Island approves marketing firm hire

Special to the PRESS

The South Padre Island City Council met last week for a special meeting regarding approval of a new marketing contract for the City. Mayor Pro tem Alex Avalos led the meeting in the absence of Mayor Barry Patel.

Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) Director Keith Arnold, who has been on City staff since July, opened discussion to consider approval of an agreement with The Atkins Group to serve as the marketing communications agency for the City. According to Arnold, the contract proposal from The Atkins Group was accepted after an extensive process, and the contract was later developed by City staff and reviewed by the City attorney. The Convention and Visitors Advisory Board (CVA) agreed to expedite the contract for final approval from the City Council.

Arnold relayed some key reasons why they chose The Atkins Group. “First and foremost, this world, especially the world of travel, has absolutely been turned upside down by the internet,” he said. With the significance of social media and travel booking sites, Arnold noted that the agency has both strong conventional and digital interactive media marketing strategies. In addition, it has significant experience in destination marketing in cities throughout Texas. He added, “My whole interest in doing this and my concern is that we produce a cost-effective and powerful destination marketing campaign for the industry that really is economic development for South Padre Island.”

City Council members were happy to be working with The Atkins Group as they had worked for the City in the past, but questioned what goals and deadlines were being established in regards to evaluating productivity.  Arnold expressed that the City has not had a firm marketing plan in recent years. President of the group, Steve Atkins said the group has begun a process of brand development with key stakeholders. “We hope the contract will come into place so we have the opportunity to continue, but that will involve a very broad representation and diverse representation of people on the Island that are really involved in this industry,” he said. The group, along with City staff, plan to develop project goals for the future and will provide detailed reports each month.

As part of developing the City’s brand, the Council also discussed development of a new website in the amount of $90,000 that is tentatively scheduled to be ready for launch in February. A website subcommittee of the CVA demonstrated some disappointments with the current website, and Atkins said that from an industry standard, it had opportunities to be much more robust.

The contract was approved for one year with a stipulation allowing for either party to withdraw from the contract with a 90 day notice. Avalos said, “One of the things where we’re lacking is that we seem to reinvent ourselves constantly, and that is a challenge.” The Council is hopeful the relationship will be successful and will help to develop continuity within the brand.

In other news, Juan Infante was named the City’s new information technology (IT) director this week.

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