The New TDC Website

by October 7, 2008 • 3 comments

Imagine that you’re a tourist (which we all are, at some point and place).   You’re heading home from a great (or not-so-great) visit to Panama City Beach, Florida. You see 2 or 3 billboards on your way out, thanking you for choosing Panama City Beach, and a sincere request to “let us know how we’re doing!”

You see a HUGE “” web address and the good old-fashioned “1-800-PCBEACH” phone number to send your feedback.   Whether you give feedback or not, doesn’t this at least make you think about how you feel about your vacation?

The new ability to phone right then and there from the car, or get online quickly once you get home, is something that today’s consumer is taking advantage of.  Customers are letting their voices be heard, and they’ll talk to Bay County too, especially if we ask them.  (And we need to ask more than 400 of them per month).

Those billboards and a feedback campaign would be a pretty smart way to spend TDC advertising dollars, if TDC advertising dollars must be spent.

The TDC/CVB’s staff’s main objective should be to listen to our tourists, save the data and share it with local bed tax collectors and Bay County businesses.  This is marketing research. And in such a campaign, a very simple website is all that is needed to accomplish this tactic.

Instead, the TDC’s new website plans include selling ads, renting rooms and generating revenue.  They will be able to accomplish this after they spend money to develop the new site, to the tune of $110,000.

If the CVB succeeds at building an effective, easy to use, money-making e-commerce website (HARD TO DO, I ASSURE YOU), our governmental Council is then, in one way or another, competing with a multitude of other business’ websites.  From the bed tax collectors themselves, all the way to sites such as Google and Expedia, would be in the business-website business.  Which is no business for real Tourism Development, in my humble opinion.

Just remember this, bed tax collectors… every dollar you spend on online marketing is about to be supplanted with your own bed tax dollars, in a partner-like, yet competitive kind of way.

Please use that hard-earned bed tax to get information you need to improve your own marketing and advertising.  Don’t let the TDC get into the business of competing with your business.

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1 Lori October 7, 2008 at 1:07 pm

Point well taken Kirk. Ultimately it is up to property owners to advertise our businesses effectively. There is a lot of competition out there and marketing our vacation homes is a challenge. I encourage all rental property owners (who don’t have deep pockets) to do their homework and educate themselves with the help of their listing sites, in finding ways to improve their listings.


2 BB October 8, 2008 at 8:56 am

The TDC exists to promote tourism and increase folks coming to the beach. They should not be competing with condo owners for customers or confusing them with yet another “rent by owner” website. Condo owners have to either collect or absorb this 3% bed tax while all businesses on the beach benefit from it.

Priorities for this 3% should be:
1) Beach renourishment – get more sand on the beach.
2) Beach cleanliness – too many folks will NEVER return after seeing our trashy beaches.
3) Meaningful metrics from vacationers. Stop wasting money on bloated Director salaries, “The Beach” naming studies, and saving turtles.

If the TDC chides the Bay Co. Commission into another 1 or 2% tax, the Commissioners should INSIST the extra taxes are “lock boxed” for new infrastructure, like a stadium for sports and concerts, and not wasted on inflated salaries and more useless, expensive “studies”.


3 DB October 14, 2008 at 7:18 am

Kirk Gets It!

If the TDC builds the website it should include a booking engine that shows tourists their options for accommodations. Then, once tourists select a hotel, condo, etc. the booking engine should turn over the very qualified lead to the selected property or owner. If this is truly for tourism development and not profit for the TDC, it only makes sense.