Supporting informed destination development using visitor intelligence
Having an understanding of the profile of visiting markets can assist destinations to make informed and effective marketing investments. This case study describes a collaborative model to design and pilot a community-based visitor experience study on Vancouver Island intended to create a system for ongoing, local data for tourism development. Initiated in 2013 by two communities and Vancouver Island University, the model expanded across the island to 9 communities by 2015 due to its success and community buy in. The model intercepts visitors on their trip asking them to complete a ballot with their email address in exchange for a chance to win a set of attractive prizes from the destination. In exchange, visitors are later sent a web based survey by email asking about their experience, preferences, satisfaction and characteristics. The project has enabled participating communities to learn more about their visitors and to enhance their marketing intelligence. The project is evaluated with communities annually at a meeting where refinements are made for successive years. This project highlights that systems to provide locally relevant data on visitors are valuable to assist communities to allocate their scarce marketing dollars effectively. The case study describes the elements in the design of the model, the process used to gather data, the tools used to share results and the feedback from the community stakeholders involved. Insights gained are valuable to those interested in modernizing data collection on visitors at the community or regional level.