As Columbia Tourism Improves, Visitors Center Sees Fewer Faces

3 years 8 months 3 weeks ago Thursday, March 20 2014 Mar 20, 2014 Thursday, March 20, 2014 11:38:00 AM CDT March 20, 2014 in News
By: Taylor Barth, KOMU 8 Reporter
loading

COLUMBIA - While Columbia tourism continues to improve, one aspect may be on the decline. Since moving locations in 2012, the Columbia visitors center has seen a significant drop in traffic.

The visitors center was formerly located off the Lake of the Woods exit on I-70 East. In its last two years, the center saw 3,223 visitors. Since opening its new location at city hall in September 2012, the center has only seen around 530 visitors. Based on the recorded numbers, that's an 88 percent decrease in traffic.

Columbia Convention and Visitors Bureau Director Amy Schneider said the old location wasn't getting the success it should have.

"We had the Lake of the Woods for several years," Schneider said. "We didn't feel that it was getting the traffic we thought it needed, and we saw throughout the years that the numbers were slipping from visitors. So, we were trying to find a way to connect the community as well as connecting visitors coming to the community, and also to utilize a space in the bottom of city hall that wasn't being utilized at the time."

Schneider said the recorded numbers don't speak for the success of the new location. While the visitors center was staffed daily at the Lake of the Woods, the city hall center is only staffed by volunteers from Thursday through Saturday. As a result, Schneider said there are now fewer efforts to track the number of visitors coming through each day.

Schneider said people are increasingly getting visitor information online, which may be another reason for less recorded traffic at the visitors center.

"Most of the time in this day and age, people are not utilizing visitors centers as much due to electronics, apps and websites," Schneider said. "More people are getting online, more people are web savvy and tech savvy and they go online to get all of their information. I will think there is always a need to have someone there...for that face-to-face customer service value. There's a lot of value in just having someone there to greet and to answer questions. No matter how tech savvy you get, it's always nice to have a friendly face."

It's not only the visitors center noticing the online transition. Hotel owners are also shifting their marketing efforts to target people online.

Susan Bell is the general manager of the Hampton Inn and Suites at the University of Missouri. She said her marketing efforts have changed to cater to the internet audience.

"People are doing less straightforward advertising and more relationship marketing," Bell said. "There's much more use of Facebook and Twitter and things like that, but I think it's also changing how people feel about what they should put out there."

The Columbia tourism industry has seen a steady income growth from 2010 to 2013. Last year, the city's 4 percent sales tax generated 2.15 million dollars, setting a record high.

The tax helps fund the Columbia Convention and Visitors Bureau and local festivals like True False and Roots N' Blues.

In 2013, Boone County profited more than $354 million and supported 10,652 tourism-related job. The state also made $14.6 billion from the sales tax and supported 285,000 jobs.

"When the hotels see an increase, that's usually, we're usually the first ones to start seeing a pattern of a better economy because people have to travel for business to get that new business that they're going to, you know, it's going to make them prosper," Bell said.

Bell said the increase in revenue is due to more visitors and higher room rates. In 2013, the average hotel room in Columbia was $77.06, up from $75.57 in 2012. There are currently 35 hotels in Columbia, which amounts to 3,655 rooms. Bell said she only expects tourism to continue growing with the economy.

Two hotels will also open this spring, including The Broadway hotel downtown and another Holiday Inn Express at Stadium Boulevard and Highway 63.

More News

Grid
List
COLUMBIA - The Missouri State Highway Patrol has confirmed it has fired Trooper Anthony Piercy. KOMU 8 spoke to... More >>
3 hours ago Friday, December 15 2017 Dec 15, 2017 Friday, December 15, 2017 8:42:00 PM CST December 15, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA - St. Louis officers arrested a suspect that was on the run in a duplex on Sears Court in... More >>
3 hours ago Friday, December 15 2017 Dec 15, 2017 Friday, December 15, 2017 8:29:00 PM CST December 15, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA - The application for the top education position in the state, Missouri State Education Board Commissioner, opened Friday leaving... More >>
3 hours ago Friday, December 15 2017 Dec 15, 2017 Friday, December 15, 2017 8:02:00 PM CST December 15, 2017 in News
BLUE SPRINGS (AP) — A commercial real estate records company based in suburban Kansas City has abruptly shut down, leaving... More >>
4 hours ago Friday, December 15 2017 Dec 15, 2017 Friday, December 15, 2017 7:42:00 PM CST December 15, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA - The Columbia Fire Department say a house fire that killed a cat Friday afternoon started in the kitchen.... More >>
4 hours ago Friday, December 15 2017 Dec 15, 2017 Friday, December 15, 2017 7:29:00 PM CST December 15, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA - For the past six years Ryan Shultz, the creator/owner of the Candy Cane Crib, has shared a well-lit... More >>
4 hours ago Friday, December 15 2017 Dec 15, 2017 Friday, December 15, 2017 7:17:00 PM CST December 15, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA - The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said around half of adults in the U.S. struggle with understanding... More >>
5 hours ago Friday, December 15 2017 Dec 15, 2017 Friday, December 15, 2017 6:00:00 PM CST December 15, 2017 in Continuous News
OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — A Blue Springs, Missouri, man has pleaded guilty to kidnapping and raping a sheriff's deputy... More >>
6 hours ago Friday, December 15 2017 Dec 15, 2017 Friday, December 15, 2017 4:51:08 PM CST December 15, 2017 in News
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Ten people are facing federal indictment in a $5.4 million methamphetamine distribution conspiracy. ... More >>
7 hours ago Friday, December 15 2017 Dec 15, 2017 Friday, December 15, 2017 4:07:15 PM CST December 15, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA - Several new businesses will open in Columbia at the start of the new year. Wheely's Cafe, a... More >>
7 hours ago Friday, December 15 2017 Dec 15, 2017 Friday, December 15, 2017 3:49:00 PM CST December 15, 2017 in Continuous News
INDEPENDENCE - Police have now cancelled an endangered silver advisory for a 73-year-old woman with dementia who might have been... More >>
8 hours ago Friday, December 15 2017 Dec 15, 2017 Friday, December 15, 2017 3:43:00 PM CST December 15, 2017 in News
JEFFERSON CITY – The Jefferson City Public School Boundaries Committee began discussions on boundary lines for the city’s new high... More >>
8 hours ago Friday, December 15 2017 Dec 15, 2017 Friday, December 15, 2017 3:29:00 PM CST December 15, 2017 in News
HOLTS SUMMIT - Holts Summit's board of aldermen met Thursday night to discuss creating a city-owned shelter. Currently, the... More >>
8 hours ago Friday, December 15 2017 Dec 15, 2017 Friday, December 15, 2017 3:07:00 PM CST December 15, 2017 in News
SEDALIA (AP) — The former administrator of an ambulance service in central Missouri has pleaded guilty to embezzling more... More >>
8 hours ago Friday, December 15 2017 Dec 15, 2017 Friday, December 15, 2017 2:52:00 PM CST December 15, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA - Police said a 42-year-old woman went missing Friday morning and was considered at risk because of medical conditions.... More >>
9 hours ago Friday, December 15 2017 Dec 15, 2017 Friday, December 15, 2017 2:11:00 PM CST December 15, 2017 in News
ST. LOUIS (AP) — Some HIV-positive patients in nearly half the counties in Missouri will lose health insurance coverage next... More >>
10 hours ago Friday, December 15 2017 Dec 15, 2017 Friday, December 15, 2017 1:02:12 PM CST December 15, 2017 in News
ST. LOUIS (AP) — A 37-year-old man is charged in the shooting of two suburban St. Louis police officers who... More >>
11 hours ago Friday, December 15 2017 Dec 15, 2017 Friday, December 15, 2017 12:28:00 PM CST December 15, 2017 in News
MONTGOMERY CITY - The Montgomery County Coroner's office is investigating how a person died after a house fire Thursday afternoon... More >>
11 hours ago Friday, December 15 2017 Dec 15, 2017 Friday, December 15, 2017 12:15:00 PM CST December 15, 2017 in News
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 35°
12am 35°
1am 35°
2am 35°
3am 35°

Select a station to view its upcoming schedule:

Coming Up Next

10:35p
The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon
11:37p
Late Night with Seth Meyers
12:37a
Last Call with Carson Daly
11:30p
The King of Queens
12:00a
King of the Hill
12:30a
Cops

Tonight's Schedule

7:00p
Blindspot
8:00p
Dateline NBC
7:00p
The 86th Annual Hollywood Christmas Parade
9:00p
KOMU 8 News @ Nine on The CW
9:30p
Seinfeld