MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – The tourism and marketing models are evolving for the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce.
To highlight the update, the organization, along with Visit Myrtle Beach, held a summit so MBACC investors could learn from area partners and experts.
The goal is to reach 20 million visitors by the year 2020. According to information from the MBACC, the city of Myrtle Beach saw 18.6 million visitors in 2017.
"Visit Myrtle Beach is already seeping out across the country and even globally," said Scott Schult, executive vice president of marketing for the MBACC and Convention and Visitors Bureau.
The question is how to keep that interest and reach first-time visitors.
"As the chamber and the umbrella marketer (of) the destination, our job is to help lead," Schult said.
The crowd of business leaders heard from Julia Dimon first, who is an innovative influencer marketer and millennial mom. Then, a social media panel discussion was held with local businesses such as Ripley's Aquairum Myrtle Beach, Condo World, Vacation Myrtle Beach and Visit Myrtle Beach.
The panel gave insight on how to reach and engage their audience through Facebook and other social media platforms.
"There's a common theme and that's about being connected. Travelers want to be connected and marketers are now connected," said Google senior account executive Colleen Fitzgerald.
According to Fitzgerald, 60 percent of people who watch video content use it to narrow down their destination choice, or be inspired on where to go. She discussed connecting with every device in order to ultimately bring people to Myrtle Beach.
"We know there are always loyalists who are always going to come back and visit summer over summer and month over month, which is great, but what is really important and what we're focusing on this particular year is getting people excited and generating unique content to Myrtle Beach and pushing that to them to generate awareness," said Fitzgerald.
In 2017, all of the searches for "Visit Myrtle Beach" were conducted on a mobile device, Fitzgerald told the audience.
"Knowing that today's traveler is connected digitally across all different channels all day every day, people want and need information immediately and when it comes to the idea of traveling and getting people inspired and excited to visit Myrtle Beach, thinking about how we can connect with them in all of these tiny moments digitally throughout the day is super impactful and important," she said
In the last eight years, the Tourism Development Fee has increased business and tourism by 50 percent, according to former Myrtle Beach mayor John Rhodes. Air service is key to that success
"Without the increase investment, we would not see the growth in airlines and air service," Schult said. "We have three new air carriers, 11 new markets. We are really shaping up to have an amazing 2018."
Fitzgerald is working with the MBACC on a continuing basis to help expand tourism numbers. Visit Myrtle Beach is planning its next tourism marketing summit for late fall 2018.