By Todd Shimkus
With COVID-19, it’s hard to tell who is really willing to travel.
No doubt there is pent up demand to get out of the house. But who and how many people are really going to visit other places?
That would be valuable information.
Thanks to the expertise of the talented professionals at Mind Genomics, we now have this information.
We now have proof that people from the Capital Region, to New York City, to Massachusetts, Connecticut and places in between want to come back and visit us in Saratoga County within the next six months.
They want to “Feel the Freedom” in Saratoga County.
From June 5 -12, Mind Genomics completed detailed surveys with more than 3,000 people to help us find out how COVID-19 might have changed their motivation to visit Saratoga County. The survey sought to evaluate what messages might resonate and what safety precautions our businesses would have to take for respondents to feel comfortable traveling here.
Here’s what we learned: 90 percent of the respondents have visited Saratoga County multiple times in the past.
So they love Saratoga County and as much as 71 percent said they are “very likely” to visit in the next six months. That leaves 29 percent of the respondents who are not very likely to visit.
So what’s deterring this 29 percent from visiting Saratoga County?
Fifty percent said a lack of trust in venues enforcing proper safety guidelines is a deterrent. Thirty-nine percent said a desire to avoid crowds, and 39 percent also cited a lack of a COVID-19 vaccine as a concern limiting their willingness to travel.
The top three safety precautions that our businesses and their employees can take that will motivate respondents to visit include:
• 58 percent said masks worn by employees.
• 57 percent said enhanced cleaning and disinfecting protocols.
• 54 percent social distancing enforced by ownership.
One of the unique aspects of the Mind Genomics survey process is that they combined messages that could test the types of experiences that would motivate respondents to visit Saratoga County specifically. By doing this, they were able to identify three different and distinct viewpoints from among the respondents and to help us determine what amenities to promote.
One viewpoint included 50 percent or half of the participants. This group is extremely interested in visiting regardless of the messages we use. But, we can pique their interest even further by taking about dining, the great outdoors and horse racing.
A second group includes 25 percent of the respondents. This group is motivated to travel to Saratoga County to experience outdoor recreation, health and wellness, in addition to arts, culture, and history. This includes natural springs, mountain hikes, our parks and the fact that Saratoga County is a great place to relax and de-stress.
The third group is also about 25 percent of the respondents. This group will be motivated to visit Saratoga County if they can have the “quintessential” Saratoga experience. This group will respond to messages that pertain to the arts, culture, history, dining, shopping and horse racing.
Using this Saratoga County focused information, the Saratoga County Chamber has created a new Feel the Freedom campaign. With funding from the Saratoga County Reopening Advisory Board and the Saratoga County Board of Supervisors, this campaign includes digital, social media and television ads that mirror the geography of respondents surveyed by Mind Genomics.
By Todd Shimkus