Scottsdale is attracting younger visitors who aren’t afraid to flash some cash, according to a tourism study released Tuesday.
The Scottsdale Convention and Visitors Bureau commissioned a study covering the period between June 2005 and May 2006 that analyzed records from 14 Scottsdale resorts and hotels.
For the second year in a row, the study showed visitors ages 35-44 made up the majority of people coming to Scottsdale, followed by those ages 45-54.
“We are seeing the age drop a little bit,” said David Richard, director of marketing at The Phoenician Resort. “It was more of a 55-type, and now we’re seeing more of the 40-to-45ish. You can tell a good amount of a young crowd is coming into the hotel.”
Baby boomers still make up a large number of guests, Richard said.
“But the Gen X traveler is spending a lot of money on travel and entertainment,
and the Scottsdale market is benefitting from that,” he said. “We see a lot more spa usage, and I think they tend to eat off-property a little bit more. I think those are probably the biggest changes we see.”
This trend mirrors the findings from another study of Scottsdale’s visitor demographics, which showed the average age in 2002 was 53.3. The average age in 2006 was 52.2. That information came from the Scottsdale Inquiry Conversion Study, conducted annually by Phoenix’s Behavior Research Center.
Urban development has been the main attraction to younger visitors, said Lauren Simons, vice president of marketing for the visitors bureau.
“Things like the Waterfront, the arts district, the Mondrian Hotel, the Hotel Valley Ho and the new W Hotel coming in attract a younger demographic,” she said.
Those people also have more discretionary income, she added.
Although New Yorkers between 19 and 24 make up less than 5 percent of the visitors, they match the amount of money spent per stay by the 35- to 44-year-olds — $1,750, the study reports.
And the same young group from San Francisco outspends almost all the others, at more than $1,250.
Only visitors 75 years and older spend more, according to the Visitor Industry Customer Analysis.
Simons said the shift toward younger tourists wasn’t part of a grand scheme — it happened organically.
“The night life scene in Scottsdale has sort of developed in the last few years to be something of a world-class night life scene,” she said.
Along with younger, spend-happy visitors, the study pointed to other trends in Scottsdale tourism.
Along with the biggest markets — New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco — the city is seeing more people from Denver and San Diego, the study reports.
California visitors are especially interested in the discounted summer rates at Scottsdale resorts, Simons said.
“It’s a quick getaway. They like the resorts, and the open space is a little bit more vast here than it is in L.A.,” she said.
The study also pointed out special events such as the P.F. Chang’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon and the Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show bring lots of visitors — but they don’t stay long, an average of 2.6 nights. The visitors bureau plans to market Scottsdale’s other activities to encourage longer stays and to fill more weeknight rooms.
This is the third year the visitors bureau has participated in the study, prepared by Ruf Strategic Solutions. “It helps us get more strategic in our marketing programs,” Simons said. “We have a good idea of who’s coming to Scottsdale.”
Major findings from the study:
• While the New York City area is one of the most lucrative markets, visitors aren’t coming from Manhattan, but within Long Island and northern suburbs around the Big Apple.
• The most popular time to come is March or April, but the research shows growing interest in November and December.
• Events like the P.F. Chang’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon and the Barrett-Jackson Collector Car Auction bring in thousands, but they don’t stay long — less than three days. The visitors bureau is looking for ways to tell people about other activities in the city.
Source: Scottsdale Convention & Visitors Bureau