EFTI.Talk: Crisis Leadership during the Pandemic: Survive. Strive. Thrive.
Good afternoon! Welcome to our Mondays with EFTI talk. The Eric Friedheim Tourism Institute and the Department of Tourism Hospitality and Event Management in the College of Health and Human Performance at the University of Florida is presenting to you EFTI Talk, focusing on crisis leadership during a pandemic. Our moderator and speakers are presenting their diversity of talents from the perspectives of marketing operations, sales directors, and the chief of executive officer. It is my honor to introduce our moderator Howard Tietjen
has 20 plus years of experience in travel and tourism. In his previous role as a senior vice president and partner, he helped build a company that is recognized as one of the premier digital marketing companies. Howard has received several industry certifications including certified tourism executive and the google trustee the digital media advisor. Today as the Director of Sales at Epsilon, Howard's efforts are focused on working with industry leaders to bring new ideas and the new technology. He currently serves as the Chairman of the Industry Advisory Board of the Eric Friedheim Tourism Institute at the University of Florida. Howard, the stage is yours. Thank you Rachel and welcome everyone uh so glad to be with you today um it's
really exciting today to have the panelists that we have available to us today to discuss how to strive, survive, and thrive in a pandemic. It's been an interesting year as we all know uh and so it's gonna be a great conversation today as we move forward. Joining me today I have Richard Goldman who is the president and CEO of Saint Augustine Ponte Vedra and The Beaches a smaller destination here in Florida but obviously one that is very very much dependent upon tourism and our local economy here. I also have Scott Rose who is the senior VP and chief operating officer at Zoo Tampa. Scott's going to bring a different perspective to our conversation today as we talk about how he's been working through all of this at an attraction and the differences that that provides us to look at today the differences between a DMO and an attraction and then finally we have Patrick Harrison representing, he's the Chief Marketing Officer of Visit Tampa Bay, Patrick will be representing a larger destination for us but again one that is very dependent upon a very and where tourism is a very very important part of their economy so let's jump into it gentleman and start our conversation here we're going to keep a conversation with today folks please feel free to use the Q and A button uh on the bottom of your screen to enter in any questions towards the end of this webinar we will be answering those questions for you so let's start here so wow it's been nine months or so now we've been dealing with this let's go back to the beginning though um as the pandemic started what did you guys in a minute or two why don't you each tell us what you did as you start as we started this say in the first 60 days why don't we start with Patrick? Thank you Howard, well you know i mean it was an interesting time it's still an interesting time but if you remember the first few weeks of this it was really a case of having to transition and I'm going to try and avoid using the word pivot apart from that example right there it was really trying to transition from what we were which was you know a destination marketing organization into a community leadership and a community forum and community outreach organization you know obviously we turned off all the paid advertising immediately you know we didn't want to be bringing in people in the situation we were in but you know as a partner-based organization with 800 members you know our job really became communicating with them about what was going on making sure we had content on the website about the ever-changing safety situations and guidelines we were in and really just trying to help become an information source you know it was really one of those times where we went from paid to earned on social media very quickly because social media tends to be so vital in getting the messaging out quickly and efficiently so that's kind of what where we began.
How about you Richard and Saint Augustine? Yeah it's um it's it's true we all really became resources for our stakeholders uh most of our stakeholders are smaller businesses and so that didn't have the resources uh that many larger uh businesses or those associated with big flags could reach out to so we spent a good deal of time after stopping the advertising and uh of course our budget went away instantly so so we had to get on that right away but um we began the outreach to uh national organizations um attractions association, the national accommodations lodging associations, restaurant associates to determine what their status was on the proper areas to operate um to the CDC guidelines we also became a conduit to the CDC um for our stakeholders but so it was gathering those informations providing um a conduit by which we could communicate we have become a trusted source for those kinds of information um as we've dealt with hurricanes and other crises over the last several years uh so it was important for us to you know maintain those connections with stakeholders and to provide those essential conduits for information we built a an entire website around a toolkit for accessing those kinds of information the best way to operate um in the phase one phase two phase three and of course the primary lockdown and like Patrick and Scott I answered questions daily constantly into the evening um as to what the proper interpretation was, how to get answers for interpreting uh the rules and regulations coming out of Tallahassee our county seat and our various cities uh so becoming a resource to our stakeholders that was the essential work we did in the initial months. So Scott we're really happy to have you on board with us here today and bringing a different perspective from an attraction so in the first 60 days or so how did you guys react well thank you for you know in the attractions industry including zoos and aquariums and theme parks and museums and such obviously we all had to deal with the inevitable closure when the pandemic first started we tried to modify our operations so we could stay open as long as we could but in mid-march we realized that we had no choice but to shut down and in doing so we needed to look at uh ways that we could uh curtail our expenses the best of our ability and we ended up furloughing 80 percent of the staff here in Zoo Tampa about 300 people were furloughed uh fortunately we were able to keep all their medical benefits and and all uh whole and they were able to get on to the enhanced uh unemployment however, we have 1100 animals in our care here at Zoo Tampa so we needed to retain the animal care staff to take care of those animals they still needed to eat and uh and and and have wellness and and be taken care of so uh we had an excellent crew that took care of the animals kept the park safe uh and and continue on with uh with the operations despite the fact that we weren't receiving any visitors so uh that was step one step two is we we needed to curtail all of our uh marketing expenses um and reached out to all of our marketing vendors and and stopped all of our our advertising out there and again to save as much money as possible and looking at other other ways to cut costs uh it's very expensive to run a zoo we're 93 percent self-funded which means we're dependent on people walking through our gates and we have nobody walking through our gates we don't have any any revenue coming in fortunately we were the recipient of the the paycheck protection plan which helped quite a bit we also had a couple of large donors step in and help us out and a lot of uh smaller donors as well we put together an emergency operating fund and we had tremendous outpouring of support from uh people you know like uh like all of you and uh we're very grateful for all of that that helped to offset the uh the loss of revenue um but our our you know our biggest concern was to make sure that our animals were taken care of our people were taken care of the best of our abilities uh fortunately we didn't lay anybody off uh furlough is not a layoff and we took and we brought all of those people back and i'll talk a little bit more a little later on how we reopened and such but that was really yeah i never really thought about the uh the animals in the situation like that you know what a what a unique uh challenge that you must have had so now I mean none of us I think expected this to at least I didn't you know I thought a couple months we'll be back to normal and um be moving along in the summer time but here we are eight/nine months into this so what's changed what are you doing now uh as opposed to when this first started Patrick you want to start us off there sure I mean it's it's been a very interesting time you know really and I think we've said this in other calls with people you know doing your job when everything's going well is easy these challenges and when these things come up is actually it's as a as a marketer as a destination marketer is actually a great opportunity you know it really does give you you know the opportunity to try and do new things do some different outreach one of the first things we've done was we put together a regional coalition of about 10 different destination marketing organizations in Florida so we could do learn some best practices so we could uh you know kind of help each other through things um but really once that everything got underway and we got to around June we really began a recovery campaign you know we really started going back out there looking at drive markets because you know we've got to safely bring people back into town without that economic uh activity you know with a lot more people in Tampa would be hurt so we really had to look at more safe opportunities different types of media to reach out to we actually right now are spending more on paid media than we've probably ever done um thanks to some federal cares act funding and some some reserves from the uh TDC we've actually been able to get out there and do a lot more conversion based media uh really trying to target people to come immediately and now you know we're planning to read up that even further going into the new year uh as safely as we can because what it comes down to really is we've had to learn to be really really flexible and I think people have used that word before or become a buzzword but you know we used to say short term planning was six months and then now short term planning is what are we going to do before Friday and it's really we have to look at being able to turn things on turn things off turn things up turn things down depending on where the the what's going on in the economy what's going on in the market and what's going on with covid but I tell you it does make you pay a lot more attention to just about everything and that's actually I think being good for the whole team here that's interesting how about you Richard what's uh what's changed what are you doing now well we are still providing essential information um to our uh residents and to our our stakeholders uh but our focus now is entirely on stimulating sustainable uh visitation we were hampered uh by the fact that our budget was cut off immediately in march uh we had some money in the bank but that was it uh that would have allowed us um very very little um by way of any um outreach uh social media we have some very strong channels great publicity uh team that is in-house so we would have been able to maintain that uh but um we initiated an advocacy program and facilitated it with our stakeholders uh to go out and get uh some reserve funding from the county our TDC does not manage or maintain reserves so we had to go to the general fund um uh we were successful uh and that allowed us to then uh pivot on sorry there's that word Patrick uh on what our campaign had just been launched in November uh to adjust that campaign to fit what uh travelers were interested in doing at the time um that's real important in our destination we have plenty of outdoor dining and experiential opportunities uh we're a small destination predominantly fed by high traffic, lots of beach 42 miles, so that was real important for us to get that messaging out to adjust our campaign so that it fit with what the travelers potential travelers were interested in and when I said when I say monitoring that information we all have the advantage of working with destination analysts a company that provides uh has been providing week to week metrics on a large sample of potential travelers across America week to week uh and uh that's been a wonderful resource for us allowed us to make adjustments so that in July when we had the money um arranged when we had built a campaign or an adjustment to our campaign we were able to get out there with messaging and um we wound up with September uh producing uh actually better than the previous year and for some of our accommodations a record October uh maintaining that's a challenge in this current environment but my focus really got very quickly uh to getting back to sustainable tourism and we're fortunate that we're able to do that uh because um not all of our uh our brother in the destination marketing organizations have been able to do that indeed you told us right before you joined us right after you joined us here that you're outside feeding an orangutan so apparently animals are still being fed so that's great news um but you know sense uh sets those opening moments where you're furloughing folks how are things have changed have you reopened tell us more about what's going on sure yeah well feeding animals around here is kind of everybody's responsibility so as I said before mid-march we uh we faced the inevitable closure and we were closed for two and a half months uh we spent the first half of that closure shutting everything down that we could to provide as much cost savings as we can uh with again number one keeping the animals safe and healthy uh we spent the second half of our closure preparing to reopen and that was a an interesting uh process because we had to put together what we call a modified operations plan that we would uh operate this this facility in the safest way possible with the safety protocols that all of us know we needed to put into place we we implemented that modified operations plan first of all we had to have it approved by the county by the city and by the state so they had to sign off on this modified operations plan to allow us to open it we opened up on May 28th those safety protocols included limiting capacity because we can't do the the attendance that we could in the past uh thermal imaging cameras taking people's temperature as they walked in through the front front entrance to make sure that they didn't have a fever social distancing markers all around the park to make sure people uh stay six feet apart uh some of our experiences we couldn't operate because of the safety of our guests uh they wouldn't allow for it in these unusual times so all of those safety protocols uh that you've seen at different theme parks and all masks being worn etc etc we have continued and to this day several months later have those safety protocols in place and we enforce them each and every day once we reopen we needed to rebuild our business well first of all while we were closed we used social media to a great extent to keep the zoo top of mind with all of our our friends and and followers here and so we didn't want people to forget about us and so we did an awful lot of social media and some pretty cool stuff you know with when you have the content like animals uh but when we reopened we had to rebuild our business and it came in slowly uh and built through the course of the summer and we have uh obviously modified our marketing efforts to focus on the markets that will will drive the most business fortunately we have a strong local following membership base uh we do have uh a fair amount of tourist business normally but the tourists aren't for the most part in town so we focus more on locals and nearby markets and reaching staycationers if you will people who want to get out and drive for an hour or two and spend some time uh at the zoo here we're very fortunate in that we are predominantly an outdoor facility here at the zoo and people want to be outdoors they want to be in the uh you know fresh air and open spaces and we can provide that we're not too small but we're not too big and so we have a very good uh model here if you will or product here uh for these times uh so that's worked to our advantage our business has come back um in in a pretty good way uh September October November have been strong uh i'm pleased to say that we are back at previous attendance levels at least to the degree that we can be with the limited attendance so uh the demand is there um going forward we don't know what we're going to have to do you know things are shutting down again if we were operating in California we would not have opened today and would probably be shuttered for several months we don't know what's going to happen in Florida um but uh we are cautiously optimistic about our future going forward and um you know but it's it's an uphill uh every day indeed it is it must be a struggle sometimes are you uh when you say you're back at previous levels um are you profitable at this point in time or I mean uh yes we are um you know we we uh we made it through from a financial perspective in good shape like I said before with the PPP with a couple of large donations um and cutting expenses we were able to come through it in good shape and right now we are running favorable from a financial perspective outstanding and these aren't the busiest months of the year for us so that's why we can do it and still maintain that that capacity limitations as we get into the spring which is our peak season next year we're probably going to be turning people away which is going to hurt our financial uh during the peak time of the year for us Richard you used the word advocacy a moment ago so let's uh let's kind of turn our attention in that direction um you know i'm i'm a resident of the Saint Augustine area so I know a lot of the uh political um situations that you've faced in the past but you know how has uh how have you dealt with the political response to this crisis well Howard uh as you know our destinations like some others have experienced high congestion some traffic challenges uh the things that residents don't like about the destination we had instituted a program of outreach to residents to help share with them the importance of the lifestyle how they benefit from a financial and infrastructure basis but nothing nothing provided the kind of example of the importance of tourism like this pandemic and the shutdown uh so we had uh some of the more vocal um uh opponents uh to tourism uh join the the courts or um let's get visitors back here um let's get people back to work let's uh get the government coppers uh back to churning and and protecting the lifestyle and the infrastructure so that's something that um I would say out of this we should all pay attention to we shouldn't just be approaching um our elected's or our residents um at when crisis times occur they need to know the value of what we do and not just for a financial but in terms of the lifestyle they endure we need to be talking to them all the time and making and helping make them aware of what can be done uh that level of advocacy is something we launched uh five years ago um it's gotten better um we did have to change our approach uh pandemic um a bit uh the good news was we didn't have to convince them we were important anymore uh we just had to convince them the priorities and how it was how it was would be that they in inviting others and part of that is something that we all need to continue and that is uh making sure that our visitors feel safe that our employees feel safe and that our residents feel safe in an environment where we're inviting people into our destination and that is a tight road and I think many of us experienced something very different in the initial months of being open uh than we are right here yeah we felt that impact uh in our and our family my my son and his uh wife both work in the restaurant industry in Saint Augustine and you know both immediately were let go and and were without paychecks for a while so you know even even a guy like me who's in the tourism industry grumbles every now and then about how crowded it is in downtown Saint Augustine suddenly realized okay you know this is this is very real this affects people in a very very real way Patrick how about in Tampa I mean uh how have you dealt with the political situation locally there well you know a couple of you know we like Richard said you know waiting until there's a bad time and then starting to reach out to people you know is a recipe for disaster you know we're very front foot with that advocacy or have been for a very long time you know we remind people that we're not our job is not to bring tourists here it's for the betterment of the community and bringing in you know economic stability through tourism is one way of doing it so we've always had a um not always but for quite a few years now we've really made efforts with our local community um to to explain uh all the different things we do obviously I think it's easier the local level than maybe it is at the state level um but just because different people have different agendas at different levels um but I think our local community both the politicians the the the county commissioners the TDC our major uh partners because you know we have some pretty big um uh attractions and hotels and so on here um they were on our side and actually going to bat for us and I think that helped by the way i will say we did a resident survey last year and the residents loved us but the biggest complaint was traffic I think I think if people were alone on a deserted island they would complain about the traffic that's the one thing that always comes out but now so it's been a lot of local outreach and industry outreach as I mentioned earlier we worked with a lot of different DMOs through the same thing so if there's a problem in Fort Myers or Sarasota or wherever it would be we can give each other advice we could talk about how we overcome some of these things um and and it's also helped you know with from a funding situation in that you know if you've built up that trust and you've shown that you deliver uh results it then comes back to you know the TDC or whoever it is be more willing to open up the reserves or to support the causes that that you're doing um and I think that's something we have to all continue to keep going with because you know elections go one way or the other the county commission can be democrat one time republican the next but they all care about the local community and the economic prosperity so so long as you have an area where you can agree I think you can move forward to either of you guys uh at the DMO level do you think this is sustainable or do you or what's your guess I mean as we move beyond this and we get back to whatever normal looks like in six months or a year do you think people will just go back to their old ways or do you think that the lessons that we've learned here are sustainable uh you know I I would like to hope that it will um there'll be people have long-term memories but this is also the same uh population that after a weather event we hope they have a short-term memory and start traveling again quickly so I don't know I mean I think it's gonna depend because i know right everybody thinks we have the magic bullet with the vaccine and everyone's going back to normal tomorrow but I it's it's going to be a while and I think we're going to have to continue to work together but i'm hoping that we can continue to use these as foundational building blocks uh the relationships will only strengthen over time but you know again people do have sometimes short-term memories and suddenly the you know they want to have the hotels 100 full all the time um and sometimes it could be a little unreasonable so Scott as an attraction your challenges are a bit different uh how has the zoo responded to quote-unquote "political pressure" well uh there hasn't been a a lot of political pressure as it's um confronted this this industry uh other than uh as I mentioned before we're being watched very closely on our operations to ensure that we're delivering a safe experience by political organizations consumers consumers want to get out and they want to do things as I said before you know our business is rebounding so there's there's not not a big issue there but uh i'll i'll tie to what Patrick was talking about which was industry uh reaching out within the industry for support from one another um we're part of the Florida attractions association which is a statewide organization made up of about 125 attractions uh small attractions to the the largest attractions in the state and this association has worked very closely together throughout this whole ordeal from closing to reopening to sustaining our business uh to help each other with um you know benchmarks and and and and how we're getting through sharing the modified operations and best practices and what's working what's not working uh you might say that we're all competitors well to a degree we are but we're really not we're one industry that works together uh to be stronger and I I this this Florida attractions association is a great asset that we have in in our industry uh that all of us can be working together and in some cases that's um looking at different advocacy uh issues that confront our industry on a local or more on a state level as well so Patrick and Richard Scott's talked a lot about safety protocols capacity how does that play in the destination marketing well as as I kind of alluded to earlier um one of the things that the travelers sentiment uh is making clear is that the long-term traveler the one who's going to spend a lot of money he's thinking about making choices about where to go they want to know that it's a safe destination that you take their concerns seriously that businesses are operating in a safe manner and so communicating that and convincing because we really don't have the authority to mandate so we have to share information uh and attempt to convince our stakeholders and our businesses uh to operate as safely as possible because you know we're we're in a position that is very very fragile um should there be a major outbreak at an individual uh destination uh with uh that gets some national publicity to that extent it's going to hurt them and it's going to hurt them quickly so i'm spending a great deal of my time now attempting to convince our operators and our stakeholders to operate as carefully uh and thoughtfully as possible and listen you know times are tough there's folks trying to make up uh for a lot of lost revenue and it's very uh tempting um to cut corners uh but uh if we cut corners um that few two and a half when uh the pundits say we're going to be headed towards a a better recovery um that's going to be a long time if we're struggling with um you know the feeling that our destination is not safe for one reason no I to take it from another angle so I don't just repeat exactly the good answer that Richard just gave talking from a convention perspective because you know the Tampa is also we have a very large convention center and that conventional meetings business is a good you know 10 foundation business for us and obviously right now that is zero you know every meeting every convention has cancelled probably through the first quarter of uh 2021 which is you know not surprising it's just the same way business travelers are really not traveling right now unless unless they have to but it has given us the opportunity working very closely with the Tampa convention center to make sure all of these safety protocols are in place make sure I mean you know think about just the basic stuff I mean every convention we go to is usually a buffet lunch we can't just have buffet lines anymore you know as you talk about hand sanitation and hand sanitizer it's about space things about entrance and egress there's so many things that go into this because until we make people feel safe they're not gonna do this and we're gonna make them feel safe by making ourselves feel safe for making and us getting out there and doing it so that has a lot of some hybrid uh um events that we can start putting together obviously we're doing this everybody's doing a lot more of these than they were but human nature I think at some stage is going to want to get back together and I can tell you one of the things that it's enabled us to do is to reach out to events that normally would have been uh too big for us you know I mean our convention center only holds so many people it's it's brick and mortar but some of the bigger events that may have been in Orlando or Vegas before we can now go after because we know not only will they have a smaller crowd but they'll also be partially hybrid so we're actually in a way being able to pick up new business and we're about to announce this this week that we've picked up a huge major piece of business for next summer which you know we're not a beach destination so July and August tends to be our you know a couple of our slower months um so there are opportunities that we can actually make from the situation we're in and still put people in a safe environment to do so so one thing that's really fascinated me has been the media in all of this and it seems to be all over the board uh the local media here in the northeast Florida seems to have been for the most part uh pretty positive towards our industry but i'm interested to hear what uh what you guys do here i'm gonna start with you Richard um you know we just started knights of lights up here and we're attracting larger crowds here how is the media responding to you uh and to this situation uh the media response has been very positive um but I want to you know i want to leave folks with the thought that that's not something that you do you snap your fingers given a crisis you've got to work on media relations for a long time we have in some cases broken some of the dogma about media relations by being responsive to them by finding answers to their questions you know i'm a journalism major from University of Florida many many years ago but they just need content and they need answers to their questions and to the extent that you can help them get it you can become a resource if you can become a resource for the industry it helps you uh shape and I don't mean that in a nefarious sense it just allows you uh to help provide the kinds of information uh that gets them where they need to be and at the same time hopefully present your perspective so an example would be knights of lights has been essential to us coming out of hurricane season where we were affected um coming out of this um and I say coming out we were connected but finding a way for them to come to you and hear your perspective to hear the efforts that we're putting forth in trying to make uh this sustainable experience and a safe experience um that helps and it means that even when uh if there is something negative to say uh we'll have an opportunity to respond to it and so you know one of the things that I hope folks take away from this is the importance of leadership in publicity leadership in media relations by developing the kinds of relationships which by the way have to be continued it's not something that you can do with a phone call every other month um I know Patrick hears from the media regularly as do I and um and Scott as well but being a resource for them a positive resource that they can depend on will make sure that you have um an opportunity with them I would jump on that and say you know we're a fairly major media market at least from a Florida perspective you know a bunch of tv stations well one regular newspaper now a couple of business publications I think their their response to us has been very positive i think you know in the past we I think we have chat we've been challenged to try and get across them just how much of an economic impact tourism has and just how important all of the different hospitality businesses really and truly are whether it be a you know mom-and-pop restaurant or to a major attraction just what the economic uh uh uh intent is this pandemic has shown just how important our industry is so I think they they've been reaching out a lot more to us than ever before and you know Richard's right you know you're gonna you have to start building these relationships year over year over here and I think you you show your reliable your reliability that you're transparent that you're honest you know all of these things that you have to do anyway but i think now they come to us much more with more in-depth questions and they know that we can be a resource you know i think between myself and uh especially our CEO Santiago Gorado has been into probably about a hundred different uh tv and newspaper interviews since this began um we've really become vital to a lot of what these news outlets uh are getting because you know we don't have an agenda uh to this there's no politics with us we want to tell the truth we want to help all of the businesses if it's a safety issue we want people to know what the steps are because we want them to be healthy because if there is a major out as registered as a major outbreak that's going to reflect poorly on our whole industry so you know it has given us an opportunity to build even stronger and the one or two media that we may have had issues with beforehand kind of gone away they're suddenly a lot quieter than they were so it's been a uh um the media uh discussions have been probably the most positive thing that's come out of all of this so you've got a little event coming up after the first of the year there in Tampa that uh you've been doing a lot of planning for which has had to change radically here so when when the Super Bowl comes to town um what's your are you planning anything special with the media or you have any significant concerns about me you know this worldwide media coverage that'll occur then well it's going to be interesting i mean it's not going to be a regular super bowl nor can we ever pretend it will be um you know we're going to be talking about 20 25 maybe attendance we don't know that we um we've had a a huge number of media have registered um 395 media outlets have already registered now which doesn't mean 395 people because one of those outlets is ESPN so obviously they're going to send more than one person same with CBS um a lot of the um um non-sanctioned events that go around it have been cancelled or put on hold fortunately we have a three mile long outdoor river walk with parks so we can move the super bowl experience outside um you know we can you just as the attractions are doing you know you give people uh reservations their times and when they can come in and go and we can keep the numbers uh limited but i think it is going to be hopefully a more of a coming out party you know you think the rest of the world especially internationally has not been able to see Florida for for nine months and we're going to get coverage all over um domestic and global news and sports shows and everything uh for a week um you know so knocking on a lot of wood that um you know things don't get worse and we know they're gonna get worse between now and then just because Thanksgiving and Christmas and this and the spreading that's gonna happen but I think we have an opportunity to really come out with something positive and show you know sunshine blue skies people outdoors together and you know the really the biggest event in American sports uh even in a year like this it's still going to be I think a successful event and it's one that we're looking forward to but I got to tell you normally everything's in place by now and right now you know it keeps changing so so we'll see before we open this up for Q and A um one last question for for you guys uh this is more looking forward so as uh as we think about moving forward and kind of going back to the drawing board what's next I mean one of the conversations that Patrick you and I have had a little bit about has been about visitor yield and about thinking about I think Richard this applies to you as well and Scott as you think about limited capacity and so forth have you guys thought much about and how are you planning to think about um how you bring the right people to your destination or to your attraction people are going to spend more money versus just masses of people well I think I can just jump in quickly on that one you know the conversation had already started turning to yield beforehand because we were running pretty full and it was in case there's only so many people you could bring in at one time you know there's a certain limit of beds there's a certain limit of things actually I was saying that we are you know about another thousand hotel rooms about to come on uh very quickly in in Hillsborough county but really it is about yield you know this is going to come back slowly I think and then over 2021 so we need to bring the the people that you know not only can come safely and feel safe but the people that can help our economy the most you know i need people going and eating 200 dinners at Burns and not getting a happy meal at Mcdonald's this is where we need to start looking you know and we've made a concerted effort over the last few years you know the the hotels and the restaurants and everything we've brought online every year get better the offerings we have every year get better now we're opening a JW Marriott within weeks it'll be a a big step here in this market we're going to open a first five-star hotel coming up in the next few months you have to have the right people to fill those this can't be the average person that we're looking at before we need to really look into markets of uh where people make more money and it's not just it's and as i've learned it's not just uh household income it's net worth because you know those two things can be uh different absolutely Scott how about the zoo I mean you know I think getting the right person at the zoo to ultimately maybe become a partner with you or a donor what are your thoughts about trying to attract that person to the zoo well it's a very good question uh about yield because you're right as we are in a position that we have to limit uh capacity we have to have the right people that will spend money uh in the park and uh as I said before we focus we have a strong local following uh but we've lost the tourist base of our attendance mix and the tourist base are those that have a tendency to spend more per capita in the park than locals because they're here they'll stay longer and they'll spend more money so we have to replace those uh with uh attendees that that will have a longer length of stay and that's why I said we're really refocusing a lot of our marketing efforts on going after this vacation business people that are coming and they're gonna drive a couple of hours and if they're going to invest that kind of time they're going to come and they're going to stay in the park longer and the longer they stay in the park the more they spend on food and merchandise we're also implementing programs that entice them to spend more once they get to the park here uh in park spending is probably about 40 percent of our overall revenue stream so it's extremely important for us to number number one have the appropriate attendance mix and then number two the longer length of stay and encourage people to spend more uh in the park uh more time in the park and more money in the park that's what it translates to exactly the yield uh conversation is it feels very simple uh frequently um you know more is better um getting fewer people who yield higher revenues in market is is good it's like apple pie what you have to be ready for in my opinion what we've discovered is their expectations so you have to find ways uh to help the market recognize the demands on them and that means a lot of communication uh but at the same time you know we've got uh in our destination uh more luxury and deluxe product coming online in the next three years than we had in the previous 15. so things are really hopping in that direction but we also have a number of budget and moderate uh price properties um we all have vacation money um which are a more moderately priced uh product we gotta spread a lot of that love in a lot of different directions so as we respond to the market which says as you get become more full the price points go up the demand increases um we do need to remember that there are folks um at the moderate and budget level uh whose products need to be filled as well and so we work with our communications to communicate a better uh more interesting slightly more sophisticated product of at the same time as we're saying we're accessible uh to other folks and the beauty of the digital world and the social world now media is that you can use different voices to speak to those audiences and um that's something again it's sacrilege to the marketing people in the room but uh the truth is uh that's something we can do now and um we're obliged to take care of everyone all right we got about 10 minutes left here guys and uh we have a couple of questions so i'm going to turn it to uh some Q and A here from the audience um Barbara from paradise advertising asked a great question here so um how are you using consumer data differently in this covet era to best refine your customer targeting and your media efforts well I can just uh remark uh that uh Barbara did you hear that you're on on the call um one of the things that we do differently is that we are using vehicles and resources that are different that are monitoring week to week uh traveler sentiments um we've been uh you know everybody who knows me knows we're very focused on metrics um but this is a new layer of metrics that we've not experienced before and it allows us to be even more powerful Patrick remarked that uh you know short-term planning is within the week um well we get reports on Monday uh from research that was done over the weekend and that helps us uh pivot sorry there it goes again uh but it allows us to adjust uh based on the information we receive and of course our budgets uh being diminished uh mean that we have to focus uh those dollars where we can get the biggest bang for the buck uh so um you know that's different than when you're you know you've got another two million dollars more than you um you know than you have this year let's jump onto data you know we all use data a lot more than we ever did you know when I got into uh marketing uh a long time ago you know you used to joke about you know you you know 50 of your advertising wasted you just don't know which 50 well now we know where every penny is going and what the ROI is on every piece the challenge I think sometimes that we have is that we have more data than we can possibly uh use and some of it is contradictory you know that's one of the steps we've really been taking the last uh a few months and moving forward is into finding a way to streamline this into something that's more manageable so that we can react in the correct way because if you you know consumer travel sentiment what people say they're going to do and what people do are not necessarily the same thing what people say they did and what they really did are not the same thing you know what people spend and is and whatever you know you need to really follow this more closely and there's so many ways we can do that now between you know pinging cell phones to following people's credit card payments uh which Howard's nodding on because that's one of his companies company's services this is the data that we want to use because it provides opportunities whether we're looking for high yield whether we need to run a campaign specifically aimed at seniors whether we need to aim something specifically aimed at families and that stuff that 10 years ago we would have not been able to do to anywhere near the sophistication that we have now and I think that's just going to keep going I mean it's really it's getting to the stage where we're going to know more about people than they know about themselves i think um we had a very interesting conversation today Patrick when we were just talking about the data that we were looking at uh when we started looking at you mentioned it earlier not just household income but net worth and age and looking at that correlation and understanding the a senior a more senior market um is available to you and thinking about how we address that with advertising both creative creatively and then about uh how we would target that audience well yeah I mean we always get told that the household income of travelers in the state of Florida is so low but it doesn't take into effect just how many of them are on fixed incomes and retired and you know own a three million dollar home or whatever it may be so sometimes you have to look beyond just you know the average base demographics which used to get thrown out of you you know certain age groups and just aim of people in the 30s who are female blah blah it doesn't doesn't work like that anymore now we have to run specific targeted campaigns that reach each of our audiences and actually going back to the this pandemic has actually been one of the ways that we've been that's forced each and every one of us to sit down and do that you can't throw things against the wall and and hope anymore we need to make sure every dollar we spend is it brings back more than just that dollar so if i could uh jump in yeah please please do Scott uh so for zoo Tampa we happen to have a very good agency by the name of Paradise that is ended up by a person by the name of Barbara who just asked that question thank you very much Barbara we we do work in tandem with our agency to help data mine uh and refine all of our our advertising marketing efforts to the best of our ability uh make quick adjustments to them as to you know what's working what's not working and and adjust in real time as quickly as possible uh the market changes every single day we also do a tremendous amount of research both with our park visitors uh to learn you know where they're coming from now our mix has changed quite a bit so we have to we have to know who's coming uh and why we also do a lot of intent to visit research going forward and did so when we were closed so we'd have a better understanding of uh of the future you know you can't always look in the rearview mirror you have to look uh out through the windshield so you know we we use data on a number of fronts in that respect all right one last question here and then we'll wrap it up here so there's a couple of different versions of this question out there but it's really around fatigue and your your staffs yourselves um how do you as leaders of the different organizations that you work for um how are you dealing with that how are you know these are tough days a lot of people doing a lot of works wearing a lot of different hats so how are you managing your staffs and how are you helping them overcome the pressures and the fatigue that is weighing on them well one of the things that we're doing I mean you know my team every one of us uh took a substantial 20 percent pay cut um you know for the duration so we um you know already people were sacrificing uh they're working from home which for my directors managers you know that's actually more difficult to manage uh than typically having folks in the office uh so the the challenges that they face need to be recognized and as a leader I take it the responsibility to recognize their sacrifices recognize their accomplishments remind them that that it's not just a job it's really a mission we share uh economic impact we share unemployment figures I tell stories that i hear in the marketplace they share stories at staff meetings to help energize them on the one hand uh towards their responsibilities to help uh people stay employed uh and at the other uh at the other side of that to make them feel good about what they've accomplished when um you know a property reports that they that they're recovered that they've hired back their last furlough employee I think that goes a long way to keep them energized i was much smaller staff um so you know than either of my colleagues on here so it's easier for me to reach out and touch them individually but I think that's an important part of the project you know going back to the points we made earlier about you you can't come up with a crisis plan and start advocating once the crisis has become you can't reach out to the media and develop those relationships once the crisis has become it's the same thing with the team um you know we had to lay off a lot of our staff very early on and then you know build from with a much smaller team um and you know and again with some salary cuts which especially affects those who were early in their careers who were maybe not making as much as some of the others but it did I think bring everyone closer together I think we became I think again going about when things are going well everybody's complaining and doing their own thing but once when when you have to all get together I think people really did and I and I think that's still going on I don't think we've really had uh any issues with uh with fatigue yeah i mean obviously every person is different and needs to be uh um you know worked within different ways and they you know they do need to be appreciated and sometimes you do just need to well give them a virtual pat on the back because obviously we can't touch anybody anymore but you know it's been very interesting from a psychological point of view I think if anything people feel more energized like they're really making a difference than they may well have thought they were before when they were just a cog in a machine excellent well we're about out of time here so i'm going to turn it back over here to Rachel to close us up before we do gentlemen thank you very much for your time today we truly appreciate it this has been a very incredible conversation your expertise is very important to the entire industry across the state so thanks again for your time Rachel back to you yes thank you thank you for your time and insights Patrick Howard Richard and Scott friends colleagues and students I appreciate you and your presence I hope you enjoyed our webinar as much as I have enjoyed having you as our audience look forward to seeing you all again on February 8th at 1pm in 2021 have a healthy and Happy New Year, take care. Go Gators. Go Gators