by Heather Keroes
A family visiting the South Walton beach neighborhood of Seagrove in September
Sure, winter starts next week, most of the U.S. is feeling the chill and snow is expected in parts of New England, but let’s talk about sun and sand. Technically just one season ago, in the midst of summer, we helped our client South Walton (a destination on Northwest Florida’s Gulf Coast) launch a program to thank travelers for returning to “their beach” more than a year after the BP oil spill.
South Walton’s 15 beaches were and still are as beautiful as ever, and we wanted to help the destination’s ever-important loyalists show off their fabulous beach vacations, while showing South Walton’s great appreciation for having them back.
It all started with us submitting a job post to Walton County community and college websites for “brand ambassadors,” and as blogger Laurel Abbe does a lovely job explaining in this post on SoWal.com, she was one of four lucky locals who found “the perfect job on the perfect beach.” Be sure to check out her story of a very fun and unique summer job.
Dubbed the beach appreciation team, the brand ambassadors (or beach ambassadors, as Laurel puts it) took to the beaches, taking pictures of visitors for the South Walton Facebook page, handing out cool South Walton-branded swag such as beach balls and T-shirts, chatting with families about their visits and telling visitors about a contest through which they could win a trip back to their favorite South Walton beach neighborhood. The beach appreciation team visited all 15 beaches multiple times over a two-month period, “thanking” more than 1,200 people.
After reading Laurel’s blog post, I was inspired to share this story on our blog as an example of how a destination’s best representatives can be right in their own backyard … the people who may not be on vacation, but live and breathe the community’s spirit, love their hometown and are proud of it. We were honored to work with such enthusiastic South Walton residents.
Oh, and in case you’re curious, it’s currently sunny in South Walton, with high temperatures expected in the low 70s.