Tuesday, August 12, 2008

MIAMI’S NEW DIRECTION: A SIT-DOWN WITH ROLANDO AEDO, SR VP Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau

Text, Vivian G. Kelly
Portrait of Rolando Aedo, Richard Spiegel
Images of the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau Ad campaign,

Time/Place: Mercedes-Benz Miami Swim Week, at the Raleigh lobby lounge

MEETING WITH ROLANDO AEDO, SR VP Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau
We used this opportunity to ask some questions that were on our mind since the shows started, Thursday evening.

LYRA MAG: How long have you been with the bureau in this position?

ROLANDO AEDO: I've been with the organization for over 12 years, & in this position for the past year.

LYRA : Who do you report to?

R. AEDO: Bill [William B. Talbert ], the President.

LYRA: Is this show week [Mercedes-Benz Swim/Cruise 2009] helping Miami?

R. AEDO: We were instrumental in bringing the shows down 5 years ago. We actually hired IMG out of Cleveland to help us with our branding, to identify the major ways to make some money in what’s a slower time for us in Miami.
Turkel branding out of Miami brokered the deal with us. Working with Turkel, we figured out that fashion should be a key factor in our branding strategy.
We invested heavily in this and felt like Fashion was one of its pillars.
From there, we worked with IMG and we told them that we wanted to accomplish.

LYRA: You mentioned you were branching out, in some different directions from fashion?

R. Aedo: We recently evolved an enlarged culture position: the more organic side, meaning that
we’re really focusing on the cultural aspect of Miami. Some of the initiatives are in the areas of art, food, and beauty.

Art Basel is going into its 6th year. It’s now evolved into a combination of 28 different shows.There’s a lot of action in the increasingly hip Winwood area. All of this is good for Miami.

Regarding our new image campaign [IMAGES SHOWN] we’re recruited local artists, and we’ve taken Rene Ruiz who’s had some Red Carpet hits. In Little Havana, we took his expensive chrome mannequins and used the old men as a backdrop.
At the Raleigh, we used an image of a culinary artist and dipping a strawberry into the pool.

LYRA: What else are you excited about?

R. AEDO: The South Beach Wine & Food Festival is another blockbuster for us.
Our 1st Annual Miami Spa Month extends from July through August and you can get special treatments through the end of August.
Additionally, we’re exploring co-promotions with New York’s NYC & Company – our counterpart. It works out of the Mayor’s office, whereas here we’re a private company.

LYRA: We feel that the tone of the Swim shows has changed. It’s much more for the local consumer, rather than for the fashion editors it was originally targeted to? *

R. AEDO: Last year, when MB took an equity position in this, I was encouraged by this, because the event’s been for the most part, a local event. It was nowhere near in scale to Bryant Park. There are physical constraints to the Raleigh to be considered, but it’s a beautiful venue.

LYRA: Do you think that this round of shows was a success?

R. AEDO: I had trouble getting my seat this time, and I write them some checks [laughs].

LYRA: Will you keep the shows?

R. AEDO: We were significant investors to get this going, and did for the 1st 3 years, we felt that fashion was the right thing to do. For us, the end game is to get publicity and media for the City of Miami.

LYRA: How’s business and tourism in South Beach?

R. AEDO: Right now, we’re flat on the domestic sight, but up 8% on the European side.


LYRA: In SOBE, we’ve noticed a lot of closed clothing stores, and a lot of new construction at the same time.
WHAT is the ULTIMATE GOAL? Is it for SOBE to be the new Cannes or St. Tropez?

R. AEDO: There are some things that we heavily control, we’re experiencing the same things with restaurants too. In August, we’re launching MIAMI SPICE [like NY restaurant week]. It features 100+ of the City's restaurants, their world renowned chefs are offering 3-course meals that are very well priced: $23 for lunch, $36 for dinner. This is going through the end of August.

We’re talking about Miami focusing on its winning combination of the tropical and cosmopolitan. It’s that combination, which we’re promoting.

LYRA: What do you make of the halt in the W Hotel project?

R. AEDO: it’s been push & go, push & go.
It’s fair to say; Miami in particular, was in a maddened building boom. The reality is I do not know of one project that’s been abandoned.
The Fontainebleau is scheduled to open in Sept., they spent a billion, and they’re on track.

LYRA MAG: Who’s coming to SOBE? In an article we read today, in the Miami Herald re: the initiative program to educate British children about Miami.
WHO initiated this?

R.AEDO: It’s the State Tourist Board, called “Visit Florida”.

LYRA: Will the Art Deco district remain intact?

R.AEDO: It’s listed on the National Historic Register, it’s the largest district on the books. Did you know that the Hotel Victor is actually a Hyatt, they run it like a boutique hotel?

LYRA: No! You’re joking, we were talking about how great it looked when we went up for the Peroni pool party.
Thank you for your time, Rolando. It was a pleasure.