By ALLEY COWGILL
Port Isabel-South Padre Press
The Convention and Visitors Advisory Board (CVA) held a regular meeting on Wednesday to discuss possible action regarding a Spring Break marketing proposal by Inertia Tours. The meeting began with Board Member Hershal Patel clearing the air by informing the public that the CVA is not defunding Spring Break; there is $15,000 set aside to promote Spring Break 2016, he said.
Chairman Jimmy Hawkins explained the $15,000 was a roll over amount from last fiscal year from a pay per click digital marketing campaign. “This is a new fiscal year and so new monies from event funding will also be available.” He said.
Conventions and Visitor Bureau Director Keith Arnold echoed Hawkins. “We are promoting Spring Break. We are actively advertising, putting out news releases, and currently adjusting our website to promote and market Spring Break,” he said in a phone interview Thursday.
“We are also doing a lot of marketing and advertising to attract more families to the area year round,” Arnold said.
Chad Hart, president and founder of Inertia Tours, took the floor and pitched his idea to get college kids to come to the Island. “We send two traveling road teams of two people each to 63 different campuses in the Midwest and tell them about South Padre Island. We are dedicated to bringing people to SPI,” Hart said. He then went to the numbers. “Just last week at Missouri State we signed 20 groups traveling to SPI, who were originally going to Gulf Shore, Alabama but we flipped them,” Hart said.
Hart explained that Panama City, Fla. has placed restrictive ordinances on Spring Break and that Inertia Tours in now capitalizing on that for the Island.
Hart emphasized the importance of an extending an invitation to SPI and not using a poll marketing strategy. “We invite the kids face-to-face. We go in person and say, ’Please come here’ – it’s very powerful! The invitation benefits everyone, including those who don’t want to rent to Spring Breakers. The support staff need rooms, too!” Hart explained why he targets fraternities and sororities, saying, “Groups! Greek life is all about the group. The week alone we booked 400 plus students.”
Last year Inertia Tours brought approximately 6,300 students to the Island. This year Hart hopes to bring approximately 7,800 students.
He also explained that he is prepared to account for exactly what the money is being spent on in the form of receipts and report back to the CVB. Hart agreed to give an updated report to the CVA in January and April.
A motion was made to approve Inertia Tours’ request for funding in the amount of $50,000. It passed unanimously.
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