Tuesday, June 22, 2010

TDC Tracks Coastal Conditions with Daily Videos, Web Cams & Reports

The Franklin County (Florida) Tourist Development Council (TDC) has launched an aggressive marketing campaign to attract visitors uncertain about booking a vacation to Franklin County this summer. The multi-tiered campaign, which consists of a new web portal, daily beach reports, social media marketing, live web cams and a nationwide TV, print and internet blitz is centered around a simple concept - Keep it Honest.

Launched in mid May, the campaign is based on sharing real time information about the beaches, seafood and amenities of this area which includes St. George Island, Apalachicola, Carrabelle and Alligator Point. The first phase of the campaign has been extremely successful, increasing website traffic 811%, based on weekly averages from before and after the implementation of daily beach reports, briefings and website redesign.

The cornerstone of the campaign involves daily reports documenting actual beach and shore conditions. Each day, TDC videographers film different coastal areas of the county and conduct “daily beach and seafood reports.” The format includes interviews with visitors, industry leaders and fishing experts to show current beach conditions as well as fishing and tourist-related opportunities across the county.

The video is supplemented with a summary of daily NOAA projections, state regulatory information and local emergency information relevant to tourists. Together, the video and briefs are posted on the TDC website and on social media sites including Facebook, Twitter and uploaded to the TDC’s You Tube channel at: youtube.com/user/ANaturalEscape. A video clip from each day’s report is uploaded to the Visit Florida “Share a Little Sunshine” website for even wider exposure.

In addition to posting the information, the TDC sends the report out daily to approximately 4,000 newsletter subscribers, visitor center signups and media throughout the country. Lodging providers that receive the reports link them to their own websites, forward them to colleagues and customers and share them via their own social media marketing sites for additional exposure.

Also key to the campaign, TDC contractors have redesigned a new landing page for anaturalescape.com to better showcase the daily report videos and provide easy access to lodging provider information. They have also designed a customer emarketing banner for the daily report, added webcam links, and currently handle the daily uploading of reports and videos to the website and to the TDC’s YouTube channel.

The TDC recently implemented a new web video component which features video tagging and the ability to download videos and an embedded video player for a richer user experience. The video player page includes features that allow anyone to link the video to their own website with tag parameters in the url which automatically updates each day’s video without the need for uploading individual daily reports.

The TDC has also installed webcams in strategic spots in the county and is currently linked to three existing web cams to show coastal conditions from Alligator Point to Apalachicola in real time video. Those web links are connected also to the TDC’s social media sites.

The latest phase of the campaign involves TV ads promoting Franklin County which are currently running in key markets across the country and will continue through mid July. Ads are currently running on CBS affiliates and networks including CNN, Family Channel, Food Network, HGTV, Lifetime, Nickelodeon, TNT, USA, Travel Channel, MSNBC and even the Weather Channel.

The TDC has also contracted for print and internet advertising in feeder markets identified by local lodging providersto run through the summer. The ads include display and banner ads on a network of sites such as Cafe Mom, Women's Day, CBS and Yahoo and in the geographic markets of Atlanta, Nashville, Birmingham, and Houston. .

“Our beaches, seafood and fishing are all fine, and we’re happy to share this message,” says Helen Spohrer, TDC Chairman, “We want our visitors to experience Franklin County’s eco-adventures as well as the historical and cultural activities.”

Franklin County was one of eight counties to receive emergency BP marketing funds from the Governor’s office in May to help promote a positive message for the North Florida coastal counties threatened by oil. Franklin County’s grant totaled $252,350.

In addition to the marketing funds, Franklin County tourism officials say they value their network of partners in the tourism and hospitality industries that have banded together to help each other leverage small budgets into big coverage. Since the campaign launched, the Franklin County TDC has partnered with Visit Florida and the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association to co-op a full page ad in USA Today and a 10-second TV tag at the end of a Visit Florida ads that has been running from Baton Rouge to Baltimore.

“By working together with partners, both large and small, we can successfully meet this challenge,” says Spohrer.

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