The Central Florida Visitors & Convention Bureau showcased this year`s $400,000 advertising campaign at a meeting of the Polk County Tourist Development Council on Thursday at The Lakeland Center.
The bureau is the marketing arm of the TDC, which is appointed by the County Commission and funded by a 4 percent tax on tourist accommodation.
A recently revamped Web site is at the heart of the county`s new marketing strategy.
With more and more travelers and travel professionals using the Web to book trips, the bureau is focusing its advertising on getting people to use its Web site (www.sunsational.org
In addition to print ads and promotional materials, the campaign includes such Internet-based advertising as banners, buttons, a monthly electronic newsletter and e-mailed ads—all designed to drive viewers to the bureau`s Web site.
“We have to get the (bureau`s) Vacation Planner in their hands,” said Jeff Clark, creative director of Clark/Nikdel/Powell Advertising and Public Relations in Winter Haven. “That`s the best way we can tell people what Polk County is all about.”
Clark gave the TDC board a virtual tour of the site at Thursday`s meeting.
“We had to have a dynamite Web site,” he said. “Before, it was just a Web site. You went there to read information.” Now, Clark said, viewers can book vacations online. And they can download such promotional materials as the bureau`s Vacation Planner.
Lynn Collins, the bureau`s director, said this saves money and time. Previously, viewers contacted the bureau and had promotional materials mailed to them.
Also, information entered by visitors to the site is automatically captured in the bureau`s database, saving the time it used to take to transcribe it.
The site is attracting a lot of visitors. It recorded 433,707 visits in February. It cost $15,000 to develop plus a $100 monthly maintenance fee.
Clark`s ad agency developed the site in collaboration with CDN Partners, a Lakeland computer consulting firm. TDC board members seemed impressed.
“It`s the best $15,000 we ever spent,” said board member Sandy Fortin