Florida Governor’s Conference Recap

“Sharpening the Focus” at The Florida Governor’s Conference #GC16
on Meetings & Conventions Marketing

In the beginning of September, Digital Edge was a a premium sponsor at The Florida Governor’s Conference lead by VISIT FLORIDA, an annual industry-wide educational conference attended by DMOs and other organizations with a vested interest in tourism throughout the state of Florida. The conference attendees included representatives from Florida destinations, attractions, hotels, resorts, parks, convention centers, government officials, media representatives, advertising agencies and many more.

Take Action for Your DMO’s M&C Marketing After #GC16

Expert speakers and keynotes like Shahid Khan, billionaire and owner of the Jacksonville Jaguars and Susannah Costello, VP of Global Brand for VISIT FLORIDA, provided many takeaways to DMOs that they can and should apply to the meetings and conventions marketing. As the resident Meetings & Conventions marketing experts* at the conference, Digital Edge offers a keener understanding of how you can apply key take-aways from #GC16’s speakers to a list of action items you can apply at your DMO this year.

Sports Events Can Have a Major Effect on Meetings & Conventions

Shahid Khan’s purchase of the London-based football team (see: Soccer Team), the Fulham Football Club is already having an impact on the Florida tourism market. The Jaguars have committed to playing four games a year in the UK and sources speculate  that the field and the sponsorships of the UK team will pay back 1 to 3 in returns.

How does this information and lesson tell us about marketing for DMOs? It should tell DMOs that they need to consider the sports vertical more closely as a viable marketing partnership for their leisure and meetings and conventions audiences!

Digital Edge worked with Virginia’s Blue Ridge to create an email campaign for regionally-focused Meeting Planners looking to experience the ultimate football-themed FAM trip, which included tickets to the “Battle at Bristol,” the biggest college football game of the year!

Action Items:  Think about how you sports attractions can affect meetings and conventions marketing for your destination! Need help brainstorming, or coming up with the perfect email marketing game plan for marketing your sports events? Contact us!

Remember, Meetings Mean Business!

The “Meetings Means Business” message was the core focus for speaker, Nan Marchand Beauvois,  the Director for the US Travel Association. She has been tasked with overseeing the National Council of State Tourism. She is laser-focused on developing more channels and smoothing roadblocks for meeting planners  to plan meetings within the United States. She has developed an industry-wide coalition that showcases the undeniable value that business meetings, trade shows, incentive travel, exhibitions, conferences and conventions bring to people, businesses and communities. The coalition unites the meetings industry with one strong and powerful voice.

Beauvois brought up some important key takeaways for DMOs to consider for marketing their meetings and conventions spaces. She explained how the millennial market has ushered in a new age of meeting planners. They seek face-to-face personalization, social interactions and tech marketing from handshake to hashtag!

Action Items:  Consider a digital marketing team that specializes in Meetings and Conventions marketing, like Digital Edge. By developing completely integrated digital campaigns that target meeting planners, we are providing progressive strategies for all of our clients and increasing their inbound meeting planner leads in leaps and bounds!

And, Partnerships are “Potentiators”

Susannah Costello discussed utilizing partnerships with other CVBs, rather than thinking of them as competition.  “Instead, “ she explains, “think of them as shareholders in a Brand Landscape”

Create strong strategic partnerships through third party agencies and the both partners will benefit from becoming “potentiators.” This means that other partnerships can create potential business for each other directly and indirectly. There is potential business for everyone with partnerships. For instance, Visit St. Pete/Clearwater benefits greatly by attracting Medical Industry Meeting Planners by marketing the research hospitals and medical facilities in nearby Tampa. In this way, the two cities work in unison to become an epicenter for medical meetings. Tampa and St. Pete/ Clearwater are working together for Florida as a whole, not against each other.

Action Items:  Consider the constraints the agencies you work with may have on working with other agencies or with your partnered destinations. It’s important to work with agencies that have an experienced understanding of how DMOs collaborate with one another.

Brace the Global Impact by “Sharpening Your Focus” on Meetings

Speaker, Afshin Molavi, an expert in global geo-political risk and geo-economics conducted a hard hitting speech on the the reality of the global impact due to recent current events could have on tourism in Florida and nationwide. From terrorist attacks to natural disasters, leisure bookings are a vulnerable market to the current state of the destination, regardless of whether the negative impact will change the landscape or offerings of the destination in the first place.
Venezuela used to have nonstop flights to and from Miami every 30 minutes, but due to their economic depression they have reduced the transportation budget, the residents do not have the income to travel leisurely, people don’t want to do business in the country.

Perception is important, and having a solid meetings and conventions marketing strategy to strengthen your bookings will ultimately become an effective strategy for surviving through economic downturns caused by unpredictable events. Remember, meetings and conventions can often be booked as far as five years in advance!

Action Items:  Consider your DMOs ratio of time spent and and budget spent on your meetings and conventions marketing vs. your leisure marketing. Consider what you would do if your destination suddenly experience a rapid fall in leisure bookings. Consider the rate at which your DMO accrues RFPs. Is it enough? Where is it lacking?

Digital edge can help you conduct a full online audit and consultation for your DMOs Meetings and Conventions audiences and find out how you can increase RFPs and build a secure plan for maintain solid business throughout any dips in the tourism industry.

Take Action!

When you take action on these #GC16 takeaways, you are going to notice major successes in your Meetings & Conventions marketing & sales. We hope these action items have been helpful for you, but if you are looking for experts to assist you with these plans, please contact Digital Edge. We are experts at telling stories about amazing places and we know the meetings and conventions industry inside and out. We look forward to hearing from you!

*We are self-proclaimed Meetings & Conventions Marketing experts because we have over 40 combined years in the tourism and hospitality space. Digital Edge only works with DMOs, and we specialize in the Meetings and Conventions space, developing programs that will grab the attention your destination needs from the Meeting Planners you want to reach! We have built campaigns that engage planners online in creative ways and programs that deliver results!

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