Matt Dunn, 40, took over the position of vice president of tourism development for Palm Coast and the Flagler Beaches, a division of the Flagler County Chamber of Commerce, one year ago. In that year, the county recorded the most successful tourist development tax collections in history, with an increase of 13% over the previous year.
Dunn and his team are already working to make an even bigger year by rebooking a significant amount of group business, launching a new ad campaign and booking several new events for the area.
The new ad campaign, named “local soul,” aims to better reach visitors when they are making their travel decisions.
“It will speak to our destination and its uniqueness much better than previous campaign slogans and messaging,” Dunn said.
The campaign will also explore media outlets in which the tourism department has not previously purchased ads. One example of this is an ad in “The Bark,” an upscale dog magazine.
“Month after month, the most visited page on our website is ‘pet friendly beaches and accommodations,’” Dunn said. “So never before have we pursued that, but we will try to reach those potential visitors.”
This media campaign, which combines a print ad with an e-blast to circulation and video content on their website, has already seen a response.
In addition to the several conferences and athletic events that have traditionally taken place in Flagler County and agreed to return in 2015, Dunn has secured contracts with several new events that will bring tourists and additional business for local organizations.
The first of those events took place this past weekend on Dead Lake at the Bull Creek Fish Camp. Carhartt Bassmaster College Series brought in collegiate anglers for the college series south regional. The tournament, which was televised on ESPNU, was expected to garner more than a half-million dollars in direct visitor spending, for a total economic impact to the area of $950,432.
Also new to the area is the U.S. Quidditch South Regional Tournament, which will take place Feb. 27 to March 1. The event will include teams from Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, South Carolina and Tennessee. Depending on the qualification process, up to 30 teams, or 500 players, are expected.
Hammock Beach Resort will play host to the EVP Pro Beach Volleyball Tour June 4-7 and the Florida Outdoor Writers Association will host its week-long conference in Flagler County in September.
“About 150-175 outdoor travel writers will come in for their annual conference and spend half the day in meetings, and the other half taking part in outdoor adventures,” Dunn said. “Each one writes for a minimum of six to eight publications, and after their stay and experience with us, will go write about us. It’s a tremendous amount of earned media that we’ll benefit from for hosting the event.”
Dunn said that the big message for 2015 is that there is increased visitor spending that will occur within Flagler County due to visitors being in town. “It is economic impact that wouldn’t ordinarily take place if it weren’t for visitors coming to our destination,” he said.
Dunn’s years of experience in the industry and relationships made with clients before coming to Flagler County have given him an edge in the ability to bring those clients to the area. Some notable clients of Dunn’s in the past include the X-Games, Red Bull and Color Run Canadian Tour. He has worked for the Gainesville Sports Commission, Florida Citrus Sports, Ocala/Marion County Convention and Visitors Bureau and owned his own company, The Dunn Agency.
“He’s a community leader I’d love to have,” said Ravi Rajsoomar, chief marketing officer of Six-Speed, who is working with Dunn on the new ad campaign. “He is passionate about where he lives, cares about values and is genuinely a nice person, caring and compassionate. In his field, he sees what tourism and the sports side of tourism can bring a community, and I think he is definitely on track to put Palm Coast and the Flagler Beaches on the map for sports tourism.”