*Update June 2017*
Product Development Process for Northwest Florida-
A small but safe, progressive community that offers white sandy beaches, A+ school options, and a plethora of retail and service outlets for tourist and locals. Northwest, Florida offers a strong economic base for individuals of all ages. It’s receptive to all visitors, offering endless recreation activities (on and off the water), having moderate transportation systems, and plenty of dining options!
The City of Gulf Breeze, my hometown, maintains exceptional medical services at the Andrews Institute. Professional athletes from around the globe get special attention here with world-renowned physicians and doctors. But the main attraction is our pristine white sandy beaches, however downtown Pensacola has shined through the last few years with new developments.
The quality of life is relaxed, friendly and salty. Dive in with me a bit deeper.
A name that describes them: Beach-goers
– Families/ couples
– Southeast USA travelers
– Average Age: 50
– Average income: 113,567
– Leisure 48%
– Business 15%
– Visiting Family 37%
– Leisure travel has grown over 7 percent annually for the past two years
– Six in 10 Millennials would rather spend their money on experiences than material things.
– Length of Lodge stay: 7 nights
– 85 percent of travelers desire beautiful scenery
– Over eight in 10 travelers went to at least one Online Travel Agent (OTA)
– Fine Dining
– Average party spends $1,620
– Average party per day $264
Product Development Opportunity: Pensacola Bay Center
For an entire decade I have been wanting our tax dollars to go toward a renovation of the Convention Center in Pensacola, FL. Visit Pensacola, citizens of our community and Pensacola Sports have been envisioning a new complex for years and I think now is the time. Below are a few reasons why I believe a new complex would benefit the community and drive in future tourist.
– Strengths/Opportunities: Pensacola is the oldest settlement in America, and offers a plethora of natural beauty as well as thriving developments downtown. Within the last 5 years I have seen this city grow immensely. The Community Maritime Park is the city’s newest sport and park facility, where citizens can attend events and concerts. After building this new establishment 4 years ago downtown, I’ve been able to see this area become more of a walking area, lined with new boutique hotels, restaurants, and bars. Gas-lamped Palafox Street lines the road for locals as well as people near and far. All this and more is in close proximity to the Pensacola Bay Center… making it a prime location that people can enjoy for decades to come. A walk downtown is a great way to see Pensacola and all it has to offer.
o Escambia County is wasting money keeping it up, rather than replacing it.
o We are not where we need to be. A network of community leaders hailing from the Pensacola Sports Group claim a new facility would range between 80-100 million. All this funding would be coming from public and private sectors.
o Many city officials and workers under the commission are hesitate to give the OK because the new Pensacola Bay Bridge is under way(this is another long overdue project that is the biggest NW FL has seen in a decade).
– Product Development Needs:
o Infrastructure – The site is right off the main highway, with the new Pensacola Bay Bridge we will have easy access to the facility right over the 3 mile bridge. Our hotels and B/B’s would be able to maximize their rooms on off season with the new facility, willing and are ready. The actual structure of the Convention Center is 30 years old, and well overdue to be replaced. Pensacola is ready.
o Training – Currently the facility has in-house catering and staff. Training would be provided by the team members who have worked there previously.
o Investment – Money would come from the Triumph Gulf Coast funds which result from the BP oil spill back in 2010 that devastated our beaches.
o Support – Pensacola Sports and partners are the main source for financial support. However, many citizens of the Florida Panhandle are backing up this BIG decision. Visit Pensacola, our main tourism organization has supported this decision for over a decade.
– Potential Partner Roles (How can partners contribute to product development?):
o Local tour operators, hotels, and private sectors could contribute by creating ways to raise money. People can attend city meetings to support and vote on various issues regarding the build. Businesses can be sponsors of the plan and work together to create banner ads online and around town.
o Partners of Visit Pensacola and Pensacola Sports can connect with the local newspaper and area magazine to inform people how much this will benefit our area.
The facility is to generate 50,000 hotel-room bookings (in Escambia County), and host tournament 35 – 41 weekends a year. These are the number we need to push to citizens and regional partners. This project could potentially result in $25 million dollars, in annual economic impact on Northwest Florida (Group proposes replacing Pensacola Bay Center, PNJ.com, December 15, 2016). I’m glad to be a small apart of this simple, yet significant corner of the world, that is so close to my heart.
The quality of life is relaxed, friendly and salty.
Through positive economic development strategies Santa Rosa County and Escambia County have fostered synergy between locals and tourist alike. I can’t wait to see what is in store for my favorite corner of the world!
“Some call it vacation… we call it home.” – locals ;)
Next on tap: View the top dining spots and where to get the best seafood in the Florida Panhandle.