Traffic falls at Shores and Islands website

Web hits have fallen at the Erie County visitor and convention bureau website, leaving local tourism officials scrambling to breathe new life into the site.
Tom Jackson
Dec 6, 2012


The unexpected drop in traffic at breaks a longtime pattern revealed in years of reports by Lake Erie Shores and Islands East, the visitor bureau funded by bed taxes on local hotels.

Over the years, the reports invariably showed a drop in phone calls to the bureau, a drop in visits to the visitor bureau’s offices on U.S. 250, but a rise in Internet traffic.

The latest report, however, revealed a surprise.

Phone calls fell 48 percent for the fiscal year ending in September, compared to the previous year, while visits to the welcome center also fell 3 percent.

Visits to the agency's website fell about 10 percent, and the drop was actually 18 percent in the last quarter. In the last fiscal year, had about 454,700 visits, down from about 504,000 the year prior.

With bed tax revenue up 6 percent over the last fiscal year, tourism appears to be healthy in Erie County, County commissioner Bill Monaghan said. More people are coming here and spending money, he said.

Perhaps much of the increase in business activity is the result of repeat visits from people who already know the area and don’t have to do much more research, Monaghan suggested.

Noticing a drop in website visits, employees at the visitor bureau are working to improve the numbers in 2013, said Joan Van Offeren, executive director of Lake Erie Shores and Islands East.

The amount of time that visitors spent on the site rose, Van Offeren said.

Cleveland-based Marcus Thomas LLC, the marketing company in charge of the website, analyzed the data to flesh out more details. actually saw web traffic increase when it came to users reaching the site as a result of clicking ads on other sites, or by entering search terms in online search engines.   

But in respect to direct traffic from people entering in the URL address, there was a decline. There was also a drop in traffic generated by links from other websites.

“In this case, the drops outpaced the growth,” the Marcus Thomas report said.

Significant drops in referrals from,, and Yahoo news contributed to the decline, the report said.

“It is unclear using the data available if the three local sites changed their site links or if their overall traffic has fallen,” the report said. “The Yahoo News loss was due to a popular article featuring Shores & Islands in 2011, but no comparable coverage in 2012.”

The main drop in direct traffic — traffic generated by people familiar with the website — came from Cleveland, Columbus, Toledo and Pittsburgh.
Van Offeren said it’s possible some people have grown familiar with the site, thus deciding they don’t have to return to it all of the time.

The visitor bureau plans to make the website address more prominent in commercials.

Marcus Thomas is also working closely with Ron Foth Advertising to figure out the most effective way to drive traffic to, according to its report.


Darwin's choice

People no longer have money for vacations! Thanks Obama.........

indolent indiff...

the only ones with less money are the top percent of citizens who eill see a tax increase. I think the problem is all the mug shots and stories about killings on the SR and NR pages. Who would want to come here?


Why is this group, charged with promoting tourism, etc. in Erie County, using marketing agencies from Cleveland? If they're encouraging everybody else to spend money locally, shouldn't they? I'm just asking...


It takes money and a lot of hard work to keep a website on the first page and in the top three of search hits. Large corporations spend millions of dollars per year to achieve this distinction. You get what you pay for in most cases.

kimi43464's picture

Try making our hometown visitor friendly.

You mention crime? Have you done anything to help taper it? Donate to a local youth center? Joined a neighborhood watch? Tried to get involved with the youth in your locale? Or do you just complain about them? You mention Obama...grow up. Obama DID NOT kill the economy. He did however, save you a repeat performance of the 1929 Great Depression (it lasted over TEN years) And as for those 1%er's not having money...great mercy, they have plenty. More than enough!

Our town has a bunch of naysayers and complainers, and that's our biggest problem. Take Bike week for all whined so loudly that a huge portion of the monies that could be spent here in Sandusky are going to the Islands, to Toledo, to many places all around. You cried on Columbus ave so now the Fair Grounds are off limits and cost us several of the vendors who wanted to stay there and make a buck!! NO NO..they make too much noise and we could not possibly be patient for a few days to help infuse our cities economy. The city and the county, we want more money for what we do for you! To heck with the $$ you bled from local merchants. The story goes on and on...and trust Toledo LOVES those Biker Bucks!

Then there's the nonsense about who you can rent your home to and for how hoo hoo...every week they rent out those home you have a multi-member FAMILY spending money in good old Sandusky! Hundreds of dollars. I know how much my family dumped in Myrtle Beach on our last vacation.

This list goes on, but you people will NEVER understand how much you're killing this city!


100% correct. Especially things like the fair ground usage, going to the Islands to spend because of it. And all the complaints. That could have brought a great deal of money to Sandusky. I also feel that for Bike Week, Perkins, who has most of the stores, should chip in a little money to the "kitty" for some help. It would not kill them. As should EC.


The Island Traffic is always welcome in Ottawa County. I live in Catawba and the more cars we see, the better we feel. I don't even mind the backup on 53 / 163 in the summer. Maybe Erie County could learn a few things.


Let's be honest, why do people come to Erie County? Cedar Point, and it's never going to leave. You don't need a tourism bureau to promote Cedar Point, they have a marketing department for that.

The Bizness

I have friends that come for other reasons. Go out and about in Downtown Sandusky, go over to Kelleys Island, go to Kalahari or other water parks, take friends boats out in Vermilion and Huron, maybe even kayak or paddleboard in the bay.

BW1's picture

A drop in traffic to the shores and islands website is to be expected - as the businesses which it promotes become more web-savvy and develop their own pages, its role becomes that of a link farm for the decreasing number of people who lack good google-fu. The percentage of people who can find what they want without using shores and islands as a middleman increases every day. Why should I waste time on a site like that when I can find what I'm looking for directly?



This is really the point I was trying to make with my Cedar Point comment above. They should really just get rid of the website and as much as I hate saying this, move all communication to Facebook. It's much easier to reach people that way.


have shenigo stand out on 250 with a sign promoting erie county