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Noble Studios Q&A: The Future of Travel and Tourism Marketing Analytics Through Zartico’s Lens

February 22, 2024

Travel and Tourism Marketing Analytics QandA with Zartico

Beneath the surface of every traveler’s digital footprint lies a complex network of choices—paths both taken and overlooked—each influenced by the unseen hand of sophisticated data analysis.

In this intricate dance of decisions and desires, Zartico emerges as an essential guide. They provide destination marketers with a lens through which to observe contemporary travelers’ desires and behaviors. By transforming vast oceans of data into navigable streams, Zartico steers destination marketers toward strategic choices that deeply connect with their intended audiences.

As a Zartico Certified Agency Partner, we’re excited to share our recent conversation with Nicole Brownell, Zartico’s Chief Experience Officer. In the broad-ranging conversation, she sheds light on evolving travel and tourism marketing landscapes, ethical data use and AI’s emerging role in helping DMOs make sense of the data.

How does Zartico’s platform specifically tailor its data dashboards to address the unique challenges DMOs face in digital marketing? 

Everything about Zartico’s platform is purpose-built for destinations to unlock the possibilities of place. Our Data Science team developed verifiable methodologies for processing the data to answer the specific questions that destinations ask. And that’s how we set up the ZDOS®, too — our interface is focused on answering important questions with impactful insights.

Our Strategic Principles and Product Pillars are: 

  1. Destination Leadership – Guiding your community forward
  2. Demand Optimization – Creating your balanced visitor economy
  3. Marketing Strategy – Maximizing your return on investment with calculated tactics
  4. Impact Reporting – Leveraging your performance trends as a catalyst for future action

Traditionally, destinations have based their planning on periodic, long-term research studies that analyze what happened several months ago. Every innovation that Zartico makes is a step toward shifting that timeline. We’ve already moved from “what happened” to “what’s happening,” thanks to the near real-time data that feeds into our Integrated Data Model. And we’re taking the next step this month, moving into “what will happen” with future pacing insights available through our new lodging performance data set.

For digital marketers, the possibilities are limitless. Overlaid with Zartico’s Place-Based Strategy, this robust intelligence creates the foundation for true destination optimization. Not only can marketers report on the actual visitation impact of campaign efforts — changes in visitor movement, spending and booking behavior — but they can zero in on influencing the ideal visitor. 

Quality visitors have a net positive effect on destinations. They stay overnight, patronize local businesses and move throughout the destination to experience everything the community offers. The insights in the ZDOS® point marketers right to these travelers and direct planning, segmentation, allocation and personalization to ensure they receive the right message at the right time.

How does technology assist in personalizing marketing content based on detailed visitor behavior analysis? 

According to research conducted by McKinsey & Co., 71% of consumers expect brands to deliver personalized interactions and 76% of consumers get frustrated when this doesn’t happen.  To convert customers — or in this case, travelers — destinations need to tailor their communications as much as possible to the interests, behaviors and experiences of their ideal visitors.

Fortunately, destination data gives us a window into these behaviors and interests through understanding where people go and how they spend their dollars. ZDOS® offers modules designed to help marketers pinpoint the right audiences to target. They illuminate personas based on behavioral and demographic data, empowering destinations to influence the timing and quality of a future visit. Destinations and their agencies have the fuel they need to achieve an advantage in planning and executing campaigns, while also measuring the impact in real time.

It was a pleasure to watch these strategies unfold in real-time alongside Noble Studios with Lake Tahoe and in a way that aligned with Lake Tahoe’s community values of responsible travel. 

How can data assist DMOs in identifying new growth opportunities within the visitor economy? 

For so long, the travel and tourism industry associated “growth” with more — more visitors, more spending, more impressions, more website clicks — and with metrics that only trend upward. Today we understand growth to be much more nuanced and the data helps destinations uncover and realize new opportunities, such as:

• Promoting underutilized points of interest to encourage sustainable visitor distribution across the destination
• Identifying areas of high interest to inform new content development or tourism product development
• Identifying trends in visitor interests that align with brand values or community values
• Strategically promoting shoulder seasons and need periods based on the future pacing of lodging bookings
• Pinpointing high-value visitor markets and behaviors — aka defining a “quality visitor” — then attracting more of the travelers who will benefit your community for the long term

person making a purchase Travel and Tourism Marketing Analytics

How can DMOs use data to showcase their role in driving economic benefits through tourism? 

This question is fantastic and in alignment with our Impact Reporting Principle. Destinations should share insights related to direct visitor spending, as well as visitation trends that demonstrate a positive economic impact on the community. “Trends” is the operative word here, because even though announcing a large total spending number captures attention, the full picture — and the real power of this data — is in the context. 

How is spending changing over time? How are visitors dividing their dollars among different categories of experiences? Are travelers from your target markets patronizing local retailers and restaurants, or are they picking up fast food as they pass through town? How does this align with your destination plan for tomorrow?

Destinations should lean into and adapt to address the impacts that matter long-term to their communities, which for many places will focus on locally-owned small businesses. 

West Yellowstone, Montana, for example, traditionally relied on summer visitation. When the Park had to close one summer due to uncontrollable circumstances, it could have spelled economic disaster for the community. But with the guidance of the DMO, the destination pivoted. They identified opportunities to leverage winter visitors, offering untapped seasonal activities, many of which boosted average visitor spend and benefitted local businesses. The data supported the destination in telling this powerful story, empowering small businesses and ultimately driving the decision to invest in winter travelers.

Not all tourism benefits come with dollar signs. Destinations can tell a broader story by talking about community amenities — bike trails, youth sports facilities, winter activities — that are supported directly or indirectly by the visitor economy.

person making a purchase Travel and Tourism Marketing Analytics

Can you discuss a case where multi-source data integration led to a breakthrough in destination development or marketing strategy?

I love this question! Integrating multiple data sources is the key to discovering actionable insights. Plus, optimizing Marketing Strategies, our core principle, is one of the things that Zartico does best — and is taken a step further when working alongside our agency partners.

Destination leaders at Visit Tampa Bay, Florida were able to fulfill a need for visitation in slower travel periods by evaluating destination-wide spending and movement data, then combining those with insights from their local airport. Those findings led them to shift marketing resources to target more out-of-state markets in Texas based on a higher share of visitation and spending in these slower months.

In Charlottesville, Virginia, leaders had an eye-opening experience when they realized the extent that retail — and shopping malls, in particular — were driving their visitor economy. Often overlooked, these malls attract a high percentage of drive market visitors, who are also spending a lot in retail businesses. The team at the Charlottesville Albemarle CVB is now rethinking their marketing allocation, looking for ways to encourage nearby shoppers to explore more of the destination and return more often.

Can you elaborate on Zartico’s approach to ethical data usage and how you maintain trust while collecting detailed analytics?

This is something we take very seriously. The data sets we work with are incredibly powerful, which means we have a huge responsibility not only to collect and store them correctly but also to deploy them ethically. We source our raw data from trusted providers who collect and protect the information based on the highest standards, complying with both GDPR and CCPA requirements. All of the data in these streams — and in partner-provided sources such as Facebook or Google Analytics — is fully anonymized. And we apply industry best practices to secure partner data within the ZDOS®.

But our responsibility goes far beyond what’s required by law. Our partners trust us to deliver accurate insights they can share and use with confidence. How we process this data matters, which is why we employ a team of dedicated data scientists who work to understand the raw data, monitor it for quality and apply methodologies to ensure ongoing consistency and accuracy. As the big data landscape continues to evolve, we are dedicated to continuing the conversation, educating destinations about everything from how geolocation data works to basic data science concepts that will help you evaluate insights.

youth at an airpor generating Travel and Tourism Marketing Analytics

What future AI advancements does Zartico anticipate and how might these shape the evolution of destination analytics?

As more data and computational power become available, the realm of AI possibilities will continue to expand and Zartico is staying on the forefront of AI technology. Applying these powerful tools to the right problems is the key to any AI endeavor, so we’re committed to continuing our trailblazing with technologies that answer the new kinds of questions that destinations are asking.

Zartico will be building on our existing machine learning and AI capabilities this year, with a focus on forecasting and segmentation initiatives that will ultimately feed into new possibilities for destination simulation. In leveraging the power of big data and AI, our goal is to create tools to help our partners de-risk their decision-making and influence the future of their communities. 

About Nicole Brownell

Nicole Brownell

Nicole Brownell serves as CXO at Zartico. Zartico is a SaaS technology organization that uses data science and AI to create strategic planning and optimization solutions for destination leaders.

Nicole brings endless curiosity, energy and attention to detail to her work, with a portfolio rich in senior leadership across multiple strategic verticals in agency, hospitality and DMO. Nicole is known for her ability to create behavioral and persona-based strategies and is equally adept at connecting the dots thematically to identify transformational solutions at scale including business modeling, sustainability planning and identifying succinct team processes while inspiring others to be empowered to lead.

Nicole continuously serves on committees and boards focused on change and impact including Audubon International’s Sustainability and Stewardship, NYSHTA Women in Hospitality, the prestigious Exceptional Womens Alliance, Women in Lodging, UNTO Women and Destinations International’s Community Task Force Committee.

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