Myrtle Beach shifts marketing focus to smartphones

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Fewer tourists in town during the off season, gives Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce and Convention and Visitors Bureau a chance to focus on marketing strategies for 2014.

The Chamber and CVB held a fall marketing update Tuesday, and revealed that digital outlets are going to be a main focus for attracting new faces to Myrtle Beach.

Research shows 43 percent of vacationers use mobile devices when planning their trips.

Myrtle Beach ranks number seven in desktop searches but falls to 15 on cell phone searches, so the Chamber of Commerce is seeking more ways to reach mobile viewers.

Area restaurants say after attending the Myrtle Beach fall marketing meeting, they see the strength of a smart phone. "This confirmed that for us today that people are going more to apps and handheld's for their promotions, and that's definitely where we'll go with it," says Sticky Fingers Smokehouse Marketing Manager Terri Prymak.

Neil Mortine, president and CEO of Fahlgren Mortine PR agency spoke at the event, as well as Steven Paganelli, with, to engage conversation about research and trends.

They announced that one in three searches was mobile and by the end of next year, an anticipated 50 percent of searches are expected to be mobile.

"Mobile is just making a huge difference," says Paganelli. "I was looking at some data related to Myrtle Beach and how consumers were getting their information on Trip Advisor about Myrtle Beach and saw a very steady increase in mobile devices, tablets, smart phones, so that's going to be an increasing way to communicate with travelers when they're in market."

Data revealed that mobile searches reach more vacationers than desktop searches do, in states beyond the Carolinas, which is why the Chamber is putting 60 percent of it's media marketing money towards digital platforms.

"Seeing more of a convergence between mobile, social and video, and we're going to utilize those channels to better sell and communicate the destination experiences to very targeted audiences," says Scott Shult, CVB Executive Vice President of Marketing.

The chamber goal is to get 1.5 million first time vacationers to our area in 2014. Studies say there were 1.4 newcomers in 2012, the numbers have not yet been released for the current year.

When asked if Myrtle Beach resorts and restaurants can accommodate growing numbers, Schult said, without a doubt.

"There's plenty of experiences here and our job is to get first time visitors here so they come back time and time again to help fill in all the seasons that we have here."

Trip advisor representatives say Myrtle Beach is on the right track for an upward trend in tourism as,

"Part of the top one percent of destinations that were recognized with a travelers choice award this year and in the US they were 21st which is really stellar actually, there are thousands of destinations in the US."

The Grand Strand drew in about 15 million visitors this year.

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