Bureau steps up campaign to put tourists back on road
By Jonathon Gutierrez
The Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau began a $2.3 million marketing campaign to tout the joys of visiting Miami by running full-page ads in seven major US newspapers Sunday.
"We think this is a time when people are ready to get back to traveling," said Wendy Hart, chair of the bureau's marketing committee. "Our feedback from the people in the marketplace is that a significant percentage of the market is ready to get on with their lives."
The campaign is a response to the recent fall in hotel occupancy rates and tourism revenue following the Sept. 11 terrorist attack. Last weekend's occupancy for the area's hotels was estimated at 45%.
The ads were part of a one-month $500,000 campaign aimed at northern newspapers. They advertised special hotel & cruise packages, including discounts on cruises with Carnival Cruise Line, NCL and Royal Caribbean if visitors stay in a Miami hotel before or after the cruise.
The ads appeared in the Atlanta Constitution, Baltimore Sun, Boston Globe, Charlotte Observer, Chicago Tribune, Detroit Free Press and Philadelphia Inquirer.
Next week, ads are to run in Newsday, Newark Star, Washington Post and Hartford Courant. One-page inserts are scheduled for the Atlanta Journal, Boston Globe, Detroit Free Press and New York Times. Small features are planned in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Dallas Morning News and New York Daily News.
The ads are to continue through month's end. The bureau plans to monitor their effectiveness by tracking usage of its 800 number.
The remainder of the $2.3 million budget is earmarked for a marketing effort dubbed "What makes you happy?" which is to be unveiled Friday with a full-page ad in USA Today.
This campaign, which focuses on images of people at play, is intended to gently remind visitors that it's all right to enjoy themselves by visiting Miami-Dade, according to David Whitaker, vice president of marketing & tourism for the bureau.
"The unknown question is, how long will it take for people to not feel guilty about having a good time," Mr. Whitaker said. "The second question is reaching out to people on an emotional level because of the overwhelming emotions behind this whole event and reconnecting with them."
He said the program would focus on the positive experiences Miami has to offer rather than the area's economic plight.
"We're not trying to advertise out of desperation," he said. "We're trying to advertise by reintroducing the product and connecting emotionally with our consumers."
The campaign is funded by donations from a variety of sources. Miami-Dade County contributed $500,000; the Beacon Council, $250,000; airport and seaport, $300,000; Miami Herald, $100,000 worth of advertising; City of Miami Beach, $250,000.
The bureau will be contributing $800,000 toward the effort, as well as an additional $100,000 in media and public relations support to bring reporters to Miami as well as funding trips to Miami as prizes for radio contests. The program was prepared by Turkel Schwartz & Partners advertising agency as part of an ongoing contract with the bureau.
In addition to newspaper ads, the bureau is looking at publishing ads in Latin American business and travel magazines as well as American publications such as Conde Naste Traveler and Food Wine magazine.
"These are publications we've worked with," Mr. Whitaker said. "We're not trying to reinvent the wheel."
The bureau, he said, will also dedicate a selection on its website to the campaign so potential visitors can get more information.
"The good news for the destination is that this is a program we've had in the past," said Bill Talbert, bureau president. "We have the relationships. It's not anything we've got to start from ground zero."
The bureau will also be teaming with Visit Florida, the official state marketing agency, to purchase TV slots on local and national networks as well as cable. The 60-second ads will be shared between the two efforts, with each getting 30 seconds.