Guilherme Cunha – A Never Before Seen Tactic
This week on the Destination Marketing Podcast, Adam chats with Guilherme (Gui) Cunha, Chief Administrator of the Office of Economic Development and Tourism for Seminole County, Florida. Listen to learn how he got into the tourism industry and how his role has changed in just the last few weeks. In the episode, Gui and Adam discuss the new NCAA interim name, image and likeness policy and how Seminole County has utilized it to create a unique college athlete influencer program. They also talk about how Seminole County's Instagram page, Do Orlando North, grew from 2,000 to 107,000 followers in less than a year.
"We bought into the concept that content is king. Our entire basis for tourism is that you're not getting that manicured visitor's guide. We want there to be every type of content for the targeted audiences and for the services that we offer within our county." - Guilherme Cunha
Meet our Host and Guest(s)
- Name: Adam Stoker
- Position: Co-founder and CEO of Relic
- Favorite Destination: Fiji
- Dream Destination: New Zealand
- Name: Gui Cunha
- Position: Chief Administrator at Orlando North Seminole County Government
- Favorite Destination: The Cayman Islands
- Dream Destination: The Virgin Islands
“A Never Before Seen Tactic” – Show Notes and Highlights
- Taking a risk and being willing to be wrong when you take a risk is one of the most valuable assets you can have.
- Trusting research allows comfortable risks. Research mitigates that whole risk and eliminates fear.
- Creating an actual and authentic brand for Seminole County caused its tourism progress.
- Seminole County is the first destination that signed on the NIL Legislation
- Seminole’s group demand driver has been youth sports.
- A lot of athletes wanted to roll out their own brand.
- Content engagements on social media are tracked or measured through its impressions.
- A better way to improve the dynamic between the destination and the university is to have student athletes being a mouthpiece for the destination.
- Content should be entertaining and fun.
- Think about the different goals that you have for your destination and don’t center it just around heads and beds.
- A destination should have multiple media resources hosted to generate visitors.
Resources Mentioned in the Podcast:
Gui Cunha: [00:00:00] For us, we bought into the concept that content is king. So our entire basis for tourism is you’re not getting that manicured, hey, here’s the visitors’ guide. We want there to be every type of content for the targeted audiences and for the services that we offer within the county.
Adam Stoker: [00:00:20] Hello everyone and welcome to another episode of the Destination Marketing Podcast. I’m your host, Adam Stoker. Many of you know, I own an advertising agency called Relic that helps tourism destinations across the country to get more visitors to their destination and get the right message to the right people at the right time. And I have a fun, fun show planned for today. We’ve got a great guest. I was introduced to him just a couple of weeks ago and yet it feels like we’ve known each other for a long time. His name is Gui Cunha and he is from the Orlando North Seminole County Tourism Department and Gui your title continues to change. And so I want to make sure I let you say it. Not me. Let’s introduce you, Gui.
Gui Cunha: [00:01:01] Thank you, Adam. Thank you. Yeah. So from when we spoke a couple of weeks ago to now, my new title is Chief Administrator of the Office of Economic Development and Tourism for Seminole County Government. That’s a mouthful.
Adam Stoker: [00:01:16] And that’s a lot of responsibility. So we’ll have to talk a little bit about that job title change today, as we go.
Gui Cunha: [00:01:24] Yeah. I just think I was all in when they told me the title would include the word Chief and I’d be in Seminole County. I’m like, all right, I’m in. Yeah. Whatever you guys want.
Adam Stoker: [00:01:34] Awesome. Sounds good. I want to let everybody know because we had such a unique coincidence when we connected. So, Gui, you’re from Brazil?
Gui Cunha: [00:01:45] Yes.
Adam Stoker: [00:01:46] Yes. And so I actually spent two years in Brazil and when I was there, I was in a town that most people, it’s not a town, it’s a really big city, but most people don’t know of it because it’s not a major tourist destination. It’s called Belo Horizonte, Brazil. So as I was asking him what part of Brazil he’s from, he starts narrowing in. He’s like, well, I was in Minas Gerais, which is the state. And I was like, we’re at? And then he said, Belo Horizonte. I said, where at? We narrowed it down to where I spent seven months in the neighborhood that Gui is from. And it was just such a funny connection to make.
Gui Cunha: [00:02:22] It was unbelievable first off, you want to talk about just coincidence. I was like, all right, I’m going to play the lotto after this. Also, Caicaras, where I was born in Belo Horizonte, translates to “beautiful horizons”. The craziness is to see you healthy without any scars or any remnants of being from that area, which is known to have some of its rougher spots.
Adam Stoker: [00:02:46] You know, it’s funny and I hope the Belo Horizonte, tourism people don’t reach out and kill me for this. But, I did get robbed at gunpoint. I had someone, it’s so funny because I was a missionary, a service missionary and all I had in my bag was a tape recorder that I used to send tapes to my friends and family, a camera and then scriptures, right? Like the bible. So they held me up at gunpoint, they took my camera, my tape recorder and my scriptures and they went on their way. That was a very memorable and frightening experience.
Gui Cunha: [00:03:26] I didn’t know about that till this moment. I can tell you it doesn’t surprise me at this point.
Adam Stoker: [00:03:37] Yeah. Well, there are beautiful portions of Belo Horizonte, but Caicaras where we’ve both spent time is one of the more dangerous areas it’s got a Favela in it that I spent some time in and a really fun place, wonderful people. But obviously, there’s a little bit of a danger component there as well.
Gui Cunha: [00:03:56] Definitely, definitely. I can tell you that you have a lot more courage than I do. I can also thank you so much for reaching out and helping my native community as much as you could. But it’s going to be some time before there’s some change there.
Adam Stoker: [00:04:14] Well, I did it for the street cred.
Gui Cunha: [00:04:18] For the rap album.
Adam Stoker: [00:04:19] That’s right, drops next month, right? You’ll find me on Spotify. Gui it’s so fun to have you on and you’ve done some amazing work there in Seminole County and I want to talk about it today. Before we do, we’ve got a couple of icebreaker questions that we want to ask you. And the first one is what is your dream destination, Gui? If you could go anywhere in the world, where would it be?
Gui Cunha: [00:04:44] Yeah. I mean for me, my wife and I love the Caribbean. I’m married to my middle school sweetheart. She’s Cuban, shocker being that we grew up in Miami but we love the Caribbean. So the Virgin Islands are definitely a location that we haven’t been to yet. But it’s definitely top of the list for us. Anywhere a British or U. S. Virgin Islands. That’s the top of the wish board at the Cunha household.
Adam Stoker: [00:05:17] So I’ve never been to the Caribbean. What is it? I mean there are lots of beach destinations all over the world. Right? What is it about the Caribbean that draws you in?
Gui Cunha: [00:05:25] The Caribbean’s a lifestyle, man. It’s the people. We’ve been to Jamaica, Haiti Cayman Islands, Bahamas. Yeah, the Cayman Islands are by far our favorite. That’s number one. But it’s the interaction with the people there. You’re almost family the moment you meet them, everything is a lot more simple. More practical would be the best way about it. The importance there is on more of a mental health and wellbeing over products. That’s what really enticed my wife and I when we went.
Adam Stoker: [00:06:10] Okay awesome and it sounds like you’ve been a couple of times to the Caribbean. So did you take your kids or was it just you and your wife or what did you do?
Gui Cunha: [00:06:20] No, no, our daughter’s too young. She’s about to be two years old. So we did not. Fortunately, we did a ton of cruising and traveling to the Caribbean when it was my wife and I and some wedding cruises and some summer vacations. So that was, it was always something that we would plan out like every six months. When we got back, we’re already planning our next Caribbean trip.
Adam Stoker: [00:06:47] Nice, as a parent, I agree with your decision to not take your two-year-old to the Caribbean.
Gui Cunha: [00:06:53] Oh yeah, I couldn’t imagine. She’s a hurricane. I’ll tell you that.
Adam Stoker: [00:07:00] That’s awesome. So because we talked about where you’re from, that you’re from Brazil. Just a quick background. If you don’t mind, tell me about, and you don’t have to go into too much detail here because I’m sure it’s a long, long story, but going from Brazil to ending up as is it the Director of Economic Development and Tourism? Your title’s a mouthful for me. So I’m trying to repeat it here. It’s not working out.
Gui Cunha: [00:07:25] Just Chief. I’m going to wear the proper hair dress here. And, and that’s how I’m going to be reporting to the office from now on.
Adam Stoker: [00:07:33] Okay, alright. We’ll hold you to that.
Gui Cunha: [00:07:36] Yeah. No, for it was a whirlwind. It’s an immigrant story. Born in Brazil, moved to Miami when I was two years old and public school kid, went all the way through, joined the hospitality and tourism program in high school, there’s a ton of competitions here. Did very well in those competitions. Was able to get a full scholarship and got my Masters in Sports and then Seminole County in all their wisdom and it was a fantastic investment. I used bed tax, hotel tax dollars to fund a $33 million dollar capital investment in sports complexes.
So they were looking for someone that had experienced both on the sports side and on the tourism side and through various opportunities, I matched what they were looking for and it just took off from there.
Adam Stoker: [00:08:30] Awesome, awesome. You’re one of the few people Gui that I’ve talked to that actually did some schooling as it pertains to travel and tourism prior to breaking into the industry. You know, most people stumble into it and they’re so excited that they found it. It sounds like this was part of your plan all along.
Gui Cunha: [00:08:46] Yeah. At the end of the day, it was the industry that accepted my mom and dad. My mom has her degree in Business Administration and my dad had his in Civil Law in Brazil. But when they got here, like the majority of other immigrant stories, the travel and tourism, that’s the quickest job you can obtain. So seeing my parents work through there, the goal was always for my brother and I, who also got his degree in travel and tourism from University of Central Florida. The goal was always, hey, let’s figure out this industry so we can help mom and dad. That’s the gist of it. If they would have went into law, my brother and I probably would be paralegals by now.
Adam Stoker: [00:09:31] So what did they do in the industry? What did your parents decide to do when they came in that was a break into the industry?
Gui Cunha: [00:09:37] Yeah, it was everything, to be honest with you. Both of them worked mainly in the heart of the house. My mom stayed for about 30 years working in banquets. My dad worked in banquets, he’s been a prep cook, he’s been a sushi chef, he’s worked quick-service restaurants, he’s worked casual restaurants in the kitchen that’s where he has his passion for. But yeah, it was always the heart of the house, but they’ve kind of run the gamut in the back there except for housekeeping. Haven’t done that one yet.
Adam Stoker: [00:10:15] So what it sounds like to me is this wasn’t the type of thing where they got into one role and lived it out for their whole career. They really participated in multiple roles in the travel industry, which probably gave you a pretty well-rounded look at the industry as you grew up.
Gui Cunha: [00:10:30] Yeah, Yeah. It’s just a culture that we have within our family. My mother really references our family standard, having a standard when it comes to how we work, we get after it, we attack every opportunity, we’re going to make mistakes, but we’re going to make mistakes at 1000 miles an hour. So that kind of leads into the concept of willing to take a risk is something that we’ve been taught and groomed that way since we were kids.
Adam Stoker: [00:11:03] Oh, I love that you said that because I have a lot of the same philosophies, especially on making mistakes. I think taking a risk and being willing to be wrong when you take a risk, I think it’s one of the most valuable assets you can have if you’re an ambitious person. How has that work ethic and philosophy helped you in your role at Seminole County and obviously you’re progressing because your title changed just in the last two weeks since we talked. So what effect is that foundation having on your career?
Gui Cunha: [00:11:34] Well, we trust in our research. So we always check what the source is, what the research is. And that’s what allows us to our entire team on the leisure, on the economic development side, on the sports side. It allows us to be comfortable within the risk because that’s one thing that the president that we always say is someone that tells you they’re going to be right 100% of the time is either lying to you or they’re a God. So you figure out which one.
So that’s where we tell them. The decision is not as important as how the decision was made. What led to that decision. So if you can prove that this is what’s best for us, we trust in the research. The research really mitigates that whole risk and eliminates the fear of actually taking that risk for us.
Adam Stoker: [00:12:27] I like it. So how long have you been there at Seminole county?
Gui Cunha: [00:12:30] Since 2016. I started off as a tourism manager, then became tourism director and now the chief administrator.
Adam Stoker: [00:12:39] Great, great. So you’ve seen a lot change obviously in your time there. What is it that you think has caused the progress for Seminole County that you guys have experienced?
Gui Cunha: [00:12:50] Well, I think the branding from that was done before I got here used to be Visit Seminole County and then became Orlando North Seminole County was a very strong change and something that has had some of the positives and negatives that have come with that. But overall, it’s creating an actual brand voice. We are very authentic whatever message, story you hear from our team, whether it comes from the leisure side or the play side, it’s from personal experience.
So we won’t tell you or market a restaurant or an attraction or a hotel that we haven’t personally experienced that product. So that’s the authenticity. We keep everything very light. We’re very focused on our high-yielding markets. That’s all done through the back end of our research and at the end of the day, that’s really the change that was made. It was going from a more traditional, hey, this is how marketing was always done here to a just, we’re going into the 21st century, we’re going in 1000 miles an hour, we’re going digital, we’re revamping social, we’re bringing in an entirely different message and kind of having a renaissance to the whole outlook of marketing Seminole County.
Adam Stoker: [00:14:22] Oh man! I love that. Every destination needs to go through that renaissance that Orlando North has gone through. One of the reasons that I wanted to talk to you specifically and it goes along with this brand consistency that you’re talking about, an authenticity because you’re going into an uncharted territory right now with one of the tactics that you’re using and you’re going to be if not the first one of the first destinations to ever do this, that’s something that gets me really excited cause I love talking about new tactics in the industry.
So you’re taking advantage of the new NIL Program for NCAA athletes and I would love to hear, okay, how did we decide to do this? What’s the process been like and how are we going to use it for our destination?
Gui Cunha: [00:15:13] Yeah, definitely. It’s been super exciting for us. We’ve signed three athletes on July 1st when the NIL launched the new NIL rules with the NCAA and the State of Florida legislation being –
Adam Stoker: [00:15:25] Sorry, Gui. I made a mistake here and I didn’t explain what NIL is for those that are listening. Will you do that for us?
Gui Cunha: [00:15:31] Yeah, definitely. So the way we looked at it is the State of Florida legislation passed a rule for the universities here on Name, Image and Likeness for student athletes. So now they could be compensated for their name, image and likeness as opposed to before where it would be a violation and affect their eligibility with NCAA. Following suit the day before June 30th, the NCAA passed an update to its rules saying, okay, we have six states I believe was going to pass this NIL legislation as the NCAA, all schools that participate in the NCAA, we’re going to follow the same suit on the Name, Image and Likeness rules. So it’s not just student athletes in Florida that will have access to this opportunity.
Adam Stoker: [00:16:24] Perfect.
Gui Cunha: [00:16:25] So yeah, we’ve seen on, on the news, the numerous deals basically that that’s been made with college hunks. We saw bar stool came out and they’re signing athletes by the boatload. We are the first destination. We haven’t seen anyone else that signed athletes on July 1st. We signed three all-female, our entire, our inaugural team, Kaley Mudge who’s an outfielder for Florida State University, softball. Just set the College World Series hits record. I believe with 14. We signed Minori Nagano, who’s one of the top golfers. She’s with Seminole State College. She took, I believe it was number one the national championships.
And we signed Isabel Kadzban or Izzy Kadzban. She played in one of the tournaments here, it’s ECNL, now it’s a big female soccer tournament and she is with the University of Florida and the Chilean National Team. So we kicked off July 1st and this NIL Legislation with a bang and we’re still signing athletes as we speak.
Adam Stoker: [00:17:40] Okay, so tell me how you identified. Well, let me even back up a little farther. What made you decide, okay, this law is changing. It’s never been done before. We’re going to be the ones that are willing to take the risk and try this first. We have no idea. I mean, I shouldn’t say no idea. You have a pretty good idea of why it’s going to work. But how did you justify that to your stakeholders and decide to move forward with this?
Gui Cunha: [00:18:08] So, like all destinations, the pandemic greatly affected all our demand drivers. So fast forward from March 2022 now, from a leisure side, which is again a common theme from the recovery standpoint, we are seeing numbers reflecting pre-pandemic occupancy and demand drivers. So we feel pretty good from the leisure side. The group side has been lagging behind. Now for us, the group demand driver has been youth sports. So leading the youth sports group travel, the highest yielding travel for us has been female youth sports, softball and soccer in particular.
So we looked at our library on softball and soccer and we said, “Okay, here’s a chance for us to beef up the library and sign some student athletes to marketing deals where they’re also going to be our voice promoting the destination.” So the whole concept is, if you are a softball player, you know Kaley much, you know FSU Softball is one of the best in the nation. You know she set the World Series record.
So for her to now all of a sudden say, “Hey, if you want to train like I did, if you want to come to plan the tournaments like I played, then you want to come to Orlando North Seminole County.” So research is what led us to particularly targeting these three talented student athletes.
Adam Stoker: [00:19:47] Okay, I love this idea. So you wanted to attract group travel, by group travel I mean sports and events to Seminole County. And so you said, okay, which athletes? Sorry, student athletes is the word that I was looking for, which student athletes are going to be the most appealing for the audiences, the types of sports and the types of tournaments that we’re trying to bring in? And that’s how you selected the athletes and made the decision to move forward.
Gui Cunha: [00:20:18] Yes, yeah. I mean part of the agreement and she didn’t fit into the NIL because she already graduated was Odyssey Alexander. We signed Odyssey Alexander. She’s coming up for an SB, she was the picture for James Madison University it was all over ESPN. So we would have signed her if she was still going to be at James Madison, but because she already graduated, she didn’t fall under the NIL rules, but it still didn’t stop us from signing her to a marketing agreement. So she’s also someone that falls into that same strategy of continuing to develop the female sports side, that group travel that has the highest yield for our sports department.
Adam Stoker: [00:21:06] Great, great. So I want to for our destinations that are listening, I want to talk process with you a little bit. So you did the research, you identified the athletes that would be the most appealing. It’s not like they all have agents yet or anything like that. And a lot of them do, right? But –
Gui Cunha: [00:21:22] That’s the best part.
Adam Stoker: [00:21:23] It’s the Wild Wild West. Right? So how did you reach out to them? And how did you start the conversation?
Gui Cunha: [00:21:28] So this is where all the marketplaces, if you’re listening to this podcast, I’m sorry Adam. But, they’re going to be pretty upset now. So we were in contact with a couple of different marketplaces, won’t name them, but what we found is there really wasn’t such a strong need for us at this point to go through the marketplaces because there’s no exclusivity clause to the marketplaces. So athletes are signing with as they should, seven different marketplaces at this time. And the way it works is the marketplace is going to take a percentage of the deal that the athlete agrees to.
Well, what we said is why don’t we just message these athletes directly through social media? We have a strong social media following, it adds credibility to our profile. When you see a profile reach out to and it has over 100,000 followers and it’s saying, “Hey, looking to explore opportunities together, message us back if you’re interested,” with again more personal information. So they see, it’s not just a bot that came into your DMs.
Adam Stoker: [00:22:43] Collab, question mark?
Gui Cunha: [00:22:45] Yeah, exactly. Yeah. So that’s where we’re like, hey, we know you have ties to Seminole County. Kaley was super interested, if you’re interested, let us know. So all this happened July 1st. She reached back out and again, these are marketing agreements we do with influencers anyway. So this would there’s already a template for us. We already created the language that would fall under the NCAA compliance because they have to submit these agreements to their compliance office. So we’re ready to go.
In the beginning, it was just plug and play, who can we get to agree to the deal in our target list, which I’ll tell you July 1st was a lot of fun. Everyone’s sprinting back and forth. Hey, we got this person in. Did we get this person? No, we got that one, we got the… So we had a target list of about 10 athletes that we created prior to July 1st, that we were going to reach out to them pretty much every hour till we got some responses.
Adam Stoker: [00:23:46] Okay. And what percentage of athletes that you reached out to reach back out? What percentage of them did you sign? Just curious?
Gui Cunha: [00:23:52] About 50-50, 50-50.
Adam Stoker: [00:23:54] Okay, that’s pretty high.
Gui Cunha: [00:23:56] Yeah, July 1st, what we saw that, I didn’t expect, but a lot of athletes wanted to roll out their own brand, their own brand, their own apparel, and they wanted to focus on that. So for us, and we made it very clear July 1st, we knew NIL was going to be at the forefront of all sports media. So we knew we’d get a lot more reach. There’d be a lot more traction. There will be a lot more interest. And we explain that to them. We said, “Look, the deal on July 1st is not going to be the deal you get afterward because July 7th, you are still not going to have the same amount of attention as you do on July 1st.” So we’re saying we really want to utilize this agreement so we can get the furthest reach for it.
Adam Stoker: [00:24:45] Okay, and how did you decide on a market value since it’s never been done before?
Gui Cunha: [00:24:51] But that’s what’s awesome about it. It’s never been done before. So our market value, we had an overall budget, which was very easy for us to identify the overall budget because our fiscal year closes in September, at the end of September. So we kind of already know, okay, this is what we can do, this is what we can’t, we’re approaching the end of fiscal. These are not extravagant deals. I’ll tell you that. The market that we’re seeing and the beauty of everything kind of being set right now, we’re looking at deals from as low as $100 to $200 to of course you have a couple of deals that are outliers that are 20,000 or you have the basketball players out west that signed with Boost Mobile, that’s probably going to be tens of thousands. But the majority of the deals are sub 2 grant. So that’s what we’re looking at. We’re like, oh, this is fantastic.
Adam Stoker: [00:25:49] That’s more economical than most influencers.
Gui Cunha: [00:25:52] Yes, exactly. Yes. Yeah. So that was our excitement was, hey, let’s get in on this now because if the market continues to increase, it will price us out.
Adam Stoker: [00:26:05] Yeah. Okay. So, so tell me how you intend to decide if this is successful and if you’re going to continue it with future athletes? What’s your method of measurement?
Gui Cunha: [00:26:16] So it all depends on what the content is being used for. So let’s say if we’re going to distribute on YouTube or we’re going to distribute on other social media channels, we’ll track the engagements compared to what are our usual post, our usual sports post does. We’ll track the impressions of it. Also, it depends on the willingness of the athlete. When it comes to Kaley, Minori and Izzy, they’re absolutely fantastic. They looked at the deal and they’re like, “Hey if we can do extra, can we get some extra shirts and hats and give them out?” These are individuals that were like, hey, at the price point, we signed them, we’d be crazy not to work with them again.
So there are various factors and that’s the beauty of it is they aren’t influencers yet. When you have the influencers at times, you’ll work with some that are a bit jaded, and they’re just like, hey, anything we have to renegotiate the deal, these athletes are super excited to do something historical.
Adam Stoker: [00:27:25] Wow. This is such a unique opportunity that you guys have capitalized on. I mean, bravo to you guys for being willing to be first and kind of blazing the trail. And I hope every destination that’s listening seriously considers utilizing student athletes especially if you have a university within your destination. I can’t think of a better way to improve the dynamic between the destination and the university to have these student athletes being a mouthpiece for the destination. So, Gui kudos to you guys for being willing to take that very calculated risk that you did.
Gui Cunha: [00:28:04] At the end of the day, it falls in line with what our overall strategy is. We have to have a good time with what we’re doing. We always say the same thing. If we’re not having fun, then that’s going to show on our content, on our messaging. You can’t hide that. So it fell right in line. We had a blood July 1st. I can tell you there are people sprinting back and forth here. We must have looked like a war room in the NFL on draft day. You know?
Adam Stoker: [00:28:32] That’s awesome. I wish I had a video of it. That probably would’ve been great social media content.
Gui Cunha: [00:28:38] It was pretty fun. Yeah. We definitely should have had a photographer, videographer here. That’s a missed opportunity. At least for us looking back on it would have been pretty funny.
Adam Stoker: [00:28:51] Well, you know, next time. But let’s talk about social media Gui, because when you and I talked before, you’ve had an incredible amount of success growing your social media following. It’s interesting, we talk about the three different types of media, earned, owned and purchased, right? For what you’ve done, I think you’ve done a really good job of harnessing your owned media channels. You have a podcast which we’ll touch on in a minute, but you’ve got these social media channels that you’ve been able to leverage and grow significantly. Why is that important for you? Why is your owned audience a main point of focus for your team?
Gui Cunha: [00:29:31] For us, we’ve bought into the concept that content is king. So our entire basis for tourism is where you’re not getting that manicured. Hey, here’s the visitor’s guide, everything we reference is in the visitor’s guide. We want there to be audio, visual, copy, every type of content for the targeted audiences and for the services that we offer within county. So for us, it’s like, oh, we’ll post an image of a horse yoga. That’s fantastic. I like it. It’s interesting. But is that it? No, that then we’ll push you to the horse yoga episode on YouTube where you run the longer of, “Oh wow, this is what a horse yoga session looks like here. Yeah, that’s fantastic.” Oh, here’s the horse yoga podcast episode where the discussion with the horse yoga instructor is that so there’s always more.
So for us, that’s been the ultimate goal is if content is king, how many different pieces of content can we incorporate with just that one subject? So that’s what has really led to the explosion for, for example, Do Orlando North on Instagram has jumped from 2000 followers in January all the way to over 100,000 followers today.
Adam Stoker: [00:31:02] Okay, let’s talk about that. That is a huge jump. Right? So, you started in January of 2000, what did you change? What type of content did you start posting? And how did you generate that many additional followers? Because it can’t just be okay, we’re going to post twice a week and video here, a comment there. What was it that you did?
Gui Cunha: [00:31:24] No, no, at the end of the day, let’s be authentic here. Okay. Do Orlando North is the Tourism Department of Seminole County Government to think that organically you’re going to grow from 2000 to 100,000 that quick. It’s not feasible. So for us, it was prioritizing social, if that growth was important to us and to our leadership, then we have to create the budget for it. So the question then becomes, how quickly can we get there? But yet how efficiently and cost-effective can we get there? So do we have to refine our posting strategy and the boosting strategy behind it? Do we have to locate different influencers that are going to yield us more results? So it’s all taken a deep dive into that strategy. But first and foremost, social media has to be a priority at the end of the day. There’s no way you’re going to get an insane jump like that being a smaller CVB in a landlocked county in Florida. It’s just, it’s understanding that the dynamics.
Now, if we had a million fitness influencers or a billionaire, sure, you go out there and film your 10 different Lamborghinis every day. You can grow organically. I get it. But it’s understanding and taking a stronger look at social media and the power of it and then reprioritize, okay, is this ad by with this NFL team and their yearbook more important than us doing this? That was the genesis of it. On January 1st, we said, “Hey, you know something, we want to run everything through social and that’s become our priority.
Adam Stoker: [00:33:20] So you chose not to leverage your personal vehicle collection for your social media strategy.
Gui Cunha: [00:33:28] I don’t know how many followers you can get for a Black Chrysler 300. But if anyone is out there interested in Black Chrysler 300, we’ll start posting on Do Orlando.
Adam Stoker: [00:33:39] Nice, let’s start a poll. So, Gui, that’s interesting to me because of what I heard and I want to make sure that I’m understanding correctly, what I heard in that is most destinations when they look at what’s our goals, they start with heads and beds. How many people can we get to come stay in the hotels here? Right? And as they look at that, a lot of other KPIs kind of fall by the wayside. You guys got together and you decided we are going to grow our social channels significantly. We’re going to boost our posts. We’re going to make better posts. We’re going to post better content and we’re going to do some paid media behind it, including influencer work.
Gui Cunha: [00:34:19] Yes.
Adam Stoker: [00:34:20] So, what made you decide that that performance indicator was important enough to deviate from the traditional heads and beds model that everybody tries to follow?
Gui Cunha: [00:34:33] Well, it’s all based on the fact that for someone to come to the hotel, it’s understanding that there needs to be an experience. For us whenever someone asks, what is it that you do in Seminole County? We attract visitors and we optimize their stay while they’re here. So it’s understanding that for us we are not led by — and this is why our podcast has a 1000 different interviews from everything from Stan Van Gundy talking about the NBA, to horse yoga.
Adam Stoker: [00:35:07] Nice.
Gui Cunha: [00:35:08] Yeah, Stan Van Gundy’s Seminole County resident by the way. But the reason behind the podcast and the content is entertainment. We base everything on authenticity. If it’s not entertaining for us, if it’s not fun, we don’t put that content out there because it all has to be based on engagement. For you to come to our hotel there was something in Seminole County that attracted you here. So if we create a ton of some things in many different media’s, it’s more likely to attract visitors here. So that kind of was the whole push was, there are entertainment districts here. There’s a huge story to tell in this county that’s just above Orlando, but is the true authentic capital of Central Florida. The true craft beer capital is here. Let’s start telling that story. Let’s not just manicure visitors’ guides and continue to push that out because there’s no connection there. If I’m going to stay in your house, we better have a connection somewhere along the line.
Adam Stoker: [00:36:24] I love that you’re looking farther than just heads and beds. And I think that’s a great maybe lesson or take away for those that are listening. Think about the different goals that you have for your destination and don’t center it just around heads and beds. Let’s improve our storytelling. Let’s create a better experience for people once they get here. You talked about your podcast and a light bulb came on for me and so it made me want to ask a question for you. Do you intend to bring these athletes, the student athletes on as podcast guests? And will you leverage those relationships that way?
Gui Cunha: [00:37:00] I think again, let you in on a little secret only because we’re from the rough streets of Caicaras. I think we’re thinking a little bit further than that, Adam. Of course, we are. Yes, there will be a Kaley Mudge episode. There will be a Minori Nagano episode. There definitely will be an Izzy Kadzban episode as well. But we’re even looking at signing student athletes that would like to host their own podcasts under our channel because we know when it comes to what’s the value for the student athletes for us, we’re like, okay, they connect to the athletes underneath them to want to come to the Seminole County tournaments. Well, what if we can have them produce media for us? Because the softball players don’t want to hear from me. Softball players want to hear directly from Kaley Mudge and how it felt to break that World Series record of hits. They want to know, how does it feel for Kaley, what does training look like for Kaley? How does she feel? What’s the authenticity there?
So for us, we’re not only looking just to bring them on, we’re looking to say, okay, here’s what we’re seeing. We’re willing to invest even further and have you host media under the Orlando North Seminole County brand.
Adam Stoker: [00:38:28] Fantastic. Fantastic. I love the way you’re leveraging that and the idea of a destination with multiple — I’d say multiple podcasts, but I’m sure you’re thinking outside of podcasts, multiple media resources that are hosted by the mouthpiece that’s most likely to generate the visitor. Now we’re talking, we’re in a completely different atmosphere than running an ad towards a visitor guide or running an ad towards building our email list. I really like where this is going for you guys.
Gui Cunha: [00:39:01] Yeah, we’re excited because everything is on the table at this point and we have the commissioners love the idea. They’re very supportive. They engage with our social media all the time. Absolutely love them. Our leadership, our county manager and our deputy county managers are all extremely supportive. We couldn’t branch out and try this if we weren’t successful in other endeavors. So that’s the key where we always say, “Hey, this NIL is fantastic. But this is just the first step.” What if we were to sign again, put this out there, probably come back to bite me in the butt, but what if we were to sign the starting quarterback at UCF who’s the one on the Heisman watch list? And they had a weekly podcast? I guarantee you there’ll be a ton more engagements than listening to me talk about football.
Adam Stoker: [00:39:55] Oh, I’d say so. Not that you don’t know anything about football Gui, that’s not what I’m saying, but I mean I can see how that is a really innovative idea for the destination marketing industry. I feel like you and I could kind of jive on this all day long. So I want to boil it down, I try to do this at the end of every episode if you were to take what you’ve learned as you’ve built your organization there, boil it down to a takeaway for destinations what’s the main piece of advice that you could give someone who’s trying to blaze a trail in their own destination?
Gui Cunha: [00:40:34] Well, first off, you have to ask yourself a question, would you come visit your own destination? Because I can tell you that there’s some in this industry, there’s some that are incredibly passionate, but it’s like you said, there’s some in this industry that just fell into it and it’s, oh okay, it’s an easy industry, there’s not much pushback because there’s not much precedent or expectations. So I would say, first, you have to fall in love with your own destination, that’s the basis of everything.
And then second to that is spend the time on the research identifying what your priorities are. And then when you’ve taken the time and you are comfortable with the research to justify those priorities, I would say, hit the ground running. We’ll hit the ground sprinting unafraid of what the consequences are. Because at the end of the day, the question is always going to be the same. What are you going to do better next time? Whether it’s successful or fail, the question is the same. So, the entire game isn’t built on success or failure. It’s built on what are your ideas. You know?
So that’s what I would tell anyone that that that’s interested or willing to give me a couple of sense of some preaching time here. That’s the best advice I got for.
Adam Stoker: [00:41:57] No, I love that advice, especially number two, because in my opinion Gui it’s much easier to defend an action than it is to defend inaction.
Gui Cunha: [00:42:07] Uh-hmm.
Adam Stoker: [00:42:08] And so take the risk, take the leap, like you said, hit the ground sprinting. And if you’re wrong, you’re wrong. But if you did the research ahead of time and you were wrong, man, I’d rather that than, hey, I didn’t do the research and I didn’t do the work and our destinations in the same place it was before COVID.
Gui Cunha: [00:42:26] And that’s the thing. We’ve messed up countless times here, but we can always justify it. Inaction, I love how you said, because inaction will not be tolerated and I physically can’t come to the office and not do anything. And that’s the thing. I surround myself with individuals that are like that. Do we agree all the time? No, absolutely not. There’s friction here, but that’s what we see growth happened. It was everyone on board with every idea. Absolutely not. But that doesn’t mean that we ignore any contrary opinions. No, let’s debate. Come in here, defend your point, I defend mine and whatever the overarching better idea is, that’s what we’re going with. Check your ego and that’s where we’re going.
Adam Stoker: [00:43:15] I love it. I love it. Gui, if people want to reach out to you, maybe ask you some more pointed questions that you didn’t share here on the podcast, what’s the best way for people to get a hold of you?
Gui Cunha: [00:43:24] Definitely. My email, which is, the letter G Golf C-U-N as in November H-A at doorlandonorth.com. Yes, it will look like doorlando, but go with it. Or you can go on doorlandonorth.com and click on the About Tab and you can see our entire team.
Adam Stoker: [00:43:49] Awesome. Gui, this has been fantastic and I really appreciate you being well. You were really transparent and didn’t hold anything close to the vest. I appreciate you’ve given us some information that can help any destination that’s listening.
Gui Cunha: [00:44:02] I appreciate it, Adam. And again, thank you so much for everything you guys are doing, continuing to develop not just the podcast industry and widening that, but also showing everyone that tourism is an artl so thank you so much.
Adam Stoker: [00:44:21] Awesome. Thank you, Gui, and thank you everybody else for listening. It’s been a great show. If you enjoyed today’s content, please leave us a rating or a review. And other than that we’ll talk to you next week. [Different language].
Gui Cunha: [00:44:34] [Different language]
Adam Stilop;kl\[ppoker: [00:44:40] I’ve been getting a lot of questions recently from destinations around the world of, Adam, why does my destination need a podcast? You talk about it on your show, but why? And so what a podcast does is allows that content consumption to move from an active format to a passive format. And so one of the main reasons that I recommend destinations need a podcast is to provide content that can be consumed passively and allows these newer audiences with different content consumption habits to be able to consume your content in the way they prefer to consume it.
So if any of you have considered doing a podcast, I would really look into it. It’s the long game. I would look at what it takes to start one. We obviously have a product at Relic. Every destination needs to start today and do a podcast. You will reap the benefits over the next several years and years and years.
[End of Transcript]