How Visit Orlando works to strengthen our region’s No. 1 industry . . .
and our community as a whole.
Q&A with George Aguel President & CEO, Visit Orlando
You’ve probably seen where Orlando set another tourism record in 2018, welcoming 75 million people to remain America’s most visited destination, well ahead of iconic cities such as New York, Las Vegas and Los Angeles. But how much do you know about the only organization tasked with promoting the entire Orlando destination on a global scale? Here, Visit Orlando President & CEO George Aguel answers some commonly asked questions about our destination’s official tourism association.
What is Visit Orlando’s role in growing and supporting our tourism industry?
Our job is to brand, market and sell Orlando as the No. 1 destination for a vacation or business event. As a not-for-profit trade association, we have a diverse membership base of companies that span every sector of the tourism industry. We also serve as the voice of Orlando’s tourism industry, providing research, insights and timely communications to members and our community leaders.
Why is increasing visitation important for our community?
Simply put, the more people visit Orlando, the more jobs we create and the more money flows into our community. Tourism supports 41% of our workforce, generates $70 billion in annual economic impact and provides $5.5 billion in local and state taxes. It also provides our residents access to an abundance of amenities like shopping, dining, sports and cultural venues, and a world-class airport. So, by growing visitation, we further enrich our quality of life and make Orlando even more appealing as a place to work and live.
In what ways do you work to grow business travel to the area?
We position Orlando as America’s top destination to hold a convention and conduct business. We promote this message in a major way to media, meeting planners and corporate clients. We also have a team dedicated to securing events at the Orange County Convention Center, as well as the area’s many convention hotels. Our results continue to pay off, as the Convention Center had one of its best years for total attendance (1.45 million people) in 2018. This year, we’re working to augment business travel even further by promoting the Convention Center’s $605 million capital improvement plan.
How do you market Orlando to leisure consumers?
We engage people to choose us for their next vacation by running campaigns that integrate advertising, promotions, publicity, social media and direct marketing. This helps us keep Orlando top of mind among consumers in our core international markets of Canada, the UK and Brazil, as well as the primary U.S. markets.
Do Visit Orlando’s campaigns go beyond the theme parks?
Absolutely! There are more than 100 attractions and 200 hotels we represent across Orlando, and we make it a point to highlight them in our promotional efforts. Along those lines, we also include downtown Orlando and communities throughout the area, from Winter Park to Winter Garden. For example, our public relations team generates national media coverage of our unique dining options, smaller attractions, boutique hotels, outdoor adventures, museums and cultural offerings. And by leveraging that approach with social media influencers, we can further showcase Orlando’s lesser-known attractions and venues to millions more people across the globe.
What’s at the heart of your marketing strategy?
Every one of our campaigns is unique, but they all focus on the emotional touchpoints that inspire visitors to say, “There’s something special about Orlando.” Travelers make incredible memories here, like nowhere else. It’s a privilege for us to be responsible for telling that story.
This article appears in the July 2019 issue of i4 BUSINESS.