Visit Oxford held an event, “First to Know Breakfast” last Tuesday for the Chamber of Commerce at the Oxford Conference Center. This breakfast revealed a new strategy by a featured speaker: Berkeley Young of Young Strategies who researches travel marketing for Visit Oxford.
Young revealed several points about the tourism in Oxford during his presentation at First to Know breakfast. The points are as summarized from the presentation:
1.) Lodging room growth: Young established a timeline in between 2013 and 2015 to analyze lodging availability for incoming visitors. Last May there were 798 lodging rooms available between nine hotels/motels. This August there are 793, five less rooms available due to the Downtown Oxford Inn going under reconstruction. The number is kept in close balance with last year’s due to Towneplace Suites opening this month. Next May he made a projection of 1050 rooms, an increase of 257 rooms, due to Marriot Courtyard and Downtown Oxford Inn opening. By next September there will a total of 1082 rooms between 12 hotels and motels with the opening of the Chancellor’s House.
2.) Reasons for lodging: Young illustrated reasons for lodging room booking in graphics. The largest percentage went to leisure at combined total of 54.1 percent between individual and group. This percentage is followed closely by individual business meetings at 25.4 percent.
3.) Sell-out Nights: Young documented nights the lodging spaces are fully booked. He discovered the hotels are sold out for a total of 42 nights every year. Those nights are divided between summer sports, student orientation at University of Mississippi and football season and Double Decker festival and University of Mississippi’s graduation ceremony with the remainder of sold out nights going to film, marathons and baseball season. Young concluded there are 323 nights in the year where less than half of the lodging rooms are booked.
4.) Visitor Profiles: Young has analyzed 555 visitor surveys which were conducted online and distributed through a wide range of visitor databases provided by local business partners and Visit Oxford as well as The Rebel Insider‘s provision of a link to the survey. He discovered the average age of Oxford visitor to be 51 years old, just in between Generation X and the Baby Boomers. The largest percentage (80.1 percent) was repeat visitors who have likely made up the portion of last-minute bookers (61.2 percent). Young also found the most popular months of visiting Oxford were in fall, followed closely by summer. An average duration of a visitation was recorded at 2.3 nights, usually a weekend’s span. He also found the visitors rated their visit at Oxford 4.55 out of 5 point scale. A summary of the report with methodology and findings can be obtained at Visit Oxford.
5.) Forecasts: Young consulted with experts at Oxford Econoics, STF, and PKF. All agreed the years 2015 and 2016 should be an improvement than 2014 per visitation increase. Young advised Visit Oxford to continue building Oxford’s brand as a destination, to generate demand for lodging and to allocate advertising investments.
Young said, “The research conducted for Oxford clearly indicates that all marketing efforts should focus on 323 days of the year when there are not crowds and traffic jams. January is just one example of a perfect time to welcome visitors to come tour, shop and dine when the town is very quiet.”
Mary Allyn Hedges, director of Visit Oxford, said, “We are working on creating packages with hoteliers, attractions and other businesses to attract visitors to Oxford during our slower periods. We also created the first Oxford Restaurant Week in January of this year which is a really slow time of year and it helps drive overnight traffic to Oxford as well as getting locals out to eat.”
The Restaurant Week will be held January 25 through 31 next year. The participants can vote for local charities on Visit Oxford’s list: Good Food for Oxford Schools, Love Packs, Meals on Wheels, More than a Meal and Oxford Food Pantry located by the police department. The charity with the most votes will receive a check for $5,000. Restaurants interested in participating in this event will be able to apply on December 1st, 2014 at Visit Oxford.
Young said, “[Oxford] is working with local sports groups like FNC Park to attract sports tournaments during slow periods when hotel rooms are available.”
Courtney Cedotal is a sales manager for Hampton Inn and Holiday Inn Express. She said, “We’re ready for tourism to bump up because we’re open 365 days but we’re mostly booked up for, in example, the seven weeks of football.”
Cedotal said that hotels work “very well” with Visit Oxford. Visit Oxford provide maps and directories for the hotel lodgers to enjoy Oxford and perhaps become a repeat visitor. Visit Oxford also provide tours, some of them by rickshaws (hyperlink).
Cedotal said, “A team comes here to Oxford. Visit Oxford will take them around town and show them what they can enjoy. Then the team will come here and spend the weekend. We show them what we have to offer and then hopefully they’ll decide to host a tournament here in Oxford.”
Visit Oxford is funded by the two percent of hotel and motel tax as well as part of the two percent food and beverage tax. The organization works with the lodgings to promote tourism especially during the slower time periods.
Young said, “[Visit Oxford] do not want to create traffic jams or exceed our capacity to be good hosts and provide our guests with a lovely experience in Oxford. We do want to provide year-round jobs and economic impact by attracting overnight visitors who will spend money shopping, touring and dining.”
Callie Daniels is a daily reporter for HottyToddy.com. Shoot her an email at email@example.com.
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