Florida State makes waves in travel marketing

By Matt Redley

From friendships with creatures to feuds with countesses, streaming services’ meteoric growth during the pandemic has been helped by content which has transported viewers to new worlds.

Both on and off camera, another storyline of significance is playing out. This begins in Florida, or The Sunshine State, in the form of a new partnership between Amazon Prime and two of Florida’s destination marketing organisations (DMOs), a partnership which could serve as blueprint for travel marketing in future.

Visit Florida and Visit St. Pete-Clearwater, Florida State’s DMOs, have scripted and co-produced an original Amazon Prime series titled ‘Life’s Rewards’, a ‘dramady’ set in St. Petersburg, Florida’s fifth-most populous city and Guinness World Record holder for the most consecutive days of sunshine, 768 days between 1967 and 1969.

This partnership is being described as the first show of its kind and as a new genre of television marketing by a tourism organisation, given that it is both filmed within and produced by a destination. The show is not only staged in St. Petersburg / Clearwater, but it is also produced by the tourism boards of these locations.

If successful, this could serve as a potential blueprint for marketers and streaming services to partner in the future, bucking the trend of tourism boards making straightforward travel show products by leveraging consumers’ current content streaming habits and demand for engaging content.

The show tells the story of a Floridian corporate executive, Dan Kinney, whose life collapses after a string of high-profile deals fall through. Dan attempts to pick his life back up on a rollercoaster revival back to good times, surrounded by palm trees and the sweet sea air of the Gulf of Mexico.

Dan’s personal crash and recovery has artistic significance given that Florida State also is striving for a similar rebound in the face of adversity. Florida’s economy is heavily reliant on tourism, with the sector generating $88bn, or roughly 10% of Florida’s total GDP, before COVID-19. The show’s creation is driven in part by efforts by Florida’s tourism boards to boost the States’ recovery as a tourism destination following the blow struck to the sector by the pandemic, showcasing the best of the area.

In terms of measurement, the project offers additional benefits for DMOs, in that they can directly assess the effectiveness of the campaign via streaming metrics. The hope is that the show is likely to boost pent-up demand, and DMOs will be able to directly measure this through streaming numbers.

The project is also innovative for using real locations, restaurants and hotels as the backdrop for the story line, allowing direct marketing of these points to consumers. For travel companies and those looking to encourage post-COVID-19 travel, this represents a novel experiment in speaking directly to consumers in a space that they feel comfortable.