Punta Gorda/Englewood Beach Says Welcome Back to Outsiders
First, a Little Background
Punta Gorda/Englewood Beach is the one Florida destination where visitors can enjoy the very best of Florida’s outside adventures all in one place. That’s why the destination says, “Our Best Side is Outside.” It’s not just a clever tagline. It’s a promise based on countless hours, and days, of research conducted by Aqua Marketing & Communications. And because visitors love Punta Gorda/Englewood Beach for its outside adventures, the destination needed a campaign that reflected this passion for off-the-beaten path activities.
In 2018, Aqua developed the “Outsiders Welcome” campaign for Punta Gorda/Englewood Beach. It claimed that area visitors were unlike other people traveling to Florida. Punta Gorda/Englewood Beach visitors craved outside adventure, wanted a different experience than other Florida destinations could provide, and were looking to escape the hustle and bustle found in big cities. The campaign called these people “Outsiders,” and in Punta Gorda/Englewood Beach, Outsiders weren’t just appreciated, they were welcome. Hence the campaign went to market inviting people from all over the world to experience Punta Gorda/Englewood Beach’s outside activities by saying, “Outsiders Welcome.” This message was reinforced by local ambassadors who embodied the Outsider spirit in one-minute and 30-second interviews promoting the area.
Flash Forward to 2020
Two years since the campaign launched, it had already secured multiple awards, including Flaglers, Adrians, and eTSY awards. Area tourism was up in the destination, and the campaign helped Punta Gorda/Englewood Beach experience their first million dollar year. A second batch of local Outsider ambassadors were filmed to add to the growing library of video interviews. There seemed to be no stopping the Outsiders Welcome campaign. That is until the COVID-19 pandemic changed the world.
The local businesses and outside attractions shutdown in accordance with local, state, and nation-wide safety precautions. However, Punta Gorda/Englewood Beach didn’t go silent on its communications. With Aqua’s creative and PR support, the destination launched a “Our Best Side is by Your Side” campaign to raise money for businesses and people impacted by the shutdowns. A beautifully designed t-shirt was marketed and sold, and Punta Gorda/Englewood Beach leadership appeared on news outlets to promote the initiative. The “Our Best Side is by Your Side” campaign exceeded all expectations and helped those in need. However, while communication between the destination and it’s loyal return customer base remained open, the “Outsiders Welcome” message had to stop as people around the world did the right thing and remained home to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Eventually, destinations, businesses, attractions, restaurants, and accommodations began gradually opening in stages. Safety was a top priority for everyone, and Punta Gorda/Englewood Beach went to great lengths to ensure all businesses reopened safely with visitor and resident health as a top priority. But while “Outsiders Welcome” messaging could resume, things had changed across the nation and the world. Aqua knew it wouldn’t be enough to go back to the same messaging that had increased area tourism and won so many awards.
Now visitors were looking at safety as their number one concern when traveling. And rightfully so. Big attractions like theme parks, concerts, and anywhere else with a lot of people tightly packed together were losing business because of the inherent risk associated with them. However, Punta Gorda/Englewood Beach had a unique opportunity to capitalize on what had always set them apart from the competition. The destination’s outside activities were perfect for spreading out and practicing social distancing. Its small-town atmosphere meant there wouldn’t be crowds at the beaches, restaurants, attractions, and shops. And the welcoming spirit of its locals meant everyone would look out for the safety and well-being of one another. These benefits were woven into new messaging with a slightly updated tagline building on the success of the recent campaign: “Outsiders Welcome BACK.”
Not only is Punta Gorda/Englewood Beach welcoming those seeking safe, fun, outside adventures, it’s welcoming back its loyal return visitors who were forced to cancel summer vacations and stay home. Safety, social distancing, and an abundance of wide-open, outdoor spaces are stressed in all communication materials from social posts to emails. Advertising is updated with “Outsiders Welcome BACK” messaging, and the website has been redesigned to reflect this new approach and highlight what makes Punta Gorda/Englewood Beach a great destination for those seeking a safe, healthy vacation.