Juneau study offers insight on the independent traveler

Fly fishing in Juneau.
Fly fishing in Juneau. Photo Credit: Courtesy of Travel Juneau
Renee Brincks
Renee Brincks

Juneau welcomed nearly 1.1 million visitors during the summer 2016 travel season, says a new report, and approximately 7% of them (78,000 total) were independent travelers arriving by air or ferry.

While city tourism leaders have long had access to cruise-related data, the 2016 Juneau Visitor Profile released late last month gives them a clearer picture of the demographics, points of origin and interests of these independent guests. Travel Juneau President and CEO Liz Perry and her organization will use these details to refine its visitor outreach.

"Juneau has a reputation for being just a cruise destination, but we're gaining more traction in the independent and adventure markets," Perry said. "The data from this survey and a Juneau-focused survey to follow next season will enable Travel Juneau to geo-target with greater precision and make inroads into untapped markets. The data will also help us work with partners to develop the products and experiences that independent travelers are searching for."

Travel Juneau partnered with the McDowell Group to create the 2016 Juneau Visitor Profile, analyzing data collected from the most recent statewide Alaska Visitor Statistics Program (AVSP). The AVSP, commissioned by the Alaska Travel Industry Association and the Alaska Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development, includes responses from 2,525 out-of-state day-trippers and overnight guests who visited Alaska's capital city between May and September 2016.

In addition to exploring visitors' decision-making practices, spending habits and travel satisfaction, the Juneau profile looks at popular activities, lodging choices and previous and future Alaska travel.

On average, Juneau's cruise guests took 8.8 months to decide to come to Alaska; the city's independent visitors made decisions in 5.3 months. Cruise passengers booked major travel 6.6 months in advance, compared to an average 3.1-month lead time for independent travelers.

Many of those independent, Juneau-only visitors also relied on the Internet to make plans and reservations.

"One of the surprises was that a high percentage -- 67% -- of Juneau independent visitors reported using online resources, including apps, to research and book their travel," Perry said. "That's compared to only 37% of cruise visitors. For Travel Juneau, this confirms the relevancy of an image-based, mobile-first strategy to reach independent travelers."

During the 2018 summer travel season, Travel Juneau will conduct additional visitor research that includes Alaska residents. The organization will also work with the McDowell Group on a winter survey of meeting planners and attendees to better understand the site selection process, spending habits and overall economic impact of conference travelers.

To view the complete Juneau Visitor Profile report, visit www.traveljuneau.com/about-travel-juneau.


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