New Coast tourism director starts rockin’ the boat
It been in the works for more than a year and now it’s time for the grand reveal of a new tourism slogan for Visit MS Gulf Coast.
The announcement comes March 11 at an event in Gulfport for tourism and business leaders. The reveal immediately kicks off a $965,000 marketing campaign on television, internet TV, billboards and social media designed to inspire people to vacation on the Coast.
Last year many Coast residents shared their ideas for what they consider a slogan that captures the spirit of the place and the people of South Mississippi.
The new slogan is a tightly-guarded secret until March 11, said Milton Segarra, chief executive officer of Visit MS Gulf Coast. He said this new brand will be a reflection of the values of South Mississippi and the experience the Coast delivers.
Locals may like the new slogan — or they may not — he said.
It wasn’t created for them, he said, but was crafted and tested to draw tourists looking at vacation spots to choose South Mississippi over other destinations.
The choice is made
Two national firms hired by the Visit MS Gulf Coast board are helping to craft the brand and spread it across social media.
After months of work, the choices were narrowed down to three, Segarra said, which were tested on prospective visitors.
From March until September, people in cities and towns throughout the Southeast and beyond will hear this new slogan to entice them to visit South Mississippi.
Eighty percent of the advertising budget will target the drive-in market and the remainder of the money will be spent outside the region to get the attention of the fly-in market. Currently, 79 percent of the visitors drive to South Mississippi.
The market will determine whether they chose the right brand, Segarra said.
“In the end it’s going to be whether people come or not,” he said.
What’s it matter?
Even before the reveal, Segarra will engage the community and prepare them for the launch.
He will present key findings from the new Tourism Economics report at 8 a.m. Feb. 28 at the MS Coast Coliseum and Convention Center. He plans to look at how South Mississippi is one-third of the entire state tourism industry, along with why it pays to promote tourism and how public funding of the visitors bureau compares to similar and competing destinations.
Chambers of commerce from across the Coast are invited to this meeting of the Gulf Coast Business Council. Admission is free to the public but registration is required at email@example.com or 228-897-2020.
Segarra arrived on the Coast a year ago from his former tourism directorship in Puerto Rico. At his first Visit MS Gulf Coast meeting in January 2018, he announced, “We’re going to rock the boat a little bit. But we need to do it.”
He set right in shaking that boat, convincing the Visit MS Gulf Coast board members who hired him that the Coast could do better than the previous brand of “Stay Awhile and You’ll Get it.”
The board got behind him as he formed an advisory group of tourism professionals from across the country and as he laid the groundwork for the new slogan.
New members were added to the marketing committee of Visit MS Gulf Coast to give new eyes to look at what’s next, Rich Westfall, a Jackson County board member and chairman of its marketing committee, said at the January meeting.
“Let’s be bold in what we do,” he challenged the board.