Rob Varley
Rob Varley – Space Coast Office of Tourism

For over 20 years, Rob Varley has worked with the Space Coast Office of Tourism, navigating the transition from the area being a place where visitors came to watch Shuttle launches, to one of the largest cruise ship destinations in the world. In addition, KSC’s Visitor Complex has evolved from being a museum into an interactive experience, and Brevard continues to compete as the beach option for the close to 60 million tourists visiting Central Florida theme parks and conventions. Though he’s retiring from his work, his impact will prove to be lasting.

“Relationships are the most important assets you have. You can have the best marketing plan in the business, but without building solid working relationships with your customers, your peers, your contractors, and your staff, you will not be very successful.”

“The way we communicate to our customers has changed drastically. When I came to the Space Coast in 1994, I was provided a cell phone that was bulky, with reception that was erratic at best. Though we were the first Florida destination to set up a website, we didn’t have a clue what we were going to do with it. At that time, most of our advertising budget went to traditional advertising venues, but today over 50{099636d13cf70efd8d812c6f6a5a855fb6f8f27f35bea282d2df1d5ae896e2c2} of our marketing budget is tied to digital marketing.

“In the destination marketing business, I learned early on that our customers included more than the tourists, meeting planners, travel journalists, and tour operators we marketed to through sales and advertising. Our customers are also the hotels, attractions, restaurants, and retailers that benefitted from our marketing efforts. They have a vested interest in our success and we have to make sure their opinions and ideas are considered. We also need to listen to our citizens and political leadership. This is a job with many ‘bosses’!”

This article appears in the December 2014 issue of SpaceCoast Business.
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