COLUMBUS - Columbus has been ranked the top Midwest destination for visitors, according to the J.D. Power 2016 Destination Experience Satisfaction StudySM, released today. The study measures overall satisfaction among visitors to the top 50 U.S. travel destinations for business or leisure based on six factors: activities, cost and fees, food and beverage, infrastructure, lodging and travel/arrival. Columbus scored 799 points on a 1,000-point scale, performing particularly well in the infrastructure; food and beverage and cost and fees factors.
We're proud that Columbus' commitment to enhancing the visitor experience is being recognized," said Brian Ross, Experience Columbus president and CEO. "The accolade is another indicator of Columbus' growing visitor industry and the strategic focus we've placed on enhancing the visitor experience through participation in the Experience Dedicated DestinationTM (EDD) and Certified Tourism Ambassador (CTA) programs."
The EDD program was initiated in 2013 as part of Experience Columbus' strategic plan to grow the tourism economy. For the past three years, attractions and activities, hotels, transportation providers, facilities and event venues, local government and civic organizations and restaurants have been working together to capture data from visitors about their Columbus experiences. In return, the data that's been collected is being used to inform and direct community-wide efforts to ensure a positive visitor experience at every touch point. Additionally, over 3,000 CTAs have been trained to welcome and provide information to visitors, making it easy for them to experience and love Columbus.
"Interestingly, while visitors spend more when they have a great experience, they're also more satisfied with the value they receive for their expenditure," said Rick Garlick, global travel and hospitality practice lead at J.D. Power. "Especially for cities that are perhaps less thought of for tourism, the investment in creating a superb visitor experience can really pay off."
The study found that a great travel experience drives higher spending. Visitors spend 24 percent more than average in a city they love. In 2015, Columbus welcomed 39.3 million visitors who spend $6.4 billion in the local economy.
"Looking ahead, we will have unprecedented opportunities to showcase how Columbus is the best in the Midwest as we prepare to welcome major events like the NCAA Women's Final Four in 2018 and the American Society of Association Executives' (ASAE) Annual Meeting & Exposition in 2019," said Ross.
For more information about the 2016 Destination Experience Satisfaction Study, visit http://www.jdpower.com/resource/destination-experience-satisfaction-study.
Experience Columbus is the destination marketing organization for the Columbus region, dedicated to growing visitor spending that is generated by conventions, meetings, trade shows and leisure visitors. Annually, visitors make more than 39.3 million trips to Greater Columbus, spending $6.4 billion generating $9.7 billion in economic impact and supporting nearly 75,000 jobs. For more information, visit experiencecolumbus.com.