Monday, February 28, 2011

Baseball Spring Training an Economic Plus for St. Lucie County (and Beyond)

Whether you are an avid baseball fanatic or a someone who just watches a game from time to time, it’s hard not to get a major case of spring training fever while broadcasting a radio show from high above Digital Domain Park on the day before the spring season opener. Just after Talkin' Tourism hosts Robin Hicks-Connors and Gary Guertin had finished setting up the broadcast equipment, the New York Mets came out onto the field to practice before the scheduled afternoon scrimmage. The lead off guest, St. Lucie Mets general manager Paul Taglieri, was not at a loss for words in describing the excitement surrounding opening day.

Paul, Robin and Gary covered many related topics during the conversation including; the growth of attendance over the years, how the recent capital investments at the stadium have created an overall improved experience for players, team management, support staff and most importantly the in-game experience for the fans. A very significant amount of St. Lucie County’s tourist tax dollars is dedicated to the stadium and its operation. So, is this investment providing dividends?

Jill Hanson, Paul Taglieri and Cecelia DeFilippis talkin'
spring training tourism.
Jill Hanson, the director of sales at the Residence Inn Port St. Lucie and a member of the St. Lucie Tourist Development Council, was not shy in her response. Hotel occupancy numbers tell the story in her view. Having never stayed at a Residence Inn, Gary and Robin were surprised at the incredible values offered at her property. How much of a value? Once you listen to the show you just may want to check in for a few weeks!

In addition to Paul and Jill, Cecelia DeFilippis a self-proclaimed baseball addict and director of development at the Elliott Museum joined Radio Man and History Lady in the broadcast booth. Cecelia told listeners about a unique partnership between Treasure Coast artists and the Treasure Coast Little League Association. To hear more about this collaboration (and so much more), listen to last Friday’s Talkin' Tourism show here.

Okay, Treasure Coast…let's play ball!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Take Me Out to the Ballpark: New York Mets, Here We Come

Last week, Talkin Tourism on Florida’s Treasure Coast (and Beyond!) touched on the importance of spring training to the Treasure Coast region with guest Tom Colucci. With the season opener scheduled for the New York Mets this Saturday at Digital Domain Park, Gary and Robin just had to do a show from the stadium. Thanks to the help of Charlotte Lombard, manager of the St. Lucie County Tourism Office, this week’s edition of the show will be broadcast from the Visitor’s Press Box, high above the diamond.

St. Lucie Mets general manager Paul Taglieri will be at the top of the batting order. Paul is in his 13th year as the St. Lucie Mets general manager, having been named Director of Florida Operations for the New York Mets in 2001. Paul spent two seasons as general manager for the Auburn Doubledays of the New York Penn League and three seasons as the assistant general manager of the Sarasota Red Sox of the Florida State League. So what are the responsibilities of a minor league team general manager? What are the prospects for the teams this year? How specifically do the teams, (both the minor and major league teams) help promote tourism on the Treasure Coast and St. Lucie County? With Paul's input, we'll have the answers to those very questions.

Helping us bridge this gap will be our second hitter, Jill Hanson. Jill is a member of the St. Lucie County Tourism Development Council and sales director for the Residence Inn in Port St. Lucie. Despite being a major Red Sox fan, Jill is very involved with the Mets through her hotel property and sponsorships. Is the bed tax revenue that is spent on the stadium a good return on investment for tourism in St. Lucie County? Jill may have the answer.

So listeners, this week it’s Take Me Out To the Ball Game along with lots of other information you need to know about things to do, places to go and how to have fun on the Treasure Coast (and Beyond!).

And if that wasn't enough, a four-pack of tickets to Saturday's season opener will be given away during the show!

Tune in tomorrow (Friday, February 25) at 10:05 a.m. On the Treasure Coast and Grand Bahama, you can tune in on WPSL1590 AM; those outside radio broadcast range, can pickup the show's livestream at

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Spring Training, Sports Tourism, and Tourism Marketing

It's always enlightening to have Treasure Coast Sports Commission executive director Tom Colucci on the show. Tom has been committed to the promotion of sports tourism on the Treasure Coast for over a decade and he says he has seen lots of progress.

One element of progress Tom covered in this week's show was the return of the Florida Police and Fire Games. It's a great compliment to the Treasure Coast that a group as large as this one, has chosen to com back for another two years:  2011 and 2012.

So what's happening with the Vero Beach Sports Village? Tom filled us in on how the former home of the Los Angeles Dodgers is coming back alive with new initiatives and activities. He also shares his thoughts on Governor Scott's pledge to promoite not just sports tourism, but general tourism, to get Florida back on it's feet.

Another Treasure Coast tourism veteran shared the microphone with Tom, Rozeta Mahboubi, the executive director of the Martin County Convention and Visitors Bureau. Rozeta (aka Z) has strong feelings about trade shows and the value of this long-stay travel promotional platform as a destination marketing strategy. In addition to sharing the roster of recent shows she has attended, Rozeta explained the differences between, consumer shows, media shows and travel agent shows, and why they are all important.

Rozeta subscribes to a philosophy she coins as ROR. It's on the same wave-length as ROI (return on investment) but with a Z-factor. ROR? If you missed the show and Rozeta's ROR scoop, you're going to want to download last week's Talkin' Tourism show to hear it directly from Rozetta herself. It's definitely worth hearing.

Swashbuckler news, boating news, tournament news and what Treasure Coast marina was recently designated as a second departure point for this coming summer’s Bahamas Boating Fling Programme were all in the mix as well, so if you're here to download the show, enjoy and have a great week!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

How do you market a travel destination?

Destination marketing can be very challenging. Best placement, best use of budget, and widest reach of target audience, are all factors.

Should it be online based, what role should social media play, what is the proper balance of print, electronic media, and so on? Lots of questions need to be answered and tactical decisions need to made. Well, it seems that one of the standard staples of the travel and tourism industry, the trade show, still remains. These events come in all shapes, sizes and locations. This week Martin County Convention and Visitors Bureau executive director Rozeta Mahboubi is welcomed by Talkin' Tourism hosts Gary Guertin and Robin Hicks-Connors to discuss this aspect of destination promotion. Rozeta and sales manager Mary Palczer have been on the road doing the trade-show thing quite a bit. From Atlanta and Philadelphia, to Boston and Toronto, the Martin County Convention and Tourism Bureau team has been getting around! We will hear directly from Rozeta about her feelings on the effectiveness of attending trade show, and the expected return on investment both short-term and long-term.

Treasure Coast Sports Commission executive director Tom Colucci hasn’t been in the studio since last summer.  Talkin’ Tourism listeners want  to know what’s up in the sports tourism arena. Knowing Tom, he will have a list as long as a football field! Discussion for conversation include why the Florida Police and Fire Games are returning in 2011 and 2012, the Governor’s initiative on economic development, and what sporting events are coming up over the next six month on the Treasure Coast. Plus Gary will let you in on a marine tourism hot news item that might work into your summer boating plans.

It should be a fun and informative show. Knowing Tom and Rozeta, Gary and Robin may not have to talk very much!!!

So on Friday, Feb 18 at 10:05 a.m., tune your radio dial to WPSL 1590 AM or your computer browser to! 

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Legends of Florida

Talkin’ Tourism on Florida’s Treasure Coast (and Beyond!) has gone down many roads over the last two years. Each time, new and interesting lessons are learned, friends are made and adventures unfold.

This week was no exception. Dr. Doug Noble Ph.D. was eloquent in the description of two exciting new exhibits at the Florida Museum of Natural History in Gainesville, Florida. After listening to Doug’s descriptions, you will want to gather the family and head up to the museum for a fun weekend. Cattle ranching is still big business in the Sunshine State and its roots go back 500 years.

Dr. Noble talked about Florida Cracker cattle and where they came from, along with why and how the cattle industry plays a role in land stewardship and in the protection of natural areas of critical significance.
It's not often you have a chance to speak with a living legend, but this week show hosts Gary and Robin had a fun conversation with G. Curt Whiticar, a true icon in the sportfishing and boat building industry.

Hearing firsthand accounts of the early years of the sportfishing industry in the Treasure Coast area, provides a deep appreciation for how this industry evolved. And yes, ladies and gentlemen, tourism played a huge role in having many of our local fishermen convert from commercial meat fishing to entertaining ladies and gentlemen from northern climates who wanted to pursue sailfish, dolphin and other game fish that ply our waters. Curt even touched on the old rum-running days. If you missed the live show, and you're curious to know what island in the Bahamas most of the Treasure Coast's rum came from, download last week show's audio file.

Closing out the show, Whiticar Boat Works president Jim Dragseth shared his view on the state of the marine industry and where the industry is headed. One thing is for sure, our heritage and roots in the marine tourism industry are deep, thanks to the Whiticar family and others that followed.

Hope you enjoy the show as much as we enjoyed making it happen! Be sure to check out the photo gallery below showing photos of Whiticar Boatworks Yard and the Whiticar display at the Maritime and Classic Boat Museum. See you next week, same time, same station.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Historical Perspectives from Sea Captains to Cattle Ranchers

In today's fast-paced world, full of technology, social media and instant gratification, it's rare to have the opportunity to sit back and learn from a pioneer, who has decades of perspective and insight into a niche of the tourism and hospitality industry that has played a significant role in our region.

This week, Talkin’ Tourism on Florida’s Treasure Coast (and Beyond!) is blessed with a very special opportunity to talk with G. Curt Whiticar, the founder of world-renown Whiticar Boatworks company, located right here in Stuart, Florida. Curt Whiticar, who some refer to as the "father of marine tourism," combined uncanny insight, knowledge and ability to design and build a superior sportsfishing line that is now known and revered world-wide. His wisdom and business savvy, established the basis of the Treasure Coast's marine tourism industry.

Curt will give us the chronology painting the picture of why Stuart become known as 'The Sailfish Capital of the World' and 'The Fishing Grounds of Presidents'. What makes this show even more special is that Mr. Whiticar will be celebrating his 100th birthday two days after the show. In addition to building one heck of a boat, Curt is also a prolific painter and a published author.
To provide a point-counter point to the conversation, Jim Dragseth, the president of Whiticar Boatworks, Inc. will be in the house to share with listeners his perspectives on the state of the marine tourism industry on the Treasure Coast (and beyond) and its possibilities for the future.

From sportfishing, the conversation will flow to another industry early pioneers established in Florida and beyond—cattle ranching. Making his third appearance on Talkin' Tourism Dr. Doug Noble, Ph.D., the Assistant Director of Exhibits and Public Programs from the Florida Museum of Natural History, has traveled all the way from Gainesville, Florida to share with our listeners information about two special exhibits (Florida Cattle Ranching and Florida Cowboys: Keepers of the Last Frontier) that will open at the musuem on Saturday, February 12. These FREE exhibits, which are on display through May 8, take an in-depth look at Florida’s Cattle ranching history and its continued impact on the state’s economy. If you are looking for a cultural reason to pony up-state, this is it.

Join us Friday morning (WPSL 1590 AM on your radio or at 10:05 a.m. as we broadcast live from the Whiticar Boat Works facility on the shores of Willoughby Creek, in Stuart, Florida.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

An Art-Mackin-Wahoo Show-tini!

Artist Dan Mackin, Ellen Peitz, Robin Hicks-Connors,
and Captain Marvin Steiding.
What do you get when you mix equal parts of a world recognized tropical marine artist, a world-class art festival in a small Florida downtown, and a world-class sportfishing captain, shake them rather than stir them, and then turn on the microphones? What you get is a fantastic edition of Talkin’ Tourism on Florida’s Treasure Coast (and Beyond!).

The 10th annual Hobe Sound Festival of the Arts was the catalyst that brought Ellen Peitz, Dan Mackin and Captain Marvin Steiding together for this great show. By the time you read this, the Festival of the Arts will be just a memory. But what a great memory it will be if you attended the show.

Ellen, thanks for doing such a great job of letting our listeners know how great a show it was going to be this year.

Having famed artist Dan Mackin in the studio was a flashback all the way back to show number three when Dan appeared as a guest. Listeners of this week's show got a real up close and personal look at what Mr. Mackin is all about, what inspires his art and why he chose to live in beautiful Hobe Sound, Florida. Dan also talked about his current collaboration with former Beach Boy Brian Wilson!

Continuing education is good for everyone, even those who love to fish! Captain Marvin Steiding was on hand to tells our listeners and fans about a great hands-on learning opportunity—Marlin University. And, if you're thinking about or planning a trip to San Salvador, Bahamas soon, Captain Steiding declared it's “monster wahoo season” in San Sal, so be prepared! If you don't have you're own boat to travel to San Salvador, Captain Steiding can hook you up!

Here is the audio file of last Friday's Talkin' Tourism show. Hope you enjoy listening as much as we enjoyed producing it. See you next week!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Art, Marlins and the Islands of the Bahamas (and Beyond)

This week, the  Hobe Sound Festival of the Arts, Blue Marlin fishing in San Salvador (with a Treasure Coast connection), and Marlin University take center stage! And, a couple of surprise Bahamian tourism officials might also be thrown into the mix, so we have an action-packed guest line-up for our listeners.

The Hobe Sound Festival of the Arts celebrates its 10th anniversary this year. To get the "insider's scoop," Ellen Peitz, co-chair of the event marketing committee, will be in our Elliott Museum studio. Ellen also represents Family Private Care the presenting sponsor of this year’s show. This festival is a perennial crowd pleaser attracting thousands of locals and visitors. Ellen will share everything about what makes this art show so special, and one you won't want to miss. Award-winning artist Dan Mackin, the featured artist of the festival, will also join Ellen to talk about the festival. This is the second time in ten years that Dan has been the featured artist. His vibrant tropical island and marine life art are a favorite and grace the walls of many famous homes around the world. Just who are they? Maybe Dan will drop a few names.

Speaking of tropical islands, Capt. Marvin Steiding, operator and owner of Reel Candy Sportfishing, and one of the most respected and knowledgeable charter captains from the Treasure Coast to San Salvador, Bahamas, will tell us about Marlin University and how you can "apply."

Last, but not least, rumor has it that there might be a guest appearance by the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism. They may have an announcement or two to make that relates to the Treasure Coast? What might it be? We're not spilling the conch shells! You'll just have to tune in tomorrow at 10:05 a.m. and find out for yourself.

You can catch the show on your radio at WPSL 1590 AM or on your favorite Internet browser at And below is a little promotion to show you what's in store this weekend at the 10th Annual Hobe Sound Festival of the Arts.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Pitching Camp Along the Okeechobee Waterway

This week's guests:  Capt. Mike Conner, Joe Pilla
and Mike Nichols.
After a very short drive west from Stuart, the Talkin’ Tourism’ team was in the woods heading down Lost River Road and entering Phipps Park. Joe Pilla, supervisor of Phipps Park, stood ready to greet Gary and Robin and to welcome them to the great outdoors! After quickly converting the supervisor's residence into the on-the-road studio, the duo were ready to talk camping and, as usual, the fun began.

Joe painted pictures with words, detailing the Phipps Park's features and amenities. From traditional primitive sites to RV sites with electric and water connections, Phipps Park is well-suited to accommodate camping and RV enthusiasts. Joe told us where the park's guests come from, both during the off-season as well as during the traditional in-season. He even shared that not all guests come from afar, meaning locals like to get off the grid sometimes too and the park is a great escape not far away (hmmmmm....sounds like a tourism campaign).

Camping is traditionally a family endeavor and Phipps Park features a few amenities specifically designed for families with children. For river fishing enthusiasts, Phipps Park is a perfect venue!

There is always some truth to rumors, and in this case, the rumor turned out to be true. Mark Nichols, founder of D.O.A. Fishing Lures, and fishing guide extraordinaire Capt. Mike Conner made guest appearances on the show. Both enthusiastically shared the various types of fishing available in the waterways borderin the park. These two fishing professionals certainly know their stuff.

If you are a visitor thinking about a camping vacation in Martin County or a local contemplating a camping stay-cation, download last Friday’s show, pop out some marshmallows, light up the camp fire, and don't forget to gather the kids and grab your favorite fishing pole. You're in for a real treat! To see photos of the park, see the slide slow below.

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