President's Message

As the 2016-17 fiscal year comes to a close, I have begun to reflect on the past year. Through the leadership of our trusted board, Visit Pensacola has been able to accomplish so much and I am excited to see where that driving force takes us as we move into the new year.

To kick off the past fiscal year, we began by adding two members to our internal executive team. Through their leading forces and dedication, we ran a tight ship and have added an additional staff member and are about to extend an invitation to a fourth.

Jointly, our team linked with Showcase, our partners and the community, have spearheaded initiatives such as an improved grant recipient program, National Travel and Tourism Week, organizing research for brand redesign and a meeting facility, heightened partner packages, the launch of a new website, standing strong through Hurricane Irma and ensuring evacuees safety and finally the Tall Ships Challenge Gulf Coast 2018.

As a result of these initiatives and also largely from the participation of our industry partners, tourism in the Pensacola Bay Area is at an all-time high. Compared to last year, the number of visitors increased by 30%, visitor spending increased by 16%, visitor paid taxes increased by 10%, the average daily rate paid for accommodations increased 4%, and the average occupancy of lodging in Escambia County increased 5%.

The new year is going to be full of exciting challenges and there is no other community that I would rather greet them with than our very own. Our goal will be to continue growing our relationships with our community and our industry partners, sharing our story with our visitors as well as to our locals and getting them both involved in our destination. I am looking forward to working with you in the coming year and thank you for all that you do for Visit Pensacola.

Steve Hayes, President


Visit Pensacola Committees

As an industry-driven organization, our greatest strength is the input and guidance we receive from you - the members of the Pensacola tourism industry. If you would like to be part of the success of tourism and Visit Pensacola we are looking for volunteers to serve on a committee related to Visit Pensacola. Current committees include:

  • Marketing Committee: meets every other month
  • Sales & Services Committee: will meet every other month
  • Hospitality Roundtable Committee: will meet every other month
  • Strategic Planning Committee: meets quarterly
  • Grant Committee: meets every other month
  • Finance Committee: meets every month

If you are interested in participating in a committee please send an email to Steve Hayes ( and indicate which committee you would like to be involved.


Visit Pensacola By-Law Change

Visit Pensacola has recommended one change to the Visit Pensacola By-laws.

  • To replace the Compensation Committee as a standing committee with an Executive Committee. The duties of the Executive Committee shall be to review and oversee of the following business of Visit Pensacola:
    1. Personnel and compensation issues;
    2. Organizational structure, modifications to organizational documents and nonprofit status;
    3. Facilities;
    4. Business strategies, long-term planning;
    5. Items brought to the Executive Committee by the Board of Directors, President and/or any chairperson of any Visit Pensacola committee;
    6. Any other duties required by the Board of Directors


To review the recommended changes, please click here. If you have any questions related to the changes please contact Steve Hayes at or 850-435-8703.

Visit Pensacola Team Collaboration

This month we have been busy planning and hosting a variety of events. Hurricane Irma became a top priority and we wanted to have as much detailed information as we could to our community, evacuees and to guests who had upcoming or future travel plans. The Visit Pensacola staff worked in constant communication with lodging partners. This helped to keep our keep visitors and state/local officials up to date on our destination occupancy, shelters available and other important information.  Our Hurricane Irma post page will continue to have information, links and ways to assist with disaster relief. Thank you to your staff that assisted us with updates.



Tall Ships Challenge Gulf Coast 2018

Tall Ships Challenge Gulf Coast 2018 is coming to Pensacola, if you or someone in your organization would like to be a part of our planning team, let us know! This month we held the first or many press conferences on the event and heard from Tall Ships Manager, Erin Short. In the following months, we will be announcing sponsorship and volunteer opportunities. We foresee this being an event to remember and one that we hope to see back in our city in future years.


Tall Ships




Sales & Services

April 12 – 16 we will hold the very first Tall Ships America Festival in Pensacola. Visit Pensacola will be leading the efforts to develop and run the event operations. These vessels are history and education based and provide an experience unlike anything we have had in our area. This unique event, which involves 4 cities in the Gulf of Mexico, will bring 4-6 tall mast sailing ships to our city bringing opportunity for residents, businesses and visitors to enjoy. Partnership opportunities will be available soon and we look forward to working together on this iniative to our city!

Article for website: Detailed Content

Our next steps for the National Conference on Undergraduate Research will be a meeting in Oklahoma next month. Steve will be presenting to the NCUR board alongside UWF, and they will decide if Pensacola will be the destination for NCUR 2021 w/an estimated 4k-5k attendees.

Sun Belt Spring Meeting 2020, 2021, 2022

Our team is currently working on a proposal for apx. 300 room nights. This would be a three year consecutive event with 2020’s meeting taking place in May.

Lori Coppels, Destination Sales Manager, had a terrific meeting planner conference at CONNECT in New Orleans which has yielded seven RFP’s and eight leads to date.

Lori and participating partner, Katie Kehoe from Holiday Inn Resort attended the Small Meetings Market Convention. This is a national organization for small to medium sized groups. We are excited to hear who they met with while there and the new opportunities for the industry.

Partners can attend shows with us at a significant discount, but space is limited. Please contact Lori Coppels for upcoming opportunities in 2017-2018 at or 850-432-4209.

Upcoming Shows:

We are working closely with Pensacola Sports and UWF to welcome the NCAA Women’s Volleyball Championship, December 7 – 9. Eight competing teams will participate at this event.

Marketing & Communications

The Marketing and Communications team continues growing our relationships nationally and locally with our partners, media and publications. We encourage our partners to share your good news with us and help us continue promoting our destination by using #explorepcola and #visitpensacola on your social handles.

If you are looking to increase your partner engagement, we ask that you give us a call and let us help you! There are several ways you can promote your business better on our site. You will see a new look to our homepage as well in an effort to drive our visitors to sign up for a FREE Visitors Guide, follow along on social media and plan for events even easier. Click here for more information and be sure to call us for a full list of pricing opportunities. These opportunities allow for more visibility and access to detailed analytics.


Social Media + E-Marketing –

Twelve blog articles were posted on our site this month. We encourage you to look at them and share the information with your guests.

Our team is working to engage new influencers and writers to host in our area. In September, we hosted several publications in Pensacola – Points North ATL, Good Grit Magazine and Taste of the South Magazine. We are seeing quite a bit of social engagement from these publications and others while in the Pensacola Bay Area.


We took to the streets and have been compiling new culinary shots in our area. We’ve captured shots from Perdido Key, Pensacola Beach and Pensacola. These shots ranged from the freshest seafood, savory lamb chops, sushi and even hot dogs! Thank you to all of our local restaurants for working with the team and providing exceptional cuisine for these shots. We are excited to use these new photos in upcoming campaigns, social media, blogs and print opportunities.


This week, we are headed to Nashville, TN with four of Pensacola’s chefs to present a Taste of Pensacola to the Nashville media at the Country Music Hall of Fame. This event is an effort to show off our culinary and engage Nashville media in visiting Pensacola. Joining us will be Chef Dan Dunn, Chef Irv Miller, Chef Gus Silivos and Chef Billy Ballou. We will have live social media coverage during the event. These chefs will also be live on Nashville Today cooking up their favorite Gulf Coast Seafood. We have also partnered with the Nashville Predators and will be sponsoring their preseason game. A mullet toss competition will be at both events for a trip to win a vacation to Pensacola. We are excited about this event and hope to see a lasting partnership with our friends in Music City!

Nashville Event


Recent media assists include working with – PNJ, HARO, The Lovely Grey (instagrammer), WEAR, FADMO, Connect Travel and Visit Florida PR


All partner mentions have been documented in our CRM database. If you are a partner and had a mention from one of our guests or in one of our blogs we have documented it to your account in the extranet. We could not do our jobs without our partners and are so thankful for the hospitality you provide to us!

Top 10 Posts by Total Engagement

Social stats


Conde Nast Travel – Pensacola Beach and Gulf Islands National Seashore named, “Most Beautiful Place in Florida”

Thrillist - The 21 Best Beach Bars in America (featuring the Flora-Bama) - Florida’s Best Off-Leash Dog Parks and Beaches (Bayview Dog Beach)

PNJ - Pensacola Beach, Gulf Islands Named Most Beautiful Place in Florida by national magazine

USA Today - Growing appetite for lionfish at restaurants helps clean Gulf reefs (Jackson’s) - Best Gulf Coast beach getaway: 2017 Readers' Choice

Only In Your State - What You’ll Find Inside this Florida Bar is Unforgettable (McGuire’s)

Only In Your State - These 12 Amazing Breakfast Spots in Florida Will Make Your Morning Epic (Native Café)

Visitor Services

Partners, if you or your guests need information, please give us a call. We are currently proofing the newest tear sheet maps for our area. Once these arrive, stop in and pick up a pack to share with your guests. We’ve also created a very handy brochure for all your guests “Indoors Abound.” This brochure is live on our website and can be accessed by front line staff. It contains information on indoor activities for kids, museums, galleries, shopping and more!

Our Pensacola information center is continuing to host a variety of events for our guests. We’ll be offering free Halloween bag decorating and ornament making in October and November.

Both of our Visitor Information Centers are getting new retail items for holiday shopping along with our local vendor favorites. We invite you to come do a little shopping and see all the new things we have happening in our centers.