The Spartanburg Convention and Visitors Bureau invested approximately $158,000 in paid advertising to market travel and tourism in Spartanburg County.
According to a recent report, for every dollar spent in marketing, there was $110 in incremental travel revenue for the county in 2016.
“This confirms and substantiates that it is a wise investment of tax dollars to promote tourism because it is bringing tourists here and they come here and spend money,” said Chris Jennings, executive vice president of the Spartanburg Convention and Visitors Bureau.
In the 2016 Marketing & Media Effectiveness Study – prepared by Missouri-based H2R Market Research – visitors to Spartanburg spend an average of $531. That spending generated $17.4 million in incremental travel spending in the county.
The report found 75% of those surveyed came to Spartanburg “to have fun” while 69% said they came to the area out of “desire for something new” and 66% said they looked for an “opportunity to find a unique destination.”
“When you see things like people wanting to have fun or try the food, that is really encouraging,” Jennings said. “It is a great time to be in the community and we should ride this as far as we can.”
Other data from the survey included:
- 37% of those surveyed saw or heard an advertisement for Spartanburg;
- 82% said the ads made Spartanburg more appealing as a destination;
- The marketing reached 4.3 million travel households;
- The marketing campaign netted 32,800 incremental trips.
The marketing efforts included a mix of television, digital and magazine advertising. Jennings said, by statute, the marketing has to be done at least 50 miles away from Spartanburg or across state lines. He said it was the first time the CVB did television advertising.
“Most of our advertising in the past year was television in three markets, Chattanooga, Knoxville and Winston-Salem,” Jennings said. “We did digital and print magazine. It was a great way to get our message across, especially in print.”
A big win for the Spartanburg tourism industry this year was the Carolina Panthers training camp.
Coming off an appearance in the Super Bowl in February, the Panthers continued to hold camp on the campus of Wofford College. In a report prepared by Clemson University senior lecturer Bob Brookover, 135,371 people came to Spartanburg to watch the Panthers’ camp. That is up from the 77,625 who came in 2015 and the 49,029 from 2014.
In that report, it was noted that local government – both city and county – earned more than $700,000 in economic activity generated by the camp which was well over the $400,000 earned from 2015. State government picked up $2.3 million in economic impact due to the camp this year. Additionally, that report said the camp supported 263 jobs this year compared to 174 jobs in 2015.
The total impact of the Panthers’ camp for merchants in 2016 was estimated at just over $13 million – up from the $8 million in 2015. That left businesses in Spartanburg feeling good tourism in the area.
“Business-wise, it has been really good,” said Craig Kinley, owner of Growler Haus, a craft beer retailer with locations in Spartanburg, Fountain Inn and Anderson, in an earlier interview with GSA Business Report. “We see an increase of tourists and local fans and they really seem to spend more time and money in the downtown Spartanburg area.”
Overall, the tourism industry has continued to grow over the last few years and that has resonated with the local economy.
“Tourism dollars are an economic driver for Spartanburg County,” said Allen Smith, president of the Spartanburg Area Chamber of Commerce, in a news release. “We are excited to be learning more about why people are choosing Spartanburg.”
Moving ahead, Jennings said the results of the study show that Spartanburg can take incremental steps and look at other markets, like Atlanta, for future marketing efforts.
“That’s an overnight market so those folks will stay here a little longer,” Jennings said.
The study included 1,203 respondents interviewed from 51-300 miles away from Spartanburg and has a margin of error of +/- 2.8% and a 95% confidence interval. The research was conducted in August 2016 and included the marketing communications campaign from FY 2016.