- July 2019 -


Summer save the dates

Your VCB staff has been hard at work putting together plans for the 2019-20 fiscal year. Here’s a roundup of important dates to add to your calendar. All of these events are free.

July 10: Understanding cultural differences in tourism
As part of the VCB’s 2019 Team Tourism Summer Lecture Series, Dr. Peter Tarlow, president of Tourism & More, will discuss how understanding who your guests are and where they are from can help with sensitivity and diversity issues.
3-5 p.m., Wednesday, July 10, Sanibel Harbour Marriott Resort & Spa, 17260 Harbour Pointe Drive, Fort Myers. Click here to register and scroll down the newsletter to Save the Date for upcoming Team Tourism lectures.

July 18: Sales, Marketing & Communications Quarterly Meeting
Get an overview from the VCB team on recent accomplishments and a look ahead. Participate in a roundtable discussion to talk about trends, ideas and anything else you care to share.
8:30-10 a.m., Thursday, July 18, Embassy Suites Fort Myers Estero, 10450 Corkscrew Commons Drive, Estero. Click here to register.

July 19: E Awards nomination deadline
Is your staff providing outstanding customer service? Make sure they are nominated for the 2019 E Awards, aka 2019 Elaine McLaughlin Outstanding Hospitality Service Awards. Click here for nomination forms.
8-11 a.m., Thursday, Aug. 29, The Westin Cape Coral Resort at Marina Village, 5951 Silver King Blvd., Cape Coral

Aug. 1: Lee County Cooperative Advertising Program rollout for 2019-20
This is a great opportunity for accommodation and attraction partners to learn about marketing opportunities that leverage great exposure at an exceptional value. This preview gives partners time to plan and budget for the 2019-20 fiscal year. Click here for more information.
Also, please join us in the afternoon for our Social Media Bootcamp. Click here for more information.
10:30 a.m.-noon, Thursday, Aug. 1, Lee County Administration East Building, 2201 Second St., Room 118, Fort Myers

Reminder: No TDC meeting in July
We look forward to seeing you at the Aug. 8 Tourist Development Council meeting.  
- Tamara Pigott, executive director
Follow and like the VCB on Facebook

TDC spotlight: Gulf Coast Symphony partners with Island Hopper

The Gulf Coast Symphony contributes to Southwest Florida's cultural enrichment by producing an innovative and balanced program of performances, events and community education projects, reaching 47,000 people a year.

The symphony, made up of volunteer musicians, donates more than 7,600 hours annually. Founded in 1996 by Andrew M. Kurtz, music and executive director, the symphony collaborates with local attractions and events throughout Lee County to produce a variety of entertaining programming including “Under the Stars” and “Symphony at Sunset.”

On Sept. 22, a collaboration with Island Hopper Songwriter Fest features Kristian Bush of Sugarland in a performance with the symphony at the Florida Repertory Theatre. Check out the symphony's season by clicking here.

Next year, the symphony celebrates its 25th anniversary and will offer “25 Days of Music” featuring 25 free musical events across Southwest Florida. To assist in the continued enrichment of the visitor experience, the symphony has benefited from Tourist Development Council marketing funding since 2005.  

Estero Chamber names Pfenninger Person of the Year

Congratulations to Jennifer Pfenninger (photo at right), director of sales, Embassy Suites by Hilton Fort Myers-Estero, for receiving the Person of the Year honor from the Estero Chamber of Commerce.

Pfenninger has been director of sales with Embassy for five years. She received the honor June 12 at the chamber's 21st annual Business Luncheon at The Club at Grandezza, Estero.
DePasquale selected for U.S. Chamber fellowship program
Colleen DePasquale (photo at right), president and CEO of the Greater Fort Myers Chamber of Commerce, and member of the Tourist Development Council, was selected to participate in the third cohort of the Business Leads Fellowship Program.

The national fellowship program trains and equips leaders from state and local chambers of commerce with resources, access to experts, and a network of peers to build their capacity to address the most pressing education and workforce challenges.

Bonotel picks South Seas as Best Beach Resort

(From left) Elliot Calloway, Bonotel; Howard Clark, Interstate Hotels & Resorts; Joseph Sublaban, Bonotel.
Congratulations to South Seas Island Resort, Captiva, for receiving Best Beach Resort of the Year honors from Bonotel Exclusive Travel. 

Bonotel is an inbound tour operator company that sells properties to tour operators and travel agents worldwide. 

Luminary Hotel names general manager

Congratulations to Bob Megazzini (photo at right), recently named general manager of the Luminary Hotel & Co. 

The 243-room hotel is scheduled to open in downtown Fort Myers in late 2020. Megazzini will oversee the hiring of new staff, day-to-day operations, and guest and employee satisfaction at Luminary Hotel, along with the remodeled Harborside Event Center, which will be rebranded, and the planned amphitheater in Centennial Park. 

With more than 30 years of experience at several Marriott hotels around the country, Megazzini began his career in the kitchen and worked his way up to executive chef at multiple Marriott hotels. After a successful culinary career, he transitioned to food and beverage director and later to director of hotel operations. 

Megazzini was most recently the area general manager for the JW Marriott Denver and Courtyard Denver Downtown for three years. He and his wife have relocated to Fort Myers from Denver and are both excited to call sunny Florida home. 

Download official Island Hopper app today

The official 2019 Island Hopper Songwriter Fest mobile app is available to download for iOS and Android users. This new app was designed to enhance your festival experience Sept. 20-29 on Captiva, downtown Fort Myers and Fort Myers Beach.

App features include:

  • First chance to purchase tickets for select performances 
  • Personalized schedule 
  • Artist information
  • Performance times and venues
  • Festival coupons
  • Island Hopper hotel deals 
  • Festival maps 
  • Updates and alerts 

Classes begin July 2, so sign up today

The success of the Guests First program continues as we currently have 788 Certified Guest Service Professionals (CGSP) in Lee County. 

What is Guests First? It is a free educational program for Lee County hospitality employees that offers customer service skills training to front-line and management professionals. Think the golden rule. 

The history - In 2013, the VCB began partnering with the American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute, recognized as one of the preeminent leaders in hospitality certifications which includes the CGSP program.

Our summer schedule is posted and if you have an interest in hosting Guests First at your business, please reach out to the Guests First team. As a host property you get reserved seating for your team and the opportunity to market your business.

Questions? Email or call 239-338-3500 and ask for the Guests First team:


2019 TDC meeting schedule

July - No meeting
Aug. 8
September - No meeting
Oct. 10
Nov. 14
Dec. 12
The next Tourist Development Council (TDC) meeting will be at 9 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 8, in the Lee County Administration East Building, Room 118, 2201 Second St., Fort Myers.

Team Tourism summer lecture series
to be held at Sanibel Harbour Marriott

The 2019 Team Tourism Summer Lecture Series, presented by the VCB, provides free educational sessions about relevant topics to industry partners.

All workshops are free and will be held at Sanibel Harbour Marriott Resort & Spa, 17260 Harbour Pointe Drive, Fort Myers.

RSVP to Lecture Series Registration at For more information, email or call 239-590-4855.

Understanding cultural differences in tourism
Presenter: Dr. Peter Tarlow, president of Tourism & More
When: 3-5 p.m., Wednesday, July 10

Join Dr. Peter Tarlow, Ph.D., in a deep dive into how cultural differences impact tourism. Understanding who your guests are and the regions they are from can also help with sensitivity and diversity issues. Tarlow is founder and president of Tourism & More and is a well-known author in the field of tourism security. He specializes in tourism and economic development, event and tourism risk management, and the impact of crime and terrorism on the tourism industry. 

International market today
Presenter: Stefanie Zinke, VCB international sales manager, and panel of experts 
When: 2-5 p.m., Tuesday, Aug. 13

Participate in a discussion geared toward the latest international travel trends and a look-ahead into 2020.

Working with guests with disabilities
Presenters: Kevin Berry, owner, ADA Consulting of SWFL; Michael Pierce and guide dog Addy, advocate, Center for Independent Living Gulf Coast; Alicia Miller, executive director, Deaf & Hard of Hearing Center; and others to be announced.
When: 9-11 a.m., Thursday, Sept. 12

This session includes interactive demonstrations and discussions with a panel of American Disabilities Act experts who will give industry partners tools to provide positive guest experiences to people with disabilities. 

Destination represents in Anaheim at IPW

From the executive director's Instagram account.
MegaFAM, Sanibel Island Beach Resort, May 19-21: The VCB hosted 13 agents from DERTOUR, Germany’s largest tour operator.
Sweden press trip, Adventure Sea Kayak, June 6-10: Francesca Donlan, VCB; Agneta Elmegaard, Aftonbladet. 
Canada sales mission, Montreal, Toronto, May 13-17: (From left) Nilda Della Costa, The Westin Cape Coral Resort at Marina Village; Jeanette Faria, VoX; Nancy Jeronimo, Air Canada Vacations; Stefanie Zinke, VCB; Howard Clark, Interstate Hotels & Resorts.
East Coast Florida travel agent sales mission, Venice to Spring Hill, May 20-22: (From left) Rhonda Skipper, Hyatt Place Coconut Point Resort and Spa; Dony Lubig, Pink Shell Beach Resort; Laura Pazzini, South Seas Island Resort; Jennifer Walla, VCB; Lee Clayton, Courtyard by Marriott Fort Myers Cape Coral; Erin Jensen, Hyatt Regency Coconut Point Resort and Spa.

July-August VCB travel schedule

Upcoming sales, marketing trips, media missions, press trips and familiarization tours, aka FAMs.

July 8-12: Florida Travel Marketing (FTM), travel agent sales calls, Chicago
July 9-13: Erin Congregane, Florida Society of Association Executives annual conference, Jacksonville
July 22-25: Jerry Terp, Council of Engineering and Scientific Society Executives annual conference, Baltimore
July 22-26: FTM, travel agent sales calls, Pittsburgh
July 29-Aug 2: FTM, travel agent sales calls, Grand Rapids, Mich.

Aug. 5-9: FTM, travel agent sales calls, Boston
Aug. 12-16: FTM, travel agent sales calls, Philadelphia
Aug. 18-20: Erin Congregane, Smart Meeting National 3-Day, Marco Island
Aug. 20-22: Jerry Terp, Minnesota Twins client event and sales calls, Minneapolis
Aug. 22-26: FTM, Southern Women’s Show, Charlotte
Aug. 26-28: Betsy Bush & Erin Congregane, Connect Association & Corporate, Louisville, Ky.
Aug. 26-30: FTM, travel agent sales calls, Charlotte, Greensboro & Raleigh, N.C.
@FtMyersSanibel  #NationalSeaShellDay
Debbie Elson
Life is always better at the beach 💙☀️🌊🌴

Media spotlight 

Business Insider
The 25 most popular cities for vacation homes in the U.S., ranked
-Cape Coral
-Fort Myers
Charmingly Styled
My favorite getaway: Fort Myers and Sanibel Florida
-Fort Myers
-Island Bean
-Lazy Flamingo
-The Bubble Room
-The Island Cow
-The Island Store
Dream of spending your retirement on the beach? Here are the best towns
-Fort Myers
-Fort Myers Beach
Where to buy a vacation home in Florida
-Boca Grande
-Gasparilla Island State Park

The Entrepreneur Fund
Rest your mind and body when traveling to Florida
-Bonita Springs
-Coconut Jack’s Waterfront Grill
-Edison and Ford Winter Estates
-Fort Myers Beach
-Fort Myers Beach Pier
-Lani Kai Island Resort
-Petar’s Restaurant
-Sanibel Island

Outside Online
The best campsites in the U.S.
-Cayo Costa State Park
The most beautiful hotels in Florida
-Boca Grande
-Gasparilla Inn & Club

Smart Meetings
8 eco-friendly meeting activities
-The Westin Cape Coral Resort at Marina Village, Florida
Tallahassee Democrat
Cheaper than Disney, here are 10 unique Florida museums worth visiting this summer
-Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum
365 Atlanta Traveler
25+ memorable stops on a perfect west cost of Florida road trip
-Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum
-The Bubble Room
-Edison and Ford Winter Estates
-Doc Ford's Rum Bar and Grille, Sanibel
-The Island Inn
-Key West Express
-McGregor Cafe
-Old Captiva House
-Tarpon Bay Explorers

TripAdvisor Vacation Rentals Blog
15 idyllic long weekend getaways perfect for a summer trip
-Fort Myers
-Fort Myers Brewing Company
-Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve

VacationIdea Dream Vacation Magazine
7 best Sanibel Island beaches
-Blind Pass Beach
-Causeway Beaches
-Gulfside City Park
-Lighthouse Beach
-Tarpon Beach
-Turner Beach
Co-op website
Brand USA

Discover America
Beach conditions

Boca Grande
Bonita Springs
Cape Coral
Greater Fort Myers

Greater Fort Myers Beach
Greater Pine Island
Lehigh Acres
North Fort Myers
Sanibel & Captiva Island

This email was sent to <<Email Address>>
why did I get this?    unsubscribe from this list    update subscription preferences
Lee County Visitor & Convention Bureau · 2201 Second Street · Suite 600 · Fort Myers, Florida 33901 · USA

Email Marketing Powered by Mailchimp