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Hospitality Research - Osceola County

The Kissimmee Convention and Visitor’s Bureau has contracted with Varga Market Research
Services Inc., an independent research firm based in Orlando that also provides focus groups,
analytical research, and consulting work. The firm’s clientele already includes major attractions
and hotels in the region, said Tania Varga-Bigosinski, the president of the firm.

“We’ve had a lot of partners here in Central Florida,” she said.

Central Florida’s hospitality and tourism industries took a hit in 2008 and 2009, as the national
recession set in and consumers cut back on their discretionary spending – including on vacations.

But the industry had a much strong year in 2011, with Greater Orlando attracting more than 50
million visitors last year, breaking records.

Varga-Bigosinski said the Kissimmee CVB wants her firm to reach out to anyone in the Osceola
County hospitality industry, to find out their occupancy rates, room rates, and average lengths
of stay. The information compiled by her firm will be used to help market Osceola County’s
tourism industry this year.

“We have worked in the lodging industry over the past 23 years,” Varga-Bigosinski said. “We’re
going to be surveying Osceola County’s vacation home and timeshare industry.”

The purpose of the study, she said, isn’t to determine which timeshares or vacation homes are
doing better than others. All information gathered by her firm will be kept strictly confidential,
she added.

“The performance report is reported in the aggregate,” she said. “No one can see your
information. That’s why we’re collecting it, so it remains anonymous.”

But it could prove crucial in the coming year in enabling Osceola County’s tourism officials
to find ways to reach out to new visitors, and introduce them to the region’s theme parks and
attractions – and to the places available to stay during their vacation.

“The Kissimmee CVB uses this information to do marketing research,” she said.

Varga-Bigosinski met this morning with the members of the Central Florida Vacation Rental
Managers Association, the trade group representing small business owners who manage vacation
homes in Central Florida, one of the fastest growing aspects of the hospitality and lodging
industry, particularly in Osceola and Polk counties. The property managers held its first monthly
meeting of the year at Mystic Dunes Resort in Kissimmee.

While outlining the research that her firm will be doing, she asked the members to contact her

office and participate in the survey.

“This information will be useful to you in your own marketing campaigns and advertising,” she
said. “You’ll see an email or phone call from us over the next month or so about this.”

Colin Young, the outgoing president of the CFVRMA, urged his members to take part in the

“I would encourage everyone to provide as much information as possible,” he said. “We’re
trying to drive tourism into Central Florida.”

He noted that Osceola County is also making an effort to revitalize U.S. 192, the highway that
goes from the Four Corners area past Celebration into Kissimmee and St. Cloud. Once a thriving
tourism corridor, this highway has fallen on hard times in recent years, particularly the section
closest to Kissimmee, with a rising number of abandoned and vacant businesses along it.

U.S. 192 is also the home to some of the region’s better known vacation home properties and
timeshares, Young noted, and he said the entire hospitality industry has a stake in how the
corridor fares.

“There are studies for the redevelopment of (U.S.) 192 that is ongoing,” he said. “These
meetings are important to our industry.”

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