Visit Sarasota County: Sales Info

Enjoy the lates news from our Visit Sarasota County Sales Team

January 2019 Sales Team News

New VSC Faces

Amanda Walker
Amanda Walker Recently
Joined the VSC Sales Team

Give a warm welcome Amanda Walker, our new leisure group sales manager. Amanda joins VSC with a strong hospitality sales skill set from her previous positions with The Ritz-Carlton Sarasota and Hyatt Regency Sarasota. “I have a passion for showcasing all our beautiful area has to offer to groups. I am confident we can make Sarasota the number one destination in Florida,” she said.

International

VSC attended “Florida Huddle,” meeting with international tour operators from key markets. We were thrilled to have The Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota and Gulf Coast Holiday Homes and both our UK and German trade representatives join us in this event. Also in attendance was Maria De La Cruz Pictured:  Stefanie Mehlhorn (VSC German Rep); Ela Ayhan (VSC UK Rep); Kelly Defebo (VSC); Ashley Borchert (The Ritz-Carlton Sarasota) and Stefan Reinsch (Gulf Coast Holiday Homes)with OPL and Howard Clark with Interstate Hotels/Hyatt Regency Sarasota helping spread information about the area! The overwhelming message from our appointments was that 2019 bookings are pacing high and are projected to be up from last year in our area. Good news! 

Pictured: Stefanie Mehlhorn (VSC German Rep); Ela Ayhan (VSC UK Rep); Kelly Defebo (VSC); Ashley Borchert (The Ritz-Carlton Sarasota) and Stefan Reinsch (Gulf Coast Holiday Homes)

Leisure Group

We are getting ready to attend the “Select Traveler Conference” in French Lick, IN next month followed by a partner sales mission in nearby Indianapolis. Select Traveler is the nation's leading organization for loyalty program directors, including 3,000 banks and financial institutions nationwide! We also have the “Florida Bridal & Wedding Expo” coming up which we are pleased to be hosting with three of our partners. We are working hard to put together more opportunities to host our partners and represent Sarasota County.

Pictured: “PCMA” Key Note Speakers included Joe Manganiello, a Pittsburgh native
Pictured: “PCMA” Key Note
Speakers included Joe
Manganiello, a Pittsburgh
native

Meetings

2019 kicked off with a trip to “Professional Conference Managers Association (PCMA) Convening Leaders Annual Meeting” in Pittsburgh, PA. Ellen Thomas, senior meeting sales manager with VSC, joined in this Visit Florida-sponsored co-op to promote Sarasota County to a cast of over 1,000 meeting and event professionals. Visit Florida’s interactive “experience activation” allowed attendees to submit thousands of photos via Instagram and Twitter. The photos were arranged into a work of art by the end of the show. This was a very popular activation and offered VSC great exposure! 

In February, VSC sales representatives will be heading to Tallahassee for the “Xsite Trade Show” to promote our destination to Northern Florida-based meeting professionals.Atlanta Braves Logo

Start marking your calendars now for an April meetings partner co-op sales mission for Atlanta - home of our future spring training partners, the Braves! More details will follow, but set aside April 2-3 if interested, and contact Ellen Thomas at [email protected].

Partnership

Welcome New Partners!

Don’t forget with every 3 businesses you refer that become a partner, you earn $500 in FREE digital advertising. Let your friends know how VSC can support them!

Partner Coffee

Our January partner coffee not only gives you a wonderful opportunity to collaborate and network with your fellow partners but a wonderful way to celebrate the Holidays. Our VSC staff will be on hand to update you on what is new.

You are welcome to bring an item for our business card raffle drawing, allowing you to share your product with others.

Please RSVP by January 21st so our gracious hosts can have an idea on how many to expect. 

The Westin Sarasota
100 Marina View Drive
Sarasota, FL. 34236

Thursday, January 24th, 8-9:00 am

Partner Orientation

We offer partner orientation the 1st Thursday of every month. This is a wonderful way to make sure you are utilizing your partnership with us to its maximum potential. Our next partner coffee is scheduled for February 7th from 9-10:30 am. Please RSVP to Erin Hurter at [email protected].

ARCHIVE

December Sales Team News

International:

World Travel MarketVisit Sarasota County staff attended World Travel Market (WTM) for three days of meeting with UK Travel Trade and Media. Tour operators overall report bookings for 2019 are picking up! These operators are always interested in the latest information and updates from your properties or business. Please send anything of note to Kelly Defebo at [email protected] so it may be shared!

Visit Sarasota hosted 19 top-selling German travel agents in November. In less than two full days, the group went on a whirlwind tour of the area – from site visits of the properties they sell in the area, to experiencing the destination. The group enjoyed a cookout on Siesta Beach, The Sarasota Ballet, and a Ghouls & Ghost Sarasota Discovery Tour. It was the first time to the United States for many, and a first to Florida for others. A special Thank You to Art Ovation Hotel for hosting a breakfast and The Resort at Longboat Key Club for hosting a lunch for the group. We made an amazing first impression!

2019 IITA Summit Silent Auction Donations

2019 IITA Summit Silent Auction DonationsIn February, Kelly Defebo will be attending the IITA Summit in Savannah, Ga. Each year they hold an auction to benefit a charitable cause through Tourism Cares. We would like to donate a Sarasota Escape Package complete with hotel, dining and spa certificates, and area attractions. This total package will ensure the highest bidder will be able to experience our destination first hand. This is a wonderful opportunity for you to highlight your business to leading inbound tour operators and industry professionals.

If you would like to make a donation to this package please contact Carolyn Perry at [email protected] for pick up. All donations must be received no later Tuesday January 15, 2019.

Meetings

Visit Sarasota County attended Visit Florida’s “Florida Encounter Trade Show” in Fort Myers from Nov. 28 to 30. This event features only Florida meeting destinations, hotels, resorts and attractions to domestic and international meeting professionals. As a Partner co-op, Ellen Thomas, Senior Meeting Sales Manager, was joined by Valerie Tiffany, Regional Director of Sales & Marketing for the new Embassy Suites Hotel and Hotel Indigo.

On Dec. 1, seven meeting planners started their journey from Bonita Springs to Sarasota for a post-Florida Encounter familiarization (FAM) tour. These experienced planners were delighted to explore Sarasota’s new and existing meeting properties and attractions, and attend the “Meet the Planner” lunch at Marina Jack. The luncheon is specifically for our smaller, limited service properties with meeting space to tell the planners what they have to offer. The three-day experience was a great success and will bring more groups to Sarasota!

Art Ovation Hotel

Art Ovation Hotel with Asa Thomas, Director of Sales

Ca D’Zan at The Ringling

Ca D’Zan at The Ringling

On December 11, Senior Meeting Sales Manager Ellen Thomas and Group Sales Coordinator Allison Jones attended the ribbon cutting for The Sarasota Modern, a Tribute Portfolio hotel. The 89-room luxury boutique hotel is a great new addition to our distinct group of hotels in the Sarasota area.

Figure 1 VSC staff members stand in front of The_Modern van, which will be used to shuttle hotel guests around town
Figure 1 VSC staff members stand in front of The_Modern van, which will be used to shuttle hotel guests around town

Partnership:

In November we welcomed the following partners to our VSC Family:

Sarasota Museum of Art: http://www.ringling.edu/museum

Hopkins & Daughter, Inc.: http://www.bocabeacon.com

Ristorante San Marco: http://www.sanmarcovenice.com

Don’t forget with every 3 businesses that you refer that become a partner, you earn $500 in FREE digital advertising. Let your friends know how VSC can support them.

SALES UPDATES: NOVEMBER

Meetings
IMEX America 2018 – Las Vegas
Visit Sarasota County and four hotel Partners took IMEX America by storm from October 16-18, 2018. Sales representatives from The Ritz-Carlton Sarasota, The Westin Sarasota, The Resort at Longboat Key and Art Ovation Hotel joined Ellen Thomas to work the trade show booth and network with meeting and incentive professionals from all over the world! IMEX is the largest annual meetings industry conference in America, attracting approximately 11,000 attendees. This was a trade show co-op opportunity offered by Visit Sarasota County. 

Florida Huddle - Logo

“Bring It Home” Meeting Incentive
In an effort to encourage local companies and organizations to hold their meetings and conferences at one of our many beautiful hotels and resorts, Visit Sarasota County is currently offering a “Bring It Home” meeting incentive! Groups can receive a $10 per room night booked and used rebate up to $5000, once the program is completed. This program is open to Manatee and Sarasota County entities that book a Sarasota County hotel. Contact Ellen Thomas, Sr. Meetings Manager for more information. [email protected]

New Hire

Visit Sarasota County is excited to announce the hiring of Allison Jones as our new Group Sales Coordinator! She will be assisting Meeting Sales Manager Ellen Thomas in acquiring new leads and showcasing Sarasota’s qualities that make it the perfect destination for group conferences, meetings and events. Allison is a recent graduate from the University of Florida and an alumna of Riverview High School. As a Sarasota native, Allison is excited to continue to build relationships within the community and share why she believes this area has incredible opportunities for prospective groups of any type or size. If you have any questions regarding our meeting incentives or any leads on prospective groups looking to book in Sarasota, you can reach Allison at [email protected]

Florida Huddle - Logo

International 

Reaching the International Market is easy!  The best part about these visitors is that they like to come after our peak season is wrapped up – helping to keep you busy year-round.  If you are a hotel or attraction, please reach out to [email protected] to find how to work with this market.  Visit Sarasota County invests thousands of dollars each year to promote the area to international markets – why not find out how you can get involved for little to no cost to you?

Partnership
 
VSC will be partnering with All Faith’s Food Bank this holiday season.  Please make a donation at our Downtown Visitor Center (1945 Fruitville Rd) by Dec. 19 OR bring your non-perishables to the December Partner Coffee on the same date, from 8:00 a.m. – 9:00 a.m. at The Bazaar on Apricot and Lime. All partners who donate will go into a drawing for a beautiful VSC promotional basket. The prize drawing will happen during the partner coffee, and you must be in attendance to win.  

Here are the most needed food items:
-Peanut Butter
-Jelly
-Canned tuna, chicken, or salmon
-Rice
-Beans of any kind
-Shelf-stable milk

Attention Dining Partners!  We have added Gluten Free & Vegetarian as a category on your website listing.  Be sure to log into the extranet and add it.  Follow the prompts for Extranet/Profile/Account/Manage Amenities

Get $500 in Advertising for FREE
Who knows better than our partners about our benefits? Refer (3) converted partners and you will receive 25K impressions through a digital media campaign over 2 months - A $500 Value.  We are limited to 10 offers.   For details email Erin Hurter at [email protected] .
Get $500 in Advertising Value FREE!

 How to VSC
Access Leads, Update Contacts, Search the VSC Partner Directory
Please remember to go into the Extranet and make the most of your partnership. If you need a
password reset or any other assistance please contact Carolyn Perry at [email protected]. We provide additional Extranet Training free at our monthly Partnership Orientations.   Our orienations are held the 1st Thursday of every month.

SAVE THE DATES FOR DECEMBER:

12/6/18:  Partner Orientation/Extranet Training:    9:00 – 10:30 AM
VSC Admin Offices, 1777 Main Street (9th Floor), Sarasota, FL 34236
Please RSVP at [email protected] or [email protected]

12/19/18:  Wednesday :  Partner Coffee at The Bazaar at Apricot and Lime.  Please bring canned goods for All Faith’s Food Bank.

Spirituality and Wellness Tourism:
If you are intersted in reaching this market, contact Erin Hurter at [email protected]

SALES UPDATES: OCTOBER

Meetings

Art Ovation Hotel welcomes MPI SOS
On September 13, Visit Sarasota County and area hotels and suppliers attended the Meeting Professionals International (MPI) South of the Skyway (S.O.S.) event hosted by Art Ovation Hotel, as part of the Tampa Bay Area chapter of MPI. Meeting planners from Sarasota and Manatee Counties, and throughout the Tampa area, assembled to network and tour the new Art Ovation Hotel. Please contact Ellen Thomas, [email protected] if you are interested in hosting a future MPI S.O.S. event.

Heading for IMEX America!
IMEX America is the largest annual meeting and incentive show in the United States. This Visit Sarasota County Partner Co-op will include meeting sales representatives from The Ritz-Carlton Sarasota, The Westin Sarasota, Ocean Properties, and Art Ovation Hotel. The event was be October 15-18 in Las Vegas.

International

Grow your market share and fill your business year-round! Partner with us at these upcoming shows targeting the International Market:

Florida Huddle in Daytona Beach, January 8-10, 2019: This is an appointment show featuring other Florida suppliers allowing you to meet with leading international tour operators and wholesalers in the industry. You will get your own book of appointments. There is no cost to attend but travel expenses are not included. Space is limited: first come, first serve! Email [email protected] with the subject “HUDDLE!” Deadline 10/31/18. Learn more

ITB Berlin in Berlin, Germany, March 6-10, 2019: Meet with German tour operators and media in appointments Wednesday-Friday, and meet with German consumers Saturday-Sunday (optional). You can set up your own appointments or sit in on VSC’s. There is no cost to attend but travel expenses are not included. Space is limited: first come, first serve! Email [email protected] with the Subject “ITB!” Deadline 10/31/18. Learn more

IPW in Anaheim, CA, June 1-5, 2019: IPW is US Travel Association’s showcase of America, where the U.S. travel industry meets with travel buyers and media from more than 70 countries. You will get your own book of appointments. Cost is $1,750 and travel expenses are not included. There is no cost to attend but travel expenses are not included. Limited Space, first come, first serve. [email protected] with the Subject IPW! Deadline 10/31/18. Learn more

Leisure

Visit Sarasota went on two “sales missions” to AAA offices. The first trip included offices from Brandon to north of Orlando in Heathrow. The second trip included offices from Fort Myers to the east coast in cities like Plantation and Stuart. Kelli Funkhouser met with AAA Member Representatives answering questions about Sarasota and promoting new properties, events and attractions.

VSC co-hosted a three-day Group Tour Operator FAM along with the Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau (BACVB). Much of the first two days were spent touring Sarasota County, visiting local attractions and dining in restaurants suitable for tour groups. These familiarization tours (FAM) help promote Sarasota as a destination to add to their itineraries.

Partnership

Attention Dining Partners! We have added Gluten Free & Vegetarian as a category on your website listing. Be sure to log into the extranet and add it. Follow the prompts for Extranet/Profile/Account/Manage Amenities.

Get $500 in Advertising Value FREE

Who knows better than our partners about our benefits? Refer (3) converted partners and you will receive 25K impressions through a digital media campaign over 2 months - A $500 Value! We are limited to 10 offers. For details email Erin Hurter at ehurt[email protected] .

Access Leads, Update Contacts, Search the VSC Partner Directory

Please remember to go into the extranet and make the most of your partnership. If you need a
password reset or any other assistance please contact Carolyn Perry at [email protected]. We provide additional Extranet Training free at our monthly Partnership Orientations.

SAVE THE DATE:
1ST THURSDAY of every Month: Partner Orientation/Extranet Training 9:00 – 10:30 AM
VSC Admin Offices, 1777 Main Street (9th Floor), Sarasota, FL 34236
Please RSVP at [email protected] or [email protected]

We continue to welcome new partners every month to our VSC Family! Please click on the partner name to learn more about them!

SALES UPDATES: SEPTEMBER

Visit Sarasota's Fiscal 2019 year begins October 1. With that comes new opportunities for our valued partners to join us in sales activities. If you are interested in reaching the International Consumer Market, International Trade, Domestic Travel Agents, Association, Corporate or Government Meeting Planners, Motorcoach Operators, SMERF Market and/or Brides and Grooms, the opportunities are worth a look! All of the opportunities are free, with the exception of one (as indicated). Space is limited - first come, first serve! Please email [email protected] to sign up. 

August was a big opportunity month for meetings. Visit Sarasota County started their trade show journey with IncentiveWorks in Toronto. This was a first-time show whose audience consisted of Canada-based meeting and incentive planners. In addition to a trade show booth, Visit Sarasota County sponsored a breakout session, which included branding and a presentation to the planners.

Next stop was ASAE (American Society of Association Executives) Annual Meeting in Chicago. This was a VSC Partner Co-op opportunity, and Ocean Properties joined VSC at our booth. Approximately 3,000 association executives, and 2,000 suppliers attended, making this year’s show the highest-ever attendance.

Connect Marketplace offers different tracts for different market segments. VSC attended the corporate and sports tract “reverse” trade show in Salt Lake City. This show attracts a large number of destination decision makers throughout all tracts.

From Salt Lake – on to Palm Beach for Smart Meetings. This was a smaller, more intimate appointment show that focused on planners from all market segments. Corporate, Third-party, Association and Religious planners were on the appointment schedule.

In early September, VSC attended Destination Southeast, and looking ahead to October, we will be sponsoring a Helms-Briscoe client dinner in Tallahassee, and attending IMEX America with four of our hotel Partners. (Pictures attached)

IncentiveWorks Canada Booth

Destination Showcase Appointment

Lauren Thompson & Naomi Dube-Borzym ASAE

  

International

Attractions/Things To Do Partners: Please consider listing an allotment of tickets with an online booking platform in order to reach the International market. This is a great way for the visitor to purchase your ticket before they come to the area! Tour operator call center agents will utilize this service while trying to sell a client add-ons to their flight, accommodations and car rental arrangements. Many tour operators have requested listings on Viator. Check out the link for more information! https://supplier.viator.com/sign-up-info

Leisure

Visit Sarasota County attended the Going on Faith Conference in Little Rock, Arkansas. Kelli Funkhouser met with religious planners from around the country to promote Sarasota County as a destination to add to their itineraries.

Partnership

Attention Dining Partners! We have added Gluten Free & Vegetarian as a category on your website listing. Be sure to log into the extranet and add it. Follow the prompts for Extranet/Profile/Account/Manage Amenities

Get $500 in Advertising Value FREE

Who knows better than our partners about our benefits? Refer (3) converted partners and you will receive 25K impressions through a digital media campaign over 2 months - A $500 Value. We are limited to 10 offers. For details email Erin Hurter at [email protected] .

Congratulations to Key Culinary Tours and Captain Josh Pritchett for referring 3 new partners and receiving the $500 advertising bonus!

Access Leads, Update Contacts, Search the VSC Partner Directory

Please remember to go into the Extranet and make the most of your partnership. If you need a password reset or any other assistance please contact Carolyn Perry at [email protected]. We provide additional Extranet Training free at our monthly Partnership Orientations.

SAVE THE DATE

1ST THURSDAY of every Month: Partner Orientation/Extranet Training 9:00 – 10:30 AM

Next date: Thursday, October 4th

VSC Admin Offices, 1777 Main Street (9th Floor), Sarasota, FL 34236

Please RSVP at [email protected] or [email protected]

We continue to welcome new partners every month to our VSC Family!

SALES UPDATES: AUGUST

Meetings
HelmsBriscoe FAM Tour Comes to Town

From July 19-21, ten HelmsBriscoe top-producing Florida-based managers and directors joined Visit Sarasota County for a FAM Tour. Helms Briscoe is the largest destination and hotel sourcing organization for meetings, conferences and incentives, in the United States.

The tour agenda included a “roof-top hop” at The Westin Sarasota and Art Ovation Hotel as well as site inspections and special events at Hyatt Regency Sarasota, The Ritz-Carlton Hotel and The Ritz-Carlton Beach Club, Aloft Sarasota, Embassy Suites by Hilton Sarasota, Lido Beach Resort, The Resort at Longboat Key Club and Zota Beach Resort. The Ringling, downtown Sarasota, St. Armands Circle, and the beaches made a big impact on the planners.

This FAM tour also included a “Meet the Planners” lunch at Marina Jack, to which representatives from limited service properties were welcomed to network with the group. Multiple meeting RFPs have already been submitted by the group.

International 
Visit Sarasota County was proud to host the International Inbound Travel Association (IITA) Leadership Retreat August 2-5.  The group is made up of Inbound Tour & Tour Operators, DMO’s in the United States and Suppliers of Travel Services (Hotels, Transportation Companies, Attractions, etc). The Leadership Retreat brought the IITA Board and Committee members to the destination for 2 days of workshops. A very special Thank You to our sponsors who helped make hosting the event possible: Art Ovation Hotel, Hyatt Regency Sarasota, Sarasota Bradenton International Airport and The Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota.

Leisure
Visit Sarasota County and Tiger Lilly Flowers teamed up to exhibit at the Wedding Salon Show in NYC on July 30.  Over 650 Brides and Grooms-to-be attended the event and they collected information from Visit Sarasota as a potential destination for a wedding, honeymoon and bachelor/bachelorette party!

Motorcoach/Leisure Group Tour Mailing
VSC will be sending out a mailing to 100 bus tour operators and group tour leaders to promote businesses and properties that are bus and/or group friendly.  The cost is $75 to participate.  If you are interested in having your business collateral (flyer, rack card or similar) included in the mailing, please contact Kelli at [email protected] or 955.0991 x122.  Deadline to provide 100 pieces of your collateral to Kelli is August 24.

Partnership
Get $500 in Advertising Value FREE
Who knows better than our partners about our benefits? Refer (3) converted partners and you will receive 25K impressions through a digital media campaign over 2 months - A $500 Value.  We are limited to 10 offers.   For details email Erin Hurter at [email protected] .
Congratulations to Key Culinary Tours and Captain Josh Pritchett for referring 3 new partners and receiving the $500 advertising bonus!

Access Leads, Update Contacts, Search the VSC Partner Directory
Please remember to go into the Extranet and make the most of your partnership. If you need a password reset or any other assistance please contact Carolyn Perry at [email protected]. We provide additional Extranet Training free at our monthly Partnership Orientations.

SAVE THE DATE
1ST THURSDAY of every Month: Partner Orientation/Extranet Training     9:00 – 10:30 AM
Next date: Thursday, September 6
VSC Admin Offices, 1777 Main Street (9th Floor), Sarasota, FL 34236
Please RSVP at [email protected] or [email protected]

 

We continue to welcome new partners every month to our VSC Family!
Temple Beth Shalom:                         www.templebethshalomfl.org
Venice Regional Bayfront Health:      www.veniceregional.com
TS&Z (Three Siz and Zero):                www.threesixandzero.com

SALES UPDATES: JULY

Meetings
At the Meeting Professionals International (MPI) Tampa Bay Area Chapter Annual Awards Gala 2018, The Westin Sarasota received the Large Sponsor of the Year award. The event was held on June 28 at The Florida Aquarium in Tampa. This prestigious award was given for the hotel’s sponsorship of the April 2018 MPI Meetings Academy, in a joint sponsorship with Visit Sarasota County.  Senior Sales Manager, Jennifer Eggan, accepted the award. The Westin Sarasota is one of Sarasota’s newest meeting hotels and will be celebrating their first birthday on July 28.

International
Stefanie Mehlhorn, our German representative, participated on the VISIT FLORIDA Roadshow June 4-8 throughout 4 German cities: Munich, Wurzburg, Aachen & Bonn, TUI Germany partnered with VISIT FLORIDA on this year’s roadshow and selected the travel agents who were in attendance.  Visit Sarasota was able to give 12-minute presentations to small, rotating groups at the shows in each city.

Leisure:
VSC along with Der Dutchman Catering at Carlisle Inn, Hotel Venezia, Hyatt Regency Sarasota, Mattison’s Catering and Romanticvows.com attended the Tampa Bay Bridal Show at Amalie Arena at the end of June.  We spoke with soon-to-be brides and grooms to promote Sarasota County for destination weddings. 

Partnership:
Who knows better than our partners about our benefits!
Refer (3) converted partners and you will receive 25K impressions through a digital media campaign over a two month period - $500 Value.  We are limited to 10 offers.   Ask me for details

Congratulations to Key Culinary Tours for referring three new partners and receiving the $500 advertising bonus!
We are now hosting MONTHLY PARTNER ORIENTATION.  SAVE THE DATE FOR THE 1ST THURSDAY OF EVERY MONTH – 9:00 – 10:30 a.m.

We continue to welcome new partners every month to our VSC Family!

Please remember to go into the Extranet and update your contacts/amenities as needed. If you need a password reset or any other assistance please contact Carolyn Perry at [email protected]. Still havent taken the Extranet training? Our next Partnership Orientation is 9 to 10:30 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 2, 1777 Main St. (9th Floor), Sarasota, FL 34236

Please RSVP to [email protected] or [email protected]