DEO Press Releases

Gov. Scott: VISIT FLORIDA Launches Nearly $9 Million Marketing Plan Following Hurricane Michael, Red Tide

Oct 23, 2018

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. –  Today, Governor Rick Scott announced that VISIT FLORIDA has developed and launched an extensive new marketing campaign to highlight the Sunshine State. This multi-phased campaign includes more than $5.1 million to support the Panhandle following Hurricane Michael and nearly $3.8 million to assist the areas impacted by naturally-occurring red tide. Each campaign will include digital, social, broadcast and traditional components in both domestic and international markets.  

Governor Scott said, “Following Hurricane Michael and naturally-occurring red tide, we have been focused on helping our state’s tourism industry remain strong before the upcoming winter season. VISIT FLORIDA plays a vital role in our state’s recovery from natural disasters. Through this innovative marketing program, VISIT FLORIDA will support impacted communities. Since December 2010, we’ve created more than 1.6 million jobs, and we’ll stop at nothing to protect our businesses so they can continue to create jobs.”

VISIT FLORIDA President and CEO Ken Lawson said, “Following Hurricane Michael and red tide, it’s more important than ever to provide Florida with an aggressive marketing plan that showcases the areas of the state that are ready to welcome visitors now. I want to thank Governor Scott for his leadership as we work to let the world know that Florida is still the No. 1 travel destination. The sun is already shining on our resilient shores.”

This post-hurricane plan protects Florida’s market share by maintaining the perception that Florida is a warm, welcoming, diverse destination and reminding visitors that a majority of the state is open for business. 
 
Phase one of the post Hurricane Michael marketing plan consists of immediate response and recovery actions, including:

  • Constant communication with both the public and private sectors, to ensure everyone in the tourism industry has the resources needed to recover;
  • Updating the travel safety information page on VISITFLORIDA.com to provide resources for residents and visitors;
  • Utilizing social listening to actively monitor social conversation as it relates to the impacts of Hurricane Michael on travel to the state; and
  • Sharing and promoting Florida Strong messaging on consumer-facing social channels to shift visitor perceptions of Florida toward revitalization, while still supporting the communities in need of assistance.

Phase two of the marketing plan, launching this week, will focus on areas across the state that have not been impacted, including:

  • Launching a brand perception survey to measure consumer sentiment as it relates to travel to Florida;
  • Evaluating paused creative and resuming media as deemed appropriate;
  • Sharing our partners’ content on social media as they share messages post-hurricane;
  • Streaming live video broadcasts from locations throughout the state to targeted domestic and international audiences;
  • Activating international tour operators in core markets to manage any potential misperceptions of damage and encourage the continuation of bookings to Florida;
  • Deploying production teams across the state to develop near-time photo and video content for promotion on social channels, YouTube and digital streaming TV; and
  • Developing a cohesive microsite to provide visitors with information on recovery efforts.

Phase three of the plan will focus on heavier, more traditional advertising tactics to keep Florida top of mind as a top global destination. It will include:

  • Driving awareness through an integrated, multi-channel, paid media campaign to include platforms such as billboards, digital streaming video, social, online travel agencies, promotions, broadcast, and co-branded media partnerships;
  • Leveraging near-time images, video footage and live feeds of unaffected Florida destinations with high impact media buys in key markets;
  • Developing strategic partnerships with critical travel brands to promote sales to Florida; and
  • Working with media and influencers to showcase areas around the state and share the message that a majority of Florida is open for business.

The final phase of the plan will include developing and executing a post-hurricane grant program and collaborative marketing initiative for the impacted destinations once our partners in those areas have indicated they are ready to welcome visitors back.

VISIT FLORIDA is currently in phase two of a similar marketing campaign to mitigate the effects of naturally-occurring red tide, which includes highlighting inland activities and unaffected beach destinations. In addition, VISIT FLORIDA has awarded more than $400,000 in financial assistance to tourism development boards to execute marketing programs once red tide has subsided. Following this year's red tide blooms, VISIT FLORIDA will execute the final phase of this campaign.

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