Notes and Comments from the TDC/CVB Board Meeting 4/8/08

by April 9, 2008 • 10 comments

Only 5 of the 9 board members were present. Absent were Mike Nelson, Mayor Oberst, Yonnie Patronis, and Rick Russell.

College Spring Break Marketing

Although President Dan Rowe previously advised the Board that he would be asking them to consider their plans for 2009 at this meeting, he is now suggesting that the subject be postponed until the May meeting. Rowe explained that he would like to wait until the research and bed tax data is available for March.

While I understand Rowe’s reasoning, there is now a problem. Some Board and Marketing Committee members have previously suggested that the TDC/CVB should, at a minimum, discontinue direct funding of a College Spring Break marketing program. If implemented, this would still allow a co-op to request special event advertising support from the Board. However, the CVB’s Special Events Advertising Policy and Procedure requires that an application be filed by June 1, 2008. It would be difficult for an application to be prepared between the May 13th Board meeting and the June 1st deadline. I had hoped that the Board would have officially voted to give notice that 2009 College Spring Break funding might be discontinued at this meeting. As it stands now, the College Spring Break interests could claim that they had insufficient time to prepare a potential Special Event funding request.

Audience member Charles Mason, owner of panamacitybeach.com, suggested that the Board consider whether MTV complied with the exclusivity provisions of the 2008 program. Mason explained that he believes there has been a contract breach and that the CVB should be entitled to a partial refund of the $200,000 paid to MTV. President Rowe advised that he did not believe there has been any breach, but that he will ask that Staff Counsel look into the matter. I previously commented on this matter in Is MTV Complying With the 2008 Spring Break Marketing Plan?

Audience member Mark Canfora asked that the Board discontinue providing financial support for spring break. He also expressed his belief that the spring break program has been an “event failure” due to injuries that have resulted. Canfora also suggested that the Board consider scheduling a meeting exclusively to deal with the spring break issue so that sufficient time will be available to fully consider the issue.

Marketing Committee member Jack Bishop discussed his concern that the 2008 arrangement with MTV greatly benefited the host hotel to the detriment of other businesses.

Bed Tax Collections

Charlene Honnen, the Bay County Tourist Development Tax Specialist, reported that February collections were up 9% over the prior year and that the YTD collections (October 2007-February 2008) were up 8.4%.

Ms. Honnen attributed a major portion of the increases to new registrations.

Marketing and Public Relations Update

Barry Lott, from Y Partnership, updated the Board on current advertising efforts and requested approval of the 2008 Marketing Program Changes approved by the Marketing Committee at their March meeting.

Lott also discussed the soon to be implemented e-blast program. The program will email advertising to the CVB’s current database and additional rented names of potential tourists.

Both Board and audience members expressed concerns that the agency is not being proactive enough to counter the nationwide downturn in travel. Marketing Committee member Jack Bishop expressed his opinion that there is never a sense of urgency from the Y Partnership concerning our account. Marketing Committee member Joe Kennedy suggested that the Board declare an emergency so that contingency funds can be used to supplement currently budgeted marketing efforts. Audience member Mark Canfora questioned whether the agency is treating PCB fairly. Canfora also suggested that the Board consider what other competitors of PCB are being represented by Y Partnership. Lott responded that Y’s other clients are none of his business. Audience member Charles Mason expressed his belief that the CVB should not be using Y Partnership for online advertising since the agency has previously admitted that they are not an interactive agency.

The Board voted unanimously to give President Rowe and the Marketing Committee authority to implement the creative and placement changes without further Board action.

Indian Summer Festival

President Rowe advised that final proposals for the 2009 Indian Summer Festival are due April 16th and would be considered at a special Marketing Committee meeting a few days later.

The two proposals were previously discussed at the April Marketing Committee meeting.

Marketing Committee member Jack Bishop requested guidance from the Board concerning the proposal from Beach Events, Inc. Bishop is concerned that this proposal would result in governmental funds being used to fund events being held at private businesses. Although no motion was made, Board members Mike Bennett and Andy Phillips expressed their opinion that a neutral location would be preferred.

Other Matters

President Rowe advised that the currently budgeted legal fees have been exhausted as a result of the turtle lighting issue. Rowe requested that $25,000 be allocated from contingency funds to legal fees. A motion was made and passed unanimously.

The Board unanimously voted to approve the draft TDC Visitor Information Center Brochure Display Racks Policy that was reviewed at the March Marketing Committee meeting.

The Board unanimously voted to approve a $10,000.00 special event funding request for the Seabreeze Jazz Festival to be held April 17-19, 2009 at the Pier Park Amphitheater. The matter was previously discussed at the April Marketing Committee meeting.

The Board unanimously approved Board Resolution #08-02 in Support of the Recreational and Local Charter Fishing Industry. Staff suggested the resolution due to the fishing restrictions being considered and implemented by the state and federal government. I found it interesting that the resolution claims that 15% of our visitors participate in sport fishing while visiting our destination.

The Board unanimously approved Board Resolution #08-03 concerning Visual blight Created by Inactive Development Projects on Panama City Beach. The resolution encourages the city and county to continue to enforce blight-related ordinances to ensure the beauty of our scenic corridor.

Rowe received unanimous board approval to move funding from a vacant Sales Manager position to a new Marketing Dept. position. The CVB now has 4 vacancies: Marketing Director, a Visitors Services Supervisor, VP of Sales, and the new Marketing position.

-Bryan Durta

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1 Mark Canfora April 9, 2008 at 9:25 am

Bryan and Readers,

I believe a whole new revamped Marketing Plan and company is in order for the TDC. One with vision and a proven history of marketing success.

A plan that focuses on bringing families to the beach. The 2009 year should be the begining of a “fresh start” for all. We can start planning now for 2009. The Y Group (current company) did not attend last weeks TDC marketing meeting and had no effective plan for the summer. No ads and no vision. PCB is obviously last on their list of priorities.
We are in April and they basicly came in empty handed. The entire audience, speakers and most board members expressed their concern and some in outrage for the lack of preparedness and planning.

Their big play for SB was $200,000 and MTV…same old method, same old results. Alcohol, club owners and a few condo/hotel benefactors of these type of crowds wooed to our beaches.

Unless people join together to stop this re-occuring nightmare…expect more of the same.

I will propose TDC vote and create whole new plan and direction for 2009. A five year (2009-2014) marketing with a new vision and ideas.

An example of the Y Group’s unprofessionalsism and abrasive behavior was the Rep. of The PCB Y Group-Barry Lott- turned and called one anti-spring break/Y Group speaker a “Doosh Bag” in front of several of audience attendees..
It’s amazing what we get for our estimated $500,000 the Y Group are paid.
Right along with bringing many of societies worst characters and criminals to our beaches to assault and prey on our children.

A wole new day is coming to PCB…it is a not a matter of “if”, but when.

Mark,
makcanfora@aol.com

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2 Jules April 9, 2008 at 11:10 am

Last week I made my first visit to PCB during spring break. I was in town on business. My family and I are looking into buying a vacation condo in PCB.

I was appalled at the Spring Break culture. And, I was told last week “wasn’t even the worst of it!”

I would NEVER bring my family to the area during this time and I am certain other families must feel the same way. I am seriously concerned about buying in the area now.

Who can I write to to express my concerns? I think PCB is doing itself a great disservice to invite the Spring Breakers in and to advertise itself as welcoming this reputation.

During my short visit, I saw at least 20 police stops. Surely this must be costing the residents a pretty penny to pay for all of this police structure. Why would a family want to be in the middle of all of that when you can drive a few miles down 98 to south walton or Destin? Just my two cents.

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3 Mark Canfora April 9, 2008 at 11:17 am

Destin and most other Resort areas raised their minimum age to book a room to 25 years old during across the board in a unified and concerted effort and this eliminated the problem.

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4 Jason April 12, 2008 at 8:52 pm

I had no idea that Y Partnership does not do online interactive marketing. I don’t know how they are retaining clients doing only print.

It is ridiculous that we are paying that much money and getting no online product. All marketing efforts should start on the web, and only be complimented by other forms of marketing.

In addition, the other companies/cities Y Partnership represents is our business. I this is not information they are not willing to share, then they are hiding something. There are tons of creative marketing firms out there that are extremely talented and would love our account. We need to take a hard look at what someone else could do for us.

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5 Bryan Durta April 14, 2008 at 12:47 am

Jason,
When mentioning that an audience member was questioning Y Partnership’s online credentials, I did not intend to give the impression that Y does not do online marketing. As I understand it, Y is involved in both the CVB’s web site and also the proposed e-blast program. However, Mr. Mason is not the only one who has questioned Y’s abilities to manage PCB’s online interactive marketing.

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6 Joe April 15, 2008 at 6:34 am

For starters it seems like those who want spring break (and are also the ones benefitting from it) should pay for their own advertising and all the associated costs that go with spring break.

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7 Mark Canfora April 15, 2008 at 7:03 am

The advocates of Student/College Spring break are hoping the vast majority 90% IMO go away and at least stay seperated. I am calling for a meeting at Edgewater/somewhere we can hold quite a few people to organize the effort to stop this madness, destruction of lives and our community image. I will continue to gather the numbers on the tragedies and place them before these men and await their response. Their words and response will speak volumes.

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8 Mark Canfora April 15, 2008 at 7:28 am

When is the dates of the next TDC Marketing and TDC Board meeting in May? Our gathering should be before the May General Meeting…I requested a Spring Break Topic Only meeting…let’s see if they oblige.

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9 Jm Morin April 15, 2008 at 3:53 pm

To me the TDC looks like a squirrel trying to get out of the way when a speeding cars is heading in its direction.
Are we a “Family Destination” or Fun City for the Crazy Kiddies.

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