Grove group launches radio blitz to attract visitors from out of town
By Risa Polansky
Coconut Grove long has been a hotspot for Greater Miami residents to dine, shop and unwind. This summer, a $300,000 advertising campaign aims to persuade out-of-towners to do the same.
"For the past two years, we advertised for people to take a vacation in their own backyard," said Marshall Steingold, owner of MiamiMaps coordinating the promotion on behalf of the Coconut Grove Business Improvement Committee, local hotels and the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau.
Grove business owners are asking people "north and west of here within a two-hour drive" to "come here and relax," Mr. Steingold said. "Coconut Grove is laid-back — sailboats, shopping, dining and of course, hotel rooms starting at $109 a night."
Beginning this week, nine radio stations in Boca Raton, Palm Beach, Naples, Fort Myers and Marco Island are to run for four months a 60-second commercial directing listeners to www.coconutgrove.com to learn more about the community and book their stay in a local hotel.
In addition to the radio spot, which is to run more than 2,000 times, the stations are to conduct call-in contests to give away 43 two-night stays in Grove hotels and up to 80 $100 gift certificates to local restaurants and shops.
Coupon books with more than $1,000 worth of savings will be available at the hotels.
Frank Couzo, director of sales and marketing for the Sonesta Hotel and Suites, 2889 McFarlane Rd., said the campaign is a wise move.
"As a hotel, obviously what I want to do is sell a guest room, but I'm really not going to sell a guest room to somebody who lives in Miami," he said. "The investment has a lot more value to us if we're targeting people who have a greater propensity to rent a hotel room."
A restaurant official also supported the campaign. "I think it's a great idea," said Jackie Osorio, director of marketing and events for Cielo Garden & Supperclub, 3390 Mary St., which has been open for seven months. "The area is very local — the tourists don't know about it." Advertising outside of Greater Miami "opens up Coconut Grove itself to other places and people. It exposes us a lot more."
Three hotels — the Sonesta; Ritz-Carlton, 3300 SW 27th Ave.; and Grand Bay Hotel, 2669 S. Bayshore Dr. — contributed $70,000 to the campaign, said David Collins, executive director of the committee. The visitors bureau contributed $90,000 and the business improvement committee $140,000.
Restaurants and stores redeemed 10 to 200 coupons each from the promotional book last summer, Mr. Steingold said, and local advertising "did contribute a fair amount of (hotel) rooms, but it's difficult to quantify how many."
The Sonesta has set up a reservation system accessible only through the Coconutgrove.com Web site to track the effectiveness of the campaign, Mr. Couzo said. If it's clear more visitors come from one market than another, a campaign could focus more on that area next summer. A lack of bookings may mean a future campaign should focus elsewhere.
"When you have this kind of an expenditure, obviously you need to justify it," he said. "We want to make sure there's a return on the investment."