You know that game when you’re reading fortune cookies and you add the words “in bed” to the end of the sentence? Meet Puerto Rico launched a comprehensive, integrated branding campaign revolving around the same idea for meeting and convention planners. Except the add-on phrase, and the name of the campaign, is: “On a Tropical Island. In the Caribbean.”
The idea is that Puerto Rico has all of the same modern meeting infrastructure, volume of airlift, luxury hotel product and convention center facilities on par with most mainland cities. The Meet Puerto Rico DMO has been touting all of that hardware for a few decades, promoting the idea that the destination is just as serious about delivering business-oriented programs as the other U.S. gateways.
Now it’s time to bring back the message to promote professional meetings and conventions that also happen to be on a tropical island. In the Caribbean.
‘Today’s meeting planners are seeking destinations that offer not just the top accommodations, airlift ease, state-of-the art technology and mobile offerings—areas that we excel in,” says Milton Segarra, president/CEO of Meet Puerto Rico. “They are also looking to provide an authentic experience in a location that offers heritage, a strong local culture, great food, extraordinary outdoor experiences and CSR opportunities. And Puerto Rico answers that call.”
Segarra explains that Puerto Rico needed to find a way to communicate the destination differentiators in a more impactful way. Planners know how well Puerto Rico can put together meetings and conventions. They know about the no passport requirement and the close proximity. But sometimes planners forget the power of tropical beauty and drama to propel attendee engagement and create a more memorable program.
“Our campaign shows our commitment to ensure that the meeting experience in Puerto Rico escapes the conventional,” says Segarra. “We are supporting the campaign using strong visual imagery of Puerto Rico’s natural beauty of the destination’s beaches, rainforests, undersea life and golf courses. Ads also include overlaid copy that underscores Puerto Rico’s ability to accommodate a group’s needs. We needed to really differentiate from the ordinary. “
Planners will also start to see how the campaign is fully integrated. All advertising, sales, marketing, social media and public relations are supporting these messages to reach planners and their attendees in the most consistent manner.
In the first half of its 2013-2014 fiscal, Meet Puerto Rico secured 163 groups with 89,532 room night bookings. And in in April, the DMO launched the “Escape the Meeting Blah! Campaign,” with added incentives to encourage group bookings.
For every 500 room nights booked in Puerto Rico during April and May, planners are entered to win a $5,000 pre-paid gift card. In addition, they will celebrate their bookings at a special celebration in Puerto Rico where the winners will be announced, and a donation will be made on behalf of The Ricky Martin Foundation.
“Our goal for this fiscal year is to book 187,500 room nights and we are,” says Segarra. “But we know that the true benefit lay in the distinctive, memorable experiences that meeting attendees will enjoy when they come to Puerto Rico as a result of this campaign.”
While the campaign itself is fully integrated, so too is the Meet Puerto Rico organization. The DMO has hired new sales representatives in key markets to work directly with planners.
Segarra sums up, “We have made some significant changes to the organization and we’re seeing the outcomes of a great team effort. We’ve begun implementing a new approach to succeed in this ever-evolving, highly-competitive industry.”
New Meet Puerto Rico Website
Meet Puerto Rico launched a brand new web platform in January aligned with the new branding campaign.
“We’re looking to rise up in planner’s top-of-mind in the incentive market and increase our position in the industry,” says Segarra. He told us both the leisure and convention DMOs are working together on a 3-part plan to engage better with planners.
That includes a new business model offering better tools for planners, like the new website. There’s a new focus on simplicity and clear communications with the MICE industry, and Puerto Rico is more aggressively communicating its long term experience in the region.
“We know how to treat our groups based on our experience, and our meeting and incentive product is unmatched in the region,” says Segarra.
New luxury hotel product includes Royal Isabela on the northwest coast with 20 high-end villas. Just outside the booming Condado District in Old San Juan, a new 5-star Condado Vanderbilt Hotel is scheduled for completion in September, with comprehensive renovations to San Juan’s International airport following in October.
In terms of lift, Avianca is flying in from Bogota after a 12-year absence, and new AeroMexico routes are under discussion. Also, Southwest opened flights from Florida, while JetBlue began service from Chicago last November.
Segarra says, “Even though we already have the most airlift into the region, JetBlue and Southwest are super important for us to help expand access even further.”