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New Research Reveals Official Visitor Guides Valuable, also deliver High Value Visitors

Author: Guest John Hudak
Posted: March 25, 2014
Blog Topics Covered:

John HudakYes, it’s true that nearly 70% of all travelers do not even use an “official” visitor guide from a DMO, but the ones who do use them are money in the bank for destinations.

Two new major studies on the role and effectiveness of Official Visitor Guides have just been released, and the findings are enlightening and insightful.  One study, conducted by Temple University Laboratory for Tourism and eCommerce, includes 5 State and 5 City DMO’s from various parts of the United States, and the other commissioned by the Western Association of CVB’s and conducted by Destination Analysts samples 11 CVB’s in the Western US. Both studies included varying budget size DMO’s from large to small. Only one DMO participated in both studies.  Madden Media helped underwrite the cost of both studies.

Did reading the guide influence the following aspects of your trip?One finding consistent in both studies was that the OVG’s increased the number of attractions and events people consumed during their trips.  The WACVB study actually calculated that the OVG’s helped cause visitors to increase their length of stay by an average of 1.9 days. 

The extra lodging and daily spend put OVG readers in the “high value” category. The WACVB study showed the mean household income of readers to be $93,030, and the mean age to be 53.3 years.  Both studies confirmed that the OVG reader tends to be Baby Boomers and older, but Millennials still comprised 20% of the total.

The Temple University study showed that more than 50% of people requested their visitor guide more than 5 weeks prior to travel, and while both studies revealed that more than 70% of the readers had already planned to visit prior to ordering, the WACVB study showed that of the ones who were “undecided” prior to ordering the OVG, about 83% were influenced to choose the destination after reviewing the OVG. More than 50% of respondents used the OVG’s prior to arrival, and nearly 40% used the OVG’s prior to and during their visits.

Did reading the guide influence or change the following aspects of your trip?Another key finding was the amount of time spent reading the OVG’s.  Forty five percent spent more than 45 minutes reading the guides, and another 53% spent between 15 and 45 minutes.

This statistic is enlightening when you consider the average DMO website session is in the 3 to 5 minute range, and the average amount of clicks within a DMO website are 3 to 5 as well. Clearly, the quality of time spent with OVG’s helps convince consumers to visit more attractions, attend more events, stay longer, and spend more money. 

Unlike DMO websites, most visitor guides are still supported 100% by the cost of advertising, although the amount of advertising dollars spent in OVG’s is generally decreasing.  Eighty five percent of readers appreciated the advertising as “content” enhancing the guides, while only 15% wanted to see less advertising.

As consumers continue to evolve and use alternate sources of travel planning and travel inspiration tools, it is clear from these two  studies that there is still significant ROI in OVG’s both for DMO’s and consumers.

John Hudak joined the Maden Media in 1987 as the first editor of Tucson Guide when there were just five employees and two magazines. He has contributed significantly to Madden Media's impressive growth. A recognized travel publishing authority nationwide, John is a frequent tourism conference speaker and the winner of dozens of awards for his contributions to the industry.