While the citizens of the Northeast sit inside in their homes during the gray days of winter, Florida, with its blue skies and golden vistas, beckons.
This fact isn’t lost on the staff of Polk County Tourism and Sports Marketing, who brave both the cold and the snow – and the possible flight cancellations – for the opportunity to educate travel professionals as well as the general public about all Polk County has to offer vacationers.
“The Northeast Corridor – Boston, New York, Connecticut – they remain the best market for Florida overall. They know the state, they know what we have to offer,” said Joni Allen, the tourism industry sales expert for Visit Central Florida, “and they come down here. Often.”
And while the New York Times Travel Show may be the biggest of the events, the Boston Globe Travel Show is quickly gaining on it with more than 24,000 attendees, over a three day period, this year. Allen attended both shows, which serve travel trade professionals as well as the general public.
“And Visit Florida knows how to do the show right,” said Allen. “Florida has an entire row to itself, and we’re the last booth in the row.”
But the cherry on top for the Boston event was, as gold sponsors, hosting education round tables. Allen chose to give the opportunity to Balmoral, thus allowing Chris Thelonos an opportunity to introduce the new resort to 120 participants in a new market.
Overall, according to Allen, visitors not only knew the area, they had visited and planned on returning.
“Many knew the area, as well as Circle B, Tigers Spring Training and even Archie Ritch and Ridge Island Groves,” said Allen. “And, of course, Streamsong.”
But there were two visitors who left a lasting impression.
“A man walked up and asked if we knew of a place in Florida where they could stay in teepees. Of course I did – Westgate River Ranch. When I told him I knew just the place, a big smile came over his face,” she said. “He said he and his wife had talked to everyone there, and of course, we’d be the last ones in the row. I was just happy to help.”