Visitors to the region were drawn by outdoor recreation, preferred hotel accommodations to other types of lodging, and spent $93 for every occupancy tax dollar spent on marketing in 2013, according to the latest leisure travel information study.
For the eleventh year in a row, the Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism (ROOST) contracted an independent third party to conduct a Leisure Travel Information Study. For the last three years, ROOST engaged PlaceMaking to conduct the survey applying the same methodology as in the previous years when it was conducted by the Technical Assistance Center at SUNY Plattsburgh. Survey data from 2013 visitors show record visitation to Essex County from across the decade of this research.
ROOST is the accredited destination marketing organization (DMO) responsible for promoting to the traveling public Essex County, Hamilton County, Saranac Lake and Tupper Lake, New York.
In addition to providing valuable demographic data and trends, the study’s intent is to determine the effectiveness of ROOST’s marketing programs, to measure the return on investment (ROI) ratio for public marketing expenditures and the conversion rate factor, or the number of leads who actually visited the region.
The Leisure Travel Information Study is based on a survey of ROOST’s 2013 trackable leads database. “Leads” represent the contact information collected from individuals who have responded to ROOST’s destination marketing efforts. New leads are added on a constant basis; walk-in visitors, phone and mail inquiries and web signups provide a snapshot of the respondents to the 2013 overall marketing efforts. For the third year, survey responses from social networking participants in the DMO’s Facebook and Twitter networks were separated for individual consideration in the results.
Although lakeplacid.com alone received almost a million unique visitors in 2013, the survey takes only these trackable leads into consideration.
Here are some highlights from the results:
- The estimated number of leisure visitors to the region in 2013 based on contacts through ROOST and the conversion rate reported by survey respondents is nearly 442,000. This is a record high visitation level from across the ten years of data collected by this survey.
- According to the report, the average stay reported by 2013 visitors was 5.1 nights. This represents a slight increase from the 2012 average reported visit duration of 4.9 nights and the five year average of 4.1 nights.
- The average age of respondents was 53 years old; this is just slightly older than the five-year average (51).
- Over half (51 percent) of visitor respondents reported living in New York state. Visitation from the nearest region of the Albany area and north was up slightly. Visitation from Northeastern states, outside of New York state, was also up slightly to 26 percent, versus 23 percent in 2012.
- Outdoor activities remained, by a substantial margin, the largest draw to the area. Hiking was the most popular reported outdoor activity, followed by canoeing/kayaking, skiing/boarding and cycling. Outdoor activities were followed by relaxing, dining and shopping, and sightseeing.
Survey responses by those who participated through ROOST social media outlets (Facebook and Twitter) were separated for individual consideration, versus the remainder of the group. The pool of social media-garnered respondents is much smaller than “all other” respondents (241 vs. 2,702).
- Social media respondents had a mean age of 46, and were likely to report friends or family, a prior visit or social media as influencing their decision to visit in 2013.
- These respondents reported higher levels of attraction to outdoor activities, heritage and the Olympic Sites than “all other” respondents.
- Among those for whom outdoor activities were a draw, hiking, snowshoeing and canoeing/kayaking were reported with substantially higher frequency than among the other respondents.
- Social media respondents reported a slightly longer average duration of stay and a slightly larger number of children than other respondents. This group estimated a higher daily visitor spending in comparison to “all others” ($340 vs $323).
“This data underscores the correlation between our marketing strategies and the resulting economic impact to the region,” said James McKenna, president of ROOST. “Every dollar spent on marketing generated $3.72 in sales tax to Essex County. That means that in addition to $177,567,705 in direct visitor expenditures, we can also trace $7,102,708 in Essex County sales tax revenue, and double that amount in New York State sales tax collections directly to ROOST’s contact lists.”
The 2013 report, additional ROOST research and more is available for download at the online resource developed specifically for local tourism-related businesses at www.roostadk.com.