Whether we realize it or not, tourism plays a significant economic role in our communities. According to the 2017 World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) Economic Impact Report, tourism supported one out of every 10 jobs globally in 2017 and will account for one out of every four jobs by 2027. From destination trips—national parks, all-inclusive resorts, theme parks—to big events such as this year’s World Cup in Russia, which is projected to have a total impact of $31 billion, there are people at every step of your trip that are involved in the tourism and hospitality industries.
Yet, despite the influence of tourism on local economies, the marketing budgets of tourism boards are tightening. That's why our newest travel solution, Net Economic Impact (NEI), allows marketers to see the ROI of their digital marketing programs like never before.
I recently sat down with Elly Newell, director of product management for vertical solutions, to discuss NEI and how it can benefit destination marketing organizations.
Josh: Please tell me a bit more about NEI and what it does.
Elly: NEI is a measurement solution for tourism boards that allows these marketers to see the economic benefit of their digital messaging efforts. It looks at the purchases made in a geo-defined area that the tourism board represents across all industries to show what monetary value the advertising campaign drove to that specific location.
Josh: What was the need for NEI?
Elly: There was a gap in the market. Most tourism boards base success on-site interactions, engagements with ads or downloads of brochures. And they need to see more than bookings, which are prone to cancellation. NEI can see when a person went to a destination and spent money across the multiple spend categories, not just within the hotel or travel spaces.
At a time when people are fighting more for government dollars to be funneled into tourism, the boards need to be able to show the value of their efforts as opposed to assuming the value based on surveys, foot traffic or bookings.
Josh: How do tourism boards make their digital advertising smarter?
Elly: A strong strategy to reach consumers is the starting point. Being able to find the right users, wherever they’re browsing is key to driving travelers to a destination. The second part is measurement to determine the value that those people who are engaged bring in. NEI does both, and we can use that data to strengthen campaigns moving forward.
Josh: What sort of report-level detail do clients get?
Elly: NEI shows results at both the aggregate and category level. At the aggregate level, reporting on messaged revenue with a 90-day look-back window allows tourism boards to see the net economic impact (or return on ad spend). NEI also reports on the total transactions that took place in the geo-fenced area as well as the total transactors. Based on that, a tourism board can determine the average spend per transactor.
In terms of category breakdown, tourism boards can see revenue and transactions in the following categories: Retail, Gas and Grocery, Dining and Nightlife, Hotel, Health and Wellness, Professional Services, Entertainment and Recreation, Transportation Services, and Other.
Josh: How granular is NEI’s geo-location reporting?
Elly: NEI can get as granular as the zip code level and can group reporting into regions defined by the tourism board.
Josh: What privacy considerations were there in building NEI?
Elly: NEI is free from personally identifiable information (PII). We map online and offline transactions back at an individual level but PII never enters our walls for that match.
Josh: What are some of the successes you’ve seen?
Elly: Our proof-of-concept results at the city level yielded a 118:1 return on ad spend. What’s more, the highest rate of transactions falling into the “Other” category was one percent. NEI does a good job of bucketing the data in the appropriate category.