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Sharing Key Takeaways from 2016 Governor’s Conference on Tourism

By on November 2nd, 2016 — 10:48am

gc-2016-susannah-paulThe 2016 Florida Governor’s Conference on Tourism in Orlando offered some important takeaways worth sharing.  With more than thirty experts discussing the most current trends in marketing, consumer behavior and issues impacting our business, it was hard to nail down the most critical takeaways.  But, for our industry Partners who might have missed the event, we were up for the challenge.  Here are our top 10 takeaways:

When it comes to the economic impact of tourism to Florida:

  1. We all know that out-of-state visitor spending is a significant contributor to Florida’s economy, but did you know that it is growing even stronger – to the tune of almost a 4 percent increase year-over-year?
  2. Without state and local taxes generated by tourism, Florida residents would have to contribute more than $1,500 to maintain the same level of infrastructure and governmental services, which will be increasingly more important with state population growth, aging and other demographic shifts.
  3. Jobs.  Jobs.  Jobs.  Florida outperforms any other state when it comes to job growth.  Job growth in the Sunshine State is 3.1 percent compared to the U.S. average of 1.7 percent and, since January 2014, Florida has been creating one out of every 10 jobs in the U.S.  However, with this significant job growth comes a skill gap in the job market.  Many employers are having a hard time finding millennials with soft skills (the ability to communicate, creativity in problem solving, etc.).  Our industry needs to be prepared to recruit and keep those millennials with the desirable “customer friendly” skills, lest other industries snap them up.

img_97191Speaking of digital marketing:

  1. Businesses need to ensure their websites are optimized for search engine optimization (SEO) and quality content because 60 percent of all organic clicks are from the top three organic search results. If you are not in the top three, you are not being seen.
  2. It is important to engage your audience, both on your website and on social media.  Boosting social posts is often a more impactful and cost effective way to reach your target audience.  See which posts are performing the best organically and put a few bucks behind it to reach more people.
  3. Re-targeting is critical.  Generally, only 2 percent of website visitors are converted to customers.  Website visitors who are re-targeted are 70 percent more likely to convert on your website.

will-shahidEmerging technology, branding and changing consumers, oh my:

  1. When it comes to virtual reality, the world is still new and the rules are still being inked.  Brands creating VR content need to step back from the sparkly technology and remember what is most important – focus on creating an immersive experience with an engaging narrative that is worth your audience’s time.
  2. In order to become an emotionally powerful brand, you need to create powerful experiences.  In travel, the memory of the experience is much more important than the experience itself.  Visitors tend to remember only the emotional peaks of their experience, with the most critical factor influencing their memory being whether or not the trip ends strong.  So, think about ways your business can close on a high note.
  3. While it may be more complicated, marketers need to understand the needs of each generation because the same message won’t do for all of them.  Every generation requires particular messaging in a style that fits their perception.  We must shift away from addressing ALL generations to addressing BY generation. P.S. As much as we might want to, we can’t forget about the rising generation of adolescents because their values have a heavy influence on the values of the time.
  4. Despite big and scary events with the potential to disrupt tourism, research shows that travel spending continues to go up, with nearly 30 percent of Americans planning to travel more in the coming year.  So, think about how you can incorporate some of these takeaways into your business to capture more visitors.

If you attended the Florida Governor’s Conference on Tourism this year, I’d love to hear some of your main takeaways and whether you agree with the 10 I have shared.  Email me your thoughts at smellman@VISITFLORIDA.org.  And be sure to save the date for next year’s Conference, being held August 28-30, 2017 at the Diplomat in Hollywood, Florida.

Staci Mellman
Director of Brand
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