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Regarding meetings, we are already seeing dramatic declines in our corporate (Monday-Friday) business. Cancellations for existing events are up, and overall business is down from last year by about 25% (although FY 07-08 was a record year, compared to FY 06-07, we are down about 15%). We are anticipating that corporate meetings and events will continue to suffer through at least next June. Our hope in York County, SC, is that things will start to improve and our bookings for next fall will start to rebound, but we are not expecting a quick recovery. Our social events and tradeshows are not suffering as badly. They are still going for the most part and are holding steady. From a pricing standpoint, our conference facility is not planning any drastic changes. They initially had plans to adjust their prices in January, but their rates will now remain flat. The facility has not had a price increase in 3 1/2 years, and seriously needs to increase their prices in order to keep up with rising costs. However, now didn't seem to be the time to do this. There will probably be consideration of a rate increase in July. From a marketing standpoint, we will work more closely with all of our tourism partners - meeting facilities, lodging facilities, attractions, restaurants and shopping outlets - to create value-added opportunities for prospects. We are being very cautious, trying to stay in synch with the attitudes of our various target markets, and make adjustments based on the opportunities we think are out there. This year we had already modified our sales approach to include creating more opportunities for one-on-one interaction with decision-makers. The only difference now is that we are looking for those opportunities within a more defined geographic region.


As with other destinations around the United States, and even the World, the meetings and tourism industry in Tampa has been impacted by the current financial crisis. In the leisure travel market, statistically speaking more and more people are staying closer to home when traveling by participating in "Staycations" and other close to home activities. Additionally, with decreasing budgets for food, beverage, entertainment and other ancillary expenses, as well as compressed booking cycles and shorter and more regionalized meetings combined with continued uncertainty within the financial market, the meetings and tourism industry is facing some very big challenges. But, by working with clients to meet these challenges head on, we are able to create a mutually beneficial relationship that resonates not only with the client, but among their constituency. As we anticipate smaller meetings and shorter lead times, we have proactively redeployed and expanded our sales team to capitalize on these new market conditions. In addition, we have sharpened our focus on several strategic "recession proof" markets, including sports, religious, social, fraternal and multicultural segments. Our Company is also initiating strategic cooperative arrangements with other convention and visitor bureaus and specific local partners to conserve our resources and to uncover additional opportunities.

Tampa Bay & Company's approach to capitalizing on opportunities during the current financial situation is an integrated approach, consisting of elements of both of these described methods, as well as additional initiatives. Like many other CVBs, we are minimizing costs in an effort to sustain our activities through this economically uncertain period. Additionally, we are reviewing our approach to a variety of key marketing and sales activities and initiatives, including the expansion of our sales force through the addition of a Small Meetings Sales Manager, as well as a Market Research Coordinator.

By reviewing our sales and marketing activities, we are able to approach these efforts in a more efficient and results-driven manner to compensate for the current crisis to not only increase visitor traffic to Tampa but ultimately create a more positive experience for every visitor to Tampa, leisure and business alike.


As with everyone else - we are anticipating and budgeting for a reduction in the number of overnight visitors to Toronto and a general slowing in the decision making cycle of meetings contemplating Toronto. While the United States remains one of our most important markets (over two million visitors annually) we have been seeing some offset and benefit from a growing number of overseas visitors. The diversity of Toronto is both reflected in the people who live, work and play here as well as in the diversity of the people who visit. Toronto also offers visitors and clients with an "international destination" that in fact is ideally centrally located and quite near to many of the large population centers of the United States, so this may actually create new options for many of our partners and potential partners.

This is a time of great uncertainty but we can find some solace in that this is not the first time (nor perhaps the last) that our industry faces such a challenge. Solutions to a challenge are more difficult to find in that the meetings and travel industry are being generally impacted as a result of "symptoms" of the core problem not necessarily the root of the situation. We can find encouragement in that our industry and our partnerships are on sound footing. Perhaps more than ever, associations and meetings professionals are going to be seeking real and added value to the destinations and venues they seek out. Canada in general and Toronto in particular is well positioned in this regard.

The majority of meetings recently hosted continue to report record attendance - both in part to the allure of Toronto as well as the international appeal planners are increasingly seeking as we evolve as a global marketplace. Due to the nature of our business, the decisions and commitments we are negotiating with our partners with the exception of core corporate travel are typically years if not several years out. This planning process will continue as we address the more short-term situation of the economy today. But today's environment reminds us all of the importance of "value propositions" and the need we all have to explore growing our market share. Toronto is well positioned ironically as perhaps a new destination of interest as well as one that delivers tremendous value both in terms of ease of access, product and price and our strong reputation in welcoming groups and assisting those groups maximize their revenue and expense streams in coming here.

As with every one else, we are going to have to make several adjustments but with an eye obviously first at "non-essential" programs first and being even more efficient with what we invest in. At the end of the day, our core business is both the hospitality business and assisting our clients and customers in experiencing fantastic travel and meetings experiences. We will not stray far from that. It is also important to note that it is in fact during difficult times that one strengthens the partnerships with others. We all tend to have long memories and a partner that stood by you in difficult times is one that you will remember when opportunities present themselves. The difference is at this time the message. Real value - both in cost and in experience is what we have to stand ready to deliver and fulfill.


We really don't know yet. We are not currently experiencing cancellations or large decreases in attendance. While 2009 looks soft for the entire East Coast, we are confident in our product and subsequent bookings have been strong.

We are taking a closer look at the travel, tradeshows and sponsorships we participate in, and determining what will bring the greatest return on investment. Instead of trying to be everywhere we want to be, we are qualifying those activities and selecting the ones that make the most sense. We are adjusting our marketing program by moving some advertising into closer markets such as Raleigh, Washington D.C. and Baltimore, and increasing our Internet presence.

Virginia Beach is continuing to stay aggressive with the group tour, meeting and convention business, really focusing on building business from September to May and capturing multi-year commitments. For example, we just booked the Conference of Minority Transportation Officials for 2010 and 2013. The CVB's enhanced customer service and close relationships with our hotel partners lead to successful repeat business. We will continue to focus on the SMERF market, as it is a natural fit.

Especially in this economy, our partners understand that it takes investment and development to grow. In support of CVB efforts, the City of Virginia Beach is moving forward on product development including negotiations for a headquarters hotel attached to the Virginia Beach Convention Center, as well as an oceanfront entertainment complex.


Leisure travelers will continue to travel and take vacations, but will look for great package deals. We anticipate that we will have more regional travelers from within the state or surrounding states (100-500 mile radius). Convention and Business travel will continue, but conventions may have fewer attendees or companies will look at ways in which they can take fewer trips by using some form of technology. We believe that travel will still occur to our area, but it may consist of shorter vacations or leisure trips combined with business travel.

We will continue to market the Wichita area as an affordable, centrally located destination with a multitude of amenities and great hospitality. We are planning various marketing campaigns and strategies during 2009 that will be targeted towards very specific markets and audiences given the current economic dynamics.

A combination of the two approaches. Watching all costs (as we always do) ensures that we are being as effective as possible with our resources. Additionally we have a very strategic marketing campaign planned for 2009. The campaign may be altered as we move through the year to adjust to market conditions, but we have no plans at this time to cut marketing expenses to the minimum. We intend, however, to make the best use of every marketing dollar we spend.

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