Landing the Perfect Job on the Perfect Beach

December 9, 2011 by Laurel Abbe

As winter sets in across the country, here's a warm look back at the perfect summer job for one lucky SoWal local, Laurel Abbe.

When I saw the SoWal Forum posting for “Brand Ambassadors – South Walton Tourist Development Council”, I read it as Beach Ambassadors and I applied right away.

The job description included phrases like “Representing South Walton …on-site at the beaches… interviewing families… taking photographs… distributing promotional materials”. Who could pass that up? It would be a pleasure. So I applied and happily, I got the job.

Working in pairs, official ambassadors Stella, Elizabeth, Shirley and I, covered 15 beach neighborhoods along the 26 miles of South Walton coastline, from Seascape on the very west side of the county to Inlet beach on the very east.  It was great fun. We talked to visitors about the “Find Your Perfect Beach” contest on Facebook, presented by “Visit South Walton”, the new brand the South Walton TDC unveiled over the summer.

I have to admit I am one of the locals who will miss the old umbrellas logo but I can testify that the new media campaign is working very well. While on ambassador duty, many visitors told me they kept hearing about South Walton back home. In places like Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana, and Tennessee folks are hearing more about South Walton than they ever had in the past and people are certainly responding to the message.

As I was leaving Blue Mountain Beach one day, one of the lifeguards said, “You guys are really doing your job. We’ve never had so many people here in September.” 

From what I heard around town, property managers were happy this year too; we broke records with “heads in beds” which makes buying rental property look really good again, which brings money into the local economy, which adds jobs, etc., etc. Those of us who live and work here get to enjoy another beautiful winter on the Northwest Florida coast.

Along with telling people about the contest and giving away beach swag, we asked visitors “what makes your perfect beach?” Silly question really. Most everyone answers “This one”.  Meaning whatever beach we find them at.

Yes, we meet a lot of newcomers to the area but we have many really loyal visitors that tend to come back to the same neighborhood over and over again. It’s really touching to hear their stories and makes me feel even better about living here.

Of course “clean beaches with white sand and clear water” are also at the top of the “perfect beach” list and visitors are also vocal about other things like: how family friendly we are compared to our neighbors in Panama City Beach and Destin (sorry neighbors); visitors are happy there are so few high rise buildings here; they love the bike path and pedestrian aspects along 30A; they like our good food and small town personality.

As a Florida native and having lived all over the state, I know that we get to live here because of beach tourism and that the beach is our brand. So call it Brand Ambassador or Beach Ambassador, in mid- October when my job is done and the contest is over, as long as I live here I’m a part of the TDC.

Find SoWal Insider Laurel Abbe at


Laurel Abbe's picture

Laurel is a joyful, driven, curious, grateful, enthusiastic, interested, always-searching, self-appointed beach ambassador.

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