Corporate Blog

Welcome to Visit Orlando's Corporate Blog. Here you will find out the latest information on how we are marketing the destination to business and leisure visitors.

OBJ Gets Up Close and Personal with President & CEO George Aguel

George Aguel, president and CEO of Visit Orlando, recently sat down with the Orlando Business Journal to talk about goals, his best advice, lessons learned and more.

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Visit Orlando President & CEO George Aguel Promotes Destination in Successful Meetings magazine

George Aguel  

From a new convention center to new theme parks, Orlando is on the move, according to Successful Meetings magazine. Visit Orlando President & CEO George Aguel explains why Orlando's meetings, conventions, and events sector is off and running following a record year in 2017. Read more here.


From the President & CEO George Aguel: Register Today for Our Industry's Can't-Miss Event

Hot off the press, Visit Orlando's Celebrating Travel & Tourism Luncheon -- one of our industry's can't miss events -- is all set for May 10 at Loews Sapphire Falls Resort. Make sure to get your tickets in advance, as seats always fill up fast, especially for this event.

This year, we have an exciting program lined up. Martin Stoll, founder and CEO of Sparkloft Media, kicks things off at our morning general session with a thorough analysis of what's trending in social media.

Then, our major keynote presentation will feature a conversation between Jonathan Tisch, chairman and CEO of Loews Hotels, and Roger Dow, president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association. Hosting these two iconic industry figures at one time is a first for us and will be an experience you will not want to miss.

To wrap things up, we'll unveil the big news everyone's been waiting for: the official number of visitors to Orlando in 2017.

This always-popular spring event -- one of Visit Orlando's three signature luncheons -- is your opportunity to network with hundreds of industry and community leaders while gaining competitive insights into the ever-evolving tourism landscape.

So sign up today, and I'll see you there!

-- George Aguel


From Research: February Occupancy Highest Since 1997

February was another month of solid growth for Orlando's hotel metrics. Orlando occupancy rose 2.8 percent to 83.9 percent, the highest February occupancy since February 1997 (84.9 percent). Orlando posted a higher occupancy rate and faster growth than both the state (81.1 percent, +2.1 percent) and the nation (61.7 percent, +1.2 percent). In addition, February's average daily rate rose 3.5 percent to $139.69 and revenue per available room (RevPAR) rose 6.3 percent to $117.23.


Visit Orlando Updates: March 22

Celebrate Travel with Visit Orlando
Each May we gather to commemorate National Travel & Tourism Week at Visit Orlando's Celebrating Travel & Tourism Luncheon and honor those who make our industry great. This year, Visit Orlando welcomes to the stage two highly-regarded industry leaders: Jonathan Tisch (pictured), chairman & CEO of Loews Hotels, and Roger Dow, president & CEO of the U.S. Travel Association. The event will also include a pre-luncheon session featuring Martin Stoll, founder and CEO of Sparkloft Media, who will share his deep knowledge on how to leverage social media and the trends and changes you can expect in the next 18 months. Register today.

Visit Orlando Upgrades Orlando Travel Academy
Agents interested in becoming certified Orlando Travel Experts can now enjoy Visit Orlando's newly revamped online training academy. The training academy now provides information about what's new in the area for 2018, including not only new theme park openings and improvements but also information on attractions, dining, nightlife and other points of interest outside the parks. Read more in Travel Weekly.

PITTCON Brings 11K to Convention Center
Visit Orlando President & CEO George Aguel joined PITTCON President Adrian Michael Feb. 27 at the PITTCON Conference & Expo 2018 ribbon-cutting ceremony. Over the course of four days, more than 11,500 attendees participated in the Pittsburgh Conference on Analytical Chemistry & Applied Spectroscopy at the Orange County Convention Center.

Visitor Center Welcomes Spring Breakers
Have you been to Orlando's Official Visitor Center at the corner of I-Drive and Sand Lake Road? If so, you know it's a destination in its own right, inviting guests to explore all of the magical, thrilling and wondrous experiences that can only be enjoyed in Orlando. Visitors can get help navigating Orlando via our knowledgeable, multilingual Vacation Guides dedicated to promoting our members' businesses while providing guests with resources they can trust. Stop by to say "hi," and see just how hard our Vacation Guides are working for Orlando -- and for your business.

Landing the Travel Channel
Visit Orlando's public relations team secured coverage on, one of the nation's top travel outlets, for a piece that showcases how to eat an entire day of mickey-shaped food at Disney World.

Orlando's Hidden Gems Highlighted
Visit Orlando's public relations team secured an article in top-tier Canadian family magazine Reader's Digest Online. The article highlighted unique can't-miss activities outside the theme parks, including value attractions, outdoor adventures, cultural finds and more. The coverage was shared on the magazine's Twitter page, as well.

Top-Rated Network Showcases Orlando
As a result of a destination orientation, Viagens ao Redor do Mundo filmed two, one-hour episodes featuring Orlando that aired on Band TV, one of Brazil's highest-rated television networks. The program showcased some of the destination's most delicious dining, distinctive entertainment, unique shopping and noteworthy attractions. The show's host was joined by influencer Felps, with a 4.8 million reach across social media, who shared his Orlando experience with his followers during filming.

16K Expected at ASA Convention in 2019
The American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) convention planning team was in Orlando this week conducting site visits, which included a special dolphin experience at SeaWorld. More than 16,000 attendees are expected at ASA's national convention in October 2019.


From President & CEO George Aguel: Positive Outlook for Brazilian Visitation

As Orlando's third-largest international market, Brazil plays an important role in our local tourism industry. That's why it's such welcome news that, after years of economic hardships, Brazilians appear ready to come back to Orlando in a big way.

Visit Orlando is hard at work in São Paolo, Rio de Janeiro and other major Brazilian cities to keep our destination top of mind. We just launched a national marketing campaign to coincide with a key booking period in Brazil, and our research shows that Orlando remains the No. 1 choice for an overseas vacation among our target audience.

As you'll read in this issue of Tourism Matters, the scheduled number of nonstop seats from Brazil to Orlando International Airport in 2018 just reached 486,000, smashing the previous high of 361,000. And because Brazilians spend more money, per person, in our destination than visitors from any other core market, their presence translates to even greater economic impact across our entire community.

While it's still too early to say if 2018 will be a record year for Brazilian visitation overall, the recent news out of OIA, coupled with Visit Orlando's marketing and research efforts, reinforces our outlook that Brazil is bouncing back in a very strong way.

On a related note, it speaks to the strength of our industry that Orange County's January collection of tourist development tax came in at a whopping $23.7 million, nearly 15 percent higher than the same month a year ago. Yet more proof that 2018 is looking good!

 -- George Aguel 


From Research: Exposition Industry Showed Strong Growth in Q4

The Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) recently reported that the exhibition industry grew during the fourth quarter of 2017. The performance of the industry, as measured by the CEIR Total Index, posted a strong year-over-year gain of 3.1 percent, rebounding from a slight decline (0.4 percent) the previous quarter. All four indicators in the CEIR Index increased during the fourth quarter: real revenues (5.0 percent), exhibitors (3.4 percent), net square feet (2.5 percent), and attendees (1.5 percent).


Visit Orlando Updates: March 8

FYI Philly Showcases What's New in Orlando
Visit Orlando's consumer marketing team secured Orlando being featured on the hit TV weekend show "FYI Philly" throughout February. Host and meteorologist Melissa Magee showed viewers what makes Orlando unique, with segments including "What's New at the Theme Parks," "Orlando's Endless Adventures" and "Orlando's Ever-growing Dining Scene."

USA Today Features Visit Orlando Contest
Visit Orlando's public relations team secured coverage in USA Today online with the article "Here are the top five travel contests you can enter." The piece features Visit Orlando's Uniquely Orlando contest, running now through
March 11.

Marketing Campaign Launches in Brazil
This month, Visit Orlando's consumer marketing team launched a Brazilian marketing campaign that incorporates TV, print, online videos, digital display, social media advertising, content amplification and search engine marketing. The campaign is designed to connect with consumers during their prime planning and booking timeframes. The first phase will run until mid-June and generate about 200 million impressions.

Recognizing Impact of Meeting Planners
Visit Orlando networked with more than 200 meeting planners and industry partners at an awards ceremony Feb. 22 hosted by the Greater Midwest chapter of the Professional Convention Management Association. These networking opportunities help keep our destination top of mind for future business.

The Globe and Mail Highlights Orlando
Visit Orlando's public relations team secured coverage in Canada's The Globe and Mail after a destination orientation with travel journalist Heather Greenwood-Davis. The article showcased LEGOLAND Florida Resort in print and online. Davis also featured Orlando in her latest March Break article, highlighting popular attractions like I-Drive 360, Kennedy Space Center and Andretti Indoor Karting & Games.

Brazilian Media Share New Orlando Attractions
As a result of Visit Orlando's media outreach, several online outlets published articles highlighting new and upcoming Orlando attractions, dining experiences and accommodations. Notable publications include Catraca Livre, Vírgula, R7 Viagens, MSN and Qual Viagem.

Canada's CHCH Features Orlando's Hidden Gems
Visit Orlando's public relations team generated a five-minute segment on Canada's CHCH Morning Live. Travel writer Kathy Buckworth spoke on her experience visiting the destination, highlighting places like Walt Disney World, The Charles Hosmer Morse Museum, Sheraton Vistana Villages Resort, Orlando Balloon Rides and more.

Record Attendance at Annual Member Event
On Wednesday night, Visit Orlando hosted a record-breaking number of attendees at our 12th annual Party at Pointe Orlando. In addition to making valuable business connections with more than 800 travel and tourism professionals, attendees connected with key Visit Orlando departments. Throughout the night, guests enjoyed food and beverage from eight Pointe Orlando venues, as well as entertainment sponsored by Imprint Events.


From President & CEO George Aguel: Top Spring Break Destination

For years, Orlando has been the nation's top choice for spring travel. With so many exciting new reasons to visit our destination -- and your team at Visit Orlando pushing to make sure that message is well-known -- all signs point to that trend continuing in 2018.

Once again, based on hotel bookings at, Orlando will be America's most popular spring travel destination. A study by travel insurance provider Allianz Global Assistance produced a similar result when analyzing the spring break season.

According to Allianz's review of trips planned between Feb. 23 and April 16, Orlando will receive a whopping 9.5 percent market share of U.S. travelers -- nearly double that of second-place Phoenix. As for the nation's busiest flight day for spring break travel, that's expected to occur Saturday, March 10. So get to the airport early if you're catching a flight!

As always, this edition of Tourism Matters contains a wealth of insights and updates. Two of my favorite stories touch on the role of tourism in our community: Dr. Abe Pizam's enduring legacy as dean of UCF's Rosen College of Hospitality Management, and the opportunity for local nonprofits to benefit from Visit Orlando's Magical Dining Month program.

Stories like these show how our region's leading industry, and those who contribute to its success, have great power to bring about positive change.


-- George Aguel 


From Research: January Occupancy Rises 4.8 Percent

The new year got off to a strong start as Orlando's January hotel occupancy rose 4.8 percent. For comparison, statewide occupancy rose 2.3 percent and the national average occupancy rate rose 0.9 percent. January's occupancy rate of 78.7 percent represents an all-time high for the month in Orlando. In addition, the average daily rate in Orlando rose 8.9 percent to $135.96, also an all-time high for the month of January, and revenue per available room (RevPAR) rose 14.1 percent.


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