MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - In one way or another, tourism affects everyone who lives in the Grand Strand region.
On Thursday, the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce unveiled a new technology planned to help learn about the visitors who keep the economy going.
To sum it up, the chamber is collecting data straight from cellphones, laptops and tablets of tourists who come to Myrtle Beach. They'll use that to figure out what kind of marketing is reaching visitors.
It's a technology called Arrivalist.
Myrtle Beach opened up the partnership with the technology company to start tracking in mid-March. It tracks VisitMyrtleBeach.com and its associated pages. It can tell when someone clicks a banner or ad, like one on Facebook, or visits the page. If it's done through a mobile device and that person ends up in Myrtle Beach, they get pinged.
The technology shows the city or town they live in, when and how they visited the site, and then when they ended up on the Grand Strand. It also shows whether they stumbled on the site by way of a marketing - like the Facebook ads.
It's a brand new means of learning about the tourist base. But is it an invasion of privacy?
"We have absolutely no idea who these people are," explained Cree Lawson, the Founder and CEO of Arrivalist. "All we know is that their computing device, which is recorded to an anonymous ID, was recorded hundreds of miles away and showed up within the market. Our technology is based on cookies because everybody knows cookies. Everybody who is focused on privacy knows how to turn them off."
So, the whole point is to get more people coming and spending their vacation money in Myrtle Beach's businesses.
How will that happen?
They'll learn what is getting people interests, and hone in on cities and towns people are coming from, and focus on marketing that is proving to work.
The entire program is to be used to not only learn where to market, but it's intended to be used to boost tourism in the off-season. If leaders can see where people are visiting from September through May, they can put out more ads to that region and grow shoulder season tourism.