Tourism authorities in the UK use woefully inadequate tools for managing the development of their destinations, claims a new report launched today by Acorn T-Stats, the worldwide leader in tourism measurement, at The Tourism Management Institute’s ‘Digital Destinations’ Conference.
This comes as the Government pins its hopes on Destination Management Organisations (DMOs) to deliver its new tourism growth strategy requiring them to be more commercial and competitive. The report, “How To Maximise the Value of Destination Statistics: collecting and sharing data in the age of austerity”, is aimed at research and marketing professionals in UK destination management. It concludes that they can achieve a step-change in their marketing, decision-making and engagement programmes by using Web 2.0 technology to integrate data from broad sources, share it with partners and leverage it commercially.
“The Visitor Economy is the UK’s third largest export worth £115bn. Since the Government is relying on export to drive the UK out of recession, this puts huge pressure onto local tourism authorities,” says the report’s author Kevin Millington, Tourism Statistics Consultant for Acorn T-Stats.
“The expectation on DMOs to deliver has never been greater; yet their resources have never been fewer. They now need to be lean, agile and responsive, which means having instant access to what is going on, and systems to give them immediate and specific tourism business intelligence.” The tools currently being deployed by most authorities are from the dark ages says Millington, with the exception of insightful DMOs such as Bath Tourism, Visit Cornwall and Newcastle Gateshead Initiative who are adapting to new lower cost, more modern methods.
Tourism research manager for Newcastle Gateshead Initiative (NGI), Ian Thomas, confirms the situation: “I’ve never before had the ability to build a story in any form of reporting without a lot of manual effort to link things together.” Now, he says, NGI is collecting data from transport providers and retailers and merging it with fuel and energy prices, overlaying web traffic statistics and accommodation occupancy to get real-time business intelligence to help inform them on marketing decisions and share with partners. He adds that using an online database is “certainly going to speed up how quickly we can get statistics and trends to the Board which then starts to influence strategic decisions.”