up for the TDC board after comments Tuesday.
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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

2. Trash

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.

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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.

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1 Jim D September 9, 2008 at 7:13 am

Hello,
I agree 100% with your thoughts on cleaning up the beach. My wife and I visited PCB about a month ago. First we went to the state park. The beach was pristine. We swam, saw dolphins, and had a great day there. Then we looked at some real estate. Our main reason for visiting was to possibly invest in the area. We found some very nice condo units very reasonably priced. We would have bought in the area if it were not for our visit to the main stretch of beach the next day. Same emerald green water, but the beach itself was a big dissappointment. There was garbage strewn from one end of the beach to the other. Beer cans, soda bottles, etc., right next to empty trash cans. We were very upset that people would mistreat such a beautiful area. Needless to say we decided not to invest in PCB.

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2 Kerry September 9, 2008 at 10:02 am

The trash problem is not limited to our beaches, it is all over our area. The right of ways along our streets are litered with fast food garbage and worse, vacant lots are full of garbage and signs in violation of codes are posted everywhere advertising health club memberships, garage sales, car washes, apartments for rent, etc. Where are our code enforcement officials who are responsible for issuing fines and/or removing these offenses?

Drive down Thomas Drive and it looks like a carnival, the garbage all along Delwood Beach Road on the way to Bay Point and you will see trash all along the right of way.

I called Mike Thomas’s office about this problem and they did have Litering Fine signs installed along the road, but I don’t think that has really helped because I doubt that is enforced in any way. Some signs were removed temporarily, but many are back up.

Let’s get the folks sitting in Bay County Jail on our tax dimes out and about picking up the trash on our roads and beach EVERY WEEK, not just once every couple of months.

We need an effective no liter/no glass campaign that is strong, noticable and enforced throughout Bay County. We can be the GREEN BEACH with recycle bins for cans and plastic along with trash containers.

Perhaps the Rescue Mission’s new recycle program would be interested in making pick up’s along the beach for cans and plastic collected from beach goers.

We need to make clean up our mission so we don’t leave impressions like the one above.

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3 Donald Docken September 9, 2008 at 10:09 am

There are many positive things going on in Panama City Beach that are overwhelmed by the uncleanliness of the BEACH and lack of oversight and followup of STANDARDS, THAT SPEAK FOR THEMSELVES in terms of the customers that we attract and DO NOT keep and we wonder WHY we lose business to our neighbor WEST of us who gets conservatively 40% more in income and real estate value — HELLO !! We currently have the opportunity to attract traffic, thanks to PIER PARK/AIRPORT, which we are not capitalizing on and will lose if we DON’T GET ON THE BALL and take control of OUR BEACHES !!!! CLEAN THEM, SET STANDARDS AND INFORCE A FAMILY ATMOSPHERE. It is OUR City to win or lose this opportunity —- WHERE’S THE LEADERSHIP !!!!!

a FRUSTRATED homes owner who LOVES PCB and all it has to offer today and sees us wasteing the CHANCE of tomorrows opportunity.

Don Docken

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4 Kirk Lancaster September 9, 2008 at 11:20 am

Thanks for all the comments…

Kerry, the Rescue Mission called me the week we did the Alternative Spring Break cleanup (http://keep-the-beach-clean.blogspot.com/2008/03/thank-you-asu-and-ecu.html). I asked Mr. Rowe to see what would it would take to allow the rescue mission to put recycling bins on the beach. I brought it up again in the last TDC meeting, but nothing has been addressed. I see now from today’s TDC meeting notes that Rowe is implementing an “adopt the beach” program… that sounds like a good idea. Hopefully some serious effort will take place soon.

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