Wednesday morning, the Panama City Beach TDC held a community forum for local residents to air out their opinions on the raucous season and to, together, find solutions to the polarizing can of worms. The comment of the morning came from Mr. Charles Hilton. The respected Mr. Hilton addressed the board directly and said, “If you are thinking of getting rid of anything in this economy, you’re out of your mind.” An attentive audience leaned in to listen as he went on. “It’s not about Spring Break, it’s just us screwing it up. We can’t afford to run off anyone, we need to learn how to manage Spring Break better. Spring Breakers are just people and we know how to manage people.”
His sentiment was repeated throughout the morning forum; Panama City Beach businesses and councils need to work together to better manage spring break. Peter Yesawich and Dr. Klages returned to reacquaint the community with their respective reports concluding that Spring Break has a negative impact on Panama City Beach’s image. The reports showed that Panama City Beach’s customer satisfaction during the month of March is 90.3% percent when talking to spring breakers but drops considerably to 56.5% when talking to guests who are visiting Panama City Beach in March but aren’t Spring Breakers. What this report underscored was the theme of the forum; people come to Panama City Beach during Spring Break and more will come after the airport, but the rowdy Spring Breakers need to be met with better management.
Several quotes were aimed at this notion. Mr. Jack Bishop acknowledged this by saying, “It’s not a question of whether we are in or out. We are in the business of Spring Break. But the crux of the problem is hosting. We host Spring Break. We just do a bad job of it.”
While there was lots of talk of management being the problem, there were just as many possible solutions spoken ranging from additional law enforcement and drinking ordinances to a better handling of public relations and a more targeted messaging campaign. One interesting comment came from Mr. Julian Bennet about creating a capacity/number of units to security ratio ordinance, meaning that a certain building capacity or certain number of units would require a certain number of security guards; i.e 1 guard every 25 units.
No final decisions were made, but it was clear that the future of Spring Break will not lie in marketing or advertising, but in Panama City Beach’s ability to manage the event properly.Print Story