Insights — 27 September 2023
by Chris Fair, President & CEO, Resonance
Historically, the performance of place management and marketing organizations has been tied to measuring the estimated economic value of outcomes associated with their marketing or business attraction efforts. Visitor arrivals. Bed nights. Investment. Taxes collected. Jobs created. Contribution to GDP.
And while the economic value of tourism or investment attraction and the prosperity it creates is critically important, there is growing awareness and concern about the impact of economic growth on the environment, local culture and quality of life in many cities and destinations. Increasingly, forward-looking destination marketing and economic development organizations are not just measuring the wealth created by their activities, but how their efforts affect the wellbeing of their local communities as well.
MOVING BEYOND OVERTOURISM
Prior to the pandemic, several destinations were experiencing so called “overtourism”—a situation where the volume of visitors began to detract from the perceived quality of life for local residents, creating a backlash and opposition towards tourism. The changing nature of tourism in terms of visitors’ desire to “live like a local” and stay in short-term vacation rentals in residential neighborhoods exacerbated the situation, as the effects of tourism were no longer confined to central urban districts or resorts.
As a result, many organizations have begun to monitor resident sentiment towards tourism. But that’s just the first step. A growing number of city leaders are moving past measuring just the number of visitors they attract and the sentiment of visitors and residents. People’s perception of a destination doesn’t tell the whole story.
FOCUS ON YOUR EXPERIENCES
The next step is to measure the growth and quality of experiences offered in a destination. It is equally important to collect data and monitor the experiential quality of a destination from a supply-side perspective in order to identify potential gaps, positive or negative, between perception and reality.
For nearly a decade, Resonance has been collecting user-generated data in online channels to conduct Destination Assessments that, utilized in conjunction with perception research, help organizations understand the performance of their destinations, and the effectiveness of their work, from a supply-side perspective.
Measuring the impact and efficacy of their work from an experiential point of view is a critical step towards shifting from a pure destination marketing mindset to one of destination stewardship for place-focused organizations.
When it comes to economic development, measuring the impact and efficacy of the organization has always been done primarily with quantitative economic measures. But with growing awareness of the value of diversity, equity and inclusion, forward-looking economic development organizations are beginning to analyze this data differently. Rather than analyzing a city’s clusters of talent in mere absolute terms, Resonance has worked with cities to help them understand their economy through a diversity lens in order to determine not just the effectiveness, but the equality of their workforce development and talent attraction efforts.
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT MEETS TOURISM
At the same time, economic development organizations are recognising the importance that experiential quality of place plays in not only attracting talent, but retaining it as well. So while destination marketing and economic development organizations utilize very different quantitative metrics to measure the impact and effectiveness of their work, there is growing alignment between them when it comes to measuring and monitoring qualitative experiential factors that are driving both talent attraction, visitor attraction and resident satisfaction.
This calls for greater cooperation and collaboration between place marketing and management organizations to work together to monitor and develop the livability, lovability and prosperity of their place in a mutually beneficial and sustainable manner that will not only generate wealth, but wellbeing for their local community as well.
HOLISTIC MEASUREMENT IN ACTION
A leading example of this approach is the new Wealth & Wellbeing Index Resonance has developed with Destination Canada. The Index provides a strategic benchmarking tool to track progress in economic, social, and environmental sustainability and resilience at all levels—from national to provincial, to municipalities across the country.
The Wealth & Wellbeing Index collects information on 82 indicators grouped into 22 areas, distributed among 6 categories: Economy, Employment, Enablement, Environment, Engagement, and Experiences. This innovative approach blends traditional quantitative measures with new qualitative ones to provide a holistic picture of the overall effects, positive and negative, of the visitor economy across Canada that can be tracked over time to create a new measure of organizational impact and efficacy.
Resonance creates transformative strategies, plans, brands and campaigns that empower destinations, cities and communities to realize their full potential. Please connect with us and let’s empower your place together.