Travel Data For Tourism Marketing

Chris Williams
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In the Tourism industry, the purchaser moves to the product, not the other way around. That alone sets this industry apart and creates a host of measurement challenges. Questions like, did tourists visit the destination as a result of our marketing efforts? If so, where did they come from, when did they arrive, how long did they stay and what did they do during their stay? All great and important questions for the Tourism marketer but to get to these insights, the proper datasets must be infused at each stage of planning and the KPIs must be clearly defined. 

pexels-element-digital-1051075Within any marketing framework, there are three tasks where data is consistently used; for campaign planning, campaign delivery and outcome measurement. In an ideal world, the outcome data is then seamlessly fed back into the planning process so that marketing campaigns moving forward are better informed than the previous ones. And this includes all marketing efforts, not just digital ones. When the magic alignment is achieved, the marketer and their agency can collaboratively plan campaigns knowing what their cost per acquisition goals are, what audiences are likely to be high-value customers and what other market conditions will affect their product performance.

Start at the end, the desired outcome.

As a marketer is it vital to understand what your desired ROAS is, and not just at a channel level. Step away from metrics like “paid search cost per acquisition”, “social media views, shares, likes…”, “website traffic…” etc. and focus on getting to the heart of what you’re really trying to achieve. What is the value of acquiring a visitor to your city or POI? Are some visitors more valuable than others? Once you know who the desired traveller is and what the media returns need to be to make acquiring that traveller a worthwhile investment, the marketer needs to share that information with their agencies so it can act as a tentpole that the campaign can be planned, tracked and measured around. 

Speaking of measurement...

For actionable insights, there are two main measurement data sources that all tourism marketers need in their tool kit. The first one we’ll look at is mobility data

Mobility data can be used to show how people move from point A to B and it can show where they likely live (at a postal code/FSA level). Once marketers have a sense of where visitors are from they can then begin to analyse those travel patterns and determine whether or not they were exposed to the marketing campaign and at what frequency. Sounds simple but that’s actually hard to do in a cross-media environment. This is because all the media options are based on different definitions of the audience, you’ve got GRPs based on demo, behavioural “travel intenders” in digital, search impressions and clicks, 1st party data based on email lists, and altogether a dog’s breakfast as a base for planning and campaigns. Again, looking at the mobility data helps create some clarity. In the moving of consumers from A to B, B being the tourism marketer and A being the consumer, there is a lot we can do with knowing the source location; A.

Which brings us to the second data set, an up-to-date marketing mix model (MMM). 

Having a series of MMMs broken out by geography does a few things:

Tourism marketers who know the full cross media cost of generating a visit can add more advanced metrics such as the value of the visit and then on to maximizing the upsell.

Moving forward 

Tourism marketers, because of their dependence on understanding geographic mobility patterns, should jump wholeheartedly into a geo-centric vision for the marketing data framework. By focusing their business and marketing intelligence on the smallest units of geography possible in their planning, then transferring those insights into campaign buying and delivery, they can begin to better understand what types of visitors they are attracting) based on the home geographies of their visitors and optimize towards with the highest value.

Mobility data in a strong cross media planning and outcome measurement framework are critical to supporting Canada’s massive tourism industry. As the sector struggles to regain its robustness, it’s not only up to each operator to re-frame how they approach their business planning and data framework, but it’s also up to the Federal and Provincial Government agencies to step up and help provide new foundations upon which industry can re-build.


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