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Case Study

Taking a Destination from Zero to Hero

Bradenton, Anna Maria Island, Longboat Key, Florida

Couple pulling kayaks into water

A Historic Visitation Success Story

It’s 2011, and for the first time ever the Bradenton Area Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB) releases an RFP to brand and position Manatee County, Florida (now known as Bradenton, Anna Maria Island, Longboat Key). The agency that won the closely-contested RFP was the recently established Aqua Marketing & Communications, and through an extensive branding process Aqua identified the area’s most competitive position, defined a new destination brand, and increased visitation to the area by an astounding 33% from its top markets of visitor origin. Such an achievement was unprecedented for the destination, and as such the CVB released another RFP that Aqua competed for and won to become the destination’s agency of record.

All these years later, it’s easy to forget where Aqua started with the account, and how we brought the destination to the forefront of the Florida beach vacation conversation. Let’s take a look back at how we took Bradenton, Anna Maria Island, Longboat Key from “Where’s that at?” to “That’s where I want to be.”

Branding the Beaches

Before Aqua, Manatee County didn’t have a brand. What they did have was multiple communities within one county trying to individually promote themselves all at once. This confused the consumer, muddled the message, and wasted untold marketing dollars. Fortunately, Aqua was awarded the contract to brand the destination. This involved in-depth research into visitor profiles, competitive destinations, and what the area could offer in terms of activities, accommodations, and dining. The branding process also included several focus groups in key markets of origin, and presenting multiple iterations of the logos, taglines, and brand personalities. The result was a unique, one-of-a-kind brand, and an easy-to-follow, clearly outlined set of brand guidelines. Aqua even renamed the destination, uniting the entire county behind its three primary tourist destinations and the area’s most unique feature, it’s beautiful island beaches: Bradenton, Anna Maria Island, Longboat Key (or “the Bradenton Area”).

Advancements in Advertising

Aqua has consistently crafted award-winning advertising for Bradenton, Anna Maria Island, Longboat Key. From creating eye-catching annual campaigns to establishing a long-term, multiyear campaign backed with in-depth research, Aqua’s advertising efforts have led to steady growth in area visitation and tourism tax dollar revenue.

three print ad examples

Propelling Public Relations

As Aqua continued to exceed all expectations the CVB had, the agency’s contract was expanded to include public relations in 2013. From reacting to natural disasters like hurricanes and red tide to securing top media to experience the destination firsthand, the Aqua PR team has helped position Bradenton, Anna Maria Island, Longboat Key as a leading Florida destination. To date, Aqua PR efforts have garnered almost two billion impressions, achieved more than $7 million in earned media value, and secured coverage in outlets including the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Toronto Star, New York Times, Boston Globe and more.

digital press kit
Dallas Stars PR Splash Event images

Grow With Aqua

Changing the conversation about a vacation in the Bradenton Area from “where” to “when” is more than just talk. We got the numbers to back it up.

Increase in Visitor HHI
Through skillful targeting, Aqua was able to raise the demographics of area visitors, leading to a 52.4% increase in economic impact.
Increase in ADR
By raising the visitor demographic, Aqua was able to attract visitors to the destination with greater disposable income, leading properties to increase their Average Daily Rates.
Increase in REVPAR
By raising the visitor demographic, and drawing visitors during the best times of the year for the destination, Aqua was able to attract visitors that allow properties to increase their Revenue Per Available Room.
Increase in Total Visitors
Aqua’s plans and programs significantly increased visitation throughout all visitor segments and categories, with special emphasis to first-time visitors and long-term stays.
Increase in Resort Tax Collections
Due to Aqua’s efforts, the destination saw a significant rise in visitor tax collections due to visitors with higher incomes, staying longer and returning more frequently.
Increase in Total Economic Impact
Ultimately, Aqua views Total Economic Impact as the ultimate metric, and it’s the agency’s mission being to bring communities to their highest levels ever.
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