Fiscal Year 2019-2020
This year has been a journey...and we’re still along for the ride. At the start of our 2019-2020 fiscal year, Osceola County celebrated the highest visitation and Tourist Development Tax (TDT) collections to date as guests from around the globe traveled to sunny Kissimmee for fall breaks and holiday vacations. As we all know, this changed when the world shut down at the start of the coronavirus pandemic in March 2020. We all turned our eyes toward the news, which offered little relief, and waited for the chance to return to the new definition of normal. But while the world stood still, Experience Kissimmee had to keep going. Our destination had to keep moving. And that’s exactly what we did.
Buckle in for a trip down memory lane as we share our company highlights from our 2019-2020 Annual Report.
Osceola County was first established as a transportation hub in the late 19th century for riverboats and railroads. This began a cattle, sugar, and lumber-based economy. But all that changed with the arrival of Walt Disney World® Resort in 1971.
Since then, Kissimmee and Central Florida have evolved from a few roadside attractions into one of the top vacation destinations in the world. Tourism and hospitality are at the heart of this place we call home, and Experience Kissimmee is proud to have helped guests plan memorable vacations for more than 40 years. As the official tourism authority for Osceola County, Florida, we work closely with our community to inspire visitation to our sunny destination.
To maximize visitation to the destination, Experience Kissimmee focuses our marketing efforts toward domestic and international travel as well as sports and meeting sales. This way, we’re able to inspire travel for leisure, business, and sports groups.
|Earnings – REVENUE & SUPPORT|
|Income Oct‘19 - Sept’20|
|TOURIST DEVELOPMENT TAX||15,933,856.57|
|TOTAL PUBLIC FUNDS||17,610,933.07|
|AID TO PRIVATE ORGANIZATIONS||1,811,888.00|
|PROFESSIONAL SERVICES & FEES||101,510.00|
|OFFICE EXPENSES & RENT||540,740.00|
|Net Ordinary Income||567,731.68|
|Increase (Decrease) Net Assets||385,966.99|
Destination by the Numbers
*Results reflect October 2019 – September 2020.
Overnight Visitors to Osceola County
in Annual Tourist Development Tax Collections
Source: Osceola County Tax Collector
is Experience Kissimmee’s Influenced Economic Impact to Osceola County
in Experience Kissimmee-Driven Visitor Spending
We measure our Central Florida visitation through arrival data from Orlando International Airport.
Flights into Orlando International Airport (MCO):
Before the World Shut Down
October 2019 through February 2020
Prior to the nationwide shutdown, it was business as usual at Experience Kissimmee. We were seeing guests coming from around the globe and initiated strategic marketing efforts to our various geographic target markets to keep inspiring visitation.
We even launched our new brand campaign, Whelmed, that invited visitors from all parts of the world to have a perfectly balanced vacation right here in Kissimmee.
Here are a few highlights:
- Our Social Media team started a new LinkedIn Strategy resulting in 63k impressions from October 2019 to September 2020.
- The Meetings Sales & Services team booked 171 meetings totaling 203,207 contracted room nights from October 2019 to March 2020.
- Kissimmee Sports Commission team announced an exciting partnership with the 2022 Special Olympics USA Games as the official DMO for the event.
- We welcomed 60 new partners and held a 99% retention rate from October 2019 to March 2020.
- Industry Partner Relations team hosted EK’s 5th Anniversary Celebration with 285 partners and guest in attendance.
- Our International & Domestic Sales team welcomed the AVIAREPS marketing and sales firm to our EK travel trade family to support our promotional efforts in Colombia.
When talk of the COVID-19 virus began, our team remained on alert for any developments. But there was no way to predict that by March 2020, the entire world would shut down due to a steep rise in cases…and that was just the beginning. The need for good news and inspiration is why Experience Kissimmee had to keep going. We kept working to tell the Kissimmee story, but this time with creative new approaches to speak to an audience anxious to get out of their homes but not yet ready for travel. Our team was able to turn this challenge into an opportunity.
These creative efforts included:
- We created a video and content focused on encouraging consumers to #StayHome at the start of lockdown.
- To keep Kissimmee top of mind while everyone was at home, we created some Kissimmee At Home-specific content, including custom coloring pages, Spotify playlists, cooking blog posts, and unique virtual experiences.
- We provided support to the local community by sharing all dining options and open partner communications across our social channels, website and blog, as well as creating unique content to tell their story.
- The Kissimmee On-The-Go video series was created to showcase new safety protocols at our open partner locations to build consumer confidence and showcase all the fun and safe experiences here in the destination.
When our local businesses began reopening their doors in June 2020, we wanted to help spread their message. We started by leveraging a “Latest Destination Updates” webpage to share a list of all the local businesses that were open, closed, and where dining takeout was available. We also distributed weekly partner newsletters, changed our marketing messaging to focus on the outdoor adventures, and shifted to virtual events to keep our community informed.
- Media Relations
The team began pitching the destination as the perfect place to social distance and enjoy nature, resulting in a syndicated outdoor attractions article.
- We embraced the digital world by creating the Kissimmee Destination Virtual FAM, which resulted in a successful event, PR case study, and an Award of Distinction from the FPRA Orlando Area Chapter’s 2021 Image Awards.
- Social Media
The Social Media team launched our Experience Kissimmee TikTok account with more than 2.2K followers and 21.8K likes in its first year. Want to check out all the social media excitement from the past year? Click here to view our Social Lookbook!
- Meeting Sales
We partnered with AdventHealth to provide resources for groups, visitors, and partners on items such as bulk PPE at discounted pricing, rapid COVID-19 testing, safety signage, and access to experts who could provide consultation on best practices for meeting safely. Plus, we worked with their healthcare team to create the Experience Kissimmee Safety Hub.
- Kissimmee Sports Commission
As the official Destination Sponsor for West Ham United, the team had to pivot our promotional efforts as stadiums were closed and games went virtual. We launched the Best Seat in the House activation, where a player legend that would join a family of fans via video chat during a match. The activation was shortlisted for the European Sponsorship Association Award: Best Use of Virtual Experiences – Fan Engagement.
- Industry Partner Relations
As live events came to a halt, our Event Services team expanded their skillset to produce a new type of partner event using the BigMarker broadcasting platform. They hosted the first-ever Virtual Town Hall, No Handshakes Required virtual networking event, and more.
- International & Domestic Sales
The International & Domestic Sales team hosted 187 trainings to keep the destination top of mind with travel trade partners. These trainings resulted in more than 9,396 travel agents receiving training from our EK team and international representatives.
- Business Applications & Insights
In a time when proving the economic value of a DMO was critical, we developed the Impactulator product to calculate the economic impact of any DMO to its supporting community. This product launch opened new opportunities for Experience Kissimmee’s leadership in the tourism space.
Where do we go from here?
Looking back on all the milestones, changes, and teamwork from this past year, it certainly has been quite a ride. And we’re just getting started! Looking ahead, we’re hopeful that travel will continue looking up we’ll continue to do our best to ensure that Kissimmee forever shines bright as a top destination for family travel.
Thank you to all those who have supported our efforts this past year, and to all our incredible Industry Partners. If this past year has taught us anything, it’s that anything is possible when we work together with a positive heart. So, let’s continue moving forward and inspiring travel to Kissimmee, Florida!