CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — A campaign by Visit Corpus Christi has given them insight into how travelers are viewing Corpus Christi and if they recommend it as a destination for others. The findings were presented to the mayor and city council on Tuesday.
“The biggest thing that we learned is that people from outside of Corpus Christi think very highly of Corpus Christi as a place that they want to visit,” Brett Oetting said, president and CEO of Visit Corpus Christi
Four hundred and forty tourists were surveyed on Padre Island beaches. Using a Net Promoter Score, it resulted in over 90 percent saying they would recommend Corpus Christi as a vacation spot.
"We have over 12 million visitors come every year to Corpus Christi," said Oetting. "So, to let that sink in, there’s over 12 million people every year that throughout the year save their money to be able to go on a vacation to Corpus Christi. And I think that’s something we should be very proud of.”
Visit Corpus Christi used their Gulf Coasters program to complete this survey. A couple people would travel the beaches in a golf carts, striking up a conversation with people on vacation. It would start out recommending the best things to do in Corpus Christi, then they would get feedback from the vacationers and ask if they wanted to complete the survey.
This is in part of Visit Corpus Christi's efforts to create advertisements for the city throughout the state.
"I think that what this summer showed is that a lot of that hard work that the team did really paid off," Oetting said. "Obviously, it's saying that we had a record breaking summer while we're still not out of the pandemic is something that everybody should be really proud of."
Survey also found most people are staying at hotels when they travel here and they're staying three to four days.
Thirteen percent of the surveyed were from out of state. Visit Corpus Christi has seen many people come in from places like Oklahoma City, Denver and New Orleans. But recently their advertising in Dallas/Fort Worth has caught people’s attention.
“I’ve been to Galveston tons and tons and tons of times, but this is way better than that," Zach Armstrong said while visiting Padre Island from the Dallas/Fort Worth area. "The water is way clearer, it’s a lot cleaner and not as busy. It’s great.”
Oetting said hotels saw a record summer. Revenue was up and 5,000 more rooms were sold than the summer of 2019. Numbers from the airport can back that up. Airlines like to see a load factor, or capacity on flights, over 70 percent. Of the three airlines at Corpus Christi International Airport in May it was 84%, June 91%, July 88% and August 76%.
Corpus Christi Director of Aviation, Kevin Smith, said the airport has been in talks to add a fourth airline for some time. The addition of an airline would mean more opportunity for people to travel to Corpus Christi and bigger economic impact.
“A lot of these network planners for the airlines, they’ve never been to Corpus Christi," said Smith. "So, we’re inviting them down. We’re actually hosting a AAA, which is the American Association of Airport Executives conference in May of next year. They’ll be about anywhere from 150 to 200 airport directors from all over the United States that will come in for that conference."
The survey also collected comments from those surveyed. Most were positive, but Oetting said there were a few negative that mentioned the cleanliness of the beaches, the amount of parking and parking restrictions and bathroom accessibility.
"The goal to continue those scores staying high is to continue to work with all the partners that we have," said Oetting. "And make sure we're here to assist them in whatever way we can for them to continue to develop their product. As well as looking for other things we may not have in Corpus Christi."
The Gulf Coasters program was such a success, Oetting plans to expand it for spring break next year on North Beach, the airport and the seawall.
Smith said it's just a matter of time before the airport gets a fourth airline. Plans are already in the works to expand the terminal, when that happens from six gates to nine or 10 gates.
In the short term, Smith received feedback that short term parking of 20 minutes was not enough time for people. He has said short term parking will now be free for three hours beginning Oct. 1. He also has a plan for a friendlier experience at the airport.
"We're going to create a nice little experience for them on the upper level where people wait," said Smith. We call it our meet or greet area. But we're working on some new seating, some new entertainment options and some new photo opportunities for that area."