Growing Tourism Investment with Confidence
When Economic Development Greater Saint John’s, Smart & Connected Data Project was announced in 2017, tourism providers in Greater Saint John saw an opportunity to take their industry to another level. They understood they could use the project to leverage data to provide greater insights into their industry.
“Data is vital. Everything we do is data-driven. What we do in hotels is that we follow our data very closely. But, we have identified there are gaps in our province and what the trends are in our region,” says Paulette Hicks, General Manager of Delta Saint John and President of the Saint John Hotel Association.
Hicks works closely with Discover Saint John, the lead agency for tourism in Greater Saint John. Executive Director, Victoria Clarke agreed to lead the committee responsible for the Tourism project and connect EDGSJ to other key players in the sector.
Together, they met with lead agency with tourism providers and Gail Bremner. Bremner was selected as Project Lead for the Tourism focus of EDGSJ’S Smart & Connected Data Project and has more than 20 years in project management, sales, marketing, facilitation and training in the tourism sector.
“My role is to ensure the tourism sector is engaged in the project, determine common challenges in the industry and work with innovators and industry to solve them using data and connected technology. Our focus is on ensuring the solution or solutions to either enhance visitor experiences, increase profits, and/or spark new business models,” says Bremner.
Working together, they identified one of the areas they wanted to explore using data and connected technology was getting more accurate forecasting.
“I think for our industry, it’s important for us to demonstrate there are huge opportunities and we need data to put in front of investors to demonstrate the value of tourism, to show the trends and revenues and where the business is coming from,” adds Hicks.
To address the challenge of forecasting within the Tourism industry, the Smart & Connected Data Project is looking for innovators who want to help build an automated tourism sector data collection and analytics system. Participating tourism sector operators will securely submit monthly data and, in turn, be able to access aggregated analytics to help them see trends more clearly. This will help them with all aspects of business planning.
“You could look at historical data to see trends and the forecasting data would help tourism providers better understand when they could expand their business or help entrepreneurs decide when to open a business and where. It would also provide entrepreneurs and investors the confidence to invest in the industry and our region. Like most industries, we have our hunches, but this system would either prove or disprove many of them,” says Bremner.