The new star of Space Coast tourism marketing efforts is Starman.
Short promotional videos featuring the spacesuit-clad faux astronaut at various locations around Brevard County will debut this summer on social media and on television.
He will be a big part of the Space Coast Office of Tourism summer marketing campaign designed to draw visitors to Brevard County. The marketing is paid for by Brevard`s 5 percent Tourist Development Tax on hotel rooms and other short-term rentals.
The campaign also will include other efforts to connect Space Coast tourism with the space program. The Office of Tourism seeks to emphasize opportunities to view an increasing number of rocket launches from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and Kennedy Space Center, as well as the presence in North Brevard of the KSC Visitor Complex, which is Brevard`s most popular paid tourist attraction.
In one 30-second video, Starman is seen holding a surfboard while viewing a sunrise over the ocean, playing in the sand with a family, watching a rocket launch, fishing at Cocoa Beach Pier, watching a ship depart from Port Canaveral and having a romantic dinner with a date at the port`s Cove area.
Space Coast Office of Tourism Executive Director Eric Garvey said the Office of Tourism aims to link space and the beach in its campaign. He said the Starman name was "inspired by" but is not a rip-off off the name SpaceX CEO Elon Musk gave to the spacesuit-wearing mannequin that launched into space on a Falcon Heavy rocket in February while sitting in a cherry-red Tesla Roadster sports car. (Musk also is CEO of Tesla.)
Highway billboards and displays at airports also will emphasize the increasing number of launches from the Space Coast. The Office of Tourism also recently introduced a Launch Console phone app that will help users track upcoming rocket launches and watch live-streaming of each launch.
Office of Tourism officials presented these and other plans to attract visitors to the Space Coast during a recent meeting of the Tourist Development Council Marketing Committee.
The Space Coast tourism market has been strong. Revenue from the Tourist Development Tax for the first six month of the current budget year that began Oct. 1 is up $1.07 million, or 15 percent, from the same period last year. The tax raised $13.60 million in the budget year that ended Sept. 30.
Forty-seven percent of the tax revenue is used for promotion and advertising of Space Coast tourism in an effort to attract more tourists.
Garvey said the Space Coast is outperforming other tourism regions of the state, when comparing increases in key hotel indicators, including room occupancy rates, average daily room rate and average daily revenue per available room.
While the Space Coast tourism outlook for the early summer looks good, Office of Tourism Marketing Director Tiffany Minton said the growth is projected to start leveling off in August and September. so "we want to ramp up" marketing efforts to help mitigate that.
Among the Office of Tourism`s other efforts to draw visitors to Brevard County are:
Eight new billboard locations to the 41 already in place in Florida and Georgia that focus on one of nine Space Coast locales.
Minton said the new billboards are designed to fill holes in billboard coverage along Interstate 4 and Florida`s Turnpike.
She noted that research commissioned by the Office of Tourism indicate that the two most common places where tourists learn about the Space Coast are from Facebook videos and highway billboards.
"We just got to be in the game," said Tourist Development Council member and Marketing Committee Chairman Bob Baugher, who owns three hotels with a total of 409 rooms in Cape Canaveral and Cocoa Beach.
Among the billboard images, a woman is in the ocean with the words "Beach More, Worry Less! Cocoa Beach." Another shows a family with a cruise ship in the background, and the words "Seas the Day. Port Canaveral."
A 12-week "takeover" of 36 digital screens at Charlotte Douglas International Airport in North Carolina that starts this weekend. Charlotte is a key market for attracting tourists to the Space Coast.
Buzzfeed online articles and videos featuring the Brevard Zoo, the KSC Visitor Complex and a rocket launch.
"This is going to be a huge campaign for us," Minton said. "We`re super-excited about this campaign."
Locally produced "24 Hours in..." videos featuring Cocoa Beach, Melbourne and its nearby beaches, and Port Canaveral.
A new Space Coast TV platform for distributing video content to local hotels, restaurants and attractions. This content will include weekly "Space Coast Live" magazine-style shows featuring Office of Tourism Content Manager Jeanna Wood; planned monthly "Rocket Talk" shows that will be produced in conjunction with NASA and the KSC Visitor Complex; and shows featuring widely followed "influencers" in everything from food to fishing.
Facebook frames, weekly Instagram stories and Snapchat photo filters featuring Space Coast attractions and scenes.
A new blog with stories and illustrations by local lifestyle writer Steve Hall, aimed at connecting with the baby boomer audience.
The Office of Tourism over the spring coordinated a print and digital media campaign in conjunction with Delta Air Lines` Sky in-flight magazine, a cruise-focused Facebook campaign and a space-themed campaign targeting families with home-school students featuring the American Girl astronaut doll Luna.
Garvey said he`s been pleased with the gains in local tourism and with the marketing plans.
"I continue to be impressed with our team," Garvey said. "I think they`re doing an amazing job leveraging the latest content with the changing media landscape. And we`re seeing the results. The results are great."
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