Yesterday, Lee Klein called Miami Spice annoying. Today, we're giving the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau an opportunity to respond. I asked Rolando Aedo, Senior VP of marketing and tourism what makes Miami Spice special if it happens every season. I also asked him whether prices are going to drop to meet the economy halfway, and whether the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau has a monopoly on whatever it is they do. Rolando is a concise, well spoken, public relations spin machine. Here's what he had to say.

Miami Spice Explains Itself

RA: This is our 8th year and the program has been very successful. This year was the first time we officially offered a Winter Miami Spice. Restaurants were doing it unofficially anyway. It's needed now more than ever by the community and the restaurants. We wanted to be better able to manage the brand and we figured we'd rather take the lead in establishing some general parameters and an annual strategy. The original Miami Spice was developed for the summer. Now, every season has a version of Miami spice. The key is going to be to always deliver value to the customers.

We're keeping the same pricing. After spring, we'll get together a committee including restaurants to determine a strategy for the future. During these challenging times people are looking for value, so there wont be a price increase.

NT: Thanks for not raising prices, but what about lowering them?

RA: Everything needs to be considered, costs are actually going down because of the recession. I'm talking about the cost for everything in general. If you look at the CPI over the last 6 months it actually has gone down because people are buying less in general, so what happens is costs have gone down because businesses are dropping prices in order to create a demand. When we start planning our next round we'll take that into consideration.

NT: How do the participating restaurants get determined?

RA: We're constantly looking, the restaurant business is always changing, some come in, some go out, we work with hotel concierges and restaurant PR's. We also work with existing restaurants. That allows us to create a network of experts. We also have dedicated staff writing emails, making phone calls and faxes. We also use trusted sources like Frommers.

NT: Who is the actual entity in charge of Miami Spice?

RA: The Greater Miami Convention And Visitors bureau, the official marketing and sales agency for Miami Dade County.

The primary reason for doing Miami Spice is to give tourists another great reason to visit our destination. It just happens that the local community has embraced us as well. Miami Spa Month is another program of ours.

We're a private not for profit company, we have a contract with Dade County and the City of Miami Beach.

NT: Does that mean you have a monopoly over, umm, whatever it is you do?

RA: Back in 1985 the county had its own tourism office. Then we were established and got the contract. That's the typical model for most major metropolitan areas, as far as I know, there might be instances where it's different, but as far as I know that's the model.

Check out http://www.ilovemiamispice.com/ for more info.

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