At its annual campaign unveiling, the theme for the Fiscal
Year 2013-2014 marketing plan for the Wilmington and Beaches Convention and
Visitors Bureau is relevancy.
One of the ways the county tourism development authority
plans to stay relevant this year is by utilizing the data and responses
generated form the organization’s first visitor profile study since 2005.
Conducted by The Brandon Agency, Sparks Research and
students from the University of North Carolina Wilmington’s Recreation, Sports
Leadership and Tourism Management program, the visitor study consisted of
surveying visitors in locations around New Hanover County during the spring and
summer of 2013.
George Durant, director of strategic marketing for The
Brandon Agency, said the survey results showed that a majority of tourists were
either first time visitors to the area or had traveled to New Hanover County
more than five times for vacation. In addition Durant said it appeared that
first time visitors were more likely to stay in a hotel and take in more
activities while repeat visitors tend to stay with friends or family members
and travel to the county for a specific activity or attraction.
As far as the average visitor characteristics the two most
popular activities were eating out and visiting one of the county’s beaches
with 64 percent of visitors coming from North Carolina. The report states that
the Triangle and Charlotte continued to be the area most in-state visitors
travelled from but Durant said the Triad area of Greensboro, Winston-Salem and
High Point was gaining some of that share.
Common comments Durant said the surveyors received about the
county included: clean beaches, bad drivers, need more bike lanes, parking
issues, enjoyed the variety, frequently visit the area, east to book a room and
great for the whole family.
Of the visitors surveyed 73 percent stayed overnight, and
both Durant and Wilmington and Beaches CVB vice president of marketing Shawn
Braden said more visitors were favoring shorter, spontaneous trips.
While Braden said she would like to see visitors staying
longer the CVB plans to market shorter, easier getaways in the new advertising
campaign for the fall. Braden also said the CVB would push to lure first time
visitors with education about the county’s assets and keep repeat visitors
coming back by addressing what is new and showcasing lesser known attractions. Tying
into the theme of convenience, the drafts of the new ads include phrases using
the major roadways that lead to New Hanover County like I-74 and I-40.
For the specific county beaches, Braden said the CVB would
continue to market Carolina Beach as an original beach experience, Kure Beach
as a small town beach environment and Wrightsville Beach as an easy island
getaway for those inclined to an active lifestyle.
The total operating budget for the CVB is $3,931,394 for FY
2013-2014, with $2.1 million budgeted for marketing and promotions, $330,019
for administration costs, $126,695 for visitor inquiry responses, $300,634 for
convention center marketing and $1,027,808 for events and activities at the
three beaches. The entirety of the CVB budget is generated through the 6
percent countywide Room Occupancy Tax, which is levied on each hotel, motel or
rental room booked.