2 0 1 0 A N N U A L R E P O RT R I S I N G TO T H E CHALLENGEGULF SHORES & ORANGE BEACH TOURISM
2010 will be a year for the history books, even if the events of last year are something we all want to forget. But as in everyWELCOME disaster, when all said and done, there are many things we can be proud of. First and foremost is the dedicated commitment of our staff here at Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Tourism. In the face of this nation’s worst environmental disaster, our team excelled beyond belief. Our role in such cases is primarily to be the manager of the message and we always approach that role with a commitment to honesty and due diligence for true facts. Unlike most natural disasters where marketing efforts are suspended, we carried on our marketing strategies at an unprecedented level. Secondly, I am extremely proud of the level of cooperation that permeated the area. Business to business, chamber to chamber, and city to city, everyone worked together in a most synergistic fashion. And this dynamic continues beyond the 2010 crisis. Herb Malone, Finally, everyone is proud of each other as we continue to fight to salvage every bit of business possible. Sure, we could have allPresident/C.E.O. sat down and waited for someone to “send us a check,” but that attitude never prevailed. We never gave up, and I know in my heart that when faced with future crisis, we never will.
On April 20, 2010, an explosion on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig off the coast of Louisiana killed 11 crew members. Weeks after theGULF CRISIS explosion, Deepwater Horizon drew the attention of the entire world when it was discovered that the rig was leaking thousands of gallons of oil a day into the Gulf of Mexico. While engineers struggled to shut off the leak and the Coast Guard struggled to contain the spill, media outlets from around the world converged on the Gulf Coast to report on the spill. Audiences around the globe were inundated with nightly stories and images of the hardest hit areas of the coast. When Gulf Shores & Orange Beach began to see impact from the spill, our challenge was to show the world an accurate picture of what was happening along our shores. Facing unprecedented media coverage, Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Tourism fought to combat the devasting effect on our local economy by launching our most aggressive efforts ever to communicate with our potential guests and encourage them to visit.
Shortly after learning of the leak at the Deepwater Horizon site, the CVB launched OurBeachFacts.com. This page, which wasONLINE featured prominently on the main page of the Gulf Shores & Orange Beach website, was updated daily with the latest facts about the spill and its effects on our beaches. Daily videos were the cornerstone of the page. The videos showed actual beach conditions as they changed from day to day across various areas along the island, reported NOAA spill trajectory forecasts, and highlighted all the “off beach” activities available to our guests. The Beach Facts page also included a visitor photo gallery where guests could post their own photos and comments about the conditions they experienced while in the area. Constant Facebook and Twitter chatter allowed us to address questions and concerns almost immediately, and perhaps more importantly, allowed guests who had positive experiences to report to connect with our fans and followers who had doubts. Since numbers speak louder than words, here are few of our online accomplishments from last year. • 3,201,649 unique visitors to gulfshores.com in 2010 • 746,201 visitors to OurBeachFacts.com between June and December • 50,000 social fans, up from 17,000 in early 2010 • 50 million impressions of our Facebook posts and photos from May through December
Throughout the spill, our overall message was the same: “Our beaches are open and all our fun off-beach activites mean that A D V E RT I S I N G Gulf Shores & Orange Beach is still a great vacation destination.” This message was carried across all our outreach efforts and in some formats we had never used before. Front-page strips and half-page color interior ads ran repeatedly in newspapers throughout the Southeast. A radio campaign in our major markets also included interviews with our VP of Marketing, allowing him to answer questions and promote specific events. Our daily Beach Facts video was distributed to the radio stations on which we ran spots and was broadcast on each station’s individual website. With the help of the Alabama Department of Tourism, we produced a television spot featuring Lucy Buffett which aired throughout the Southeast and Midwest. The spot invited viewers to come enjoy the many activities we had to offer and assured Click the image to watch the viewers that we were “keeping an eye on the beach.” TV spot (You will need Adobe Reader 9 or later to view the video.) Because of the amazing amusement parks that keep your family wound because up and worry free. Because of the incredible golf courses designed to suit you to a tee. Because of the super shopping or the fresh when and fabulous local fare. And because of the breezy mornings and lazy afternoons you know your loved ones will share. Oh, you’ll come back again this season, all it comes to right. Because you know there’s no other one place like it for so much fun under the sun. fun, your F ren t cur itions or nd ,options are co and , ach ideos hotos be ly v dai bmitte dp r-su visit acts sky high use O eac urB .com hF
Meeting and sports groups presented special challenges, but tremendous possibility during the spill crisis. While the spillG RO U P S was certainly an issue for groups planning events in the area, much of their time in the area is spent in off-beach activities and locations. They therefore represented an opportunity to retain and even recruit new business during a time when leisure visitation was suffering. The sales and sports departments at the CVB maintained constant contact with group clients, assuring them of the safety of beaches, working as liasions with lodging properties to negotiate incentives and increasing their presence at trade shows to connect with meeting and sports planners. Advertising in targeted trade publications was increased dramatically. Incentives, such as gift cards, restaurant discounts and overnight stays were used to encourage event attendance and patronage of local businesses. Sponsorships at trade shows gave us increased exposure and opportunity to get our message to planners. Virtual postcards were heavily promoted as a tool for planners to entice event attendees. A nationally-syndicated TV show, Today in America, featured the successful growth of sports events in the area, putting Gulf Shores & Orange Beach at top of mind with viewers. Heavy use of social networking channels allowed planners up-to-date information and the ability to receive feedback from other visitors about specific issues.
Concerts by some of music’s biggest acts provided much-needed economic support to the gulf area, drawing visitors from aroundC O N C E RT S the country and stimulating the local economy. Spurred by the success of The Hangout Beach, Music and Arts Festival in May, “Concerts for the Coast” was launched with free tickets being distributed to local lodging partners for them to create accommodations packages. The series kicked-off with Jimmy Buffett & Friends: Live from The Gulf Coast on July 11. This nationally televised event hosted 35,000 fans on the Gulf Shores Public Beach. The series continued with a September 25 performance by Hank Williams Jr. and Gretchen Wilson at The Wharf. The series concluded in October with two nights of concerts on the beach by Bon Jovi and Brad Paisley. In addition to bringing tens of thousands of concert-goers to the beach, the concerts received widespread media coverage and another opportunity to show the world our beaches were clean and as beautiful as ever.
Public relations plans for 2010 rapidly evolved as our gulf situation changed throughout the year. Prior to the spill, we had anEARNED MEDIA aggressive plan that included interaction and engagement with numerous publications in our target markets, especially through the utilization of leisure and outdoors-based press trips. Throughout the infinite oil spill inquiries from both leisure and hard news media, we maintained a focused effort to serve as a reliable and always available source of verified beach and tourism information in addition to correcting the inaccurate information about our destination. Similar to the creation of beach events that encouraged visitation and allowed these guests to become positive ambassadors when they returned home, our recovery efforts focused on recruiting writers to visit our beach destination and see the true situation for themselves. Expanding our fall press trip calendar (which originally included one Geiger Press Trip), we added three media trips with Geiger and Associates, including one that focused on the Alabama Coastal Connection Scenic Byway. Collaborating with the CVB’s social media contract staff, we also hosted a blogger press trip with writers that spoke directly to mothers through our target markets. To assist with the promotion of gulf seafood and local restaurants, we welcomed nearly 20 writers representing the International Food, Wine & Travel Writers Association on a four-day food-focused press trip. Along similar lines, we focused on our fishing public relations efforts on both the fishing experience and the enjoyment of seafood dishes prepared in our local restaurants. We hosted multiple spring and fall press trips targeting specific outdoor media in the Midwest and Southeast.
Finally, we focused our public relations efforts for the Alabama Gulf Coast Sports Commission to parallel the CVB’s efforts ofEARNED MEDIA verified beach and tourism information and secure positive editorial about the group. Combined figures for the CVB and Sports Commission • 171 newspaper articles reaching 12.7 million people • 51 magazine articles reaching nearly 10.3 million people • 209 online-only pubs • 2 other avenues 433 total stories, 23 million total print circulation 361 mentions in television stories
A new Facts & Fishin’ Workshop was designed to equip the local fishing industry with the latest information about conservationHIGHLIGHTS techniques as well as oil spill related data. Thirty-one captains and deckhands participated in the workshop. Alabama’s Coastal Connection, a nationally designated scenic byway spearheaded by the CVB, launched it’s website, AlabamasCoastalConnection.com, and also put signage, collateral materials and a media relations campaign into place. The CVB’s Hospitality and Information department answered 4,500 phone calls - a record number - during the month of June, supplying those callers with accurate, up-to-the-minute information about the state of our beaches and selling them on the many off-beach activities still available to them. Call center hours were extended seven days a week during the crucial months of June and July.
Alabama Gulf Coast Convention & Visitors Bureau, Operating Fund Income and Expense Statement for 2010FINANCIALS *All ﬁgures are subject to change pending the completion of the CPA audit for 2010. FY 2010 Actual % of Actual FY 2010 Actual % of ActualREVENUELodging Tax Revenue $3,486,406 47.63% Insurance $86,837 1.95%Golf Association Co-op $200,000 2.73% Licenses & Taxes $289 0.01%State & Federal Grants $136,062 1.86% Local Meetings $27,313 0.61%BP Agency Fee $1,237,500 16.91% Professional Development $12,860 0.29%Tourism Summit Sponsorships $11,000 0.15% Professional Services $13,087 0.29%Sports Commission Sponsorships - Cash $210,000 2.87% Rent - Gulf Shores Ofﬁce $21,145 0.47%Sports Commission Sponsorships - In-Kind $182,225 2.49% Supplies $33,093 0.74%Lost Lodging Tax Revenue Settlement - BP $1,815,000 24.79% Utilities $50,546 1.13%Other Revenue $29,756 0.41% Miscellaneous $1,891 0.04%Interest Income $12,130 0.17% Debt Service $77,438 1.74% Total Revenue $7,320,079 100.00% Debt Service - Interest $165,957 3.72% Total Operational Expense $743,117 16.66%EXPENSE Transfers to Special Events Fund $22,000 0.49%Personnel Expense Transfers to Sports Commission Fund $65,000 1.46%Salaries, Taxes, Beneﬁts $1,510,586 33.87% Transfers to Powerboat Race Fund $- 0.00% Total Personnel Expense $1,510,586 33.87% Transfer to Emergency Reserve Fund $- 0.00%Direct Promotional Expense Total All Expenses $4,459,598 100.00%Advertising $1,138,933 25.54% Net Revenue Over Expenses $2,860,481 39.08%Event Grants/Sports Commission Grants $280,006 6.28%Convention Services $22,455 0.50%Familiarization/Site Tours $14,375 0.32% Revenue Lost Lodging TaxFulﬁllment $30,807 0.69% Lodging Tax Revenue Sports Revenue $ 3,486,406 47.97%Phone $105,674 2.37% Commission BP Settlement Golf Association Co-op $ 200,000 2.75%Postage $148,064 3.32% State & Sponsorships - Federal Grants $ 136,062 1.87% In-KindInternet $19,256 0.43% BP Grant Agency Fee $ 1,237,500 17.03%Promotions/Promotional Materials $166,183 3.73%Travel & Trade Shows $4,288 0.10% Lodging Tax Sports Commission Sponsorships - Cash BP Grant Agency $ 210,000 2.89%Travel & Entertainment $43,605 0.98% Fee Revenue Sports Commission Sponsorships - In-Kind $ 182,225 2.51%Research $145,249 3.26% Lost Lodging Tax Revenue Settlement - BP $ 1,815,000 24.98% Total Direct Promotional Expense $2,118,895 47.51% Other Revenue Sports CommissionOperational Expense Sponsorships - Revenue Total $ 7,267,193 100.00%Building Repair & Maintenance $66,598 1.49% CashComputer Equipment/Maintenance $122,837 2.75% Expense State & FederalDues & Subscriptions $29,588 0.66% Grants Golf AssociationEquipment Lease & Rental $18,803 0.42% Co-op Personnel ExpensesEquipment Repair & Maintenance $14,835 0.33% Salaries, Taxes, Benefits $ 1,510,586 33.87% Total Personnel Expenses $ 1,510,586 33.87%
T H E M I S S I O N O F T H E C O N V E N T I O N & B U R E A U I S TO M A R K E T T H E A L A B A M A G U L F C O A S T A S A D E S T I N AT I O N , T H U S E N H A N C I N G T H E AREA’S ECONOMY AND QUALITY OF LIFE FOR ALL RESIDENTS.B OA R D O F D I R E C TO R S S TA F FLEONARD KAISER, Chairman SHEILA HODGES HERB MALONE COMMUNICATIONS ADMINISTRATION/FINANCEKaiser Realty Meyer Real Estate President/CEO Kim Chapman, PR Manager Susan Brush, Interactive Sherry Dusko, Advertising CoordinatorBILL BRETT, Vice-Chairman TONY KENNON MIKE FOSTER Manager Joanne McDonough, NatureBrett/Robinson Gulf Corp. Mayor of Orange Beach VP of Marketing Shelley Piraino, Internet Tourism Specialist Marketing Manager Philip Piper, WarehousePEDRO MANDOKI, FRANK REED BETH GENDLER Stephanie Simpson, Manager, Courier, Mr. Fix-itSecretary-Treasurer Reed Real Estate VP of Sales & Sports Communications Manager Linda Rowell, Finance AssistantMandoki Hospitality Group April Acevedo Cheryl Vickers, Executive Morgan Barna Assistant BARBARA WALTERS DAVID GREENEROBERT CRAFT Island House Hotel VP of Administration & SALES HOSPITALITY & INFORMATIONMayor of Gulf Shores Finance Renee Fought, Sales Manager Joy Conger Barbara Owen MARK STILLINGS Mary Statkewicz, Sales Manager Linda Flack Sharon PhilipsJOHNNY FISHER Kiva Dunes COLETTE BOEHM Melynda Hicks Linda PiperLuLu’s at Homeport Marina Director of Special Projects SPORTS Dibby Jeﬀord Valerie Robinson Sarah Hicks, Event Coordinator Sandy Marsh Betsy SavageBEN FAIREY BETTY WOOD Michelle Russ, Sports Events Gayle McMillan Lynda ThurmondCharter boat Neccesity Director of Hospitality & Sales Manager Michelle Miller Information