9 of the 11 committee members were present. Absent were Debi Knight and Russ Smith.
President Dan Rowe and Peter Yesawich announced that Y Partnership has removed Barry Lott from the Summer Marketing Campaign assignment. Mr. Yesawich also apologize on behalf of the agency for the inappropriate derogatory name directed at audience member Charles Mason by Mr. Lott at last week’s Board meeting. It was not made clear whether Mr. Lott has been removed from all CVB business or just the current campaign.
Summer Marketing Campaign Changes
Mr. Yesawich presented the committee with the options available for the changes to the Summer Marketing Campaign approved by the Board at their last meeting. The program targets our traditional drive markets of Georgia, Alabama, and Nashville/Chattanooga for a 12 week period beginning May 4th and has three elements. The first is newspaper ads in 12 newspapers throughout Georgia (but not the AJC due to high-costs), the Nashville Tennessean, and 4 papers in Alabama.
The next element is sponsorships of radio traffic reports (Atlanta, Birmingham, and Nashville) and the final element is an online component that includes banner advertisements, keywords, and emailed newsletters (including the CVB’s own list of 23,000 names and 400,000 rented names). The campaign is designed to reach two target audiences: People that usually vacation in PCB but are now unsure because of the economy AND People who plan to take a vacation and are considering PCB along with other destinations. The cost of the program will be between $385,000 and $495,000 depending on whether color is used. The agency presented various creative options. The agency recommended and the committee approved “Summer White Sale: Up to $____ Savings”. Although the examples Jason previously posted specified “$1000 savings”, the exact number will be determined after Staff and agency evaluate the retail partner offers that must be turned in by April 25th. The advertisements will direct potential tourists to visit the CVB’s web site where they can print electronic coupons required to take advantage of the advertised savings.
Hopefully those calculating the amount of potential savings will seriously investigate what amount of real savings are being offered to coupon holders. The message should reflect the truth so it doesn’t cause potential visitors to distrust our destination. As anyone who has ever attempted to use one of the popular 50% off hotel programs knows, the 50% off rate rarely constitutes a real discount anywhere near that amount since the discount is based on some lofty rack rate that is much higher than the normal rate. As far as non-accommodation discounts, I seriously doubt that much will be offered. The restaurants and attractions just do not have the same oversupply problem the accommodations have. And it is not reasonable to expect them to unnecessarily cut their profits just to help the accommodations. I predict many will offer something like 10% discounts, but is that really going to drive tourists to PCB? However, I hope I’m wrong and end up seeing restaurants such as Angelo’s, Back Porch, Captain Anderson’s, Margaritiville, and Saltwater Grill offering coupons for 25% off the total check.
Sharlet Brennan who handles PCB’s public relations at the agency explained that they expect the discount offers will result in editorial coverage benefiting the destination. Ms. Brennan predicts coverage both in the program’s southeast target area and the northern emerging markets where advertising has been pulled to pay for the new program. In addition to the agency’s current media contact list, the TDC/CVB will pay to put the story on Businesswire in an effort to receive greater coverage.
Although the agency and President Rowe recommended that there not be any financial participation required from the participating partners, committee members Jack Bishop and Bill Spann strongly disagreed. Both felt that participating partners should be expected to provide financial support. Committee Member Joe Kennedy disagreed with their opinions.
Committee member Kirk Lancaster was very critical of the program explaining that it is “too little, too late”. He expressed his belief that the discount-oriented program would not be successful since our competitors are already doing the same. Lancaster also questioned whether the program was newsworthy and doubted that it would result in the predicted editorial coverage. He also suggested that the program should concentrate on online elements rather than print. And he also expressed his belief that Y Partnership is not the right agency for this destination.
During the discussion, Committee member John Hamati stated that he would like to know how PCB is doing in comparison to our western neighbors (specifically Destin and 30A). Mr. Hamati stated that the Marriott Bay Point’s sister property in Destin is not experiencing the booking problems that PCB accommodations have been reporting for the summer season.
A motion to approve the recommended plan and direct President Rowe and Chairman Andy Phillips to attempt to obtain co-op support to provide the additional funds needed for color advertising was made by Mr. Spann and passed 7-2. Dissenting were Lancaster and Kennedy.
While it has been announced that some accommodation partners are experiencing summer bookings down 40%, this is likely more a result of the drastic increase in our available accommodations rather than the economy. We need to face the fact that we have failed to grow our tourist base as fast as we have grown our available accommodations. The bed tax numbers prove this. It isn’t enough that our room revenue and bed tax has consistently increased. And the problem is only going to get worse as additional condos end up on the rental market.
We can’t just continue to rely on our traditional visitors. We need to accept the fact that the new rental condos are here to stay and quit worrying about whether they should have been built in the first place. The shift of marketing funds from the emerging markets to our traditional drive markets will likely help to drive some additional business here this summer, but this band-aid approach will end up extending our long-term problems. We desperately need to attract new tourists who know little about us. And we need to accept the fact that there are a lot of people in our traditional target areas who are well aware of our destination, but would rather visit our competitors. We need to admit we have image problems and work on resolving them.
Indian Summer Festival
The committee originally planned to make a decision on which of two promoters to choose for the 2008 Indian Summer Festival. Instead, the committee ended up approving two separate festivals.
Jeffrey Wolfe of Multimedia Publishing updated his prior proposal for the traditional Indian Summer Seafood Festival. Although he did not provide a total budget, Mr. Wolfe stated that he already lined up $130,000.00 in cash sponsorships. He also stated that he expected to sign Montgomery Gentry as the Saturday headliner and anticipated a minimum of 100 chefs to participate in a Sunday Cooking Contest. Wolfe desires a minimum 3-year contract and would also like to permanently own the festival.
Beach Events also updated their prior proposal for the Indian Summer Music & Arts Festival. Based on prior comments, they are now committing to spend 100% of the requested TDC/CVB Seed Funding on the main Frank Brown Park venue. They also assured the committee that all A-line acts would be performing at the main venue. Ancillary private business locations would showcase mainly regional acts. The proposal provides for forty acts on five states. Seafood Row, a specialty section featuring local and regional Seafood Purveyors and Restaurants, was also included to help alleviate concerns that the proposal was ignoring this traditional festival element. The proposal included an estimated budget of $200,000 for the 2008 transaction year; however, I noticed that they did not appear to include any ticket revenue in their budget. Beach Events also committed to having 20,000 collateral advertising pieces on the beach within a week to get the marketing effort off the ground once they were approved.
During a long and heated discussion, Mr. Spann expressed his opinion that he preferred the Beach Events proposal, but that the festival should be cancelled for 2008 due to limited funds being available. At the time of his comments, both proposals called for $60,000.00 in financial support from the TDC/CVB. Mr. Hamati agreed that the TDC/CVB should delay the new festival until 2009. Joe Kennedy, along with audience members Mike Thomas and Chairman Andy Phillips, adamantly disagreed with these proposals to cancel the 2008 festival. Chairman Phillips also expressed disapproval with the requests from both promoters that the TDC/CVB give up ownership of the festival.
When it seemed like most committee members were leaning towards the Beach Events proposal, Committee Member Ann Henry asked whether Beach Events would consider accepting a loan instead of their request for $120,000 in guaranteed TDC/CVB support during the first two years. The response from Corky McCollum was “no”. Shortly afterwards, Mr. Wolfe of Multimedia proposed that he could work with just $10,000 in TDC/CVB financial support per year rather than the $60,000 he previously requested. After this offer, Committee Chairman Buddy Wilkes asked Wolfe whether he would consider a different weekend and received a response of “no”.
The first vote was on a motion by Mr. Spann to have President Rowe decide what proposal, if any, to recommend to the Board. The motion failed 4-5 (Yes: Hamati/Wohlford/Spann/Bishop, No: Griffitts/Henry/Kennedy/Lancaster/Wilkes).
The next vote was on a motion by Mr. Lancaster that the committee recommend that the Board accept the revised proposal from Multimedia ($10,000 financial commitment). The motion initially passed 5-4 (Yes: Lancaster/Kennedy/Bishop/Griffitts/Henry, No: Hamati/Spann/Wohlford/Wilkes); however, Mr. Bishop then asked to change his vote to No. Following the committee voting to allow Bishop to change his vote, Mr. Kennedy withdrew his 2nd effectively killing the motion.
Mr. Lancaster then made a new motion that the committee recommend that the Board accept the revised proposal from Multimedia with $10,000 in financial support for the Indian Summer Festival AND provide $50,000 in financial support for the Beach Events proposal to be held on a different weekend. Mr. Spann immediately moved to table this motion, but this failed 3-6. Voting to table were Bishop, Hamati, and Spann. Lancaster’s motion then failed 3-6 (Yes: Lancaster/Henry/Kennedy, No: Bishop/Griffitts/Hamati/Spann/Wohlford/Wilkes).
After expressing his opinion that neither proposal constituted a complete business plan justifying the committee’s final approval, Mr. Spann offered a new motion. It directed President Rowe to attempt to negotiate contracts with Multimedia for the Indian Summer Festival with $10,000 in support AND with Beach Events for a music festival on different dates with $50,000 in support. This final motion passed 8-1 with Mr. Lancaster dissenting. Although Lancaster did not explain his vote, he had shortly before mentioned that he was very concerned about the possibility of $50,000 being used for additional advertising rather than a special event.
-Bryan DurtaPrint Story