Paul Astleford of Visit Jacksonville Talks Value in InFocus Q&A

Jacksonville City Skyline
Jacksonville City Skyline

Paul Astleford, president/CEO of Visit Jacksonville, wanted to share with Prevue just how meeting planners are adding value to meetings & incentives—and we were all ears.

What are three WOW group experiences that increase ROE (Return on Experience)?

Astleford: The first WOW experience that jumps to mind is the beauty of the destination. We have the majestic St. Johns River in downtown and over 20 miles of the Atlantic Ocean just to the east, meetings held on either of these provide a memorable time in Jax. Imagine holding your event outside on a river deck overlooking the St. Johns at night with the beautifully lit bridges in the background, and with our weather you can do it year round!

Jacksonville is such a diverse destination. It really is a great place for groups to try new experiences. How about a sunset reception in the English and Italian Gardens of the Cummer Museum of Arts & Gardens backed up to the St. Johns River?

Or maybe you prefer feeding the giraffes? The Jacksonville Zoo & Gardens has several different event spaces where you can hold a top notch event right within the walls of the Zoo. A brand new climate controlled space will open this spring.

What types of destination experiences are trending for meetings & incentive travel programs in 2014?

Groups are looking for interactive experiences like zip lining and adventure type of tours.  We have awesome natural resources that groups can take advantage of! We can also provide an exceptional golfing experience on many different courses along with great golf schools in the area that are there to help you improve your game while golfing championship golf courses.

Where do you take friends/family in your destination that can help planners deliver solid ROE?

Again, our natural beauty like our beaches and river truly are breathtaking for visitors to experience. We have amazing restaurants all over town that offer unique experiences. Our shopping is great, from boutiques to large open-air malls to antique stores, we have something for everyone.  Our arts & culture is top notch, the Symphony offers the only dedicated symphony hall in the state of Florida. The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) and the Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens are wonderful art museums to experience.

How does Visit Jacksonville deliver solid ROI for groups?

We are a seasoned staff of destination experts that welcome every group, no matter big or small with very personalized service. We make a group feel like they are the most important group to ever visit our city. We provide a customized and creative welcome throughout the city during site selection and carry it through to when the group arrives for their convention. We help make it a seamless process and provide the group with complimentary destination expertise and assistance.