Tampa Bay, Florida is filled with thousands of Bollywood fans who have travelled from all over the world to get a glimpse of some of their favorite stars. The 15th Annual International Indian Film Academy weekend and awards kicked off their program with their IIFA Airport Welcome, where the 9th floor parking garage of Tampa International Airport has been transformed to a green carpet area where actors are escorted to as soon as they arrive so that fans can meet, greet, and some are even lucky to take selfies with their favorite stars.
Fans are updated with flight arrival times through the @IIFA, @VisitTampaBay, and @FlyTPA social media channels. Social media is playing a huge role in this years award ceremonies. It has allowed fans to be constantly in the loop with everything that is going on from celebrity arrivals to upcoming events. It has also allowed those who physically couldn't make the event, still feel like they are apart of it. Wizcraft Entertainment, the producers of the event have seen a tremendous growth from 16,000 followers on twitter last year to now having over 96,000 followers. Last year, their hashtag #IIFA, also trended 4 days straight, and they're expecting it to be trending this year, as well. Their Facebook fans have also grown from starting with 45,000 fans to now reaching over 1.3 million fans. Not only is IIFA using Twitter and Facebook, they are using Instagram, Youtube, and have even created a Vine.
Besides the IIFA pre coverage, on the actual red carpet IIFA will be having interactive ways for the celebrities to actually connect on Twitter and Vine. They have a Twitter mirror which is placed on the green carpet, green rooms, and backstage so that fans can see celebrity candids! What's also new this year for IIFA, just like the American Music Awards (AMAs), IIFA will have a Twitter Vine where the camera will circle around the celebrities to capture a six-second video to see who's wearing what. That's not all, IIFA will also have an Instagram booth where the stars will be encouraged to take selfies on the instagram handle @IIFAAwards.
Tampa Bay, the host city for the IIFA Awards is also buzzing online with IIFA in town. The hashtag #IIFATampaBay has gotten over one million impressions. Kat Lewis, the online manager for @VisitTampaBay, says "IIFA has really helped put Tampa on the map internationally, especially in the India audience, Bollywood has also been put in the hearts of the Tampa locals when they see the stars at their favorite destinations, they are wanting to know more." And it's true, thousands of Tampa locals came out to the free IIFA Stomp event held at Curtis Waterside Park.
IIFA is in full swing in Tampa Bay, and Hollywood stars Kevin Spacey, and John Travolta will also be making an appearance in the festivities. President and CEO of Visit Tampa Bay, Santiago Corrado says "Because of the following IIFA has around the world, we have become a big tourist attraction by hosting IIFA. We have 20,000 to 30,000 people going to the stadium on Saturday. We are also looking at 15,000 rooms booked a night and tourism of 35%. And the media impressions we have gotten until now has been incredible, and the actual event hasn't even happened yet!"
IIFA is definitely buzzing online and off in Tampa Bay. For more information and how you can join in head to www.iifa.com and www.visittampabay.com