Find Value When You VISIT FLORIDA

written by | Posted on January 16th, 2012

The Westin Diplomat Resort & Spa, Hollywood

The Westin Diplomat Resort & Spa, Hollywood

Sophisticated and spectacular, Florida is well known globally for its luminous array of leisure pursuits. But did you know the Sunshine State ranks first in the country for both large meetings and affordable, convenient airline service?

VISIT FLORIDA wants to ensure you do.

Metropoll is a biannual survey of both corporate and association meeting professionals about how they select and perceive meeting destinations. In 2011, the survey found that more planners intend to hold a meeting in Orlando than any other North American location during the next three years. And Florida is also the highest ranked state for affordable travel spend and easy accessibility.

“Planners said on that study that they want a one-stop website to help them determine the best destination for their Florida meeting,” says Cheryl Hatcher, director of sales for VISIT FLORIDA. “Their delegates are asking to come to Florida. We’re here to assist planners in making that happen.”

First on the agenda, VISIT FLORIDA plans to revamp its marketing initiatives, become more active with social media and seek new strategic partners.

“The meetings industry is one of VISIT FLORIDA’s top four marketing platforms,” says Hatcher. “We already have a strong relationship with MPI and PCMA. The next step is partnering with other major associations to create top-of-mind awareness for planners unfamiliar with all that Florida has to offer.”

Projects under development include revamping the website. Incentive groups will have a section that outlines properties and their amenities. There will be a designated planner-friendly section with templates to make it easier to market their meetings, offering e-marketing materials and tools for promotional support.

A new Special Offer section providing Hot Rates & Dates will be rolled out statewide, which planners can access through the individual CVBs.

VISIT FLORIDA is ramping up its “Cover Your Event Insurance” program, offered in case your meeting or event is displaced by a named hurricane.

Hatcher says, “We cover various aspects of rebooking within 12 months, such as reprinting materials.” “We assure the planner that if they book, we’ll stand behind them bringing their meeting to Florida.”

An already established Florida grant program helps CVBs attract citywide business. As part of the program, the CVB works with the planner to directly market to the delegates to increase attendance.

“The average Florida meeting is 250-300 people according to our research,” explains Hatcher. “Medium-size meetings for corporate and incentive groups show huge growth potential.”

That research also proves that groups will sometimes pay a little more for the hotel because there are so many affordable group experiences and unbelievably beautiful landscapes.

“Our destination overall is such a great value,” says Hatcher. “There will always be a need for face-to-face meetings. We want them in Florida. It’s good business to do business in Florida.”