I believe High Performance Tourism Networks provide destinations with a chance to gather meaningful data.
Every week I meet people and networks in destinations who regard themselves as successful because of the number of people who set foot in the destination. They rely on regional or national statistics on the number of visitors who were in the destination in a given time period to evaluate their tourism success. However, this is a false metric as numbers are not a measurement of impact. Numbers are only a sweeping indicator of the quantity of people on the move.
While destinations measure numbers, what they actually want to know about is the impact of those numbers. They want to know about length of stay, the level of spend and the spread of visitors.
I believe that having a strong and effective tourism networks within destinations can provide a vehicle for getting a better understanding of stay, spend and spread over time.
If there’s a strong network who’s membership is representative of the destination, the Network can simply conduct an online survey of the membership once a year with questions that measure the impacts you actually want to achieve. The answer will be an excellent barometer of what’s happening locally in your destination in terms of impact and will put greater meaning behind the overall number statistic.
- So if you want to achieve a longer stay, ask your members who offer accommodation how long is your average length of stay?
- If you want to achieve a higher spend, ask your members whether their overall revenue is increasing, decreasing or staying the same? Also ask them whether their revenue per guest is increasing, decreasing or staying the same.
- If you want to measure the spread of visitors,
o analyse how many members you have and where they are located around the destination.
o Analyse how this changes over time.
o As far as the questionnaire goes, ask them:
- Is your overall number of visitors increasing, decreasing or staying the same?
- How many people do you employ?
- How would you describe your confidence level in your business for next year?
Take the survey at the same time every year and analyze the responses over time. For this to work, a network must first get very clear on the impacts it wants to achieve. It can then report on those impacts year-on-year and use the data as a solid basis for planning and decision-making.