Flush with funds, Orlando to target moms in new ad push

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Orlando tourism officials will spend $68 million during the next two years trying to convince families that there's no better place for them to vacation than in the central Florida city and its environs.

The money that will be spent in 2007 and 2008 represents a 240% increase compared with the 2005-2006 budget of $20 million.

The Orlando/Orange County Convention and Visitors Bureau said the $48 million in additional funding will come primarily from the 1 cent hike in the hotel tax that went into effect on Sept. 1.

The campaign carries the slogan, "Built for families. Made for memories." It will target women ages 25 to 54, considered the main vacation planners for their families, the CVB said.

Orlando CVB officials acknowledged that the destination has seen its once-commanding share of the family market erode as other destinations, as well as the cruise industry, have stepped up their marketing efforts and outspent Orlando to attract visitors.

The result has been a slump in arrivals, with September and October showing a double-digit drop in hotel occupancy, according to Smith Travel, which tracks hotel trends.

After two record hurricane seasons, Florida is bracing for its first year-over-year decline in visitors since the 2001 terrorist attacks.

The Orlando CVB said research that it commissioned from Harris Interactive revealed that the Florida destination "needed to be more aggressive with its marketing approach" if it was going to reverse the decline in visitors and lure families away from competing destinations.

Among the Harris Interactive findings was that 32 million U.S. families had not visited Orlando during the last five years, the CVB said.

Another finding was that only 27% of respondents outside of Florida were "very familiar" with Orlando.

The two-year campaign will include two 30-second national TV spots that are scheduled to run from late January through May and from September through November.

Although the commercials are currently in production, the CVB offered a sneak peak at one of the ads, which showed parents transforming into child-like versions of themselves at theme parks.

The CVB said the message will be that parents can act like kids and take a break from their hectic daily lives while bonding with their children during a vacation in Orlando.

The TV commercials will appear during programs that appeal to the destination's target market, including the "The Today Show" and "Good Morning America" in the morning and "American Idol," "Grey's Anatomy," "Desperate Housewives" and "Dancing With the Stars" during prime time.

The ads will also run on cable channels such as Nickelodeon, ABC Family, the Food Network, the Travel Channel, HGTV and Style.

The campaign also marks the first time that Orlando will target African-American and Hispanic families.

Among other media, TV ads will appear on Telemundo and Univision for the Spanish-speaking market and on BET and TV One for the African-American market.

The print component will include ads in 15 publications that are popular with the target audience, including Better Homes & Gardens, Child, Oprah and Travel+Leisure as well as Spanish-language magazines People en Espanol and Vanidades.

The campaign also includes a "significant print, online and direct mail" component aimed at the meetings and conventions market, the CVB said.

Specifically, the CVB will allocate $2.55 million in 2007, a 220% increase compared with 2006, to promote Orlando to the meetings and conventions market, where Orlando is currently second behind Las Vegas, the CVB said.

The campaign will also include a new Orlando logo as well as a redesigned Orlando CVB Web site, at www.orlandoinfo.com, expected to launch early next year.

To contact reporter Jorge Sidron, send e-mail to [email protected].

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