As a second-year associate, my first year at the Florida Governor’s Conference on Tourism was one for the books. The one thing I enjoyed most about conference is that there seemingly is a place for everyone. Newcomer, CEOs, sales rep, old, young – there’s a place for you here. Subsequently, the week taught me that in the industry there's an incredible network of people and resources to lean in to to learn from which brings me to my word for the week: collaboration. In every session I attended, that theme was present. Here’s a snapshot of what I learned for the week.

Maximize Your Exposure on Google: How-To for Using Google My Business

Andrew Davis said it best, Google is the center of the world! Which in turn is why we should be focusing on search engine optimization and our presence within the platform. Google My Business is a free, easy-to-use tool for businesses and organizations to manage their online presence across Google’s products, including Search and Maps. What I’m specifically referring to, is the Google knowledge panel, which is the giant rectangle when you Google Search something.

Google My Business gives you the opportunity to control the content that populates including:

  • Hours, phone number and address
  • Adding and removing images
  • Reviews
  • Questions and answers
  • Event postings

Based on Google’s research, businesses that claim their listings and contribute to the knowledge panel are now seven times more likely to have visitor click through to their websites. Seems pretty simple doesn’t it?

Listen First, Talk Later: Effectively Communicating Before, During and After a Crisis

A nice refresher to get us PR professionals back to our roots, this crisis communications breakout session focuses on the 4R model: Reduction, Readiness, Response and Recovery. In the tourism industry, when disaster strikes it is vital to be prepared for sake of the economy. So vital, that for every minute you spend planning saves you 10 minutes of execution and for each one dollar invested in planning, it saves you six dollars in future disaster costs.

Here are a few key takeaways:

  • Does your organization have a crisis plan? Is it external, internal or both? If you don’t you probably should. It’s scary but you need to think of any and everything that can happen – hurricanes, red tide, terrorist attacks, social media blunders, etc.
  • Does your organization provide emergency preparedness training for employees? Miscommunications and mixed messages can sometimes create a larger perceived problem than actual problem. Does your staff know who the official spokespeople of your organization are? Who does what in the event of a crisis?
  • When crisis hits establish what type of crisis it is and establish parameters – website changes, talking points, tracking mechanisms; you get the point.
  • Utilize existing resources – there’s that collaboration word I was looking for! People want to hear from the experts so why not use them. Messaging stays clear and accurate and all you have to do is forward information.
  • A system should be in place to document the crisis, archived social media posts, visitor correspondence, etc. This way, if anything in the future happens you have backup.


Make Way for Gen Z with David and Jonah Stillman

Generation Z, they’re here and you need to be ready.  Gen Z, also know as Generation Tech or Digital natives, is by definition anyone born after 1995. On the high end, they’re 23 and are either your interns or are just entering the workforce and are slowly beginning to contribute to the economy, or so you thought. Here’s what you need to know to prepare:

  • Phigital – the line between physical and digital worlds has been eliminated. Gen Z expects brands to create unified experiences across in-store, digital and mobile. Two-thirds make purchases directly from social media. As an employee, they’re tech forward meaning that Skype is just as savvy as an in-person interview and working remotely is the cultural norm.
  • Hyper Custom – they expect tailored brands and experiences so get to know them. 66 percent of Gen Zers would shop at a store more if they could check inventory beforehand.
  • Realistic – Gen Z is pragmatic about everything as it related to preparing for their future. Over 50% of teens would prefer to see a brand advertise via social influencers than on TV because it is classified as more authentic.
  • FOMO – Gen Z suffers from an intense and constant Fear of Missing Out (possibly from being the Instagram age). Lucky for the tourism industry, 62% would rather spend their money on an experience over something material.
  • Weconomists – Gen Z has only known a world with a shared economy as well as coming together to fight the world’s biggest causes. They want to be more than what they sell, which is why 55% will choose a brand that is eco-friendly and socially responsible.
  • DIY – Gen Z’s fierce independent nature has them believing that if you want it done right, then you must do it yourself.  44% of Gen Z says they’d be interested in submitting ideas for product designs, why is why they are attracted to interactive marketing campaigns that allow them to co-create (think Nike shoes).
  • Driven: Gen Z has never believed in participation awards which is why 70% of them are already their own boss, self-employed with steady income.