News release

Date: 23rd May 2012

Tourism authorities’ failure to effectively measure their visitor economy impacts on ability to implement government strategy

New report highlights challenges facing Destination Management Organisations to collect business intelligence to implement government tourism strategy.


London, United Kingdom, 23 May 2012 - 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” [download URL: http://www.t-stats.co.uk/report], 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.”

New Pressures for Tourist Authorities
The report identifies a new culture of increased transparency and openness amongst tourism authorities. They need to share issues and solutions with partners, LEPs and the private sector. DMOs need to be more reactive and responsive to current trends.
They also have to be more commercial. A new priority is to generate revenue, such as selling data to planners or hotel investors. But this requires high quality, accurate data, which needs the right tools which most DMOs fail to use.

Recommendations
The Report has five key recommendations for DMOs wanting to maximise the value of their destination statistics:
1. Make your data relevant by using locally based statistics
2. Capitalise on low-cost online ‘Cloud’ based technology to enable immediacy and sharing
3. Ensure reports are generated instantly in real-time and viewed in context
4. Share the data with partners
5. Combine data sources from e.g. weather, fuel prices, occupancy, travel, to tell an overall story to inform management decisions

-- ENDS –


Issued by Acorn T-Stats (www.t-stats.co.uk)
For further information contact Alison Burgh or Kevin Millington on +44 1580 879970
or email: kevin[at]acorntourism[dot]co.uk


NOTES TO EDITOR

1) About the report: ‘How To Maximise the Value of Destination Statistics’

If you would like a PDF of the report emailed to you directly, request here: mark[at]tacticalreslults[dot]co.uk. This 8 page report is publically available to download from this link: http://www.t-stats.co.uk/report.


2) About Kevin Millington – report author:

Kevin advises public and private sector organisations on the development of tourism, both in the UK and overseas. He specialises in tourism statistics, measuring the economic impact of tourism, and developing Tourism Satellite Accounts (TSA). Over the last 20 years he has worked closely with the UNWTO on their TSA programme. Kevin has managed and worked on a wide range of projects for clients in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Over the period 2001-2004, he was responsible for establishing the highly respected Market Research and Statistics Unit within the Saudi Commission for Tourism. Kevin has been instrumental in the development of T-STATS, the first and only online tourism statistics database developed specifically for the tourism sector. In the UK Kevin has recently worked on a series of highly respected Visitor Economy Studies for the London Boroughs of Kensington and Chelsea, Camden and Richmond.

3) About T-Stats, www.t-stats.co.uk:

T-Stats is a cost effective online tourism statistics database developed by Acorn T-Stats Ltd, that puts Destination Management Organisations (DMOs) in control of their own data. It is designed and branded specifically for individual destinations. It helps collect data, store, analyse and present all your research on the visitor economy easily and effectively, allowing you to share it with your members and other stakeholders. It is a modular system, which means it can be added to at any time. Each module provides you with the facility to collect, store and analyse different information, such as accommodation utilisation, visits to attractions, website hits, or even the weather.

4) About Acorn Tourism Consulting Ltd, /www.acorntourism.co.uk

Acorn Tourism Consulting, a UK based award-winning tourism consultancy, has designed and implemented systems of tourism statistics for DMOs, local authorities and tourist boards in over 30 countries around the world helping them to analyse, plan and market their destinations. Founded in 1996, it developed ‘T-Stats’, the industry’s only tourism statistics database system, to enable destinations to monitor and manage their performance. They have worked closely with the United Nations World Tourism Organization on the development of statistics guidelines, and are one of the most recognised firms worldwide specialising in the measurement of the tourism sector.

5) UK Government’s tourism strategy:

See www.englandtourismframework.co.uk for Visit England’s Strategic Framework

6) Tourism Management Institute’s (TMI) ‘Digital Destinations’ Conference:

Acorn T-Stats is a sponsor of TMI’s Digital Destinations conference www.tmi-events.org.uk in Coventry, 24 May 2012. TMI is the Destination Management section of The Tourism Society www.tourismsociety.org

Contacts:
Alison Burgh or Kevin Millington on +44 1580 879970
or email: kevin[at]acorntourism[dot]co.uk

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