Easy traveling, invigorating sunshine and an abundant array of activities make Florida the perfect state to hold a trade show, convention or business meeting. In 2017, Florida welcomed a record 116.5 million out-of-state visitors with more than 12.8 million of them traveling to the Sunshine State to attend business events, such as trade shows, meetings or conferences. According to the latest economic data, in 2016, business travelers spend $17.3 billion, representing 15.5 percent of all visitor spending in the state.
With travel combining business and leisure on the rise, Florida has been presented with an opportunity to increase overnight visits and incremental spend. This increase in bleisure travel is attributed to millennials who see the affordability and efficiency of tacking on to existing business trips. The millennial bleisure traveler spends 4-6x more than the average traveler, and is 65 percent more likely to add at least one day of leisure onto their business trip.
This fiscal year, to capitalize on this trend, VISIT FLORIDA will launch a bleisure marketing campaign targeting domestic and international business travelers. An important component of this campaign will be Florida’s meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (MICE) market. VISIT FLORIDA understands the meetings industry is big business in the Sunshine State, and knows properly marketing to this segment will be crucial.
In addition to the bleisure campaign, VISIT FLORIDA has created a host of programs to help VISIT FLORIDA Marketing Partners reach this vital market.
Florida Encounter, VISIT FLORIDA’s signature event for the meetings, conventions and incentive travel industry, will take place November 28-30 in Bonita Springs. The three-day trade show will bring together meeting professionals and top Florida hotels and resorts, attractions, and event suppliers to showcase Florida as the premier meetings destination. This year, based on feedback from a diverse group of industry Partners, VISIT FLORIDA is refreshing the event. New this year, Cvent’s audience will be leveraged and new standards will be used to attract and vet meeting professionals. In addition to the traditional one-on-one appointments, this year’s event will feature more opportunities to network outside the trade show floor. To facilitate these opportunities, the floor will be redesigned to feature a small meetings village, designated networking lounge, and professional photo station. CEUs will also be offered for meeting professionals in attendance. To learn more and register, go to FloridaEncounter.com.
Through VISIT FLORIDA’s partnerships with key meetings industry organizations such as Meeting Professionals International, Professional Convention Management Association, IMEX America and Connect, VISIT FLORIDA is able to offer Partners participation and sponsorship opportunities at meetings industry shows and marketplaces across the country. These options include stand sharing, meal sponsorships, in-room gifts, registration bag inserts, e-marketing to planners and speaking opportunities. To learn more about these opportunities, go to VISITFLORIDA.com/planner.
For those planning or hosting an event in the Sunshine State, VISIT FLORIDA developed Cover Your Event insurance. This free program provides coverage that will reimburse a meeting in the unlikely event of a cancellation due to a named hurricane. The premium on this insurance is at no cost to the organization planning the meeting and helps ensure meetings professionals can take advantage of Florida’s venues any time of year. To learn more, go to FloridaMeetings.com.
To assist local governments and non-profit corporations/organizations as they attract national minority conferences and conventions to the state, VISIT FLORIDA administers the Minority Convention Grant program. Funds from this reimbursement grant program can be used for marketing purposes such as, advertising, direct mail, brochure production, sales videos, presentations and other related projects. Applications for FY19/20 Grant Program will open December 2018. For more information, go to www.visitflorida.org/resources/grants/minority-convention-grant-program.
To take full advantage of VISIT FLORIDA’s meetings professionals programs and engage visitors through VISIT FLORIDA’s multiple marketing channels, join as a Marketing Partner at VISITFLORIDA.org/join. If your property has designated meeting space, VISIT FLORIDA encourages you to submit a listing to be placed on FloridaMeetings.com, a resource for planners looking to book their next meeting in Florida. For more information, call the VISIT FLORIDA industry hotline at 877-435-2872 or email partner@VISITFLORIDA.org.