Auburndale, FL (September 14, 2016) — Visit Central Florida (VCF), known locally as Polk County Tourism and Sports Marketing, was honored with three awards during the annual Florida Governor’s Conference on Tourism in Orlando on September 7. VCF won the coveted Henry Award (highest honor) in the Website category for www.VisitCentralFlorida.org, and two Bronze Flagler Awards (in the categories of Print Advertising and Promotional Materials). VCF introduced its new website in October 2015, after a year of planning, prep work and redesign by VCF’s Tourism Sales and Marketing team, headed by project manager Jessica Roberts (in photo, on right). VCF’s Senior Tourism Sales and Marketing Manager, Kris Keprios, (in photo, on left) said, “This is a huge honor and the first time our website has ever won a Henry Award. We faced steep competition from some of the best tourism organizations in the business. I say all the time that we have the best team in the business and winning these three Flagler Awards is an honor that our whole team can be proud of.” VCF’s Director, Mark Jackson, echoed those sentiments, adding, “Being recognized with a Henry Award for creating the best website is arguably the most impressive award because our website is our “storefront” and the primary way to inform, inspire and influence potential visitors. Our new website is a powerful marketing tool and one of the reasons Polk County continues to break visitation records.” Google research indicates that the internet is the top planning resource for both leisure and business travelers; 74% of leisure travelers and 77% of business travelers use the internet when making a decision on how and where to travel.
The Florida Governor’s Conference on Tourism is the premier annual educational conference for the Florida tourism industry and is designed and coordinated by VISIT FLORIDA, the Official Tourism Marketing Corporation for the State of Florida. In addition to the educational and networking components, the conference includes an awards banquet to celebrate the best and brightest in the tourism industry, with prestigious honors, including the Flagler Awards and inductions into the Florida Tourism Hall of Fame.
Named for famed Florida land developer and oil / railroad tycoon, Henry Flagler, the Flagler Awards were established in 2000 to recognize outstanding tourism marketing in Florida. Annually, the Flagler Awards honor many of the countless individuals and organizations that help maintain and improve Florida’s position as one of the world’s most popular travel destinations. The awards are open to all individuals, private businesses and not-for-profit organizations offering a product or service that promotes tourism to or within the state of Florida. As in previous years, the 2016 Flagler Awards drew entries from Florida’s tourism partners, large and small. Working independently, eight judges evaluated the creativity, innovation, production quality and effectiveness of each entry. Based on the judges’ cumulative scores, awards were presented to the top three entries in each category: the Bronze Award for the third highest scoring entry, the Silver Award for the second highest scoring entry, and for the highest scoring entry in each category, the Henry Award.
The three awards cap off a year in which VCF celebrated the 30th Anniversary of the tourism program in Polk County. A division of the Polk County Board of County Commissioners, the mission of VCF is to promote and market Polk County to individuals and groups from outside of the area and to put “heads in beds” and make cash registers ring.
About Polk County Tourism and Sports Marketing:
An initiative of the Polk County Board of County Commissioners, Polk County Tourism and Sports Marketing, (known nationally as Visit Central Florida), is responsible for recruiting sporting events to Polk County and marketing the county as a tourism destination. Annually, Polk County Tourism and Sports Marketing hosts 250+ events, which generate more than $150 million in economic impact for Polk County. Polk County Tourism and Sports Marketing is Florida’s only sports commission to be awarded both the coveted “Sports Commission of the Year” award by the Florida Sports Foundation and the Sports Organization of the Year by the Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports. Visit Central Florida, the organization’s tourism marketing division, has also been recognized with several awards including being honored by the Southeastern Tourism Society as the “Top Destination Marketing Organization” in the Southeast.