For the week of June 9, 1999  thru June 15, 1999  

Chamber finds out where visitors come from

Express Staff Writer

A winter air travel study sponsored by the Ketchum/Sun Valley Chamber of Commerce offers a glimpse of who uses Friedman Memorial Airport and what their travel patterns are.

The survey, conducted in March, indicates that over two-thirds—68 percent—of travelers passing through Friedman are visitors and that they are, on the whole, pleased with the overall airline travel experience.

However, respondents gave poor ratings to the availability and cost of service.

"One of the things we are challenged by is the difficulty of transportation to Sun Valley," said Carol Waller, Ketchum/Sun Valley Chamber of Commerce executive director. "We want to make it a priority to increase the options for people to get here."

Visitors stayed in the Wood River Valley, on average, for 6.2 nights.

A little over a third of those visitors paid for accommodations, while 22 percent used a promotion, and almost half stayed with family or friends.

The chamber is paying particular attention to survey data indicating that half of the visitors stay with family or friends.

"They have an automatic reason for coming here," Waller said. "We want to figure out how to talk to the visitors without that connection and get them to come and spend money here. It’s a marketing challenge."

One strategy, Waller said, will be an expanded reservation service that the chamber will launch this September. A vacation package—including reservations for lodging, transportation and ski passes—will be available through the service.

In addition, the chamber will be investigating ways of making ground transportation easier between the Wood River Valley and Boise.

The Sun Valley Express shuttle service, which transports passengers from the Boise airport to the valley, is an example of that connection, Waller said.

The survey revealed that part-time and full-time residents are the least satisfied with the overall airline travel experience, frequency of flights, availability of airline companies and cost of airline service.

As frequency of use at Friedman increases, satisfaction decreases.

The states that generated the most visitors were Washington, California and New York, followed by New Jersey, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Georgia and Florida.

The survey will soon be conducted year-round to provide a similar snapshot of summer travelers, Waller said.


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