#MyOrlandoStory of the Week

Dreams Come True

Orlando: Where Dreams Come True!

My daughter has autism and ADHD. We had heard that Disney World would be a great place for us to vacation with her. Everyone was very accepting and understanding of her special needs. Her favorite moment was when she received a makeover from her very own fairy godmother!

story of the week

Stories shared on OrlandoStories.com and using #MyOrlandoStory on social media may be featured as the Story of the Week.

Visit Orlando Events

Oct. 1
Business Referral Group
Tapa Toro Tapas Bar & Paella Pit

8441 International Drive
Cost: $15, inclusive
Click here to RSVP.

Oct. 8
4th Annual Trivia for Charity Night
Howl at The Moon

8815 International Drive
Cost: $25 per person or team of 6 or 8
Click here to register.

Nov. 5
Member Orientation
Click here to register. 

Member Presents
Members interested in targeting the meetings and convention market can present their products or services during monthly, 30-minute sessions with Destination Services. Click here to schedule a session.

Congratulations Members

International luxury travel network Virtuoso recently announced the winners of its prestigious 2015 Best of the Best hotel awards. Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World Resort was recognized as the winner for the Best Family Program.

Successful Meetings magazine has announced its 2015 Pinnacle Award Winners. Congratulations to the following Visit Orlando members:

Hard Rock Hotel at Universal Orlando
Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress
Hyatt Regency Orlando
The Villas of Grand Cypress
JW Marriott Grand Lakes

Member-to-Member Offers

Visit Orlando members who book a Gator Shine Holiday Party at Gatorland before Sept. 30 will receive 10 percent off of the rental fee, which includes access to a conference room and the park after hours. Call Jennifer at 407-856-3249.

LTC Language Solutions is excited to invite new clients to try its language services! Learn a new language, utilize an interpreter, have a document translated, or just learn more about other cultures. Through Oct. 1, receive 10 percent off of your first-time purchase. Questions? Please click here.


Through Oct. 2, registration for the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Show, which takes place Oct. 6–8 at the Orange County Convention Center, is complimentary for Visit Orlando members. This is a must-attend event for anyone involved in the restaurant, food service or hospitality industries. Chef Norman Van Aken will be presenting this year's featured demonstration. Click here to register!

Plan to attend the International Canna Pro Expo at Caribe Royale All-Suite Hotel & Convention Center, Oct. 2-4. You will be provided with relevant content from experts and experienced leaders in the medical cannabis industry, as well as an exceptional CME/CNE program on medical cannabis. Montel Williams will deliver the keynote. Through Sept. 30, Visit Orlando members will receive 25 percent off of the reduced registration price by using promotional code OVB. Click here to register.

Join #1 New York Times bestselling author Janet Evanovich on Saturday, Nov. 14 at Osceola Heritage Park for Plum Palooza and celebrate the release of the new Stephanie Plum novel, Tricky Twenty-Two. Get a signed copy and enjoy food and entertainment. Visit Orlando members will receive 10 percent off of the general admission price. Use code ORLANDO. Purchase tickets here.

The Spa at Hyatt Regency Orlando is offering Visit Orlando members 20 percent off of spa and salon services, through Nov. 30. For more information and reservations, call 407-345-4431 or contact Carol Cox.

Regal Oaks - A CLC World Resort is offering an exclusive rate for Visit Orlando members of $99 per night for a two-bedroom townhouse, Sunday through Thursday, and $119 per night, Friday through Saturday; based on availability. The offer is good through Dec. 15. For more information, call 407-997-9478 or click here. Reference offer code: VIOR15.

Book your next staycation at Wyndham Lake Buena Vista Resort, located in the Downtown Disney® Resort area, and receive 30 percent off of the best available rate. Relax poolside with a refreshing beverage from the Oasis Bar & Grill while the kids have fun at the aquatic playground. Then, enjoy a great night's sleep in one of the spacious guest rooms. For reservations, call 800-624-4109 and mention this offer. Seven-day advance booking required. Subject to availability. Rate code: DISVOMD. Offer valid through Dec. 24.

Lovespoon Candles offers locally produced soy candles that make unique, special gifts. Visit Orlando members are invited to enjoy a special price of $17 each, tin or jar (regular price $27.95 and $23.95, respectively), through Dec. 31. Click here for more information.


Industry Events

Sept. 25–26, Oct. 1–3
Hospitality Industry Nights - Howl-O-Scream Unearthed
Busch Gardens Tampa

Sept. 27
World Tourism Day
McFadden's Restaurant and Saloon Orlando

Oct. 1
West Orange Chamber of Commerce - Lead and Feed
Hagan O'Reilly's Irish Pub and Restaurant

Oct. 17
The Pineapple Ball
Rosen Shingle Creek

Nov. 4
Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International (HSMAI)'s
Revenue Optimization Continuing Education and Training (ROCet)
Loews Royal Pacific Resort at Universal Orlando

Nov. 4
Orlando Economic Development Commission's
BBQ on the Boulevard
301 East Pine Street
Orlando, FL 32801

Nov. 7
2015 VRM Awards Gala
Westgate Town Center Resort & Spa

Community Events

Through Sept. 30
School Supply Drive
Osceola County Welcome Center,
History Museum and Pioneer Village

Through Sept. 30
Visit Orlando's Magical DiningSM Month,
presented by American Express
Select Restaurants

Magical Dining

Through Oct. 4
Global Peace Film Festival
Orlando and Winter Park

Global Peace Film Fest

Through Nov. 1
Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party
Magic Kingdom Park

Through Nov. 1
Halloween Horror Nights 25
Universal Orlando Resort

Through Nov. 29
Mummies of the World: The Exhibition
Orlando Science Center

Sept. 26
St. Jude Walk/Run to End Childhood Cancer
Fun Spot America Theme Parks and International Drive

Oct. 2–6
Orange County Convention Center

Oct. 3–18
Brick or Treat
LEGOLAND Florida Resort

Oct. 3–31, weekends
SeaWorld Orlando's Halloween Spooktacular
SeaWorld® Orlando

Oct. 9
Pink Ribbon Bagel Day
Panera Bread

Oct. 10
Cruisin' for a Cure
An American Cancer Society
Relay for Life Fundraiser/
Car Rally & Show
Freddy's Frozen Custard & Steakburgers
8701 Vineland Avenue
Orlando, FL 32821

Oct. 10–11
42nd Annual Winter Park Autumn Art Festival
Central Park, Downtown Winter Park

Oct. 11
Celebrate the Capen Open House
Historic Capen-Showalter House,
Albin Polasek Museum & Sculpture Gardens

Oct. 12
39th Annual CFADA AutoClassic Golf Tournament
Falcon’s Fire Golf Club 

Oct. 17
The Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Metro Orlando's
Savor the Night
City Hall Rotunda & City Commons Plaza

Oct. 17
Music of the Americas
Bach Festival Society of Winter Park

Oct. 18
Latin Food & Wine Festival
Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, Seneff Arts Plaza

Oct. 24
4th Annual Fore the Animals
Charity Golf Tournament

to benefit Pet Rescue by Judy
Mayfair Country Club

Oct. 24
2015 Wyndham Vacation Ownership Charity Championship Golf Tournament

to benefit Give Kids the World Village
MetroWest Golf Club

Oct. 29
West Orange Chamber of Commerce's Golf Classic

MetroWest Golf Club

Oct. 30–31
6th Annual Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Food and Wine Classic
Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort

Food and Wine Classic

Oct. 31
Classic Car Show
Artegon Marketplace Orlando

Nov. 7
Eighth Annual 5K Run for The Gift
Southwest Aquatics

Nov. 13
American Lung Association's
SeaWorld Orlando - Sea Harbor Pavilion
and Ports of Call

Nov. 14
5K Gingerbread Run
Give Kids The World Village

Nov. 14
15th Annual Dancing for Diabetes
Seminole High School

Nov. 19
Champion of Choices with Marc Mero – Dream Big Tour
Lake Mary Prep

Nov. 26–29
Central Florida International Auto Show
Orange County Convention Center

Dec. 2
Christmas at the Casa
Casa Feliz Historic Home Museum

Dec. 19
Inaugural AutoNation Cure Bowl
presented by Florida Hospital

President & CEO's Message
September 25, 2015


George AguelIf the month of September were a three-course, Visit Orlando's Magical Dining presented by American Express meal, it would be reaching dessert time.

There's just one week left to be among the first to visit the record number of newly opened restaurants you can enjoy for just $33 as part of this year's 10th anniversary program.

Whether it's Soco in trendy Thornton Park, the Four Seasons Resort Orlando's Ravello in the tourism district or any one of the more than 70 total restaurants to choose from, you'll experience Orlando's growing culinary landscape. Visit Orlando has leveraged this program and others to build national acclaim for our destination through accolades, such as Wine Enthusiast's 10 Best Wine Travel Destinations of 2015 and The New York Times' 52 Places to Go in the World in 2015.

You'll also be a part of a community-wide effort to raise a dollar from every meal to help Elevate Orlando address the complex needs of urban youth in our area.

What are you waiting for? It's time for dessert.

-George Aguel

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From the Research & Insights Desk of Visit Orlando

More Lodging Records in August

The Metro Orlando occupancy rate for August 2015 was 71.9 percent, up 3.5 percent versus the same month last year and the highest for the month since August 2004. For perspective, the hotel inventory in August was 118,580 versus 112,245 in August 2004, a difference of 6,335 rooms or 5.6 percent. Occupied room nights (a.k.a. demand) rose 3.9 percent versus last year and set a record for room nights sold in the month of August. The average daily rate in August was $97.92, up 3.9 percent versus last year and a record for ADR in August.

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Visit Orlando Updates

Brazil Publishing

Visit Orlando Meets with Top Brazilian Publishing Company

During a busy week of client meetings, agent trainings and the ABAV trade show in São Paulo, Brazil, Visit Orlando's George Aguel and Jay Santos met with editors from Abril publishing, representing Viagem & Tourism and Estudio ABC.

UK Press

Visit Orlando Hosts U.K. Press Trip

Visit Orlando's Public Relations team welcomed seven U.K. journalists this week, representing publications: OK! Magazine; Fabulous Magazine; Woman/Woman's Own; Liverpool Echo; Manchester Evening News; Daily Record and Sunday Express. The trip focused on exploring family favorites and new additions to Orlando, including theme parks, dining and shopping.

CI cover

President & CEO Makes Cover of Corporate & Incentive Travel

George Aguel graces the cover of the October issue of Corporate & Incentive Travel, which highlights the Orlando supplement inside that features all that's new for meetings and conventions in the destination.

Canadian Media Explore Orlando

The Visit Orlando Public Relations team hosted two Canadian journalists on individual press trips to Orlando this week. CAA Magazine explored the arts, culture and dining side of the city, while a Huffington Post writer experienced Orlando's newest attractions to uncover family travel tips.

Brazil blogger

Countless Likes for Brazilian Bloggers

This week, Visit Orlando hosted six bloggers from Brazil in partnership with Caras Magazine. During their stay, the bloggers experienced the breadth and depth of the destination, including shopping, dining, spas, theme parks and much more. Their experiences will be included in an upcoming series of features in Caras Magazine, but with 3.7 million social media followers, the excitement of their itinerary has already created a buzz in Brazil. Over the course of the week, each attendee uploaded hundreds of posts and pictures with most generating between 25,000 and 45,000 likes.

Icelandair FAM

Icelandair FAM a Success

Last week, Visit Orlando hosted 12 Icelandair agents for a familiarization tour. The group stayed for four nights and was accommodated by Rosen Shingle Creek and Hyatt Regency Orlando. Their itinerary included visits to theme parks, attractions and restaurants, as well as site inspections and shopping.

China Tour Operators

Visit Orlando Hosts Southern China Tour Operators

In partnership with VISIT FLORIDA and American Airlines, Visit Orlando hosted five Chinese tour operators for a four-night whirlwind tour of Orlando. The group included managers of travel companies from the southern cities of Guangzhou and Shenzhen, China. In addition to VIP tours at the theme parks, the group experienced Boggy Creek Airboat Rides, The Mall at Millenia Fashion Week and Orlando Premium Outlets.

Mexico journalists

Mexican Journalists Explore Orlando for New Coverage

Last week, Visit Orlando hosted a luxury familiarization tour for representatives of three Mexican magazines. The participants from Bleu & Blanc (impressions: 138,114), Forbes (impressions: 180,000) and Travesias (impressions: 150,000) split their five-night/six-day stay between Disney's Contemporary Resort and the Four Seasons Resort Orlando at the Walt Disney World Resort. During their stay, they experienced VIP treatment at Epcot, Magic Kingdom Park, Discovery Cove, SeaWorld Orlando, Universal Orlando Resort and I-Drive 360 attractions: The Orlando Eye, Madame Tussauds Orlando and SEA LIFE Orlando Aquarium. They also attended a fashion show at The Mall at Millenia and enjoyed fine dining experiences at hotels and area restaurants.


Galaxy Vacations FAM Exposes Hundreds of Agents to Orlando

On Sept. 14, Visit Orlando, in conjunction with Fun Spot America Theme Parks Orlando and Merlin Entertainments, hosted more than 450 participants at a seminar at the Wyndham Orlando Resort International Drive. The presentation was part of the annual ADEVIH familiarization tour, sponsored by Galaxy Vacations with agents participating from Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela. Approximately 85 percent of the agents were here to learn about the destination for the very first time.

Destination Services Meets With National Foundation for Women Legislators

Visit Orlando Ambassador Hannelore Hulick recently represented the company in Oklahoma City to the National Foundation for Women Legislators, a group that is looking forward to meeting in Orlando next year.



Visit Orlando Holds Seminar in Chile for Travel Agents

Last month, Claudia Castillo of our Chile office and ATN Tour Operator conducted a seminar for 21 travel agents in order to provide updated information about the destination.

Culinary Scene

Orlando's Culinary Scene Featured on National TV Show

Be sure to tune in to WRDQ Channel 27 this Saturday, Sept. 26 at 3 p.m. to catch "Dish Worth The Drive," featuring Orlando's incredible culinary scene. Visit Orlando teamed up with the TV show to showcase Orlando's dynamic and ever-growing dining scene. The show is syndicated to air in 55 markets across the Southeast and will air two times this fall. It is hosted by Food Network personality Steak Shapiro and offers an expose on the Southern destinations that everyone should know about and the restaurants that make those destinations so enjoyable.

Tower Travel

Argentina Office Holds Seminar for Tower Travel

On Sept. 3, Jimena Cersosimo of our Argentina Office conducted a seminar for 27 travel agents, together with Tower Travel Tour Operator. They were provided with updated information on I-Drive 360 and new attractions coming in 2016. They also reviewed the importance of the Orlando Travel Academy course and all the tools that Visit Orlando has designed for travel agents.

India mission

Visit Orlando Represented at Brand USA India Mission

Visit Orlando was represented during the annual Brand USA India Mission, which took place in Mumbai, New Delhi and Chennai this year. The mission has become a prominent U.S. travel industry event for the Indian market, with this year's sessions drawing more than 800 Indian travel trade and media representatives. Brand USA held an additional MICE event in Goa, India, targeting meetings and incentive buyers, and VISIT FLORIDA hosted a networking luncheon in New Delhi for more than 40 clients.

Virtuoso FAM

Visit Orlando Welcomes Virtuoso FAM

Visit Orlando hosted 11 agents from the industry's leading luxury travel network, Virtuoso, on a familiarization tour earlier this month. The agents were hosted by two of Orlando's top luxury resorts, the Waldorf Astoria Orlando and the Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World Resort. The group also had the opportunity to tour additional Virtuoso partner hotels, the Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes and the Loews Portofino Bay Hotel at Universal Orlando, and experience unique indulgences and fine-dining establishments. As part of its itinerary, the group enjoyed a variety of exclusive VIP tours and behind-the-scenes experiences that only Orlando can offer.


Visit Orlando and Orange County Convention Center Network in Chicago

Visit Orlando and the Orange County Convention Center (OCCC) were in Chicago last week attending the annual CEIR Predict conference and trade show to discuss the trends and future business models of the trade show industry.

While in Chicago, the OCCC and Visit Orlando had the opportunity to spend time with many of the SmithBucklin planners who manage citywide meetings that come to Orlando. Above, from left: Perry Juliano with American Society for Healthcare Risk Management; Keri Cote of International Carwash Association; Buffy Levy of North American Association of Food Equipment Manufacturers; Benjamin Rabe, manager for the KEHE account; Cassie Thompson, Americas SAP Users Group; Jan Addison with OCCC; Dave Weil, vice president of event services; Vickie Keliher of Visit Orlando; Anita O'Boyle of Parametrics Technology Corporation; and, in front, Hayat Pronovost of Visit Orlando


Meeting Planners Participate in Orlando FAM

The Business Development Team recently hosted 15 independent third-party meeting planners for an educational familiarization visit. They conducted site visits at nine area meeting hotels; participated in a behind-the-scenes preview of the new Disney Springs shopping and entertainment complex; and had lunch at The BOATHOUSE, where they experienced the thrill of a unique Amphicar Tour. The planners had an unforgettable dinner at Tapa Toro Tapas Bar & Paella Pit and a unique VIP experience at I-Drive 360.


Convention Sales Supports HelmsBriscoe as It Raced for the Cure

Ken Barnett, Visit Orlando's intermediary accounts director, recently attended the HB Cares weekend in New York City to support the company's community service efforts. HelmsBriscoe (HB) was one of many sponsors of the Susan G. Komen 5K Race for the Cure for breast cancer. The event kicked off with a networking reception the night before and then the race took place on Sunday morning in Central Park. This year, the 130 HelmsBriscoe associates, clients and sponsors that attended raised more than $33,000.

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News About Orlando

Next Week at the Convention Center

Group Meeting Start End Estimate Attendees Estimate Economic Impact
Medical Tourism Association World Medical Tourism & Global Healthcare Congress Sept. 26 Sept. 30 3,500 $6,895,000
Emergency Nurses Association Annual Scientific Assembly Sept. 30 Oct. 3 4,000 $7,880,000
Association of Energy Engineers World Energy Engineering Congress (WEEC) Sept. 30 Oct. 1 3,500 $6,895,000
OrlandoiX OrlandoiX Oct. 3 Oct. 6 11,000 $21,670,000

Stay Another Night: Here's Why Orlando's Hotel Biz Will Grow in 2016

Central Florida's hotel industry will continue its growth well into 2016, according to a forecast by research firm STR Global.

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Pope Francis Gives This Orlando Firm a Big Job

Orlando-based Bags Inc. was chosen to handle the Pope's luggage during his first papal visit to the U.S.

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SunRail Asks Downtown Businesses to Get on Board With Plan to Increase Ridership

While Central Florida's $1.3 billion commuter rail SunRail is ready to go full steam ahead into Osceola County, transportation officials are hoping to increase ridership in downtown Orlando.

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A Hole in One: Here's What Topgolf's Orlando Attraction May Look Like

Are you a golf enthusiast? Well, Dallas-based Topgolf International Inc. wants to bring a driving range and entertainment center to Universal Boulevard.

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National Black MBA Conference Bringing Thousands to Orlando

The Orange County Convention Center is abuzz with diverse leadership panels, speakers and career workshops, thanks to a national conference being held in Orlando.

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Vacation Rental Pros Expands to C. Fla. With Acquisition of Orlando Firm

The Ponte Vedra-based company has picked up Five Star Vacation Rentals, which manages 60 properties in the area, as part of a strategic move into Central Florida.

Read More

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Industry News


Why Skipping Vacation Is Bad for Your Kids

A recent study commissioned by U.S. Travel Association initiative Project: Time Off, "The Work Martyr's Children: How Kids Are Harmed by America's Lost Week," found that nearly two-thirds of kids (61 percent) prefer to spend quality time with their parents on vacation.

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Government Shutdown Would Cost U.S. Travel Economy at Least $185M Per Day

A federal government shutdown would cost the U.S. travel sector at least $185 million per day in economic output due to lost activity and would affect 530,000 travel-related jobs due to temporary layoffs, reduced wages and fewer hours worked, according to the U.S. Travel Association.

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business travel

Philanthropy a Priority for Many U.S. Travelers

More than half of Americans who traveled in the past two years either volunteered or made a charitable donation to a place they visited, according to a study released Thursday.

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Expedia Pushes Further Into Hotel Services With Mobile App for Hoteliers

Expedia wasn't going to let Booking.com's foray into an array of business to business services for hoteliers go unanswered so Expedia has launched a new mobile app just for hoteliers to better-manage their listings on the online travel agency's site.

Read More

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Corporate Ambassadors
ARDA Bags BB&T British Airways Clear Channel Outdoor
Darden Fairwinds Credit Union Florida Distributing Company Florida Hospital The Florida Mall
Lufthansa The Mall at Millenia Orlando Economic Development Commission Orlando Health Orlando International Airport
Orlando Magic Orlando Premium Outlets OUC Smart City Tupperware Brands
United Service Companies
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