Emerald Coast By Owner’s new Destin-specific website rolled out this week and has big plans for the future.

DESTIN – The lead-up to this week’s unveiling of DestinFlorida.com started in January, when Emerald Coast By Owner Managing Partner Joe Godar announced his group had purchased the domain name’s rights.

The lead-up to what happened in January was much more time-intensive for the leader of the vacation-rental site that has experienced rapid growth in the Emerald Coast market over the last few years.

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That growth has been spurred on by – no surprise here – the easy-to-access, glossed-up website at ecbyo.com.

"I think it was about five years ago that I started first talking with the owner about (buying the domain) from him," said Godar, a Cincinnati native who purchased his first Destin vacation rental in 1999. "But it was just in the last year that his business took him in a different direction and we were able to complete the deal."

The acquisition didn’t just include the one website. In a truly new-age multimedia acquisition, ECBYO also obtained the rights to approximately 20 different, Destin-specific domain names and all of their accompanying social media accounts, which were previously owned by Anthony Morrison.

That includes destinfloridavacations.com, destingolf.com, destinfloridas.com and destinfloridahomes.com

"We have so many high expectations and the response (to the site) has been outstanding," Godar said. "We actually went to work on this project last fall with the idea in the redesign being we were going to create something the area needed. We wanted something that could promote every business and every vacation rental in our market.

"We wanted it be the equivalent of AirBnB, but specifically for the Destin market."

While the website launch’s work was very specific and time-consuming, the social media accounts were an easy launching pad to begin promotion and syncing up with other, already-existing properties.

One unique quality for DestinFlorida.com that a user might not find on AirBnb is its integration with more than just rentals.

Wednesday morning, a quick look at the site gave click-down options of Stay, Play, Shop, Dine and Hire, and a quick scroll-down listed community events for the rest of the week and weekend, including a local comedy show, a relaxation retreat and Saturday’s Blues Brews & BBQ.

According to ECBYO, there are 580,000 searches online every month for "Destin Florida" specifically, and out of 400,000 subscribers on ECBYO’s website, 300,000 of those subscribers have previously requested vacation information from DestinFlorida.com.

"There’s a couple of different levels to (the site), and it’s all being fed into the entire area," Godar said. "That means it will have listings and events for Fort Walton Beach, Destin, Sandestin and 30A, which we consider our area. We’ve started off with 1,800 local businesses before we launched that we identify, including golf courses, restaurants and fishing charters. Once those businesses come in and identify themselves they can gain control of their profile and promote their specials.

"That integrates to both their social media and our social media and lets the guests connect with them through hashtags or just clicking on what they like. It can really be for all things."