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‘Miami Shines’ effort aims to whet wanderlust for the time when hotels

April 29, 2020, by Michelle Kaufman, courtesy of Miami Herald

Beaches and most hotels are still closed. Cruise ships are docked. Nevertheless, the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau wants to “keep Miami top of mind as a travel destination” and “provide a sense of relief to those craving travel experiences while anxious and confined at home” during the coronavirus pandemic.

To that end, the bureau this week started rolling out a trilingual “Miami Shines” recovery campaign. The full program won’t be deployed until hotels are reopened for tourists, which the bureau anticipates will be sometime in June, according to Rolando Aedo, chief operating officer of the GMCVB.

In the meantime, through imagery and words, the message is that Miami’s natural beauty and global vibe are still here, awaiting the return of visitors when the time is right.

“We’re building this as we did after 9/11, after oil spills, after significant hurricanes and Zika,” Aedo said. “Fortunately, or unfortunately, we have a lot of experience developing post-crisis programs. The tone and voice of the campaign is very important. We have to strike a balance between keeping Miami top of mind, but also doing it in a sensitive way because we are going through a very tough period. There’s a lot of anxiety and tragedy.”

Aedo said the bureau’s goal is to “turn back on our tourism faucet, which for the most part has been turned off. It’s barely a trickle.” Of the county’s more than 475 hotels, only about 125 are open — and only for essential lodgers.

The latest data from industry data firm STR, released Wednesday, bear him out. U.S. hotel gross operating profit per available room fell 101.7% during March 2020. In the Miami/Hialeah market it fell 81.5%.

The name “Miami Shines” is not just about the city’s sunshine, but about the shine of the area’s diverse population, places and neighborhoods. The campaign is being launched in English, Spanish and Creole with video and social media content.

The strategy is to first target South Floridians to patronize local hotels, restaurants, museums and tourist attractions when they open. The bureau will then radiate messaging to the rest of Florida and drive markets — perhaps further away than usual, Aedo said, as people may still be nervous about flying. After that, tourism officials will try to lure back their main U.S. and Canadian feeder markets.

Overseas travel will likely take the longest to resume. But Aedo feels that may put Miami at an advantage over other U.S. travel destinations because domestic tourists looking for a cosmopolitan destination will find it in South Florida.

“We will miss some of that international travel in the short term because everyone agrees that’s the market that will lag the most,” Aedo said. “On the flip side, I’d argue that we are such a global city, we have that flavor, that feel, those cultures.... One way we shine is not just our beaches but our cafes, art and culture.”

The bureau expects pent-up demand for travel will benefit the area once things open up. Two major medical conventions are scheduled to be held in South Florida in September, and Aedo said he remains in weekly contact with those groups and that they are “bullish on Miami” as their destination.

The “Miami Shines” initiative offers local businesses promotional tips such as making their marketing “feel optimistic and hopeful, yet sensitive to the current situation.” The message: “Do not oversell Miami. The goal is not to get people to travel to Miami now, it is to invoke positive emotions about Miami through the imagery and copy.”

On the bureau website, Miami is being described as “a place where sunrise and sunsets are equally radiant, where cafecito hour brightens our afternoons, and where luminous, moonlit skies light up the night.

“That’s how we shine, every single day of the year. And that bright, beautiful, sun-drenched attitude permeates everything, every place, and everyone in our destination.

“And it will await you. Ready for you to explore, discover and enjoy.

“We stand by you, as you stand by.”

Source: Miami Herald