MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Reeling in visitors to vacation in the Grand Strand is a full-time job for the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce. The groups marketing team says it's putting most of it marketing dollars into online tools.
According to Brad Dean, President and CEO of the chamber, the group spends nearly 60 percent of its budget on advertising and marketing online. A big chunk of it is used on the popular online search engine Google.
When people are searching for key words on Google like "affordable vacations" or "family vacations", the chamber wants Myrtle Beach to show up among the top on the list. Once they get onto the Visit Myrtle Beach website, it shows them all the Grand Strand has to offer. The chamber highlights local hotels, restaurants, attractions and businesses.
The chamber says its aggressive online marketing it really seems to be working. The latest tourism numbers show that in 2012, 38 percent of the visitors that came to Myrtle Beach were first time visitors. That's nearly one in every four visitors, and could potentially lead to more repeat visitors.
Many of the folks who vacation in the Grand Strand say the Internet is where they planned and booked their trip. "We use the Internet for everything now," explained the first time Myrtle Beach visitor Tess Strang. "Use it to buy hotels, (find) cheaper rates, to find things that they need to do. Finding the little things they can do, not just finding the big tourist things that are easy. So I can see for a lot of people its really beneficial to get the niche out there."
The Chamber says because of online technology and other tools, they're able to track where visitors are coming from. They use this information for future marketing efforts.