Visitor and Convention Authority at Work: Projecting Miami Beach around the World

By Elsie Howard….
The Miami Beach Visitor and Convention Authority (MBVCA) is delighted with the success of so many of the events and projects we funded this past year—events and projects built on prior years’ successes, as we plan and dream for future projects. Tourism numbers are up and we all reap the benefits of the revenue infusion that tourism brings.

Our MBVCA believes that tourism, hospitality and the global reach of the Miami Beach brand help to support and sustain our local economy. And we know that residents and visitors share the delights of the special events supported and recruited by the MBVCA.

This past season we funded more events than ever before—with funds that accrue from a portion of the bed tax, not residents’ tax dollars. And we constantly review our progress. The MBVCA grant program was again fine-tuned. The weekly email newsletter was upgraded. But most important, this past month I am proud to announce that the MBVCA has launched several new projects we hope will better tell the Miami Beach story around the world.

On June 4th, at the Miami Beach Chamber of Commerce dinner, in front of the sold-out audience of over 900 guests, Chamber President, Jerry Libbin announced that the MBVCA would launch the Miami Beach visual memoir project, through an RFP, soliciting the stories of residents and visitors, to memorialize the history of Miami through first-hand accounts. Formal bids are required to be delivered to the MBVCA by this August and the winner of the contract will be announced by the end of the summer. We expect the visual memoirs project to be launched this fall, 2011 and we encourage everyone to take part in the project. The winner of the RFP will also establish a library. Expect the announcement of the project launch in late August. Then YOU can share your Miami Beach memories and stories in perpetuity. Our only requirement: Share the real stories! (Stay tuned…..)

In June the MBVCA signed a contract with global communications powerhouse Hill & Knowlton/ Samcor. H & K will support the MBVCA’s grant process, event recruitment and the international brand awareness of Miami Beach with consumer, travel trade, business and corporate communications programs, through strategic media outreach to consumer and travel trades. Their goal –and ours— is to bring even more visibility and even more sustainable citywide events to our unique city, ramping up its glorious image and creating excitement around all it has to offer.

Hill & Knowlton, Inc. is a leading international communications consultancy, providing services to local, multinational and global clients. The firm is headquartered in New York, with 80 offices in 44 countries, as well as an extensive associate network. The agency is part of WPP, one of the world’s largest communications services groups. Cori Zywotow Rice, president of H&K’s Miami office, is a long time Miami resident, with deep and strong ties to the community. H & K’s 2011-2012 strategic plan will be reviewed before the end of summer.

Electronic communication, social media and “apps” are theway to communicate information today. The MBVCA is drafting an outline of a dream ‘app’ platform that will be used to develop specific apps over the next few years At a community meeting last spring, the MBVCA launched this mission — exploring, defining and outlining a list of “apps’ that should improve communications in Miami Beach . By summer’s end the MBVCA will launch the RFP specific to this effort. And we hope that the “apps” will be available by 2012.

The MBVCA also supports the Mayor’s Blue Ribbon Tourism Task Force on Tourism which spent a great deal of time this past year successfully dealing with some of the many issues that impact the east end of Lincoln Road. The job is not finished, though and we expect to ramp up again in the fall. Please take a look at the year’s end report for the Lincoln Road Task Force on Tourism that is on our website if you are interested in that effort.

You can always learn what we are doing on behalf of Miami Beach on our website and you can sign up for our weekly news blast. Annually, for the past twelve years, the MBVCAhas published its “Program of Work”, an analysis of the prior fiscal year (that we post on our website as well). This year’s report will be posted in September, prior to the end of our fiscal year on October 1.

A really personal note: It is a personal pleasure to work with the dedicated members of our Board: Steve Adkins, Jacque Hertz, Jeff Lehman, Keith Menin and Micky Steinberg. I want to especially thank Debbie Castillo for her service. Debbie has been an engaged and productive member of the Board for many years until her recent departure this past June. We will miss her wise advice and her enthusiasm. I am honored to thank the incomparable Harold Rosen who serves as our (volunteer) attorney. Harold hardly misses a meeting and he is always there to answer our legal questions with a smile and with great patience. Our executive director, Grisette Roque Marcos is amazing. Eileen de la Cuesta is too. We have welcomed Marian to our staff this past year to support Grisette and Eileen because we are so very busy. AS a team, we are truly all dedicated to enhancing tourism in Miami Beach – and to ensuring that our residents enjoy all that tourism brings to our community. We live here too. And we know how lucky we are.

Thanks for listening.

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