By Barry Janoff
June 15, 2014: Looking to add to the already record number of people who travel to the area, Visit Orlando, the region's official tourism association has signed a global alliance with the U.S. Tennis Assn., the sport's national governing body, which includes status as the exclusive global tourism partner of the grand slam U.S. Open.
Concurrently, the USTA plans to use the alliance to raise awareness for the tennis facility it is building in the Lake Nona area of Orlando, to feature 100-plus courts and house the USTA's Community Tennis and Player Development divisions. Target completion date for the facility is the fourth quarter of 2016.
Financial terms of the alliance were not disclosed.
"Becoming the exclusive tourism partner of the U.S. Open provides a unique forum for Visit Orlando to reach a global audience of potential travelers in all of our key markets," George Aguel. president and CEO for Visit Orlando, said in a statement. "By working closely with the USTA through our U.S. Open partnership, as well as leveraging the USTA's future presence in Orlando, we plan to attract incremental visitation to our destination through the penetration of key audience segments."
Earlier this year, Aguel said that Orlando "welcomed 59 million visitors in calendar year 2013, setting an all-time record for U.S. destinations." That figure was a 3% increase over the previous record, which Orlando set in 2012.
Under terms of the deal, Visit Orlando will get on-court and in-stadium exposure at the U.S. Open, be among the sponsors on Arthur Ashe Kids' Day (scheduled for Aug. 23, on the Saturday before the U.S. Open begins) and be involved in other Open marketing and sponsorship activations.
A spot unveiled to support the alliance shows highlights of the 2013 U.S. Open and kids playing tennis interspersed with scenes of kids and adults in Disney World in Orlando. (See it here.)
The agreement also involves Visit Florida, the state's official tourism marketing corporation,which said it would partner with Visit Orlando and the USTA in marketing programs "aimed at uplifting the entire state's exposure in the domestic and international marketplace."
In addition, Visit Florida will also be the exclusive tourism category sponsor of the Western & Southern Open, part of the Emirates Airline U.S. Open Series six-week event that precedes the U.S. Open.
The 2014 U.S. Open runs from Aug. 25-Sept. 8. In 2013, U.S. Open attendance in the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, NY, was 713,026, the fourth-highest U.S. Open attendance and surpassing 700,000 for the sixth time.
Visit Orlando also plans to take advantage of the U.S. Open's growing presence in digital, mobile and app space.
Last year, the U.S. Open's Web site had a record-setting 53.7 million visits, an 18% increase over the 2012 tournament, according to officials. Visits via mobile rose 64%, the official U.S. Open iPhone App recorded more than 811,000 downloads, the official Android App received more than 41.1 million page views and the official U.S. Open iPad app registered more than 16.9 million page views.
According to Gordon Smith, executive director and COO for USTA, "We are pleased to establish this new relationship with Visit Orlando. By creating a new home for American tennis in Orlando, it is important to form a long-standing partnership with Visit Orlando to ensure we create the greatest visibility for our sport, our facility and our new partner."
Other U.S. Open sponsors include American Express, Citizen watches, Emirates Airline, IBM, Mercedes-Benz, Esurance, Heineken, Ralph Lauren, Xerox, Evian, Moet & Chandon, Tiffany and Westin.