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 AAA.com, 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.

 



Visit Orlando Updates: Feb. 22

Branding Orlando in Toronto's Busiest Hub
Millions of Canadians will see Orlando's branding message as they commute to and from Toronto's bustling financial, cultural and corporate centers, thanks to additional signage in Brookfield Place near Union Station, Toronto's busiest transportation hub. These out-of-home initiatives are part of our first-ever fully integrated, first-quarter advertising campaign aimed at encouraging travel during March and into the summer.

Visit Orlando Honors UCF's Dr. Abe Pizam
In August, Dr. Abe Pizam will retire as dean of UCF's Rosen College of Hospitality Management, leaving a tremendous legacy that spans more than three decades. During a recent meeting of the Visit Orlando Board of Directors, Chairman Don Engfer recognized Dr. Pizam for being a longtime partner of our organization. We appreciate all he has done to advocate for the work of Visit Orlando, and to champion the local tourism industry.

Visit Orlando Hosts Brazilian Influencers
Visit Orlando's public relations team worked with five Brazilian influencers -- with a combined reach of more than 7.5 million -- to showcase the destination through daily posts to their loyal followers across social media. During their stay, the influencers featured attractions such as Universal Orlando Resort, Walt Disney World, Main Event, iFLY Orlando and others. Influencers included Lucas Rangel, Valentina Schulz, Ivana Coelho, Maria Suconic and actor Andre Bankoff.

Promoting Orlando at Media Marketplace
Visit Orlando attended the annual TravMedia International Media Marketplace in New York City Jan. 25, meeting with more than 30 media outlets, including CBS News, Parents Magazine, Delish, and Travel + Leisure. Topics ranged from what's new in Orlando to lesser-known attractions to dining and arts and culture.

Grainger Brings 13,000 Attendees
Last week, Grainger held its 2018 show at the Orange County Convention Center for the sixth consecutive year. Boasting more than 13,000 attendees -- an increase over the year prior -- Grainger is booked at the Orange County Convention Center through 2026.

Event Highlights Benefits of Working with CVBs
Visit Orlando's convention sales team attended the Destination Showcase in Washington, D.C., last week. The event focused on how to work with convention and visitor bureaus to achieve successful meetings, and it enabled Visit Orlando to meet with key association, corporate and government meeting professionals.

Orlando Highlighted on ABC in Philadelphia
Visit Orlando worked with ABC Philadelphia to showcase what makes Orlando unique and dynamic. The crew filmed a series of vignettes with TV host and meteorologist Melissa Magee, spotlighting all that is new and exciting in Orlando, including our ever-growing dining scene and endless outdoor adventures. The segments will air on the weekend show "FYI Philly" throughout the month of February.

UK Newspapers Tab Orlando as Top Value
The public relations team generated coverage in the UK's Daily Star (circ. 421K), highlighting Orlando as a top winter sun getaway following the destination being named "Best Value Long-Haul Break" in the Post Office Travel Money's annual Best Bargains report. The Daily Mirror also included Orlando in a roundup on best inexpensive places to travel in March.

Theme Parks Featured in Lifestyle Magazine
Visit Orlando's public relations team secured coverage in New York Lifestyles Magazine, profiling the theme parks and Disney Springs. The article, released in print and online, generated more than 251,000 impressions.

Networking with Key Clients at RCMA
Visit Orlando and participating members networked and conducted one-on-one meetings with clients at the Religious Conference Management Association (RCMA) tradeshow in Omaha Jan. 30-Feb. 1. In addition, Visit Orlando and its members hosted a private event for 20 key clients, showcasing everything our destination has to offer.

CMO Hollander Shares Insight on CMO Panel
More than 90 industry professionals attended the American Marketing Association of Orlando's special CMO panel featuring Danielle Hollander, Visit Orlando's chief marketing officer. The panel focused on what to look for in advertising agencies and the future of agencies working alongside brands.

Accepting Applications from Local Nonprofits
Visit Orlando is now accepting applications from local nonprofits for its annual Magical Dining Month program in September. Last year, Magical Dining raised a record $208,620 for two charities. Nonprofits are encouraged to apply online no later than Feb. 28. Questions can be directed to Kristin Rothbauer at kristin.rothbauer@visitorlando.com.

 



Visit Orlando Honors Dr. Abe Pizam, Retiring Dean of UCF’s Rosen College

Dr. Abe Pizam 

In August, Dr. Abe Pizam will retire as dean of UCF's Rosen College of Hospitality Management, leaving a tremendous legacy that spans more than three decades.

Dr. Pizam grew hospitality education at UCF from a course offered in the College of Business to a world-renowned pinnacle for the university. Our entire tourism community, and Central Florida as a whole, has benefitted from his leadership.

On Thursday, during a meeting of the Visit Orlando Board of Directors, Chairman Don Engfer recognized Dr. Pizam for being a longtime partner of our organization. We appreciate all he has done to advocate for the work of Visit Orlando, and to champion the local tourism industry.

Wishing you all the best in retirement, Dr. Pizam!

 



From the President & CEO George Aguel: Wishing Kathie Canning the Best in Retirement

On behalf of Visit Orlando and our entire tourism industry, I want to thank Kathie Canning -- a member of the Central Florida Hospitality Hall of Fame -- for her 33 years of service at the Orange County Convention Center.

Canning, who retires this month, rose from a sales and marketing manager to executive director of the second-largest convention center in the United States. The major projects she oversaw continue to enhance Orlando's status in tradeshows and conventions.

Former general manager Jessie Allen will serve as interim director until a full-time replacement is appointed by the next mayor. Allen, who retired in 2012, worked for two decades as GM at the Convention Center.

As you'll read in this issue, congratulations are also in order for Yolanda Londoño, vice president of global social responsibility for Tupperware Brands and a member of Visit Orlando's board of directors. Londoño was recently presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 20th annual Don Quijote Awards gala.

In addition, 2017 was another excellent year for tourism employment in Orlando, as our industry added 10,900 jobs and outpaced the region's overall employment growth rate.

 

-- George Aguel 

 



From Research: Industry Employment Grew 4.3 Percent in 2017

Orlando's leisure and hospitality employment rose 2.5 percent from November to December, reflecting the typical seasonal travel pattern. Industry employment was 4.3 percent higher than December last year, outpacing the 3.8 percent year-over-year increase in total MSA employment. With 10,900 jobs added in December 2017 compared to December 2016, the leisure and hospitality sector accounted for 23 percent of the increase in total MSA employment. This growth has been a key contributor to our region's unemployment rate of 3.3 percent, which is below the statewide rate of 3.7 percent.

 



Visit Orlando Updates: 36 Hours in Orlando

Visit Orlando Update 2.8 

Accepting Applications from Local Nonprofits
Visit Orlando is now accepting applications from local nonprofits for its annual Magical Dining Month program in September. Last year, Magical Dining raised a record $208,620 for two charities. Nonprofits are encouraged to apply online no later than Feb. 28. Questions can be directed to Kristin Rothbauer, communications manager, at kristin.rothbauer@visitorlando.com.

NY Times Spends '36 Hours' in Orlando
The PR team pitched The New York Times to feature Orlando in its "36 Hours" travel series. Our team worked closely with the reporter to suggest dining, lodging and entertainment options that showcase urban Orlando. The resulting story, featuring nearly 30 Orlando-area businesses and organizations, received more than 108 million impressions.

Londoño Wins Lifetime Achievement Award
Congratulations to Visit Orlando board member Yolanda Londoño, who was recently honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 20th annual Don Quijote Awards gala. Co-presented by the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Metro Orlando (HCCMO) and Prospera USA, the award recognizes individuals in the region's Hispanic business community for their professional accomplishments, contributions to the industry and community, and demonstrated leadership.

Mills a Finalist for Floridian of the Year
Congratulations to Harold Mills, member of Visit Orlando's board of directors, on his recent selection as a finalist for the Orlando Sentinel's 2018 Central Floridian of the Year award. Mills was chosen because of his work in academic, civic and charitable organizations, including LIFT Orlando. Mills also serves as vice chairman of the board at ZeroChaos, a workforce management solutions company he founded.

Orlando an 'Emerging Food Destination'
As part of a dining-focused destination orientation, the public relations team generated coverage in The Local Palate, an upscale, glossy magazine covering dining destinations in the South (126,000 print/online impressions). The story says, "One of the South's emerging food destinations, this Central Florida city has several surprises up its sleeve -- from the bustling Mills 50 neighborhood that's home to vibrant murals and a major Asian-American community to a string of restaurants racking up accolades."

Sharing Sunshine on 'Blue Monday'
The public relations team generated nearly 1 million impressions on the popular blog and social channels of UK millennial influencer Scarlett London. In addition to her own content, we leveraged her influence for a "takeover" of Visit Orlando's Instagram on Blue Monday, showcasing sunny outdoor activities on what's come to be known as "the most depressing" day of the year" (the third Monday in January). London's trip coincided with a key booking period in the UK.

Fore! PGA Show Draws 42K to Convention Center
More than 42,000 golf professionals, retailers and industry executives from 80 countries recently attended the PGA 2018 Merchandise Show at the Orange County Convention Center. At the golf industry's leading trade-only event, attendees discovered the latest trends in golf equipment, technology, apparel, accessories and more, as well as attend the world's largest outdoor demo day. The show returns to Orlando Jan. 23-25, 2019.

NBC New York Spotlights Orlando
Last week, an NBC TV crew filmed a series of vignettes showcasing what's new and exciting in our destination. The segments, which will air on New York Live, feature TV host and lifestyle expert Ereka Vetrini. NBC will also produce several vignettes -- scheduled to air around live weather updates -- comparing New York's cold winter weather to Orlando's warm and sunny experiences.

In-Flight Magazine Touts Orlando for Adults
The public relations team generated a seven-page destination story in Thomas Cook Travel magazine (circulation 225K). The in-flight magazine profiled Orlando's eco-tours and growing dining and brewery scene, writing, "While there's still plenty to wow inside the theme parks, the real magic is happening beyond their walls, from game-changing local microbreweries to natural caves hiding beneath shimmering turquoise water."

Brazilian Travel Program Showcases Orlando
Brazilian TV show Viagem Cultural, which airs on RedeTV to a combined audience of more than 4 million, filmed multiple episodes focusing on dining, entertainment, shopping and what's new in Orlando. Show host Rodrigo Ruas invited influencer Felps , with a 4.8 million reach on social media, to share his Orlando experience across his social channels. The expected combined viewership will be more than 12 million, with an estimated media value of $11 million.

Catching Waves at Surf Expo
Surf Expo, the largest and longest-running board sports and beach lifestyle tradeshow in the world, held its January event at the Orange County Convention Center. With more than 1,000 exhibitor booths, the show drew buyers from across the globe. Surf Expo returns to Orlando Sept. 6-8.

Veterinary Expo Brings 20K Attendees
The North American Veterinary Community returned to the Orange County Convention Center for a second year, rebranding the event as VMX (Veterinary Meeting & Expo). More than 20,000 veterinarians, veterinary technicians/nurses and support staff from across North America attended this flagship event, which offers top-tier continuing education, as well as diverse exhibits and events.

 

 



Now Accepting Applications from Local Nonprofits that Benefit Children

Magical Dining Charity

Visit Orlando is now accepting applications from local nonprofits for its annual Magical Dining Month program in September.

As part of the initiative, Visit Orlando brings together the entire tourism community to support local charities that help children and families. Last year, Visit Orlando's Magical Dining Month raised a record $208,620 for two local charities.

We invite local nonprofit organizations to apply for consideration as our charitable partner. In order to be eligible for support, a nonprofit must:

• Benefit children and families.
• Be based in Central Florida.
• Allocate the majority of its services and funding to directly benefit the Central Florida community.
• Have no political or religious affiliation.

All applications must be submitted no later than Wednesday, Feb. 28. Applications received after 5 p.m. (EST) will not be considered. Contact Kristin Rothbauer, communications manager, at kristin.rothbauer@visitorlando.com, should you have any questions.

 

corporate Blog
VIEW ALL