Canadians targeted in condo promotion push

Come to Aventura for a couple of nights away from the Great White North, and maybe leave with a way to go south whenever you want. That’s Fairmont Turnberry Isle Resort & Club’s latest pitch to Canadian guests and prospective buyers of South Florida real estate.

The hotel is targeting Canadians looking for real estate steals in South Florida with a package that includes an Aventura city guidebook, a GPS to navigate area roads, hotel accommodations and even foot massages after figuratively pounding the pavement for good deals. The promotion starts Oct. 1 and will run through April, the hotel said. It’s an even more specific response to the escalating level of vacation and second home purchase promotion happening on a regional level.

“We wanted to come up with a promotion that would help us and help the real estate community,” said Rachel Pinzur, a spokesperson for Fairmont. “We came up with the Future Floridian package for Canadians who want to buy a vacation home. This benefits the travel industry and the real estate industry. Both are hurting.”

The package requires at least a two-night stay and wants to make house-hunting a painless process. Beyond the foot massages and GPS, Canadian visitors also get a bottle of wine and dinner at the Bourbon Steak restaurant. And those who decide to purchase a home receive a kit complete with towels, goggles, underwater cameras and other goodies. 

Fairmont worked with the Aventura Marketing Council to put together a list of luxury real estate agents who would treat the Canadian guests with kid gloves.

The Fairmont may benefit from a promotion the Beacon Council, the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau and several other organizations and corporations have launched. The groups are running a $2.4 million marketing campaign targeting vacationers and buyers from Canada, Brazil, New York and other major cities.

“Canada is our number one international market,” said Rolando Aedo, senior vice president of Tourism and Marketing at the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau. “The demographic of the typical Canadian traveler to Miami has changed. It’s mainly Euro-French Canadians – the extend-stay snowbirds.”

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The Downtown Development Authority is on board to promote the condo market, the cultural scene and the night life, Aedo said.

“Our campaign focuses on Miami as a place to live, work and play,” Aedo said. “Targeting Canadians on all three fronts is important for Miami. During these challenging times, it makes sense for us to target Canadians, who have a love affair with warm weather destinations like South Florida.”
Experts, though, said the Fairmont may be disappointed with the reservation volume. 

In his 25 years of hotel marketing, Bruno Perez, vice president of Revpar Guru, a hotel software company in Miami Beach, hasn’t witnessed this type of effort. Although creative, he said, promoting vacation packages based on real estate sales isn’t the most effective campaign.

“I don’t see this as a strong volume driver at all. It’s very limiting. How many people in Canada are wanting to buy Florida real estate?” Perez asked rhetorically. “Once Canadians are here they may shop for real estate, but if I were running a hotel I would try many other things before targeting Canadian real estate buyers.”

The Fairmont hasn’t had any takers on its Future Floridian package, but Pinzur is confident that the snowbirds will begin flocking to South Florida soon — and to the hotel. 

“We’re always throwing out creative packages to differentiate ourselves from what other hotels are doing,” Pinzur said. “This is the first time we’ve tried to draw a real estate connection. Of course, we’re not limiting the special to Canadians. Anyone can take advantage of this package.”

The package rates start at $839 for a two-night stay from Oct. 1 to Dec. 18 and $1,389 from Dec. 19 to Jan. 4 and $1,010 from Jan. 5 through April 30, 2010.