- Associated Press - Wednesday, July 30, 2014

LAKE CHARLES, La. (AP) - The Southwest Louisiana Convention & Visitors Bureau has hired a firm to research how visitors feel about the region and how the local tourism industry can capitalize on travel trends.

Executives with Charlotte, North Carolina-based Young Strategies spoke with community leaders Tuesday about what the four-monthlong process will entail. The study costs $50,000.

“We’re going to talk about how people are behaving as a traveling public and how we influence their decisions,” said Berkeley Young, president of Young Strategies.

Surveys will be sent to tourists who have responded to the bureau’s advertising and who are in its database. The firm will ask those who visited about what their perception of the area is, what they enjoyed about their visit and how long they stayed in the region.

“We come in and use scientific research, and we put a plan before you that works for your community,” he said. Shelley Johnson, bureau executive director, told the American Press (http://bit.ly/1eOXZNb) the survey will help her and her team learn its strengths and weaknesses.

“The survey is going to give us a lot of information. These guys are at the top in the tourism research industry,” she said.

Young Strategies has worked with communities in more than 25 states. “We’re very excited to bring them here, especially at a time right now when we’re getting ready for this economic boom,” Johnson said.

With economic development officials predicting an increase of 50,000 people due to the $67 billion in capital investments in the region, Young expects travel and tourism to be on the rise in the coming years.

“Travel has become therapy for people,” he said. “People still go to the movies for the experience - it’s the same for travel.”

He said trends with travel are evolving toward more last-minute planning, value seeking and shorter trips. The most popular trend in travel is the “huge shift to tech usage,” with more travelers exploring new planning technology and smartphone apps.

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Information from: American Press, http://www.americanpress.com

Copyright © 2016 The Washington Times, LLC.

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