Wednesday, January 15, 2014

A plan to better track valley visitors

Sun Valley Marketing Alliance says its efforts are paying off

Express Staff Writer

The Sun Valley Marketing Alliance plans to create a new visitor volume estimation model that will keep better track of how many people are visiting the area at a given time.
According to Marketing Alliance President Arlene Schieven, the model will involve a mix of multiple sources to come up with a more firm estimate of visitors.
“People often ask how many visitors we get to Sun Valley, and nobody really has an answer for that,” Schieven said. “This is quite a large undertaking, with a wide variety of sources you have to pull from. We are dependent on cooperation from other people, from the airport survey to surveys done on the Sun Valley Resort and all of its room inventory informations we get from all the properties.”
Schieven said the model should be available sometime this week. She plans to hold a public meeting to explain how the system works.
The news came during a recap of the previous year given to the Sun Valley City Council on Thursday, Jan. 9. In the presentation, Schieven said the website has generated sharp increases in booking revenues compared to last year. Through the period of October to December 2013, the website’s bookings had increased 244 percent compared to 2012. Bookings were also up 180 percent in October, 73 percent in November and a whopping 382 percent in December, largely because of one booking that was worth about $75,000.
In addition to the site’s success for booking visits, Schieven also emphasized the importance of the website to generate interest in attracting new visitors.

People often ask how many visitors we get to Sun Valley, and nobody really has an answer for that.”
Arlene Schieven
SVMA president

“Everything we do, we try to drive back to our website, so those site visits are a very important indicator,” Schieven said. “We did see some soft numbers in October and November but we were able to recover in December with a 62 percent increase, which brought our year to date up by 21 percent. We really make sure we use our social-media efforts to link back to our website, where they can explore more about the destination and all of the local businesses.”
As a result of the organization’s decreased funding, the Marketing Alliance was forced to cut its advertising campaign in Boise. However, Boise remained the No. 1 market for website visits. Schieven said that visits from San Francisco have seen a huge increase since it became a direct air-service market, and is now the source of the second most website visits.
Schieven also told the council that the Marketing Alliance has been very active in trying to attract potential new members to join.
“A key initiative is to speak to as many people as we can to increase the amount of business support we have and grow the number of members,” she said. “Last year, we had 304 members, the year before, we had 242. Our goal this year is 350, so we have set some pretty aggressive targets.”  
Eric Avissar:

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