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Two years is too long. I was ecstatic to gather with tourism colleagues and friends at the Educational Seminar for Tourism Organizations (ESTO) in Los Angeles. Nan Marchand Beauvois and the U.S. Travel team put together a fantastic line of speakers and content this year. One narrative that was continually brought up was data aggregation. At first, I was overjoyed but my enthusiasm did not last long. The notion of approaching data with the lens of a shiny new object did not sit well with me. What makes data powerful is its transformation into creative solutions for timely decision-making for outcomes to a community. In this spirit, it is time to adopt some new words and drop a few to leverage the power of insights and intelligence for destination outcomes.
|Adopt: Value||Drop: Volume|
‘More is better’ is an alluring state of mind, but is it? Having data is not the same as using data and aligning it with your organizational strategy. During a conversation with Jeremy Sampson of The Travel Foundation, he expressed concern about some destinations’ focus on volume, which can burden a locality. The same principle applies to data management; it is not about the volume of data but the value it brings to decision-making. Next time you consider a data set, ask what question does this data help you answer. If it answers no questions, don’t use it.
|Adopt: Action||Drop: Over-Analysis|
Get to the point! If it feels like you’re rambling, you’re rambling. When we have volumes of data and not enough clearly identified high-value business objectives, we commonly suffer from analysis paralysis, causing decision-making to come to a halt. Analysis needs to be tied to business strategy and infused into teams’ daily functions to inspire action. It requires focus and commitment to human capital by empowering people to make the right decisions. Here are some tips on the paradox of choice from Doist on how to best deal with analysis paralysis.
|Adopt: Asset||Drop: Cost|
Traditionally, data has been evaluated as a cost to any business. However, in today’s knowledge-based economies, data transformed into insight is a strategic asset. Innovative leaders automate insights and intelligence through their operations within their organizations and focus on competitiveness through a broad range of functions. In this regard, data is a capacity that transforms an organization. For more tips on transforming data from a cost to an asset, check out this article from Deloitte.
|Adopt: Appropriately Respond||Drop: React|
“I’m not going to react to this... I’m going to appropriately respond,” says my colleague, Ted Sullivan, during our meetings. Accelerated change has become the norm since the pandemic started. We have moved into a 24-7 strategy mindset. Within this realm, there is a need for high-frequency insights to answer business questions nimbly. The annual strategic plans are being replaced by adaptive strategies and insights that are updated frequently. This agile mindset requires destinations to move from reactive to responsive strategic agendas with fast-moving data sets as the foundation.
|Adopt: Adaptable||Drop: New Normal|
Julie Chase of Visit Austin said it so well, “I am sick of hearing the words: new normal. If we say ‘new normal’ all the time, it’s not NEW!” She is right; it has been overused. Words profoundly impact how we make sense of the world and even interpret insights for business. Let’s use positive words that highlight how we embrace change. As Darwin once said, “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.”
Adapt or Perish. Adopt or Drop. The choice is yours.