There’s nothing like the joy of surprising people with a free trip beyond their imagination, and this week we did so in a big way, selecting Jennifer Young of Long Island, New York, as the winner of Visit Orlando’s Most Magical Gathering Contest.
Jennifer and 49 family and friends are coming to Orlando in March to celebrate Walt Disney World’s 50th anniversary, as well as some big personal milestones. This year, Jennifer and her husband turn 50, it’s the 50th wedding anniversary of Jennifer’s parents, and her mother-in-law will even be 80 years young. Check out the heart-warming big reveal here.

Thank you to Walt Disney World Resort and Spirit Airlines for partnering with us on such a fun, rewarding initiative. 

National Plan for Vacation Day A Success for Visit Orlando 

We hope you took the time to participate in National Plan for Vacation Day this week! It was a big success for Visit Orlando as we rolled out enhanced visitor services. Already we have 35 virtual appointments booked, and on social media our team of vacation planners answered questions from future visitors, generating over 130,000 impressions.
The launch also expanded our consumer marketing database, kept our destination top of mind among potential travelers and earned publicity coverage in more than 25 media outlets. Top hits include a series of TV interviews featuring Emily Kaufman, The Travel Mom, on Yahoo!MSN and NBC Miami, among others in key regional markets. 

Hotel Occupancy Ends 2021 at 57.8%

Despite a slow first quarter and unforeseen COVID-19 spikes in the summer and fall, Metro Orlando’s hotel sector  finished the year at 57.8% occupancy – up from 41.7% in 2020 but still down significantly from 2019’s 76.2%. Average daily rate ($121.40) was just shy of pre-pandemic levels ($126.72 in 2019). Total demand, as measured by room nights, reached 75% of 2019 levels.
For the week ending Jan. 22, hotel occupancy was 59.1%, a slight improvement from the previous week and still much higher than the national average. ADR rose once again to $140.25, up from $133.03 the week before.  

Introducing Our 2022 Executive Committee

After a vote by our board of directors, I’m pleased to announce the following industry leaders will serve alongside me on Visit Orlando’s 2022 executive committee: 

  • Board Chair Brian Comes, Area Vice President for Hyatt Regency Orlando  
  • Chair-Elect Terry Prather, Chief Operating Officer, Lift Orlando  
  • Past Chair Don Engfer, Principal, Engfer & Associates  
  • Secretary Harold Mills, Chief Executive Officer, VMD Ventures
  • Treasurer Barb Bowden, Area Managing Director, Loews Hotels at Universal Orlando

A Successful Campaign with Amazon Alexa and Tripadivsor 

As you may remember, in November we launched an innovative, immersive experience on Amazon Alexa. The campaign included an Orlando Experience Hub with five branded trip itineraries and an Unexpected Orlando Sweepstakes that tapped into Tripadvisor’s community-powered content. 

Promoting Orlando’s offerings throughout the destination, the two-month campaign was a huge success, delivering 36 million impressions and over 100,000 interactions. Users spent more than 800 hours listening to branded trip itineraries and nearly 500 hours engaging with Alexa about Orlando.
Overall, this was a great new way to reach our audience and showcase the entirety of our destination.

Around the Destination 

Steinmetz Hall: Jennifer Hudson was amazing in Steinmetz Hall last weekend, and the team at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts did a fantastic job making it an unforgettable debut. This incredible new venue is truly the crown jewel of our downtown arts and culture landscape. 

Rosen Hotels: I thoroughly enjoyed meeting with legendary hotelier Harris Rosen on Monday. Rosen hotels make up a key segment of I-Drive lodging, and they have been valuable members of our organization for many years. I look forward to forging new partnership opportunities well into the future. 

Legislative Update: It was wonderful to see 150 industry leaders and elected officials join us at SeaWorld Orlando’s Ports of Call yesterday for an update from Tori Barnes, executive vice president of public affairs and policy at the U.S. Travel Association. This session was an excellent way to explore important industry issues, including Brand USA Support, the future of travel, sustainability and innovation, and we’d like to thank Experience Kissimmee for partnering with us on this endeavor.  

Epic Universe to Open by Summer 2025

Big news this week from our friends at Universal Orlando, who announced that construction is “full steam ahead” at our destination’s newest theme park, Epic Universe, expected to open by summer 2025. On top of this, Universal Orlando finished 2021 with the best quarter in the company’s history. Read more 

Update: Changes to ZORA! Festival 

Due to COVID-related precautions, the ZORA! Festival’s Outdoor Festival of the Arts has been rescheduled to June 4 and 5. However, the remainder of the year-round festival events are still moving forward as planned. Find more information on

Across the Industry

Trade Show News Network: Women at the helm: Casandra Matej

Orlando Business Journal: Tourism expected to lead Orlando job growth in 2022

Golf Channel: PGA Show is back in Orlando and its importance is evident

Business Travel News: Rate hikes prompt STR, tourism economics to up U.S. hotel forecast

Camping World Stadium: Tickets on sale for Tacos and Margaritas Festival April 16

TravelPulse: The State of cheap flights in 2022

American Hotel & Lodging Association: 2022 State of the Hotel Industry Report 

Casandra Matej

In your service,

Casandra Matej

Casandra Matej | President & CEO
Visit Orlando