Orlando prepares to launch $25 million ad campaign

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Orlando is poised to launch its biggest tourism marketing campaign ever, a $25 million push to promote the city's family-friendly theme parks and attractions to the nation and boost its appeal in the face of stiff competition from places like Las Vegas and New York.

Although the campaign has not been finalized, its tag line and details of the advertising component are expected to be announced on Dec. 15, according to the Orlando/Orange County Convention and Visitors Bureau.

The campaign will be paid for in part by the additional penny-on-the-dollar increase in the hotel bed tax that took effect Sept. 1. Advertisements will appear in print and on TV and will not include a specific travel trade component, the spokeswoman said.

Currently, Orlando has no tourism slogan. Instead, it uses a logo spelling out the city's name in colorful stars. Past slogans have included "Go for the magic" and "You never outgrow it."

Tourism officials said the campaign will continue to focus on Orlando's appeal to families who want to spend time together on vacation, which was a major motivator for Orlando visitors, according to research conducted by Harris Interactive.

In particular, the research showed that prospective visitors who are not from Florida and have children exhibit a great desire to go to a place offering something for the entire family, which tourism officials said Orlando has in spades.

But the research also showed that many families not from Florida didn't think that Orlando was a "must-see" spot to take the kids. Only 27% of respondents outside of Florida said they were "very familiar" with Orlando.

Orlando has lots more competition these days from destinations that have broadened their tourism product to attract more families, and from destinations that spend considerably more on tourism promotion.

For example, Las Vegas has spent over $100 million since 2003 on its "What Happens Here, Stays Here" campaign.

Orlando officials said tourism to Orlando remained strong, with a 3.3% increase in arrivals last year to more than 49 million.

Inn the news 

In Orlando hotel news, the Peabody Orlando -- a four-star, AAA Four Diamond property within the Orange County Convention Center -- expanded its sales force and appointed two sales managers.

"We stepped up our sales coverage and presence in key markets to better serve our existing clients, and to interact on a regular basis with numerous potential clients throughout our target markets," said David Adelson, director of sales and marketing.

The new sales managers at the 891-room hotel, a member of Preferred Hotels & Resorts, are Tracy Newland and Eve Pridmore.

Meanwhile, the Hard Rock Hotel at Universal Orlando is renovating all 650 rooms and suites, adding 32-inch, flat-panel TVs and MP3 stations to in-room stereos. Guest units are being redecorated in "urban chic" style, with a color palette of neutrals, chocolate brown, aqua and lime.

"We are creating a new vibe in all our guest rooms, not only with the new look but also with the latest technology," said General Manager Carlton Hudson. 

The new look includes upgrades of bed linens, carpeting, artwork, wall paint and granite minibar tops. All suites will have tabletop stereos with an iPod docking station and clock radio, while all club-level rooms will be outfitted with DVD players.

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

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