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Thursday, August 25, 2016

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Visit Orlando Events

July 28
Business Referral Group

Tin Roof
8371 International Drive Suite 100
407-270-7926 (directions only)
Cost: $18 inclusive
Click here to RSVP.

Aug. 4
Member Orientation
Click here to register.

Member Presents
Members interested in targeting the meetings and convention market can present their products or services during monthly, 30-minute sessions with Destination Services. Click here to schedule a session.

Congratulations Members

Exhilarate, LLC, a leader in the meetings and events industry, announces Stacey Paul Barabe, CSEP has been named Planner of the Year by the Meeting Professionals International (MPI) Greater Orlando Chapter at the recent Annual Awards Gala at EVE Downtown Orlando.

At the same celebration, Selina Christine Mullenax, CGSP received the President's Award. This prestigious award is given by the Chapter President (Nicole Unger of Alliance Exposition Services) and supported by the outgoing Board of Directors. Mullenax received the award for her continued dedication to the Orlando Chapter of Meeting Professionals International for the past few years, as well as planning record-breaking events for the chapter membership while serving as the Director of Special Events.

Member-to-Member Offers

iResponze® responds to online guest reviews on behalf of hotels, while they deliver exceptional guest experiences. Guest reviews, in all channels, are responded to within 24-48 hours with an authentic and engaging voice. For a limited time, Visit Orlando members enjoy an exclusive offer of one free month of services. Call 800-528-3135 or visit iResponze.com for details. Offer expires Aug. 31, 2016.

palms villas

The Palms Hotel & Villas is offering a special rate for members, relatives and friends of $65 plus tax for a suite-style condominium, including resort fee. They can accommodate up to six people in each suite. This is based on availability until Dec. 2016. For additional information or to book rooms, call 407-396-2229 ext. 2205.

Holiday Inn Club Vacations at Orange Lake Resort is offering Visit Orlando Members up to 10% off of their stay. Call 407-477-7029 to reserve. Offer expires Sept. 30, 2016.

Sleuths Mystery Dinner Shows is offering all hospitality employees a $5 discount on any After Hours show. An employee ID or recent paycheck stub is required to receive the discount.

Vincenzo Cucina Italiana is offering 50% off bottles of wine under $100 every Sunday 4-10:30 p.m. Offer ends Aug. 31, 2016. Cannot to be combined with other offers.

Lake Buena Vista Factory Stores and Lake Buena Vista Resort Village & Spa guests driving Electric Vehicles (EV) can now power up at an NRG EVgo Freedom Station®. EV drivers will find shopping hassle-free at Lake Buena Vista Factory Stores, where consumers can find factory-direct premium quality merchandise at savings up to 75% off at select stores. For holiday shopping hours and more information, including a downloadable coupon to be exchanged on site for a coupon booklet valued up to $400 in savings, visit LBVFS.com.

Annie Russell Theatre at Rollins College is offering Visit Orlando members $10 off a season subscription. For $55, you'll receive one ticket to The Foreigner, Upton Abbey: An Improvised Comedy of English Manors, A Piece of My Heart, and Urinetown, The Musical. Visit rollins.edu/annie for tickets and use code: VISITORLANDO.

Dollar Off Drinks is extending a 20% discount on their 6-month and 1-year memberships to Visit Orlando members. To redeem, use promo code: visitorlando.


Masterful Wine Events is offering Visit Orlando members 10 percent off the regular price of wine, beer and spirit tastings. The venue located in the Church Street Historic District hosts up to 40 people while larger groups can be accommodated in the venue located across the street. Tastings and classes can be designed as spouse entertainment, team building (structured as a competition) or as an enhancement to a dinner or cocktail reception. Tastings can also be held at trade show booths, which has doubled traffic for past clients. To reserve your tasting, call 407-906-8622 and mention Visit Orlando.

hard rock

Hard Rock Café Orlando is offering Visit Orlando members free delivery on all offsite corporate catering. This could include breakfast or lunch meetings, customer appreciation events, employee appreciation events, holiday parties, etc. Customizable menus and options are available to fit the event's budget and vision. To claim this offer, email Jaclyn Eiler and reference the Visit Orlando website. Expiration date: Aug. 31, 2016.


Orlando City Soccer Club would like to extend discounted group tickets to Visit Orlando members through Oct. 24, 2016. Click here to download information on group pricing discounts. Contact Christopher Benavides at cbenavides@orlandocitysc.com or call 407-480-4762 for more information.


Sammy Duvall Watersports, located behind Disney's Contemporary Resort, is proud to offer Visit Orlando members 10 percent off all water activities (parasailing, personal watercrafts, wake boarding, water skiing and more) now through Dec. 31, 2016. To claim this offer, call 407-939-0754 or email reservations@sammyduvall.com, and mention the offer code "visitorlando10" when booking.

ALL4 ONE SPORTS would like Visit Orlando members to experience Bubble Soccer. Enjoy a one-hour party rental at Soccer XL Indoor Soccer Complex for 10 players. Bump the competition and blow off some steam. To redeem this $400 offer, call 386-624-4084 or email all41sports41@gmail.com, and mention the offer code BUMP when booking.

Industry Events

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Florida, Visit Orlando's 2016 charitable partner, is in need of back-to-school supplies such as pencils, erasers and notebooks, as well as backpacks. Each year the organization provides 200-300 backpacks filled with supplies to youth in our local community. If you are interested in donating, please contact Michael Andriano at mandriano@bbscfl.org or 407-478-2996. Items will need to be delivered by Aug. 1.

Marlow's Tavern sets its grand opening date for its newest restaurant location for Aug. 9. The 3,500-square-foot tavern is conveniently located in front of EPIC Theatres in Lee Vista Promenade along Semoran Boulevard at Hazeltine National Drive in South Orlando. Guests are invited to become an Insider for specials and preview event invitations at MarlowsTavern.com.

Discovery Cove has launched a national sweepstakes promotion to celebrate its own "Sweet 16" birthday. One lucky winner and 15 friends will win a trip to Discovery Cove, including roundtrip airfare, two nights of hotel accommodations, transportation and a VIP guest package. To enter the sweepstakes, go to DiscoveryCove.com/Sweet16.

LEGOLAND Florida Resort's new Night Lights event includes extended hours, Lego Ninjago-themed fireworks, rare character meet-and-greets and chances to work alongside the park's master model builders. Night Lights is included in regular park admission and will run on Saturdays and Sundays through July 31.

Aquatica, SeaWorld's Waterpark Orlando is hosting a summer event series called Island Nights. Guests can enjoy extended park hours, live DJs and a special menu at the park's Waterstone Grill. Island Nights is included with park admission and runs every night, through Aug. 6.

Community Events

Through Aug. 7
About Summer Nights
SeaWorld Orlando

Through Aug. 20
Complimentary Wine Tastings Nightly
Flemings Prime Steakhouse

Through Sept. 30
Give Kids The World Event Sponsorship
Miniature-golf courses participating around the nation

Through Dec. 31
Complimentary Hotel Shopper Shuttle
Orlando Vineland Premium Outlets

Connect With Visit Orlando

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President & CEO's Message

July 22, 2016

Orlando Tops the List of Most Affordable Family Vacations

George AguelEasily accessible and boasting a wide variety of experiences, Orlando offers a vacation for every taste and every budget. In fact, Forbes Magazine has just given families more reason than ever to head to our destination by ranking Orlando at the top of the 20 Most Affordable Cities for Family Travel. To create the Forbes ranking, SmartAsset looked at the costs of a three-day/three-night trip for four people to 48 of the largest U.S. cities. Including hotel, car rental, airfare and restaurants, Orlando came in as the best vacation value in the nation.
From luxury escapes to budget-friendly trips, our destination offers a wide selection of vacation options that allow visitors to tailor an experience that's right for them. They can chose between the convenient access of flying or welcome back the family road trip for even greater savings given the current drop in gas prices and the ease of getting here.
With seven of the world's top theme parks, a host of culinary options and weather just made for a day at the waterparks, our destination remains a favorite of traveling families. In addition, the area has just welcomed a host of brand new attractions, giving visitors plenty of reasons to take that long-anticipated trip to Orlando or return again to discover what's new.

-George Aguel

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From the Research & Insights Desk of Visit Orlando
June Lodging Results

The Metro Orlando occupancy rate in June was 75.5%, exceeding the state (72.0%) and national (73.1%) occupancy levels. The average daily rate in Orlando rose 1.5% to $108.47. The June occupancy rate was 3.4% lower than June of last year, and occupied room nights declined 3.0%.

July Gas Prices Lowest in 12 Years

The American Automobile Association (AAA) announced that gas prices have fallen for 35 out of 36 days, and are lower than they've ever been for July in the last 12 years. The national average price was $2.21 per gallon of regular unleaded, about 55 cents lower than a year ago. About 25 percent of the country's gas stations are offering gas under $2. The lowest gas prices in the country are in South Carolina at just $1.88 while California still holds the title of highest prices at $2.85.

Read More

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Visit Orlando Updates


George Aguel Welcomes World Domino Championship Tournament

More than 1,200 competitors from around the globe, from places as far away as Russia, descended on Orlando for the 13th World Domino Championship taking place at Disney's Coronado Springs Resort July 17-24. The week of activities and competitions will be filmed within a one-hour show that will air internationally on Univision. Visit Orlando formed a partnership with the organizers and producers in an effort to showcase the breadth and depth of the destination throughout the broadcast. Shown above, from left: Visit Orlando President & CEO George Aguel with Domino USA President Manuel Oquendo during the opening reception Wednesday evening.

nat geo china

Partnership Lands NatGeo China Press Trip

Visit Orlando has secured a China press trip in partnership with Visit Florida. Two journalists from National Geographic China will cover Orlando's attractions, dining and hotels during their visit, July 30-Aug. 2. Coverage in the publication has the potential for nearly 5.7 million impressions.


Seeking Volunteers for SYTA Conference

As a host of the 20th annual SYTA Conference at Rosen Shingle Creek Resort Aug. 18-23, Visit Orlando is seeking community volunteers to fill more than 240 shifts to assist during the conference. Available opportunities include assisting with greeting, hospitality, transportation, registration, events and sightseeing tours, to name a few. Click here to review the volunteer shifts or to begin your registration now.

This year's conference - hosted by Visit Orlando in conjunction with SeaWorld Orlando, Universal Orlando Resort and Walt Disney World Resort - is poised to welcome 1,000-plus participants, including student tour operators, group travel planners, destination marketing organizations and suppliers. The SYTA organization has played an instrumental role in advancing the student and youth travel industry globally.

FTI Touristik & Visit Orlando Launch
Online Travel Agent Training Program

On July 15, Visit Orlando, in partnership with FTI Touristik in Germany and Austria, launched the FTI Academy, an online travel agent training program. The six-month program features two courses: The first course gives an overview of the Orlando area and the second concentrates on the area's attractions. Participating agents are encouraged to further extend their knowledge of Orlando by also completing the Orlando Travel Academy, where another sweepstakes element is included. At the end of the training, an Orlando stay will be awarded as the grand prize. Between 1,500 to 2,000 travel agents are expected to complete the program.


Travel Trade Incentive Program Begins in China

The Visit Orlando China team is partnering with Tourico Holidays to increase sales to Orlando. The program features special Orlando discounted deals designed to encourage bookings via the travel trade through the end of the year. Details of the program were shared with more than 50 clients in attendance at the launch event in Shanghai on July 19.

Visit Orlando Connects With Industry at CEMA

Visit Orlando's National Accounts Director Joseph Kempa attended the 26th Corporate Event Marketing Association (CEMA) Summit 2016 held in Newport Beach, California, July 17-19. This event is the premier peer-to-peer annual event for leading event marketers and agency executives across industries to engage in keynote presentations and interactive panel discussions to address today's ever-changing marketing mix. Meeting planners with major technology corporations from across the United States comprised 70 percent of the 300 attendees.


magical dining

Make Magical Dining Reservations Online Now & Benefit Russell Home for Atypical Children

OrlandoMagicalDining.com, the website for Visit Orlando's Magical Dining Month sponsored by American Express, is now live. Sample some of the Orlando areas finest and most talked about restaurants - each offering special three-course menus for $33 available Aug. 29-Oct. 2, 2016. With so many great options and the increasing popularity of the program, make your reservations now on OrlandoMagicalDining.com. One dollar from each meal will benefit the Russell Home for Atypical Children. Last year, Magical Dining raised $160,725 for charity Elevate Orlando.


Habitar Spotlights Winter Park's Morse Museum

As a result of a Visit Orlando-hosted press trip in May, Habitar (circ. 71,000), a Colombian magazine dedicated to architecture, design and decoration, recently published an article about The Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art. The four-page feature shows off Tiffany's top works, including lamps and glass art, and narrates the history of the Tiffany collection and how the museum came to be in Winter Park, Florida.


Mexican Media Highlight Orlando

Visit Orlando teamed up with Visit Florida earlier this year to bring a group of Mexican journalists for a tour of Florida, with Orlando being one the main stops. Milenio (circ: 104,000), one of the biggest Mexican newspapers in the country, published two articles about some of the must-see attractions in Central Florida. Among the places mentioned in the first article are SeaWorld parks, Walt Disney World, I-Drive 360 attractions, Mall at Millenia, and Winter Park's The Wine Room. Additionally, Mama y Bebe Magazine published a section featuring baby- and toddler-friendly places to visit while vacationing in Orlando. Among those mentioned include Crayola Experience, LEGOLAND Florida and Sea Life Orlando Aquarium.


Travel Industry Sales Shares Orlando Updates

Visit Orlando's Travel Industry Sales team recently visited the Tourico Holidays office, a leading global travel distribution company headquartered in Altamonte Springs. Representatives from their global sales, marketing and product teams received an update on plans for Orlando-area tourism and community projects, as well as a preview of Visit Orlando's upcoming trade activities in international markets.


Am Ex's MeetingsExpert.com Holds First Summit

Visit Orlando's Intermediary Accounts Director Ken Barnett attended the first Partner Summit last week in South Florida to network with the newly formed MeetingsExpert.com sourcing team, a division of American Express Meetings and Events. This two-day event brought together regional suppliers to meet the team, learn about business opportunities and how the Meetings Expert associates can grow their own business. Shown above with the American Express Meetings and Events executive team from left are: Stephanie Harris, director of Marketing and Communication; Alex Contreras, director of Platforms & Strategy; Ken Barnett, Visit Orlando; Christina Wilkes, director of Supplier Enablement; Jennifer Nelson, director of Business Development - Meetings Expert; and Issa Jouaneh, senior vice president and general manager of Meetings and Events.

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News About Orlando


Next Week at the Convention Center

Group Meeting Start End Estimated Attendees Estimated Economic Impact
National Council of La Raza, Inc. National Council of La Raza Annual Conference & National Latino Family Expo July 23 July 25 20,000 $39,400,000
World Federation of Hemophilia World Federation of Hemophilia - World Congress July 24 July 28 5,500 $10,835,000
Zumba Fitness, LLC Zumba Fitness Instructor Convention July 28 July 30 6,000 $11,820,000
Solution Tree Inc. PLC Institutes 2016 July 28 July 30 2,500 $4,925,000


Record-Breaking MCO Passenger Traffic Continues

Passenger traffic at Orlando International Airport (MCO) continues to break records, according to Greater Orlando Aviation Authority (GOAA) press release. May stats indicate the total number of people traveling through MCO during a 12-month period is up to nearly 40.5 million. In addition, domestic passenger traffic increased 7.9 percent and in international passenger volume increased a 15.25 percent. GOAA attributes the healthy May numbers in part to the 168,000-seat increase in capacity by the airlines and a number of sizable conventions visiting the area, including American Association of Orthodontists and MegaCon.

Frontier to Add Des Moines-MCO Service

Frontier Airlines announced Wednesday it plans to launch a three-times-a-week flight between Des Moines and the Orlando International Airport starting Oct. 30

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pokemon go

Destination Embracing Pokémon Go Craze

Orlando's tourism industry is embracing the latest craze in app entertainment offerings. Visit Orlando's latest blog, Pokémon Go: Catch 'Em All in Orlando, gives players plenty of action to keep them on the move, including 10 PokéStops stops at area locations such as Artegon Marketplace, I-Drive 360 and Universal CityWalk.

Travel Pulse reported on SeaWorld Orlando's recent Pokémon Go lure event, making SeaWorld the first of the Orlando area theme parks to organize a major event specifically dedicated to Pokémon Go players.

Orange County OKs Plans for Two I-Drive Hotels

According to a recent Orlando Sentinel article, Orange County development leaders approved plans for the construction of two new hotels on International Drive, both to be built by the same Central Florida developer.

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Industry News


Tourism Supports 8.1 Million U.S. Jobs in 2015

According to the U.S. Travel Association's U.S. Travel and Tourism Overview (2015), domestic and international travelers spent $947 billion in the United States and directly supported more than 8.1 million U.S. jobs.

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2015 Vacation Time Unused by 55% of Americans

American workers took slightly more vacation in 2015, up to 16.2 days from 16.0 days the year before, according to new research from Project: Time Off. But the meager increase comes as workers received an additional day (21.9 days on average), but used a lower share of vacation time than in 2014.

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United Teams Up With TSA to Improve Screening

United Airlines has become the latest big U.S. carrier to say it's teaming up with the Transportation Security Administration to speed up the screening process.

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International Travel Remains Priority for Chinese

The fifth annual Chinese International Travel Monitor released by Hotels.com®, has revealed 92 percent of Chinese travelers plan to increase or maintain spending and one-third of them plan to spend more on travel in the coming year - despite the slowing economy. Additionally, some 120 million Chinese traveled overseas in 2015, up from 117 million in 2014.

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2016 International Tourism Growth Continues

This year started on a strong note for international tourism. International tourist arrivals grew by 5 percent between January and April 2016, according to the latest UNWTO World Tourism Barometer. Results were robust across almost all subregions and many destinations reported double-digit growth. Prospects for the May-August period remain positive, with around 500 million tourists expected to travel abroad in the Northern Hemisphere summer holiday peak season.

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CDC Zika Information

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), its most current data available July 20, 2016) indicate that zero (0) locally acquired cases have been reported in the United States, while 1,403 travel-associated cases have been reported. For the most current information about the Zika virus, visit the CDC's Zika page.

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Tourism Ambassadors
ARDA Bags BB&T British Airways Clear Channel Outdoor
Darden Florida Distributing Company Florida Hospital The Florida Mall Lufthansa
The Mall at Millenia Orlando Economic Development Commission Orlando Health Orlando International Airport Orlando Magic
Orlando Premium Outlets OUC Smart City Tupperware Brands
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