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.


Visit Orlando Updates: Creating Interactive Fan Experiences

TM Jan 26 VO Update

Creating Interactive Fan Experiences at Pro Bowl

As Orlando prepares for Saturday's 2018 NFL Pro Bowl at Camping World Stadium, the Visit Orlando team has been at ESPN Wide World of Sports to support weeklong interactive guest experiences that include unique photo moments and opportunities to showcase our destination. In addition, Visit Orlando is hosting the event's social media command center, which allows fans to engage with our destination experts.

Visit Orlando, Community Partners Kick Off ZORA!
Visit Orlando and other partners joined The Association to Preserve the Eatonville Community at a press briefing last week that kicked off the annual ZORA! Festival. The multiday festival celebrates the life and work of 20th-century writer Zora Neale Hurston and her hometown of Eatonville, the nation's oldest incorporated African-American municipality. Attracting thousands of locals and tourists, ZORA! features museum exhibitions, panel discussions, workshops and concerts, beginning with a three-day street arts festival.

Integrated Campaign Launches in Ontario
Visit Orlando launched its first fully integrated advertising campaign during the first quarter in Ontario with the goal of capturing more spring and summer visitors. Canadians commuting to downtown Toronto will see branding messages throughout the busy Bay Street subway terminal and Brookfield Place, as well as signage at multiple subway stops along the way. In addition, the Visit Orlando "Never Ending Story" brand spot will be shown in select movie theaters. The campaign runs through March 11.

Brazilian TV Program Showcases Orlando
The public relations team worked with TV show Planeta Brasil to film several episodes focusing on value attractions throughout the destination. Reaching 33 million households and owned by Rede Globo -- the largest TV network in South America -- the lifestyle series featured Brazilian actor-celebrity Leandro Hassum on location in Orlando.

Teaming Up To Reach Leading M&C Clients
Visit Orlando, the Orange County Convention Center and several members recently hosted 55 top association and corporate clients in Nashville during the Professional Convention Management Association's annual Convening Leaders event. Those in attendance learned about new developments in the destination, as well as top reasons to host a convention in Orlando and unique opportunities for event planners.

Visit Orlando and JetBlue Host Top Mexican Media
The public relations team partnered with JetBlue to promote the airline's increase in daily flights from Mexico City to Orlando. Several journalists -- representing publications with a combined reach of 36 million -- experienced everything from theme parks and value attractions to dining, nightlife and more. The trip has generated multiple articles in Reforma De ViajeStyle by ShockEl Blog de Yes and others, with more publicity expected in the coming weeks.

PR Team Lands USA Today Magazine
Visit Orlando landed coverage in Go Escape magazine by USA Today (circulation 100,000) on Orlando experiences beyond the theme parks, which is timed perfectly for when the majority of the country is experiencing cold weather. The article highlights activities ranging from clear kayaking at Rock Springs and Cirque du Soleil-style classes at the Orlando Circus School to relaxing at Wekiva Island.

Inc. to Cover Tech at The Attractions
The public relations team assisted writer Jeff Barrett, on assignment for Inc. (7.5 million potential impressions) to cover technology in Orlando, including how tech is used in innovative theme park attractions like Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts at Universal Orlando Resort. The journalist also plans to write about Orlando as a top family destination. Be on the lookout for potential future stories in Huffington Post, Cheddar and Thrive.


Orlando Dining Gets Magical Response

Fueling excitement for Orlando's culinary scene, WalletHub just named our destination "Best Foodie City." Among 150 major U.S. metro areas, Orlando was top on the list, which ranked everything from food festivals to the accessibility of high-quality restaurants.

In total, a record 96 restaurants participated - 19 for the first time - and a who's who of acclaimed chefs gave area food-lovers plenty to explore during this month-long celebration. Driving the buzz behind this year's event was the just-revealed Visit Orlando app, which let diners easily search menus, pull up directions and book their own culinary experiences.

Best of all, Magical Dining Month allowed guests to dine for a cause. A dollar from every meal will go to support The Russell Home for Atypical Children, the first non-profit in the nation to care for special needs children and "child-like" adults in a caring, forever home.

The Best Foodie City award and the success of this year's Magical Dining Month confirm what we already know: Orlando's dining scene has never tasted so good and there's much to be discovered by simply exploring our destination in our own backyard.

This coveted designation came on the heels of Magical Dining Month, which helped Visit Orlando capture more of the attention of the Florida market while creating even more excitement for our community. Initial reports suggest a record number of diners turned out for the event in September. Taking notice was an impressive list of media outlets and tastemakers. Enthusiasm surrounding Magical Dining was impossible to miss with coverage in print, on television and nearly every social media channel.


Sunshine State Key Focus

With more than 40 percent of our region's leisure visitation coming from Florida residents, the Sunshine State is a key focus for the Visit Orlando team this fall. We have several programs in place to grow Orlando's leadership role in this important market - including the popular Magical Dining Month, which appeals to Florida residents. You have undoubtedly seen Magical Dining Month in the news this week through our aggressive publicity and promotional efforts. As our top destination-wide culinary event, Magical Dining Month lets diners enjoy the best our community has to offer at a significant savings, and showcases our own Visit Orlando member restaurants. And now - for the first time ever - we have incorporated the new Visit Orlando App into the experience, which allows foodies to browse restaurant and menu options of interest to them personally, read restaurant reviews and book a table.

This Florida focus also includes a new Turnpike presence that expands Visit Orlando's footprint throughout the entire state - reaching the 23 million in-state visitors and residents who travel this busy highway each year. Motorists along the state's most popular roadway - and the nation's third most heavily traveled toll road - that stop at one of the plazas will be greeted with a significant Orlando presence, including our visitor booth, can't-miss signage, and interactive kiosks to explore the destination and interact with member businesses.

In this fast-changing world, it is our goal at Visit Orlando to continually connect the destination with visitors in fresh, innovative and creative ways.


Never-Before-Seen Technology for a Destination Comes to Orlando

 Visit Orlando

A record-breaking number of attendees at Visit Orlando's "Business of Travel & Tourism Luncheon" were the first to hear of a groundbreaking technology that will forever change the way our guests experience travel. Visitors to the destination now have access to the Visit Orlando Destination APP, which uses artificial intelligence and augmented reality allowing them to explore, play and earn savings in a way never seen before. With WayBlazer's IBM Watson-enabled technology, this innovative APP lets visitors share experiences, purchase tickets and even ask questions in their own words. It's like having a personal Orlando expert concierge on hand 24/7. Here's how it works.

Based on a user's conversational language, the technology offers individualized recommendations of Orlando experiences that match that traveler's preferences - using real-time data to create the best possible encounters. For example, the APP considers weather conditions when advising outdoor activities and restaurant suggestions take into account the hours of operation, neighborhood and multiple third-source endorsements. Want a venue with live music? It does that. What about experiences designed for the members of a specific group? It does that too. The "Around Me" feature uses the mobile device's GPS to locate and learn about relevant dining and entertainment options in the vicinity. Plus, there's even a game that lets players unlock Orlando deals by capturing "Magical Orbs" and a selfie scavenger hunt to further engage them in the fun.

At the luncheon, keynote speaker and technology pioneer Terry Jones helped attendees understand the role innovation has played in travel and the advancements that have led to this revolutionary way to experience Orlando. It was a remarkable event that showcased why Orlando is at the forefront of the tourism landscape and will continue to be the destination of choice for years to come. If you haven't already, download it and experience it yourself.


Expanded Turnpike Presence Puts Orlando in the Driver's Seat

 Florida Turnpike Partnership

Each year more than 20 million travelers who travel Florida's most popular tourist motorway stop at a Florida Turnpike Service Plaza. While they may come for snacks, meals and quick pit stops, what they will also find are Visit Orlando informational booths and interactive kiosks in seven of the eight Turnpike service plazas. Beginning this week, the travel plazas, on what has long been considered the main vehicular artery from north to south Florida, will feature direct access to destination information, visitor services and products.

Motorists who drive one of our state's most traveled highways will now be met with a variety of user-friendly services that will create top-of-mind awareness for Orlando and provide convenient access to accommodation, attraction and other products to Orlando's many popular tourism sites. These services will include friendly and knowledgeable destination experts in the Fort Drum, West Palm and Fort Pierce plazas, as well as interactive, self-serve kiosks at the Okahumpka, Turkey Lake, Canoe Creek and Pompano plazas.
The touch-screen kiosks will digitally connect travelers to accommodations, attraction deals and destination information they are looking for to enhance their Central Florida experience - serving as a virtual concierge for all they need and want to know. In addition, TV monitors located throughout the plazas will provide additional up-to-date highlights and visitor information.

These information booths and kiosks will allow Visit Orlando to connect more closely with travelers in a convenient, informative and interactive way. And because of the popularity of the Florida Turnpike, the destination will be able to reach those within our own backyard and those beyond Orlando as well.



Global Marketing Efforts in Full Force

With Brazilians facing a strong U.S. dollar that reduces the value of their money when traveling to our destination, Visit Orlando is applying strong marketing pressure against Brazil to ensure we maintain our fair share of this important source market for visitors. As these loyal fans of ours are making travel plans for next year, Visit Orlando's global marketing efforts are in full force.

Brazilian magazine Pais&Filhos , the Brazilian version of Parents Magazine, featured 58 pages of Orlando coverage in its biannual Fashion edition in October. Plus, six pages of Orlando editorial is appearing in each of the magazine's October, November and December issues, not to mention additional exposure for our destination on the magazine's YouTube Channel, Instagram and Facebook. Our consumer marketing efforts range from traditional advertising on television and print to breakthrough strategies with Instagram, a video series with popular Caras Magazine and the country's Masterchef Junior television program.

Of all Brazilians who travel to America, 40 percent of them come to Orlando. This makes Orlando the most visited destination in the U.S. for Brazilians. While 2015 has been another great year for tourism in our community, Visit Orlando is hard at work to ensure that visitors from around the world will choose to spend their vacation time with us in 2016.


Tapping Emotions of Meeting Professionals

Even senior executives in control of significant annual convention budgets have emotional moments. That's why we knew we were on the right track when this week Visit Orlando decided to unveil new brand creative for the meetings and conventions market at IMEX America, the leading tradeshow in the meeting and convention industry.

Titled "Share Orlando," the campaign taps into the emotions of meeting and event professionals. It showcases stories inspired by authentic social media posts through the eyes of the convention attendee or meeting planner. And it reflects that there is simply no other destination where extraordinary experiences occur in such creative and innovative backdrops the way they do in Orlando, named 2015's No. 1 meetings destination.

IMEX America was the ideal forum for Visit Orlando to roll out this new initiative. The show attracted a record 3,000 buyers from 54 countries. Our Convention Sales team incorporated the new brand positioning in one-on-one meetings and presentations, exciting and inspiring meeting professionals to imagine themselves in Orlando experiencing unforgettable group events that will live on in the memories of attendees long after the conference is over. This was just the beginning of how we will be leveraging this new meeting and convention brand across many marketing and sales platforms to reinforce our leading position in this industry.


Can't Help But Share

The results are in and consumers are saying that Visit Orlando's new brand campaign is doing exactly what it was designed to do. An independent, third-party firm recently evaluated the effectiveness of our new television commercial against proven industry benchmarks.

Members of our target audience residing in cities such as New York, Chicago, Atlanta, Philadelphia and Miami said that they felt Visit Orlando's new ad broke through the clutter of other advertising. It also portrayed Orlando as a place for families and created a desire to visit, they added.

Maybe best of all in this age of an endless number of barriers to quality time with family and a propensity for people to influence others through social media, consumers are saying that Visit Orlando's new ad does a great job of building a sense of togetherness, communicating the importance of making memories and reminding so many of our millions of visitors that they have unforgettable, heartwarming stories they can't help but share.


"Bem-vindo" to Our Brazilian Visitors

Last week, Visit Orlando representatives spent time in Brazil, Orlando's No. 1 overseas market, visiting with the principals and executives of several of our most important tour operators, travel agents and airline partners. As you might expect, there continues to be concerns about the current political climate and its effects on the Brazilian economy, but there was also optimism about the prospects for an improving economy before too long. Most important of all, there was a high level of excitement for the desire the Brazilian people have to visit Orlando, even if more may need to place a greater emphasis on value during their time in our destination.

We should be proud of the fact that Orlando is an iconic destination to Brazilians. Our Brazilian friends understand that, in comparison to other U.S. destinations, Orlando represents a great value for the experience they are provided. They remain very interested in all of the new development underway throughout our tourism community that will enhance our visitors' time with us and the overall diversity of options available for their enjoyment.

Visit Orlando, along with its members and partners, remains committed to the importance of the Brazil market to our destination. Together we will continue to dedicate the necessary resources to ensure we demonstrate that commitment, beginning right now with the launch of our new and exciting brand campaign. Visit Orlando's marketing efforts are designed to reinforce the priceless value of the cherished memories made across our destination, and aimed at strengthening our leading position in Brazil. Brazilian visitors have historically stayed longer and spent more money in Orlando than the average visitor and will long remain a very attractive segment for our destination. So, remember, when you run into one of our Brazilian tourists, be sure to greet them with "Bem-vindo" or "Welcome" in Portuguese.


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