Skip to 0 minutes and 0 secondsI think data means different things to different people. I think the term big data which has been coined relatively, relatively recently, can be really confusing to a lot of people. Data actually doesn't need to be complicated. People secure data every day, through emails, through Facebook, through social media. From a tourism perspective it could be the information you have and a guest that's checking in. For a visitor attraction, it could be the country, or point of origin of the person stepping up to buy a ticket. We actually access and engage with data every minute of every day. What do we mean by the term data? um it's a very broad term certainly.

Skip to 0 minutes and 34 secondsBut essentially I like to think of data as information that's of use. We collect it all the time, from a vast number of different outputs and inputs, and yeah it's just essentially information that can help us make good decisions. Data is vital for us to operate. It gives us the feedback that we require, to meet visitors needs and also meet our own needs. Staff the place in proportion to the number of people coming through and to be able to review how we're doing against against how we we want to be. I think of data as information, or perhaps feedback. So we used to work, we used to gather data and look at it from time to time.

Skip to 1 minute and 20 secondsBut now we gather the data and we get very regular feedback on what the data tells us, we interpret the data. I think for many people, if you're starting and you hear a lot about data, it can be quite intimidating, as in what exactly it means. I tend to think of it as any kind of interaction that you have with your customer. So for us we will get data from our website, if our customer goes on there. We can get data from phone calls, though probably not so much now. Data for us is something that's very easy to forget. Because we look at every day and we don't really see ourselves as being experts in the data that we have.

Skip to 2 minutes and 3 secondsBut we absolutely are and I think data for us is, any information that we can collect, that will allow us to improve our business, or to improve the business of the partners that we work with. and I think one of the key things that accommodation providers and tourism businesses in general need to realise is, there are thousands of data points on their doorstep every day, that they need to start picking up on and using to help improve their business. For smaller businesses, there's a lot of data held in your customer transactions and there's a lot of data held in how people engage with your content.

Skip to 2 minutes and 36 secondsMost of the free, even the free to use, mail-out platforms will give you insight into click-through rates and conversion rates and open rates and you can really start to play around with what they mean and how you could potentially adapt and adjust. There's also I would imagine, a lot of data in software systems that people don't realise is is loitering. Looking at the the back end of the systems that you're using, whether that's your accounting system; or your customer and record management system; or your ticketing system; or even your mail-out systems, they will give you huge amounts of insight without you having to go out and capture that data.

Skip to 3 minutes and 11 secondsThat data largely probably exists in a way that you can layer them together. I think there's no end to data. I think probably myself included, you know originally data was my name, my date of birth and where I lived. Now it's it's so much more. It's about when I want to buy; it's about who I want to come with; it's about what other events I'm considering versus coming to the race day. It's about what I want to see and hear when I'm here? What, is it the racing I'm interested in? Is it the betting? Is it the socialising? Do I want to dress up? do I want to dress down? Everything that I'm thinking about.

Skip to 3 minutes and 47 secondsEverything that's influencing my buying behavior. Everything that's influencing my word-of-mouth, recommending the event to my friends. All of that is data. How our customers think, what they want, how we can deliver that, all comes back down to to data. So it really is everything. It's something that you can sort, it's something you can filter, it's something that you can add up, that you can manipulate. If... you can have data yes, in a Word document or in a free format, but then you can't work with it. So it is data, but I would say data in the sense of being able to do anything with it is, it lives in rows and columns.

Skip to 4 minutes and 25 secondsPeople view it by function in the business, so there's the sales data, there's the sales information. There's the cost information. But they're not, thinking about the relationships between those and that's I think where the power of data comes from, is making those connections between inputs and outputs. So understanding that these inputs lead to those outputs and so then if you're looking to try to grow your business, Ok there are 10 different levers I can pull, this is the expected outcome from each, I have this much budget and this much time, which one do I pull?

What do we mean by data?

In this video you will hear from people representing a range of sectors talking about what data means to them.

Data means different things to different people. Essentially, data is information. It is generally defined as a collection of facts and observations related to a particular question or problem. Any data you are collecting is information, and any information you are collecting is data.

Regardless of your business’ field of operation or size, data can have an increasing impact on your business in several ways. The idea is simple: If you own or operate a business You have data. This data is an asset you can use to improve your business. Data can thus help organisations make better decisions faster.

What range & volume of data do I need?

Data, from a tourism perspective, can vary greatly. The information you can collect ranges from small microtransactions, such as what items people are ordering off the breakfast menu, all the way through to macro data where we’re looking at the entire country, e.g. understanding the percentage of increase in Chinese visitors to Scotland.

When viewed through the lens of a specific business context, data can provide valuable insights: for example, determining what should be on or come off the breakfast menu to avoid waste, or recognising that you need to train your staff to speak more than one language and understand cultural differences of the new tourists visiting. You need to think about what is meaningful to your business and choose data appropriately.

Share this video:

This video is from the free online course:

Understanding Data in the Tourism Industry

Edinburgh Napier University