The Space Coast Office of Tourism is targeting the Miami area for its largest single-city marketing campaign ever – a million-dollar effort in early 2020 to lure visitors to Brevard County.
The eight-week campaign will begin a week before Miami hosts the Super Bowl on Feb. 2 – a time when the area will have visitors from throughout the country and abroad.
But the marketing campaign will focus largely on luring Miami-area residents to the Space Coast for a family vacation or a long weekend getaway for couples or friends.
Among the attractions of the Space Coast for South Florida residents is “it’s a short, easy drive,” said Charity Stewart, the Office of Tourism’s marketing director.
Separately, the Office of Tourism plans to spend $400,000 in early 2020 in the Toronto market, aimed at getting residents of that area to come to Brevard County for vacations to escape the cold Canadian winter.
Money for the Miami and Toronto marketing campaigns comes from revenue generated by Brevard County’s 5% Tourist Development Tax on hotel rooms and other short-term rentals. That tax is projected to raise $16.6 million in the county budget year that began Oct. 1.
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Office of Tourism Executive Director Peter Cranis said the campaign in the Miami area will be the largest the Office of Tourism ever has done in one market.
Cranis said the campaign in Miami-Dade and Broward counties will be wide-ranging, including television/streaming television, radio, billboards/outdoor advertising, social media and other digital advertising.
Cranis said the Office of Tourism checked out the costs of buying a local ad tied to the Super Bowl television or radio broadcast; advertising in the Super Bowl venue, Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens; or advertising in Miami International Airport.
But the Office of Tourism found those costs prohibitively expensive.
Instead, the Office of Tourism is using high-tech marketing tied to cellphone signals to find people who are within a specific radius of Hard Rock Stadium and target them with advertising through Facebook and Google. It also is buying billboard advertising along the route to the stadium.
Cranis said the themes of the campaign will be that the Space Coast is a family-friendly area with such attractions as beaches, nature venues and rocket launches.
While families are the main target of the campaign, Cranis said a subtarget will be affluent travelers without families.
The Office of Tourism currently is working on the creative elements of the campaign.
The tourism agency is seeking to attract South Florida residents, and “seed their thoughts” to take a “spring getaway” to the Space Coast in March, April or beyond.
Cranis said the six- to seven-week spring break/Easter period is among the busiest times of the year for local hotels and tourist attractions. Easter falls on April 12 this year.
The Miami/Fort Lauderdale market is one of the top three “feeder markets” for Space Coast tourism, Cranis said, behind Orlando and roughly equal with Tampa/St. Petersburg.
Cranis said he expects this to be the first of a multiyear campaign in the Miami market for Space Coast tourism.
Because of the scope of the campaign, “we will be able to see the dividends from this” in surveys of Miami-area residents, measuring increases in the awareness of the Space Coast brand and the likelihood of those residents to travel to the Space Coast for vacations, Cranis said.
Cranis said the Office of Tourism is working on the $400,000 Toronto campaign in January and February with the national tourism destination marketing organization Brand USA.
In addition to television and online advertising, one focus of the campaign will be digital billboards and video boards at downtown Toronto train stations and along the underground pedestrian walkway network in downtown Toronto that many people use in cold-weather months.
“In February,” Cranis said, downtown Toronto workers “are not going above ground” when they go to a restaurant for lunch or to a retailer.
“It’s too cold there,” Cranis said.
Cranis said the Office of Tourism plans to spend a total of $2 million during the second quarter of 2020 on marketing the Space Coast to tourists, aiming to promote summer visits to Brevard County.
Among the target markets will be Atlanta; Charlotte, North Carolina; and Tampa.
The marketing campaign for the second quarter also will include hosting morning radio personalities from five or six key markets, who will do two days of broadcasts on location in Brevard County and will interview local tourism officials on the air.
Cranis said the Office of Tourism also will continue its year-round marketing efforts in the Orlando area, primarily via billboards along the major highways and at Orlando International Airport.
The Space Coast Office of Tourism started off its budget year with a record amount of tourist tax collection for an October at $1.12 million.
That was 16.1% above October 2018 and 12.2% above budget projections.
That, Cranis said, “is an incredible start to the year. We had a bit of a tough September, due to Hurricane Dorian negatively impacting the Labor Day weekend, so this is a nice recovery.”
A $1.12 million collection for the tourist tax indicates that hotels, motels and other short-term rental venues rented $22.4 million worth of accommodations during October.
Cranis said the Office of Tourism has “a fairly aggressive budget this year, trying to reach $16.6 million, so starting out with being $121,000 over budget is a great kickoff.”
Dave Berman is government editor at FLORIDA TODAY.
Contact Berman at 321-242-3649