Spring break is here and the summer tourist season is coming soon.
But a new promotion scheduled to start later this month is designed to bring new visitors to Okaloosa County during the slower shoulder season between the end of spring break and the start of summer.
The promotion is the first one developed since Dan O’Byrne was hired as the county’s new tourist development director in September and Peter Mayer Advertising, the county’s new marketing firm, was hired in December. Marketing efforts have been minimal since previous director Mark Bellinger’s fraud scheme was discovered last May.
“We can immediately be back in the market, up and running with something that’s every bit as good and every bit as competitive as firms that have been working with their destinations for years and years,” O’Byrne said. “It gave us a real opportunity to compete in a forum because we have a great destination …and then you can combine that with some great visuals. I’m really confident that this is going to drive some business.”
The all-digital promotion creates banner advertisements on travel sites such as Orbitz, Expedia, Priceline, Hotels.com and others that will trumpet special lodging rates for people who book trips between March 21 and May 7.
“This is highly specific in trying to get people to book in a narrow window to take advantage of a deal,” O’Byrne said.
County commissioners recently approved the new campaign, which has a budget not to exceed $249,500.
Peter Mayer Advertising also is creating a special landing page to appear on www.emeraldcoastoffers.com that will link to the travel sites and the special deals. The landing page will be live March 21.
“The consumer we know through research is so value-oriented that that’s actually what drives business,” said Michelle Clarke, an account supervisor for Peter Mayer. “Especially at this point in time, it’s a great value with everything they’re able to get in Okaloosa County, not just through prices, but also through the beaches, restaurants and fishing and everything that there is to offer.”
O’Byrne said the Tourist Development Council will evaluate the promotion after the shoulder season to see how successful it was. The TDC collected $1.3 million in bed taxes from March to May last year, an increase of nearly 23 percent from the same period in 2011 when nearly $1.08 million was collected.
Contact Daily News Business Editor Dusty Ricketts at 850-315-4448 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @DustyRnwfdn.