PANAMA CITY BEACH — The Bay County Tourist Development Council launched its new Web site Tuesday, a move that not only ushers in an aggressive new marketing campaign for this year’s crucial summer tourist season but marks a divide between past and future trends of destination marketing.
It will be interesting to see the impact of the campaign. I personally think that the TDC waits too long to launch the blitz. As of yesterday our Panama City Beach Condos were 75% rented during the month of June and July. By waiting to press the ad button I am sure that we have lost business to Destin and Gulf Shores that might have otherwise visited PCB.
Susan Estler, TDC vice president of marketing, also introduced during Tuesday’s TDC board meeting a new television commercial promoting the Beach. The spots will begin broadcasting May 18 in Atlanta; Nashville, Tenn.; and Birmingham, Ala.
The new ad, with the theme “Panama City Beach, a place where heroes are made,” was shot entirely along Panama City Beach with mostly local actors, Estler said. The feel and look of the TV campaign is being echoed with parallel ads in print, billboards and the Internet.
“We actually went from one end of the beach to the other” filming the television commercial, Estler said.
Both the new Web site and the aggressive ad campaign will give the TDC flexibility to target specific Beach events throughout the year, such as the recently completed Seabreeze Jazz Festival at Pier Park and the upcoming July 4th celebrations, Estler said.
The new Web site is located at http://www.visitpanamacitybeach.com, and the new 30-second commercial already has been posted on YouTube.
With this year’s passage of an additional 2-cent bed tax, boosting the tax to 5 cents on every dollar spent on short-term rentals, the TDC can seamlessly market the Beach as a year-round destination, TDC executive Director Dan Rowe said.
“We are now in a position where we can have a sustained campaign,” Rowe said.
Tied in with the launch of the new Web site will be a contest soliciting videos that best portray five different Beach personality types, such as “after-dark shark,” “sandy-bottom bunch” or “eco-seeker.”
Videos from all over the country can be submitted between May 25 and July 4 for a chance at one of five $10,000 prizes. Visitors to the Web site will vote on the videos. Rowe said the goal is for the contest to become a national tourism story.
“This has the potential for tremendous, far-reaching impact,” said TDC board Chairman Marty McDaniel. “It’s a cool idea.”
Rowe said the TDC had about $1.5 million left in marketing funding that had not yet been targeted, and board member Buddy Wilkes suggested using part of the money to add another city — possibly Chattanooga, Tenn. — to the ad campaign.
“I think we need to either pick up a new city or strengthen where we are already going,” he said.
McDaniel agreed marketing for the summer season was crucial. It might be helpful “to put a little more muscle behind it.”
Board members decided to meet again and discuss the proposal before Memorial Day, the traditional launch of the summer tourist season.
Let us know what you think of the campaign.