Country music is three cords and the truth. The truth is that hosting a large festival is viewed as a big win for a destination. In addition to the hotel room nights, local restaurants, attractions, and retail benefit from the festival attendees. But what if that festival occurs during peak season? Would the community have a greater impact without the event? This is oftentimes a question we receive from partners, and a question that we are passionate about answering.
The Carolina Country Music Festival (CCMF) is coming up on its 8th year in Myrtle Beach. This three-day festival has grown from 20,000 to more than 35,000 attendees and every June, the Boardwalk is packed with fans ready to see their favorite Country stars. It’s clear the event is a success. What wasn’t clear is whether the event was occurring at the optimum time of year for the destination and whether it was attracting high-value visitors. Were attendees staying overnight in Myrtle Beach or did they go home? Did they only go to the festival or did they explore nearby attractions and savor local food? Is the event attracting visitors that provide the greatest long-term value to the community, or is the festival keeping a visitor with higher lifetime value from coming during that time?
Visit Myrtle Beach would hang their (cowboy) hat on this event, but being good stewards of their destination, knew it was critical to ask these questions in search of the truth.
Using Zartico’s advanced visitor spending data, we found that the highest visitor spending in the month of June was during Carolina Country Music Festival – a 12% increase over the average weekly accommodations spend in June and a 9% increase over the average weekly attractions spend.
The event historically attracted attendees from across the Southeast. 82% of event attendees were from more than 30 miles away, and the majority of attendees traveled more than 150 miles to attend the festival.
These visitors stayed in local hotels and visited local attractions, restaurants and retail. Event attendees were seen at more than 350 points of interest during the three-day festival. They clearly enjoyed everything Myrtle Beach had to offer – zip lining during the day, two-steppin’ at after-hours events, and finally at the end of the night kicking off their boots at Myrtle Beach’s luxury resorts.
The final insight that we were able to offer Myrtle Beach is that CCMF attendees have a lasting relationship with Myrtle Beach. 92% of the visitors to the 2021 festival had visited Myrtle Beach previously in the last two years, and 45% of the visitors to the 2021 festival had returned at least once in the six months following the festival. CCMF is now documented to promote tourism during the festival itself as well as bring its core visitor group back to the destination throughout the year.
Although the insights from this analysis are impressive, we prefer to focus on the outcome. As a result of the conclusions, Visit Myrtle Beach is working with event organizers to cultivate the festival’s programming and promotion in 2022. When you learn the truth that something is great, why not make it even better?
Country music will be returning bigger and louder more than ever this year, which is excellent for the Myrtle Beach visitor economy. Hey,... Y’all, you either love country music or you’re wrong, and that’s the truth.