Spotlight On: William Pate, President and CEO, Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau

Spotlight On: William Pate, President and CEO, Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau

By: Max Crampton- Thomas

2 min read April 2020 — As the full wrath of the COVID-19 pandemic strikes the country, tourism is among the worst-hit sectors. Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau President & CEO William Pate calls the impact “unprecedented” and points to an expected 95% drop in business in May. Pate outlines the actions the bureau is taking to help businesses in the sector and also provides his outlook for the second half of the year.   

 

 

In comparison to where the numbers were last year, what have you seen in terms of drop off from the COVID-19 pandemic on the tourism and hospitality community in the region?

The hospitality industry is on the front line of those affected financially, and the impact is unprecedented. We experienced a 70% reduction in business in March and expect a 95% reduction in April and a 95% reduction in May. Smith Travel Research estimates hotel occupancy in the city of Atlanta for March was 33 percent, compared to 81 percent in March 2019 and March 2018. Destinations across the country are seeing similar downtrends or worse. Our priority is now on recovery. Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau is laser-focused on making sure our city’s hospitality industry comes back strong so we are able to spread the economic benefit throughout the city as quickly as possible.

How is your organization working to assist the tourism sector in mitigating the challenges and impact felt from the COVID-19 pandemic?

Many of our 850 members are facing extreme financial challenges. We have aggregated online resources on Atlanta.net designed to help them along with their employees. These include fundraising efforts on behalf of employees in our industry as well as restaurants that are providing pickup and delivery services. For locals and visitors, we list attractions offering virtual experiences as well as updates on event cancellations and venue closures.

How quickly do you believe the tourism and hospitality industry in Atlanta will be able to recover from this pandemic? 

Atlanta has a strong convention calendar in the second half of this year, and our sales team is actively working with the staff at Georgia World Congress Center to optimize space and bring additional meetings to the city. It is difficult to forecast how quickly travel will rebound. This is an unprecedented situation, and the length of this event and the rate at which people will travel again and attend conventions remains to be seen. Atlanta is a very attractive destination for travelers though, and we continue to see substantial activity in booking meetings and conventions over the next five years.

 

To learn more about our interviewee, visit:

 

https://www.atlanta.net/acvb/

 

 

Orlando’s convention center starting 2020 strong

Orlando’s convention center starting 2020 strong

By: Yolanda Rivas

2 min read December 2019 — The Orange County Convention Center, one of Orlando’s economic engines, is entering 2020 with a robust variety of events and conventions. As the end of 2019 has been a busy one for the OCCC, the beginning of 2020 is starting strong with the convention center looking to host thousands of visitors during its busiest season.  

 

The OCCC brings over 200 events to Orlando each year, with 1.4 million attendees. During the first four months of 2020, the OCCC is hosting some of their biggest events, including:

PGA Merchandise Show 2020 – Jan. 22 – Jan. 24, the event is looking to attract 43,000 attendees. The event gathers PGA and golf industry professionals to showcase the latest trends in golf equipment, technology, apparel and accessories, and more. 

AHR Expo Feb. 3 – 5, OCCC will host the world’s largest HVACR event, which is expected to attract 50,000 manufacturers and industry professionals to the region. The event showcases the latest technology, trends and applications on HVACR technology. 

HIMSS Global Conference & Exhibition 2020 – From March 9 – 12, this even is expected to attract nearly 43,000 attendees to Orlando. The health information and technology event connects health information and technology professionals from around the world to discuss education, innovation and collaboration around health and wellness. 

American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons 2020 Annual Meeting – From March 25 – 27, the meeting is expected to gather 30,000 orthopaedic and health professionals. The meeting provides educational opportunities, exhibits and tools and tips.

MegaCon Orlando – From April 16 – 20, the comics, sci-fi, horror, anime, and gaming event is looking to attract over 75,000 attendees. The event will feature professional comic artists sketch duels, “How To” workshops and over 400,000 square feet of shopping space.

To expand its capabilities and reach, the OCCC is undergoing a $605 million upgrade for two master plan projects that will bring the OCCC total exhibit space to 2.3 million square feet. The expansion project will add an additional 200,000 square feet of exhibit space, 60,000 square feet of meeting space and an 80,000-square-foot ballroom. The project is expected to be completed in 2023. As the second-largest convention facility in the nation, the OCCC provides approximately $3 billion in economic impact annually. 

 

To learn more, visit:

Orange County Convention Center: www.occc.net

PGA Merchandise Show 2020: www.pgashow.com

AHR Expo: www.ahrexpo.com

HIMSS Global Conference & Exhibition 2020: www.himssconference.org

American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons 2020 Annual Meeting: www.aaos.org/annualmeeting/ 

MegaCon Orlando: www.megaconorlando.com

South Florida’s Top Five Events for the Holiday Season

South Florida’s Top Five Events for the Holiday Season

By: Sara Warden

 

2 min read December 2019 — South Floridians may not expect a white Christmas, but there are still a plethora of entertainment options to get the kids into the holiday spirit. From Enchanted Forests to visits from Santa, there is plenty for all ages going on across the Miami, Palm Beach and Greater Fort Lauderdale areas. Capital Analytics counts down the top events in the run up to the big day!

1. Christmas with the Chimps at Lion Country Safari

If you’re an animal lover, this is the place to be on Thursday, Dec. 19. For one day only, starting at 10.30am, guests at the Lion Country Safari park in Palm Beach will be able to leave their cars and watch as the chimps open Santa’s gifts. Entry is $39 for adults and $30 for children, and under twos go free!

Find out more here

2. Winterland at Pinto’s Farm

Located at 14890 SW 216 St, this farm park promises a huge range of activities, including holiday treats, face painting, a petting zoo, pony rides, hay rides and paddle boats. Why not venture into the enchanting illuminated forest and meet Santa Claus, Nix the Snowman and Sprinkle the Gingerbread cookie.

Find out more here.

3. “A Christmas Story: The Musical” at Broward Center for the Performing Arts

Brought to you from the songwriting team behind Tony-award-winning Dear Evan Hansen and La La Land, this show promises to be a festive treat for the ears. The show is based on the 1983 movie A Christmas Story, following protagonist Ralphie’s pursuit of his dream Christmas gift. Showings continue throughout the festive season and tickets are priced at $49-65, with discounts available for teachers and students.

Find out more here.

4. Santa’s Enchanted Forest at Tropical Park

With over 100 rides, shows and attractions, Santa’s Enchanted Forest is sure to spread the Christmas cheer. Running from the end of October until Jan. 5, the fun takes place at 7900 SW 40th Street and promises 3 million lights and a 92-inch Christmas tree, all within an amusement park. Tickets start at $28.60 for children and seniors.

Find out more here.

5. Brightline for The Polar Express train rides

Across selected dates from mid-November until Dec. 29, families can take the one-hour Polar Express train on the brand new Brightline route. Singing, dancing, cookies and hot chocolate are guaranteed to keep both the kids and adults happy before Santa climbs on board to hand out some Christmas gifts to the girls and boys on the nice list. Prices start from $55 for an adult and $50 for a child.

Find out more here

South Florida’s Top Five Events for the Holiday Season

South Florida’s Top Five Events for the Holiday Season

By: Sara Warden

2 min read December 2019 — South Floridians may not expect a white Christmas, but there are still a plethora of entertainment options to get the kids into the holiday spirit. From Enchanted Forests to visits from Santa, there is plenty for all ages going on across the Miami, Palm Beach and Greater Fort Lauderdale areas. Capital Analytics counts down the top events in the run up to the big day!

 

 

 1. Christmas with the Chimps at Lion Country Safari

If you’re an animal lover, this is the place to be on Thursday, Dec. 19. For one day only, starting at 10.30am, guests at the Lion Country Safari park in Palm Beach will be able to leave their cars and watch as the chimps open Santa’s gifts. Entry is $39 for adults and $30 for children, and under twos go free!

Find out more here

2. Winterland at Pinto’s Farm

Located at 14890 SW 216 St, this farm park promises a huge range of activities, including holiday treats, face painting, a petting zoo, pony rides, hay rides and paddle boats. Why not venture into the enchanting illuminated forest and meet Santa Claus, Nix the Snowman and Sprinkle the Gingerbread cookie.

Find out more here.

3. “A Christmas Story: The Musical” at Broward Center for the Performing Arts

Brought to you from the songwriting team behind Tony-award-winning Dear Evan Hansen and La La Land, this show promises to be a festive treat for the ears. The show is based on the 1983 movie A Christmas Story, following protagonist Ralphie’s pursuit of his dream Christmas gift. Showings continue throughout the festive season and tickets are priced at $49-65, with discounts available for teachers and students.

Find out more here.

4. Santa’s Enchanted Forest at Tropical Park

With over 100 rides, shows and attractions, Santa’s Enchanted Forest is sure to spread the Christmas cheer. Running from the end of October until Jan. 5, the fun takes place at 7900 SW 40th Street and promises 3 million lights and a 92-inch Christmas tree, all within an amusement park. Tickets start at $28.60 for children and seniors.

Find out more here.

5. Brightline for The Polar Express train rides

Across selected dates from mid-November until Dec. 29, families can take the one-hour Polar Express train on the brand new Brightline route. Singing, dancing, cookies and hot chocolate are guaranteed to keep both the kids and adults happy before Santa climbs on board to hand out some Christmas gifts to the girls and boys on the nice list. Prices start from $55 for an adult and $50 for a child.

Find out more here

 

All Aboard! Seminole Hard Rock Winterfest Boat Parade Ready to Set Sail

All Aboard! Seminole Hard Rock Winterfest Boat Parade Ready to Set Sail

By: Max Crampton-Thomas

2 min read December 2019 — The annual Seminole Hard Rock Winterfest Boat Parade is just around the corner, and event organizers are adding the finishing touches to “The Greatest Show on H2O.” That’s no understatement, with an estimated economic impact of $50 million and 1 million live spectators, plus online and TV streams. “There is nothing like the Seminole Hard Rock Winterfest Boat Parade in the entire world,” said Lisa Scott-Founds, the event’s President and CEO.

 

Taking place on Dec. 14, the show – the seventh-largest one-day spectator event in the country – is not to be missed. “Private boats to the giant showboats and corporate megayachts will be adorned with hundreds of thousands of lights, music, entertainment, decorations, celebrities, musical groups, beauty queens and many other exciting entries,” the event’s website promises. Think the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, but on water.

According to Scott-Founds, as a nonprofit organization, organizers are constantly innovating to think of new ways to make the event stand out without breaking the bank. “We always want to integrate the newest technology into our event, like the use of holograms, which we hope is a real possibility for this year,” she said. “We are always asking people, ‘What is something that you’ve never seen us do before?’ We take their suggestion, develop a budget to execute the idea and bring it to our board and possible sponsors to help with underwriting the “new wow factor idea.”

This year, the 12-mile parade route will begin at Stranahan House and will sail eastward into Fort Lauderdale to the Intracoastal Waterway, and ending at Lake Santa Barbara in Pompano Beach. It costs a minimum of $35 to enter a boat with no advertising, while the heftiest sponsorship package comes in at a cool $65,000. Spectators can also purchase a ticket to the Grandstand Viewing Area inside the Hugh Taylor Birch State Park with prices starting at $25 for children 10 and under.

The economic bump in the county’s coffers comes at a good time, says Scott-Founds. “The beginning of December is a little slower for tourism, as opposed to other months when tourism in South Florida sees a boom, so we feel a responsibility to bring people into the region and put heads in beds,” she says.

For the event, it seems that all stakeholders in the area come together to enhance the experience for visitors. “Our success is due to collaboration with organizations like our Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention and Visitors Bureau and working with area hotels,” says Scott-Founds. “Tourists should experience a Winterfest weekend, a show at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, eat at our restaurants and immerse themselves in our community. There is just so much to do in Fort Lauderdale, and in Broward County for that matter.”

To learn more, visit:

https://winterfestparade.com/

Top 5 Tourism Drivers for The Palm Beaches

Top 5 Tourism Drivers for The Palm Beaches

By Max Crampton-Thomas

4 min read October 2019 —  With more than 8 million visitors to Palm Beach County in 2018, it’s no secret that tourism is the driving force behind the economy in The Palm Beaches. Last year, these visitors generated $7.4 billion in economic impact and are the reason for over 70,000 tourism jobs. While the appeal of a relaxing beach vacation may seem like the obvious tourist magnet, there are so many different and unique facets of the county that drive the economic behemoth that is the tourism sector. Here is the Invest: Top 5 tourism drivers for The Palm Beaches

BEACHES

Palm Beach County is bordered by 47 miles of Atlantic coastline that offer some of the state’s most attractive beaches. These include Boynton Beach Ocean Park, Coral Cove Park, Juno Beach Park and many more, with a large portion of these beaches offering resort amenities and marine activities. The Palm Beach County coastline was also nicknamed Florida’s Gold Coast after gold was recovered from Spanish galleons that sank off its shores. A fitting nickname for beaches that are like gold to the Florida economy. Invest: spoke with Jorge Pesquera, president and CEO of Discover The Palm Beaches, who touched on the importance of the beaches to the tourism industry in the county. “Leisure remains the most crucial tourism driver for The Palm Beaches, with meetings and conventions continuing to gain momentum. Within the leisure tourism market, our beaches are the biggest draw for not only those seeking to relax and rejuvenate, but also those interested in activities such as boating, fishing, scuba diving, kayaking and paddleboarding,” Pesquera told Invest:. 

You can learn more about the county’s best beaches here: https://www.thepalmbeaches.com/blogs/best-beaches-are-palm-beaches

ARTS & CULTURE

Home to cultural institutions like the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts, The Palm Beaches are an arts and culture hub that drives many cultural travelers to the area. Invest: discussed with Judith Mitchell, CEO for the Kravis Center, how this increased interest from out-of-town visitors has positively affected her business as well as those in the surrounding area. “Our strong programming and marketing teams ensure that we continue to bring the best of Broadway and other diverse performances that attract audiences from outside the state and from cities north and south of the Center. In 2018-2019, the Center saw an increase in out-of-county audience members by nearly 50%. This also has a positive economic impact on the surrounding hotels, restaurants and shops as these nonresident guests choose to dine, shop and stay overnight before or after attending a performance.” 

For more on the various arts and culture destinations in the county, visit: https://www.palmbeachculture.com/

SPORTS

For an area that doesn’t have a major professional sports franchise, the county’s tourism market has a strong driver in the sports tourism market. It helps that among Palm Beach County’s various monikers, one of the titles held most proudly is “The Golf Capital of Florida,” boasting more than 150 public and private golf courses. It also doesn’t hurt that Major League Baseball teams, namely the Houston Astros, Washington Nationals, Miami Marlins and St. Louis Cardinals, call Palm Beach County their home during spring training. For those who prefer alternative sports, The Palm Beaches are also the location of polo and equestrian events, including a variety of International Polo Club tournaments. 

Interested in learning more about sports offerings in The Palm Beaches? Visit: https://www.palmbeachsports.com/

ECO-TOURISM

When a county boasts 110 parks and recreation facilities paired with 35 natural areas that make up more than 31,000 acres of environmentally sensitive lands, it is bound to attract eco-tourists. This form of tourism may seem obscure from an outside perspective, but it not only can provide visitors with a memorable experience, it also provides health benefits as well. Invest: recently sat down with Deborah Drum, department director of Palm Beach County Environmental Resources Management, who spoke to this tourism driver and its benefits. “We have conducted economic studies of our natural areas. We have over 300,000 visitors just to the natural areas in our county. These are remote areas that offer more passive types of recreation, including hiking, fishing or bird-watching. We have done a study with the University of Florida on this passive connection and we have determined that these visitors are coming for that purpose. There have also been a number of studies about the connection between mental health and time spent in natural areas or spent outside. There is a positive relationship between the reduction in mental health issues with more time spent out in nature,” Drum explained. 

Check out more on Palm Beach County’s Natural Areas Map: http://discover.pbcgov.org/erm/Pages/Natural-Areas-Map.aspx

MEETINGS & CONVENTIONS

There is a direct correlation between the increase in business tourism to The Palm Beaches and the economic and business growth that the county is enjoying. The beneficiaries from this driver of tourism are a wide range of business types, from hotels to restaurants and even retail. Discover The Palm Beaches’ Pesquera highlighted just how significant this is to the tourism market. “On the meetings front, we’ve seen a 567-percent increase over the last several years in groups booked at the Palm Beach County Convention Center. Unlike our good friends in Miami and Fort Lauderdale — where there is a clear and established epicenter of tourism activity — The Palm Beaches are truly a collection of midsize to small cities and towns that altogether deliver an exceptional vacation or meeting experience,” Pesquera told Invest:.

For more on this and the tourism industry in Palm Beach County, visit: 

www.thepalmbeaches.com/