MANATEE -- Bradenton Area Convention & Visitors Bureau relies on its multi-million dollar marketing plan to promote the destination, according to Elliott Falcione, CVB executive director.
On Tuesday, the Manatee County Commission could approve the fiscal 2016 and fiscal 2017 Marketing Plan and Budget for the Bradenton Area Convention & Visitors Bureau. The CVB will spend $5.34 million in fiscal '16 for the marketing plan and $7.4 million in fiscal '17, which includes $2.3 million for the 2017 World Rowing Championship, scheduled for Nathan Benderson Park from Sept. 24-Oct. 1, 2017. All the funds are from tourism taxes and not general revenues, according to agenda materials.
"You have all these brands that are selling their community," Falcione said. "We need to have our brand compete with those other market brands."
Online marketing, magazine advertisements, community partnerships, trade shows and domestic and international programs are among the methods the CVB uses to market the Bradenton area to potential visitors.
Between fiscal years '16 and 1'7, the CVB will spend $239,430 less on magazine marketing, which is consistent with what focus groups have found as the trends in the marketplace, Falcione said.
"We continue to invest less on print advertising each year," he said, adding that Baby Boomers and the generation beyond are still inclined to look at print advertisements. Of the people who visit the Bradenton Area, 87 percent discover the destination online, Falcione added.
While the plan is set to be approved by the commission on Tuesday, Falcione stressed that it is not etched in stone.
"We will make some tweaks along the way," he said.
If something isn't working or something will better market the destination, then they will allocate some funds in another area.
"We will shift gears and redirect to other initiatives," Falcione said.
Kelly Clark, CVB director of communications, said they "do change the marketing plan based on" the success of spring tourism.
"We typically don't do much marketing in those months," Clark said. "We market in the shoulder seasons or when we need the business to come in."
Falcione said the Bradenton area's brand is as a low-key, detox environment.
"If we can help increase the nice steady influx of visitations, then we are doing our job," he said.
Targeting markets abroad
As part of the CVB marketing plan, they target feeder markets such as the United Kingdom and Central Europe. In fiscal '16, about $3.1 million is projected to be spent on these efforts domestically and internationally. Visitors from the UK and Central Europe are up 17 percent over last year, Falcione said.
"We are specifically working through tour operators in the UK and Central Europe who drive international visitors to our destination," Falcione said. "We are shifting around dollars to try to balance the influx of visitation. ... When you have success in that, you continue to reinvest."
Visitors from the UK and Central Europe are important because they typically spend more per day than a domestic visitor, Falcione said.
"They come in around Aug. 1 to Jan. 15," he said. "They are helping us fill a shoulder season."
In terms of the $2.3 million for the World Rowing Championship, Manatee County is spending the same amount as Sarasota County for the event, Falcione said.
"We are all in this together and we are rowing in the same direction," Falcione said.
Falcione said between 20 and 30 percent of the funds will be spent in 2016 for the rowing championship.
"We are hoping we don't spend that amount," Falcione said of the $2.3 million. "We are hoping to work together in a partnership to facilitate this unique event in an efficient and effective manner."
Claire Aronson, Manatee County reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7024 or at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @Claire_Aronson.