Experience Kissimmee lays out plans to revive tourism, boost employment

  • Midieval Times is one of many Experience Kissimmee Florida's partners.
    Midieval Times is one of many Experience Kissimmee Florida's partners.

Experience Kissimmee Florida (EK) President D.T. Minich laid out plans on Wednesday on how the marketing agency would not only revive tourism in Osceola, but also boost employment.

Minich unveiled the strategy during a live chat with Kissimmee/Osceola County President John Newstreet on the chamber’s Facebook page. Experience Kissimmee Florida is the lead marketing agency in Osceola County. The COVID-19 pandemic has delivered a lethal blow to tourism not only in Central Florida, but statewide.

“The objective is not to just get tourism back, but to really get people back employed,” Minich said.

He noted that his team is currently working with Osceola County administrators and Osceola Heritage Park to schedule a large tourism job fair once restaurants and other tourism venues are re-opened “so we can let people know where employment is in Osceola,’ Minich said.

On April 17, Osceola County announced a coalition of community partners called “Osceola Back To Work!” would assist in efforts to return to a new normal in conjunction with federal and state guidelines to lessen the impact of the coronavirus on the community and its residents.

The small business taskforce consists of representatives from throughout the community. The Kissimmee and St. Cloud chambers and Experience Kissimmee will participate in the taskforce, which will make recommendations to the county and to the Executive Policy Group to help establish the best ways to open  businesses – including those in the vital tourism sector - while still protecting patrons and employees, county officials said.

“We do want to get back to business in a quick and responsible way,” Newstreet said.

As far as tourism in Osceola, Minich said EK is tracking social media conversations in the marketplace.

“What we are hearing is that people are dreaming about traveling again,” he added.

As the restrictions on tourism begin to relax, Minich said EK would first focus on the drive market in the state, targeting cities such as Tampa, Jacksonville, St. Petersburg and Miami. Because of today’s technology, EK knows where find its business base, such as annual theme park pass holders, Minich stressed.

The next step would be to focus on the fly market, tapping cities such as New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, Minneapolis and Dallas. 

One of the strengths of the strategy is EK’s online approach, Minich said. Unlike using print or broadcast marketing, marketing online is “very nimble” and can easily be changed, he added.

“If one market is working better that other markets, we can shift into the markets that are working better,” Minich said. “It can be changed at the drop of the hat.”

After the fly market, EK would stretch out internationally, which would likely be the first quarter of 2021.

EK also recently revamped its website, as it waits for tourism to return, promoting its 900 attraction partners. It shows which restaurants are open or closed and those offering takeout service. 

It also offers visual tours and visits of the venues and will offer deals and specials they want to promote.

“So when travel begins again, we have all kinds of great opportunities and deals for our consumers and customers,” Minich said.

There are also inspirational videos and graphics and coloring books kids can download.

You can visit the website at https://www.experiencekissimmee.com

“Tourism creates 45,000 jobs in the community, it saves taxpayers $900 in annual taxes,” Newstreet said. “It’s a huge economic impact, it’s very important.”