As the numbers have continued to come in over the now past 6 years since the inception of the Myrtle Beach Tourist Tax, it is clear that cities (like Myrtle Beach) need to be more concerned about Brand Management than a large spend in advertising dollars.
As we reported last week, in June 2015, the City of Myrtle Beach promoted a fictitious report of 17.2 million tourists in 2014.
A more accurate report was put online by travel site SKIFT.com. What that report accurately revealed was that Beach Homes in North Myrtle Beach, Surfside Beach, and Garden City Beach were well up, while hotel rooms and condos in the city of Myrtle Beach were actually down for the summer period. The report states, “Hotels, condotels and campsites — which make up 75 percent of the local market — didn’t fare as well this summer as last year, according to CCU’s tourism research center. Average occupancy for that segment was down about 1.5 occupancy points or 1.8 percent, hitting 81.5 percent this summer.” The report indicated that while occupancy was down, an increase in tourist taxes collected may indicate room rates were up. An increase in restaurant, retail, and entertainment spending could have accounted for the tourist tax increase as well, however.
On the other hand, the report states, “Vacation rental properties, mainly rental (beach) houses but including all lodging that rents by the week, fared much better this summer than the traditional hotels, condotels and campsites.” North Myrtle Beach abounds in over a thousand beach homes, with many in the Cherry Grove section of that beach, while very few can be found in Myrtle Beach.
ADVERTISING VERSUS BRAND MANAGEMENT
With Myrtle Beach spending up to $3o million per year in national advertising, some locals are questioning why North Myrtle Beach would continue to outperform Myrtle Beach in both occupancy and average daily rate.
Our research provided the following explanations:
*The rooms in North Myrtle Beach include the newer Wyndham Hotels, North Beach Plantation, Avista Resort, and Towers at the Grove among many others.
*Beach Homes along Cherry Grove and in North Myrtle Beach brand the town successfully with a “Family Friendly” image.
*North Myrtle Beach is considered less trafficked and less crowded.
*North Myrtle Beach is not known for having a homeless population.
*Social Media Comments online for North Myrtle Beach are ten to one positive.
*When a tourist Googles the city name North Myrtle Beach, he or she is more likely to get a story about tourism or city happenings on the Google results page.
MYRTLE BEACH – Its Brand Image Online
*The rooms in Myrtle Beach are considered smaller and dated.
*Many surrounding closed shops, closed strip malls and empty buildings can be found from 9th Avenue North running south to just before Market Common.
*The Boardwalk Area is considered half built, outdated, and vacated by the city, even though the city does not own the vacant areas Oceanfront.
*More and more pictures like these of Myrtle Beach are being broadcast back home to friends on an average family member’s Facebook page post during their time on vacation in Myrtle Beach.
*Myrtle Beach does have a large homeless population. It is ranked the #2 place for the homeless in the nation. The homeless rank the cities themselves.
*Social Media comments online are only six to one positive.
*When a tourist Googles the city name Myrtle Beach, he or she has a 96.2 percent chance of getting a CRIME NEWS STORY in the news feed for that page’s results. The news stories are often about prostitution arrests, burglaries or shootings.
THE MORE THE MYRTLE BEACH CHAMBER SPENDS – THE MORE YOU GOOGLE
And therein lies a problem for Myrtle Beach. It’s brand does not currently hold up to its annual marketing spend.
Myrtle Beach is taxing its own tourists, spending a small fortune in ad dollars, and driving customers to North Myrtle Beach, Garden City, and Surfside Beach.
Perhaps the city of Myrtle Beach should focus on the brand (of Myrtle Beach) itself if the Chamber of Commerce is to continue spending almost $50 million annually in total marketing counting the combination of tourist taxes, state, and Federal matching taxes.
We certainly have been rightfully hard on Brad Dean, Myrtle Beach Chamber President, here at MyrtleBeachSC.com. However, 2016 is a great year for the city and merchants of Myrtle Beach to come together and create the brand that the Myrtle Beach Chamber is promoting nationally.