Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Survey: 47% of U.S. knows about Sun Valley

Marketing Alliance tries to increase awareness among younger demographic


By REBECCA MEANY
Express Staff Writer

Sun Valley Marketing Alliance staff were heartened when they saw statistics showing overall awareness of Sun Valley at 47 percent in a recent nationwide survey. That number was even higher for the 55-and-over age group, at 74 percent. Among people making more than $150,000 a year, 65 percent knew about Sun Valley.

The statistics also showed, however, that awareness in the coveted under-35 age group was a low 23 percent.

"That's the most telling one and the one we have the most work to do [on]," said alliance President Arlene Schieven.

Schieven presented survey results, initiatives and other information as part of a quarterly report to a joint meeting of the Ketchum and Sun Valley city councils Monday.

Ketchum Councilman Curtis Kemp called the low awareness among youth "pretty disheartening."

Those who do know of Sun Valley have a good impression of it, Schieven said.

"Only 1 percent of the comments were negative," she said.

Among common perceptions of Sun Valley, according to the survey, were skiing, cited by 37 percent of respondents, potatoes, by 21 percent, and sun, by 12 percent.

Questions in the Harris Poll QuickQuery survey included: Have you heard of Sun Valley, Idaho? What comes to mind when you hear Sun Valley, Idaho? Have you ever been to Sun Valley, Idaho?

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Other questions gathered demographic information, including region of the U.S., age, income, household composition, employment status and education, which also could be used to sort results.

The alliance is trying to tap into the younger set through social media. Outreach efforts have resulted in Sun Valley's Facebook fans tripling since winter 2010-11, according to internal data. Twitter followers have more than doubled in that time.

The area's marketers also are paying attention to the number of people accessing area information via mobile devices, including iPads. The previous winter, only 6 percent did so. This winter, that number jumped to 23 percent.

Last year, the organization revamped its web presence, in part to be more mobile-device friendly.

Alliance staff also are working on this summer's Ride Sun Valley Bike Festival, creating a stronger sense of place for the visitor center within the building shared by Starbucks and preparing to launch a "live chat" online feature on the website.

Sun Valley Councilman Nils Ribi urged the alliance to have more information online about the bike festival so visitors can plan their trips around it. The second annual festival is June 29-July 8.

"This is really a critical event for us," he said.

The alliance is supported by the two cities, but there is no established method directing funds to the group. Last year, Ketchum boosted its planned contribution because Sun Valley did not give the full amount the alliance sought.

New this year will be pre-budget planning discussions about funding to avoid the "political hot potato" that created tension last year, said board President Jake Peters.

Representatives from the cities will discuss creating an "equitable percentage formula for both cities," said Sun Valley Mayor Dewayne Briscoe.

Eric Seder, president of Fly Sun Valley Alliance, asked for a seat at the table to represent and advocate for commercial air access, which he said provides "astoundingly large" value to the local economy.

Rebecca Meany: rmeany@mtexpress.com

Skiing, potatoes— claims to fame remain the same

Among common perceptions of Sun Valley, according to a recent nationwide survey, were skiing, cited by 37 percent of respondents, potatoes, by 21 percent, and sun, by 12 percent.




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