I’m in Denmark for the week, introducing a number of coastal towns to T-Stats. It’s all part of a project to develop seaside towns in the country, and my remit is to provide a solution that will allow each town to measure and track tourism at the local level.
The situation here is very similar to that in England, VisitDenmark (like VisitEngland) commissions a nationwide accommodation occupancy survey, and there is also an annual attractions survey. However, whilst these are useful for generating a picture of tourism at the national, and even regional level, they are of little use at the local level.
One issue is that the number of hotels, bed and breakfasts, and other types of accommodation that report their statistics is too small in these surveys to provide meaningful information at the local level. Another issue, possibly more pertinent, is the lack of immediacy in the national survey data. It takes too long for the data to be released, and so by the time it is, the moment has passed. It no longer has the significance or usefulness that it would have had if it had been published a month after it was collected.
What we are doing in Denmark is holding meetings at each town that is part of the coastal tourism project. Owners or managers of accommodation establishments and attractions are invited to attend, and the online database system is explained to them: how they enter data, how they can track their own performance on it, and how they can compare themselves with their peers.
The overall success of this is, of course, dependent on their buy-in to the system, as without their data the database is merely an empty structure.
So, do they buy-in?
Well, most of the time, yes, they do. And the reason for this is what makes local-level data collection so much more appealing than that at the national level. The local tourism administration usually has close ties with the hotels, bed and breakfasts, attractions, and so on. Consequently they are best placed to persuade them to divulge their data. In turn, the owners and managers are more likely to trust the organisation collecting the data, and therefore more readily provide it.
And above all, the accommodation establishments and attractions are most likely to appreciate the benefits that this local level information could have on their businesses, as it provides vital information for planning, marketing and promoting the sector.
And that’s why collecting data at the local level is king!