Pamela Johnson, director of sales for The Beaches of Fort Myers and Sanibel, knows exactly how planners can add value to meetings & events—and we’re all ears.
What can planners do to add value to meetings & incentives?
Johnson: Working with a local CVB can be invaluable. These organizations are the local specialists and can assist with first-hand knowledge regarding venues for off-site functions, educational experiences, tours, restaurants, as well as transportation ins and outs. The Lee County Visitor & Convention Bureau offers a long list of services free of charge some of which include collateral, group friendly restaurants, attraction knowledge for most any activity level, welcome bags and one of our best assets, volunteers, to assist with registration and provide local knowledge of the area to share with attendees. Our services are listed on our website in the meetings section.
What are three WOW group experiences that increase ROE (Return on Experience)?
Taking a boat cruise with any of our tour providers: Captiva Cruises, Fort Myers Princess or Adventures in Paradise are just a few. All of our local “natives” are free and roaming about. You may see an Osprey fishing for his breakfast or dinner. Dolphins are a frequent and awesome sight as they play in the wake of a boat or hunt for their next meal. If you spot a manatee lounging in a harbor or marina, you can count your day a perfect one.
A tour of the Edison & Ford Winter Estates is always an inspirational and eye-opening experience. Mr. Edison’s experiments and patented items can motivate and encourage the veterans of an organization as well as surprise even the most technologically advanced newer attendees. The beautiful botanical gardens will bring a sense of relaxation and inspiration to the whole group.
Step into the island experience by stopping at Cabbage Key, Useppa Island or Cayo Costa State Park. Captiva Cruises and Adventures in Paradise will take you to Cabbage and Useppa, both of which offer unique and memorable dining experiences not soon forgotten. Each island also offers nature trails and walking paths with surprises around every curve and bend. Arriving at Cayo Costa State Park will make you think you are the first ever to step foot on the beautiful white sand beaches. With 9 miles of beach and 9 acres of forest, there are many options for groups– swimming, snorkeling, shelling, hiking with a master naturalist or sunning. Rangers and facilities with fresh running water are present. Work with any of the local DMCs; they can assist in putting together adventures not soon forgotten.
Where do you take friends/family in your destination that can help planners deliver solid ROE?
All friends/family get to go on a boat ride, whether we rent a boat or go on one of the tour boats. So many visitors live in areas that don’t have access to our wildlife. Even for those who do, no one ever gets tired of seeing dolphins in their natural habitat. You can see everyone begin to relax when the boat motor turns over. As we glide out of the marina or harbor, the breeze picks up and you can feel the stress and tension leave you. After breathing in the salt air and seeing dolphin, bird life, sailboats or someone pulling in a fish for dinner– friends/family and meeting attendees all experience the same thing: rejuvenation and relaxation. Which in the end makes us all better at our jobs and life.