VCF promotes area at World’s Largest Airshow

It started with less than 150 people and just a handful of airplanes. Today, EAA AirVenture Oshkosh event, held this year from July 22 to July 28 in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, is the largest airshow in the world. Shattering previous records, attendance increased nearly 7 percent to exceed 640,000, with more than 10,000 total aircraft arrivals. In all, attendees were from 93 different countries.

Joni Allen, right, discusses Polk County with visitors to the SUN 'n FUN Aerospace Expo booth at the EAA AirVenture

Joni Allen, right, discusses Polk County with visitors to the SUN ‘n FUN Aerospace Expo booth at the EAA AirVenture Oshkosh event in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.

And a few folks from Polk County Tourism and Sports Marketing, known as Visit Central Florida to the rest of the world.

“We took over not only their booth, but also their social media accounts,” said Tourism Industry Sales specialist Joni Allen, who has represented PCTSM at 16 previous AirVenture events. “Both organizations felt that this effort would help limit the amount of spillage into other counties during SUN ‘n FUN. Plus, it gives us the opportunity to tell folks how much there is to do in Polk County with the aim that they’d have more to do – and spend on – while they are here, while also extending their stay. It is all about putting heads in beds and filling the coffers of Polk County businesses.”

Utilizing social media, PCTSM’s social media and creative coordinator Laura Modrall focused on videos and Instagram stories live from the event, capturing the attention of more than six million organic followers.

“Many of these folks aren’t just airshow spectators, they are aviation enthusiasts who travel from event to event,” said Allen. “And they are into technology, so social media was a necessary and affective strategy.”

Meanwhile, the staff at the booth – Allen, tourism sales representative Al Snow and content manager Jessica Roberts – reached out to attendees the old fashioned way.

“We had a raffle where people had to register to win a vacation,” said Roberts. “This allowed us to capture more than 500 emails, which allows us to extend our conversation about Polk County.”

Visitors holding orange squeeze balls in the SUN 'n FUN Aerospace Expo booth at the EAA AirVenture

Additionally, the one-on-one contact meant that education was slipped into the conversation with this crop of unique tourists who fly private airplanes to destinations.

“We found that many of the folks didn’t know about our other airports,” said Allen. “That allowed us to not only highlight those, but also bring up the vast amount of vacation homes that Polk County has to offer. Many of the folks we talked to had no idea.”

According to Allen, the key to education is getting the message our early and often.

“There are plenty of competing messages out there around SUN ‘n FUN,” she said. “By having ours out there early and often, we hope to cut through the competition. Plus, people are already making plans and booking stays due to our aggressive efforts. Those are the results we’re looking for. ”