Thursday, March 27, 2014

Florida Tourism ranks high with MRA chapter members.

The trend is up with Florida Tourism. The state run destination marketing organization, Visit Florida recorded 2012 a record year, with 91.5 million visitors. And this past year 2013, even looks better with the state’s 500th anniversary. Vicki Allen of Visit Florida said,“For the first three quarters of 2013 Florida received 72.6 million visitors, up 3.4%  from the same time period the year (2012) before.” Not surprising therefore, that the Florida chapter of the Market Research Association would have many members involved in the tourist and travel industry.

Market Research plays a critical role in the tourism development process and has produced interesting insights that have become game changers. Recent results of a published study revealed that St. Augustine is more of couples vacation spot than what was previously thought, a vacation spot for families(SETS). “Research has raised the veil of old fashioned inertia and pointed us to even more productive sources of visitors to Florida’s Historic Coast”, said Richard Goldman, executive director of St. Augustine, Ponte Vedra & The Beaches Visitors and Convention Bureau.

Research indicates geographical demographics where many visitors originate from and what motivated them to visit. Destination marketing organizations and CVB (Convention Visitors Bureaus) make use of this data to know where to place advertising dollars. Chapter member Gustav Weibull, a research manager with Discover Palm Beach County was interviewed and reported in the Palm Beach newspaper as stating that of the 4.47 million visitor that came to Palm Beach County in 2012, 402,000 were international and approximately 1 million were New Yorkers which made up the largest visitor demographic for their area (Roach).
Chapters member Rob Iles, with Study Hall Research of Tampa, works a different tourist sector -the cruise ship industry. Rob said, “Cruise lines are among some of the most research-oriented clients we have seen, and worked with. He said that there is a tremendous range of research methodologies with the cruise industry because they have a broad range of research needs.
Other tourism sectors which include a high involvement from chapter members are theme parks, auto rentals, real estate development, airlines and even casinos. There is little doubt that our state no 1 industry – tourism, will continue to benefit from quantitative and qualitative market research services.

Roach, Emily. The Palm Beach Post- "New Yorkers swell ranks of Palm Beach County visitors"  13 Aug 2013
(SETS) "The Power of Research" Southeast Tourism Society. AJR Media Group Summer 2013 Web. 2 Jan 2014

Published previously in the February Issue of the Florida Chapter of the Market Research Association.

Ray Osborne
Author and Industry Correspondent
Cape Canaveral Florida