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.
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 DurtaPrint Story