Your City Is A Store
"Visitor origination is the straw that stirs the drink," writes Arrivalist GM/CRO James Smith.
New Orleans, The Big Easy, continues to succeed in driving arrivals from all over the world to their market, effectively attracting tourists not just to Bourbon Street, but also to New Orleans malls, casinos, restaurants and more.
The New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation (NOTMC), the Destination Marketing Organization that helps drive tourists to stay longer and visit more locations while in-market, utilizes location based visitation intelligence for consumer insights and to measure their online media’s effect on offline visitation behavior. Many other marketers can take a page from their playbook to unearth similar insights to help drive higher “foot traffic,” but also to focus their marketing on the most valuable customers.
Specifically, the NOTMC’s marketing and media decisions are in-part informed by using mobile-location analytics to help them gain key insights. These insights include affinity destinations in New Orleans; origin-market trends of the highest value/longest duration tourists; sequences in foot-traffic patterns between various points of interest; and of course tying their media plan investment and website to actual arrivals and duration of stay.
The primary source the NOTMC uses for these insights is visitation intelligence platforms that are always-on. There are numerous very good location analytics companies in the marketplace today, and the quality of location data and depth of insights from all is light-years from where it was even two years ago. Platforms today need to answer questions that tourism marketers specifically need to answer.
This requires a very long “look-back” — which I have written about before — and a dashboard that focuses on long-term visitations and arrivals, versus short-term foot traffic. Some other platforms have been built to effectively measure the short-term foot traffic questions that categories like QSR need to understand and that makes sense. However, for some categories, like luxury retail, the solution is likely a combination of both types of platforms, with a focus on short-term foot traffic, but also an understanding of long-term trends for high consideration purchase/purchaser behavior.
For instance, origination is an important “long-term” data point. Think of New Orleans as a store. However, instead of aisles filled with sensibly organized goods, this store has malls, luxury shopping, casinos, a zoo, museums, restaurants, and hotels. When you overlay origination data with spending and foot traffic to these attractions, it informs marketers about where to focus their media within these origin locations.
New Orleans examined these trends during Jazz Fest (officially named the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival) versus other tourism periods to see the difference in tourists’ behavior when they were in-market. On a normal weekend, Baton Rouge is the largest origin-market for visitors traveling to New Orleans, but things change dramatically in April once the festival season began. The city then welcomed much higher volumes of music lovers from large metropolitan areas like New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Houston, and Los Angeles.
This difference in origin-market mix changed the overall trend in terms of visitor behavior within the city. While the French Quarter and Bourbon Street remained a staple, Visit New Orleans saw a spike during Jazz Fest to a broader set of attractions, with longer duration stays from those from the aforementioned metropolitan areas, for example a higher proportion of visitation to Harrah’s Casino, the Canal Place Mall, Riverwalk Retail Outlets and high-end restaurants like Commander’s, Cafe Du Monde and Brennan’s.
In sum, the origin and location-based marketing strategies in New Orleans’s playbook are translating well and are instructive to any marketer who has a lot to gain by understanding long-term “visitation” trends. Those marketers include not just Destination Marketing Organizations like New Orleans, but hotels, casinos, attractions, museums, zoos, and yes, even retail.
*James Smith is GM and CRO of Arrivalist. Smith is a seasoned executive leader for innovative digital brands. The first Chief Revenue Officer at Huffington Post, as well as Flixster and most recently Verve Mobile, he has also held revenue leadership roles as EVP Americas at Criteo, and SVP at AOL and Sony Pictures Digital Entertainment.