Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Marketing Alliance releases new visitor volume estimation model

Formula seeks to better track visitors to Sun Valley


By ERIC AVISSAR
Express Staff Writer


Travelers disembark a regional jet flight last month from San Francisco to Friedman Memorial Airport in Hailey.
Express photo by Roland Lane

    The Sun Valley Marketing Alliance has released a new visitor volume estimation model designed to more accurately track the number of tourists coming into the Wood River Valley throughout the year.
    “The work we put into designing this model was a very complex and detailed process,” Marketing Alliance President Arlene Schieven said. “Initially, we had to manually input our data, but now the whole process is automated.”
    Schieven said there are many partners and entities involved in the maintenance of the model, including Friedman Memorial Airport, Sun Valley Resort, Fly Sun Valley Alliance, and all accommodation properties in Ketchum, Sun Valley and Hailey, plus figures from  private jet flights.
    “The most accurate information we receive is from the number of room nights sold,” Schieven said. “They provide the most accurate indication of the month-to-month change.”
    From Nov. 1, 2012, through Oct. 31, 2013, the organization’s prior model estimated that approximately 308,400 visitors came to the valley. Now, the new model will help create a figure for comparison.
    In August, the Marketing Alliance began looking at how it could combine different sources of information into a more accurate volume estimation model, including the number of enplanements, bookings at Sun Valley Resort and property data, as well as looking at information from past years.
    During the Jan. 9 Sun Valley City Council meeting, Schieven first shared the Marketing Alliance’s plans of releasing the new model.
    “People often ask how many visitors we get to Sun Valley, and nobody really has an answer for that,” Schieven said during the meeting. “This is quite a large undertaking, with a wide variety of sources you have to pull from. We are dependent on cooperation from other people, from the airport survey to surveys done on the Sun Valley Resort and all of its room inventory information we get from all the properties.”
    Schieven said that certain pieces of data will be entered into the model on a monthly basis, including hotel visits and enplanement figures. There will also be components that will be updated on a seasonal basis, such as survey data and the types of seasonal accommodations that are made.  
    Over time, Schieven hopes the model will continue to grow in terms of sources of information it pulls from, creating more accurate figures.
    “As we improve the accuracy in the types of information we get, we will have that much more confidence in our estimates because it’s just that—an estimate,” she said. “This is a really important thing we’re doing. It’ll help us track our targets, identify changes and know where they’re occurring.”
    Schieven said the model will be managed through a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet, and is considering giving presentations specifically on how the model works.
Eric Avissar: eavissar@mtexpress.com




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