During the annual Florida Governor’s Conference on Tourism, held September 7-9 at the Hilton Orlando, VISIT FLORIDA announced the 2016 Hall of Fame Honorees, as well as the Flagler Awards, Iris D. Larson Awards and the Film Florida Legend Award. Each year, leaders in Florida tourism are chosen by a selection committee to receive these prestigious honors and awards.
Florida Tourism Hall of Fame
Since 2001, individuals have been chosen annually to be inducted into the Florida Tourism Hall of Fame. This honor, presented by the VISIT FLORIDA Board of Directors, recognizes contemporary and historic figures whose vision, creativity and drive have had a positive and significant impact on the development of Florida as a desirable visitor destination. This year, two inductees are being recognized.
The 2016 Florida Tourism Hall of Fame inductees are Walter Carl Ray and W.M. “Shorty” Davdison. In 1924, these two gentlemen embarked on a development and advertising program that grew into one of the world’s most beautiful natural wonders and one of America’s best-known attractions – Silver Springs. One partner, in charge of business affairs, developed the first gasoline powered glass bottom boat fleet; then, encouraged by Thomas A. Edison, moved to a fleet of electric powered boats that became world famous. His commitment to beautification of the 80 acres around Silver Springs was an attraction itself. His partner’s many advertising ideas saw attendance grow from 11,000 visitors to more than 800,000 annually by 1950, and more than 1.5 million annually by 1962.
Their plan was simple: “Advertise when no one else does, and use those methods not used by others.” Signs saying “See Silver Springs” were nailed to trees throughout the Southeast. Small mileage machines designed to go in motels, restaurants and service stations told the correct mileage from that location to all major cities – and to Silver Springs. Trucks with dioramas of Silver Springs toured the country. In the mid 1950’s, the attraction purchased seven million brochures in a single printing, unheard of at the time. More than 50 motion pictures have been shot at Silver Springs throughout the decades, starring famous actors including Gary Cooper, Burt Reynolds, Sean Connery, Jane Wyman, Jane Russell, Claudia Cardinale, Tom Cruise and Kim Basinger.
This year’s honorees were true innovators: they believed their unique advertising efforts would bring visitors to Silver Springs who would then go elsewhere in Florida, growing their attraction and the state’s tourism industry in the process – and these pioneers were absolutely right.
Named for Henry Flagler, the Flagler Awards were established in 2000 to recognize outstanding tourism marketing in Florida. Annually, the Flagler Awards honor many of the countless individuals and organizations that help maintain and improve Florida’s position as one of the world’s most popular travel destinations. The awards are open to all individuals, private businesses and not-for-profit organizations offering a product or service that promotes tourism to or within the state of Florida.
As in previous years, the 2016 Flagler Awards drew entries from Florida’s tourism partners, large and small. Working independently, eight judges evaluated the creativity, innovation, production quality and effectiveness of each entry. Based on the judges’ cumulative scores, awards were presented to the top three entries in each category: the Bronze Award for the third highest scoring entry, the Silver Award for the second highest scoring entry, and for the highest scoring entry in each category, the Henry Award. The 2016 Flagler Award winners in 17 categories, plus Best in Show at three budget levels, are listed below.
Creativity in Public Relations
Bronze Award: Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo for “Rare Clouded Leopard Cub Becomes Internet Sensation”
Silver Award: Visit Pensacola for “Gulf Islands National Seashore Rocks the Vote Florida’s Best Beach”
The Henry: The Florida Keys & Key West for “It’s Too Cold in Ithaca; Visit the Florida Keys Instead!”
Bronze Award: Pure Florida for the Cruise Cash Automated Email Campaign
Silver Award: The Shores Resort and Spa advocacy campaign with Flip.to for The Shores Resort Guest Advocacy Campaign
The Henry: The Florida Keys & Key West for the NYTimes.com Great Getaways E-Newsletter Campaign “Leave the World in Your Wake”, “Be Careful or You Might Catch Something” and “Everything You’ve Heard Is True”
Bronze Award: Naples, Marco Island, Everglades CVB for the Naples, Marco Island, Everglades MNI Digital Ads
Silver Award: Visit Tampa Bay for the Visit Tampa Bay Integrated Digital Marketing Campaign
The Henry: The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel for the “Island Findings” Digital Campaign
Mixed Media Campaign
Bronze Award: Emerald Coast CVB for the “Chicago Takeover” Campaign
Bronze Award: Experience Kissimmee for the “Kiss Cold Away” Campaign
Silver Award: The Florida Aquarium for the “20th Anniversary – Ocean Of Memories” Campaign
The Henry: Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau for the “Hello Sunny” Millennial Campaign
Bronze Award: The Florida Keys & Key West for the Amobee 3D Mobile Unit
Silver Award: Visit Tallahassee for the #IHeartTally Mobile Campaign
The Henry: Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau for the Greater Fort Lauderdale Digital Vacation Playbook (photo)
Bronze Award: Cultural Council of Palm Beach County for the Cultural Tourist Winter 2015 Advertising Campaign
Silver Award: The Florida Aquarium for the Fish Football Ad
The Henry: Amelia Island Convention and Visitors Bureau for “Amelia Island for Germany”
Bronze Award: Visit St. Pete/Clearwater for the “Winter Blows” Campaign
Silver Award: Naples, Marco Island, Everglades Convention and Visitors Bureau for the Naples, Marco Island, Everglades Toronto & NYC Motion Boards
The Henry: Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau for the “Hello Sunny” Live Bus Shelter Activation
Bronze Award: Visit Central Florida for the “Choose Everything” Campaign
Silver Award: The Florida Keys & Key West for the Authentic Florida Print Campaign - “We’ll Never Change Our Tune”, “They’re Not Plastic. Neither Are We”, “Some Lines Are Worth the Wait”, “The Attraction Is Universal”, “Keeping It Real” and “Welcome to the Forever Glades”
The Henry: The Florida Aquarium for the American Flag Fish Ad
Bronze Award: The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel for Summer Getaway Sixty Second Radio
Silver Award: The Florida Keys & Key West for Authentic Radio
The Henry: The Florida Aquarium for the “Deep Memories” Campaign – Shark, Crab, Turtle
Resource/Promotional Material – Consumer
Bronze Award: Visit Central Florida for the Visit Central Florida Vacation Guide
Silver Award: Naples, Marco Island, Everglades Convention & Visitors Bureau for the NME Brazil Visitors Guide Book
The Henry: Town of Surfside for the Town of Surfside Visitors Guide
Resource/Promotional Material – Trade
Bronze Award: Orlando North, Seminole County for the Team Seminole Digital Campaign
Silver Award: Amelia Island Convention & Visitors Bureau for the Amelia Island Medical Meetings Program
The Henry: Visit St. Pete/Clearwater for the Virtual Reality/360 Video
Rural County Marketing
The Henry: Forgotten Coast Cultural Coalition for the Forgotten Coast en Plein Air 10th Anniversary Celebration
Social Media Marketing
Bronze Award: Red Fish Blue Fish for #RFBF - Tag & Release
Silver Award: The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel for the Song & Chance 2 Video Contest
The Henry: The Florida Aquarium for the Lightning’s Drive for The Stanley Cup
Bronze Award: Visit Jacksonville for Kids Free November in Jacksonville
Silver Award: Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau for Broward100 - Celebrating Broward County's Centennial
The Henry: Amelia Island Convention & Visitors Bureau for Dickens on Centre/Amelia Island Christmas, A Southern Elegance Christmas
Bronze Award: The Florida Keys & Key West for the "Baggage" and "Order Online" Campaign
Silver Award: Discover The Palm Beaches for “Unplug and Reconnect”
The Henry: The Florida Aquarium for the 20th Anniversary TV Campaign
Bronze Award: Martin County Office of Tourism and Marketing for the Martin County Tourism Advocacy Campaign
Silver Award: Cultural Council of Palm Beach County for Palm Beach County's Cultural Concierge Program
The Henry: Visit Tampa Bay for “Henry Brings His Business to Tampa Bay”
Bronze Award: Hawks Cay Resort for the Hawks Cay Resort New Website HawksCay.com
Silver Award: Naples, Marco Island, Everglades Convention and Visitors Bureau for DiscoverYourParadise.com
The Henry: Visit Central Florida for VisitCentralFlorida.org
Best of Show in three budget categories
Marketing Budgets Less Than $500,000: Town of Surfside for the Town of Surfside Visitors Guide
Marketing Budgets $500,000 to $2 Million: Cultural Council of Palm Beach County for the Cultural Tourist Winter 2015 Advertising Campaign
Marketing Budgets Greater Than $2 Million: Amelia Island Convention and Visitors Bureau for “Amelia Island for Germany”
Iris D. Larson Awards
Created by Bob and Iris Larson, past owners of a small motel in Kissimmee, the Iris D. Larson Awards recognize hospitality and tourism industry professionals and students who exemplify the qualities of selfless spirit of service and leadership in their work experience.
Hospitality Endowment’s Industry Service Award Winner – Jon Marco
Mr. Marco has been a member of the Tijuana Flats team for eight years now, but has been in the restaurant business since he was a kid. All about customer experience, developing people’s careers, and community engagement, Mr. Marco has logged hundreds of hours of charity work and community service and puts a smile on the face of everyone who walks into his restaurant.
Scholarship Award Winners
John Cory Shields, Chaplin School of Hospitality and Tourism Management, Florida International University
Mr. Shields has a passion for one particular thing in the hospitality business: the people. With experience in all sides of the restaurant business from working at the Blue Moon Fish Company, and from his volunteer activities with the YMCA, Mr. Shields has learned to manage people of various viewpoints, cultures, and backgrounds. A Senior majoring in Hospitality & Tourism Management at Florida International University, he currently utilizes his experience as a front desk host at Marriott’s Harbor Beach Resort and Spa in Fort Lauderdale and ensures that guests get the experience that they are looking for.
Eliana Benevento, Rosen School of Hospitality Management, University of Central Florida
With a philosophy based in teamwork and leadership, Ms. Benevento aims to always uplift others through her work. A Event Management major at the University of Central Florida, she values teamwork and aims to always place her teammates and future employees before herself, saying that she intends to be “a servant leader to everyone.”
Jamie Crowder, Dedman School of Hospitality Management, Florida State University
Ms. Crowder makes it a habit to approach each guest with patience and compassion. A Senior in Hospitality Management at Florida State University, Ms. Crowder has gone from serving customers at Smashburger to spending her summer at Wyndham Vacation Rentals in Destin, Florida. There she learned how to work towards a common goal with others and how to use her warm and friendly approach to make sure each guest got the most out of their vacation experience – lessons which she states “will follow me through my last year of college and beyond.”
Film Florida Legends Tourism Ambassador Award
Film Florida and VISIT FLORIDA are proud to honor the legendary Sharon Gless with the Film Florida Legends Tourism Ambassador Award. Gless has had a storied career as a television and stage actress, known worldwide for her turn on beloved series such as Cagney and Lacey, Queer as Folk, and the megahit show Burn Notice - the longest running Florida-based television series in history.
“Awarding Ms. Gless this year was a true honor. As a Miami resident and incredibly respected talent, we were thrilled to have her join a group of legendary Florida icons,” shared Film Florida President Kelly Paige.
Ms. Paige and Film Florida emphasize that the film and entertainment industry has a massive impact on tourism. Showcasing Florida’s diversity on the big, small and mobile screen brings the publicity and worldwide attention, and both Film Florida and VISIT FLORIDA are happy to honor Sharon Gless for helping promote our state as a premiere travel destination across the globe.
Photo: VISIT FLORIDA