Visit Quad Cities is deploying a powerful high-tech weapon in the region’s tourism promotion arsenal.
The bi-state area’s destination management and marketing organization reported in a news release Tuesday that it has begun using the new Datafy technology to take tourism research and business intelligence gathering to a whole new level. That new tool, for example, helped the Quad Cities outperform tourism market expectations for the region during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Through its partnership with Datafy, Visit Quad Cities has been tracking overnight visitation and day-trippers coming into the Quad Cities region. The system not only follows visitation in real time, it provides demographics from 2018 to present day.
The data that Datafy delivers provides an avenue to reach visitors and potential visitors through targeted mobile advertising. As a result, Visit Quad Cities said in its release, it can “now break through the clutter and develop effective marketing campaigns based on visitors’ specific interests.”
Last fall, for example, the tourism group launched a mobile advertising campaign that targeted former visitors who traveled from within a 50- to 300-mile radius. The campaign focused on live music, arts and culture, foodie and craft beer enthusiasts, and outdoor adventures. Each person who received an ad was tracked to determine their interaction with the ad and whether it resulted in a return visit.
Based on that data, Visit Quad Cities confirmed that about 5,445 returned to the Quad Cities, and 1,850 of those people stayed at a hotel. Visits by those 5,445 people generated an estimated economic impact of nearly $950,000, Visit Quad Cities said.
A targeted winter campaign also is planned this month to promote outdoor activities, bald eagle watching, winter events and Quad Cities museums. And moving forward, Visit Quad Cities said, the data will provide tools to reach repeat visitors and new visitors, discover tourism trends, and monitor the growth of the tourism industry in the region.
“Visit Quad Cities will continue to invest in technology that competitively positions our regional destination and provides value to our stakeholders,” said Dave Herrell, Visit Quad Cities president and CEO. “Datafy’s insights, research, and intelligence are helping us better understand our visitor profile to communicate to them effectively and efficiently to drive conversion” of potential visitors to actual visitors.
Information collected includes visitation numbers, demographics, visitor spending and interests, length of stay, and where they stay. Additionally, Visit Quad Cities said it can track year-to-year, month-to-month, and quarterly comparisons to see visitation trends and growth.
Using Datafy’s location tracking technology to create a virtual geographic boundary, Visit Quad Cities is geofencing hotels, attractions, meeting and sports facilities, downtowns, the airport, and other visitor destinations to see travel patterns within the regional destination. Visit Quad Cities said it will continue to evaluate the data points and research it is getting from Datafy to see how the region can benefit from it.
For example, Quad Citians now know that people coming from outside of a 50+ mile radius of the Quad Cities, within Iowa and Illinois, make up the region’s most significant percentage of visitation. Visitors from Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan, Missouri, Texas, and Nebraska represent the highest out-of-state travel numbers.
Additional statistics Visit Quad Cities has collected via Datafy includes:
- The top cities our visitors have originated from since 2018 include Chicago; Cedar Rapids; Omaha, Nebraska; Dubuque; Des Moines; and Minneapolis, Minn.
- The average trip length was 2.891 days, and the highest visitation is Thursday through Sunday. The annual average of the number of trips was 3,581,327 with 10,283,747 visitor days spent.
- Top interests while visiting the Quad Cities were attractions, casinos, arts/culture/history, camping/RV/trails, craft beer/wine/distillery, golf courses, live music/theatre, and river cruises.
- The top age categories were 45-64 years and 25-44 years.
- Income levels were: under $50,000, 27.4%; $100,000 to $150,000, 21.8%; $75,000 to $100,000, 17.3%; $50,000 to $75,000, 17.3%; and over $150,000, 16.2%.
- Education levels were: No degree, 53%; bachelor’s degree, 41.2%; and graduate degree, 5.7%. (No degree includes those working on a degree.)
- Number of people in household: 1-2, 47%; 3-5, 44%; and 6+, 9%.
How does Datafy and Visit Quad Cities get that detailed visitor data? The system uses mobile devices and geofencing to gather data on every visitor age 16 or older. Visit Quad Cities said that “through years of technology optimization and relationship building with multiple data providers, Datafy has developed a revolutionary way for communities to understand their visitation. Datafy’s product has become a vital service to destinations trying to better understand their visitor base and create efficient marketing and promotional campaigns.”
According to its website, Datafy was created to help communities seeking better solutions for data analytics. Old systems were “slow, cumbersome and often prohibitively expensive,” the company said. “They were out of reach for many communities.”
Originally founded as a proprietary software product, Datafy became a service for destinations trying to better understand their visitor base and create efficient marketing campaigns resulting in tracked visits to the destination. Since the launch of the core product in 2020, Datafy reports explosive growth.