WASTE WATCH: Pensacola Chamber gift card program

Updated: Monday, October 28 2013, 07:46 PM CDT
WASTE WATCH:  Pensacola Chamber gift card program story image
PENSACOLA   --   Missing gift cards, a major audit and a scandal that rocked the Greater Pensacola Chamber of Commerce.
   
The results from an independent audit came back with good news for the chamber, but what about all those unaccounted for cards?

And what about the future of the incentive program to boost tourism?
Back in March, we found out that the Greater Pensacola Chamber couldn't account for about 500,000 dollars in gift cards. Gift cards being used to bring people here to the gulf coast.

An audit of the situation came back favorably, but it does raise questions about the administration and effectiveness of this program.

The audit came back -- and all but 4,000 dollars -- less than 1 % -- of the cards were accounted for.

Pete King/Perdido Chamber
"The audit was a good thing. We always want to know that we're accountable."

The Escambia County Clerk of the Court's office will be releasing almost 93,000 dollars in cards that were being held during the audit.
The Perdido Key Chamber jumped on the opportunity -- giving out some of those cards in a "You play --We'll pay" fall promotion.

Pete King/Perdido Chamber
"As soon as we were able to get gift cards again, we went and started a fall promotion. And now we have a whole calendar full, up until the spring break, of additional promotions that we're going to put out there."

The campaign itself is a big hit for our beaches -- and for vacationers.
Robin Molle and family are over from Mississippi.

They normally camp in Big Lagoon -- but the gift card incentive put them in a weekend condo stay this time.
It's all about.
Robin Molle/Taking advantage of gift card program

"The deal. Being able to come down and stay at a very nice condo, and take advantage of all the amenities. Yeah, it was perfect."

The impact is measurable -- in number of nights booked, cards handed out -- and bed tax dollars.

The gift cards bring people to the key -- and those people spend those dollars locally -- giving local businesses a boost.

Dawn Jalomo/Glitters by the beach
"We did see some last year. I don't know exactly how many, but we did notice a difference in the business with the cards."

Pete King/Perdido Chamber
"The great news is they spent those gift cards here with us. They went to our restaurants, our grocery stores, our drug stores, our souvenir shops. It was a win, win for everybody."

The Perdido Key Chamber had a 'Zero error audit' in the findings.
Their systematic and detailed approach for handling the cards will now be the standard...

"Meaning that we made sure every card was in a safe place until it was distributed. And then our visitors were accountable to meet all the rules. To come and actually be a part of a incentive program."

The current gift card promotion here on Perdido Key runs through October 31st. The future of this program remains to be seen.

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WASTE WATCH: Pensacola Chamber gift card program
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