By Rick Cooper
The prices and online presence of companies offering guided tours on the Oregon coast vary widely, according to the author of a new report.
Miles Phillips, a coastal tourism specialist with Oregon Sea Grant and the Oregon State University Extension Service, found that their online presence ranged from prominent to nonexistent.
“Many guides are not effectively marketing themselves online,” said Phillips, who hired two interns – through Oregon Sea Grant’s Summer Scholars program – to analyze prices and Google search rankings for coastal companies that offer salmon-fishing, kayaking, and whale-watching tours.
They found that prices charged for comparable services offered by different tour companies varied by as much as 400 percent.
Phillips summarized the findings in a 13-page report: 2018 Evaluation of Pricing and Online Presence of Oregon Coast Tour Operators.
The findings come from a replication of a study that was first conducted in 2017. The more recent study used the same methodology, with some revisions to accommodate Google’s changing presentation of search results.
The 2018 study also found the following:
- Of the 35 salmon-fishing companies that appeared in their searches, 10 neglected to include information on pricing. “If potential customers are searching online and don’t see a price, they’re not likely to call,” Phillips said.
In Astoria, Gold Beach, and Lincoln City, more salmon charter businesses were found in 2018; however, in Brookings, Newport, and Tillamook, fewer businesses were recorded in 2018. This fluctuation may be because businesses had recently opened/closed, or because they did not appear in the top 12 results and were therefore not recorded.
- Overall, the price of salmon charter tours has slightly increased from 2017. There was one big price drop in Lincoln City, but, generally speaking, prices are on the rise.
- The number of kayak tours per city has stayed the same at three main businesses along the coast. The prices in two of the three businesses have stayed the same, with one $15 price drop in Gold Beach.
- The number of whale-watching tours offered in Depoe Bay (four) and Newport (one) has remained the same since 2017. One new whale-watching business was recorded in Tillamook in 2018. Of the 15 coastal towns sampled, only these three offer whale-watching tours.
- In Depoe Bay and Newport, there was a $3 and $2 average price increase, respectively, in whale-watching tours.
Phillips said the design of this project allows it to be redone over the years, following the same methodology. A third round of data collection will take place this year.
The research was conducted with the support of Oregon Sea Grant, OSU Extension, Wild Rivers Coast Alliance, the Oregon Coast Visitors Association and the Oregon State Marine Board.
For information on Oregon Sea Grant’s and Extension’s Sustainable Tourism and Outdoor Recreation program, go to tourism.oregonstate.edu.