The Beaufort Regional Chamber of Commerce wants a more targeted marketing plan for 2013 to attract tourists and entice them to stay.
"Some people throw marketing placement, advertising placement on the wall and see what sticks," tourism division director Robb Wells said. Instead, the chamber wants to "focus on the markets that generate the best return on investment."
The chamber is touting the importance of statistics and data as it prepares its annual marketing and advertising campaign. That includes analyzing where visitors come from and what attracts them, Wells said.
The chamber has been working with The Brandon Agency marketing company to compile data, which it will share with businesses and nonprofit groups in the area, Wells said.
The chamber is using two sets of data to determine which cities and regions to focus on. The first tracks who is inquiring about the Beaufort area. The second tracks who actually visits.
Greenville tops both lists, followed by Charleston, Columbia and Charlotte regions. The Charlotte-to-Atlanta corridor is Beaufort's "bread and butter" when it comes to tourists, Wells said.
Wells considers areas such as Knoxville, Tenn., Atlanta and even Pittsburgh "emerging markets." Knoxville is in the top 10 for both inquiries and visitors, while Atlanta and Pittsburgh are in the top 10 for inquiries. They also have large populations of the type of tourists the chamber wants to target -- empty nesters 45 and older who earn $70,000 or more a year.
"These people have the money to travel and spend, and they're not looking for discount travel rates," he said.
Advertising will be targeted to publications and social media in those communities. Wells pointed to a photograph in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution promoting the Penn Center Heritage Days Celebration and a travel story in Charlotte Magazine as examples of how to reach potential visitors in their hometowns.
The next step, Wells said, is to encourage tourists to stay longer. One goal is to have them view Beaufort as a "hub" where they can stay and visit areas such as Charleston and Savannah.
The biggest challenge, Wells said, is encouraging businesses and organizations to develop more activities to attract tourists and keep them occupied. The chamber is preparing to release another study, also with The Brandon Agency, that profiles visitors to South Carolina and what they are looking for.
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