With this year's visitor numbers expected to top 13 million by Dec. 31 (up from about 12 million in 2012) and an estimated tourism spend of $10 billion, one might think that the Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau would find 2013 a hard act to follow.
Not so, according to bureau President Nicki Grossman.
"We are once again raising the bar with a $6.5 million advertising program, the most ever spent in the bureau's history, and we aim to shatter our record-breaking numbers in 2014," Grossman said at the recent unveiling of the destination marketing plan.
As its first order of business, the bureau will take to New York to stage "The Beach Looks Good on You," a consumer event at Grand Central Station in the week leading up to the Super Bowl, which will be played across the river in New Jersey on Feb. 2.
Props will include huge screens projecting Fort Lauderdale's live beach-cam, giant yellow sunglasses for photo ops, mobile videos for social media sharing and solar-powered charging stations for mobile devices.
Partnering with JetBlue, trips will be given away every hour during the event.
The branding also will feature billboards in Times Square and near the Lincoln Tunnel, which offers the most direct route from midtown to the stadium; "Hello Sunny" heated bus benches (reflecting a tourism slogan launched earlier this year); branded taxi tops; and pedicabs wrapped with beach scenes offering free rides.
The show goes on the road to Chicago later in February, Washington in March and Sao Paulo, Brazil, in April.
Grossman called the marketing plan a "roadmap to guide our sales and marketing efforts to maximize return on investment."
Fort Lauderdale's current market mix stands at 76.7% domestic and 23.3% international.
New York, Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia and Washington account for the top domestic source markets, with Canada, the U.K., Brazil, Argentina, Colombia and Scandinavia the prime suppliers of international visitors.
According to Grossman, preferences for upscale lodging are on the rise among visitors to Fort Lauderdale. Group demand continues to grow, and more business travelers are tacking on leisure activities at the end of their trips, she added.
Fort Lauderdale has experienced 46 consecutive months of visitor growth and an 8% increase in tourist tax collections, and Grossman aims to maintain those levels or better them.
Hotel occupancy through June was 79.2%, up 3.8% over the same period in 2012.
In 2014, the focus will be directed at increasing market share and length of stay, with particular attention paid to the LGBT leisure market, the multicultural sector and the religious travel market.
The bureau plans to intensify efforts to showcase Broward County as a year-round destination for sports and sporting events and capitalize on new airline developments, especially in the emerging markets. An attempt will also be made to promote the county as a key film locale and live music hub and maximize pre- and post-cruise stays.
Follow Gay Nagle Myers on Twitter @gnmtravelweekly.