No Silver Bullet: Why Integrating Data Sets Build Stronger Insights

So many things are made better when their parts work together.

Think of a rope that’s made stronger by twisting together multiple strands, or an investment portfolio that’s more resilient because it’s highly diversified. 

This idea appears in Zartico’s core values: “The sum of our parts is greater than any one of us as individuals.” And it’s an integral part of our products and our processes.

The Zartico Destination Operating System® (ZDOS®) is built on an Integrated Data Model. Just like the rope or the portfolio, this integrated approach builds integrity, unifying multiple data streams and ensuring reliability through sound construction.

A familiar example: integrated marketing

As a career marketer, I think of marketing strategy according to three traditional buckets: earned media, owned media, and paid media.

A robust marketing plan includes efforts in all three areas, and each area has different objectives, depending on your campaign. You might purchase paid advertising to create brand awareness, invest in public relations to build social proof and credibility, and then develop content on your own website to pull a customer all the way through to a purchase.

Even within each of these buckets, a strong marketing mix is important to achieve ROI. Your paid efforts may include a combination of paid search, TV spots, out-of-home, and digital ads. And your owned media reaches beyond your website to include email marketing and organic social media.

No modern marketer would expect to put up a single billboard or take out a single newspaper ad and get the results they want — that’s just not how it works anymore. An integrated approach creates strength by weaving together multiple streams, fleshing out a more complete picture of your overall message, and reaching the consumer in multiple ways.

There’s no silver bullet in data intelligence

If this is how we approach marketing — an activity that makes up the largest portion of most destination budgets — why would we expect anything different from the data we use to measure success and plan for the future?

Let’s be clear: There is no single source of data that can tell you everything there is to know about your visitor economy.


Data, by definition, is partial information that requires context to be meaningful. 

Our Integrated Data Model combines four unique data streams: lodging, spending, events, and geolocation. Each of these streams provides context and validation for the others, and — just like in marketing — each has its own objectives and strengths.

Geolocation provides a more complete look at where visitors go than spending data alone because not every visitor activity requires a purchase. (Think of public parks or free museums.) Spending data provides context to event impact because many event attendees will engage in other parts of the destination (such as restaurants and hotels) during their visit.

This pursuit of data integrity drove our recent decision to invest in lodging performance data. It’s a critical piece of the visitor experience and the primary funding source for most destination organizations. And this data illuminates previously unseen elements such as future bookings, length of stay, and average stay value.

Integration arises from connection

It’s not enough to simply look at multiple data sources displayed on the same dashboard. True integration requires them to be deeply understood and meaningfully connected.

Zartico receives raw, unprocessed data from each of our providers. Then our team of dedicated data scientists goes to work to develop and apply sophisticated methodologies to clean, balance, and verify the data. We don’t use off-the-shelf algorithms or one-size-fits-all multipliers. We do use the data sources to validate one another, which helps us flag anomalies or quickly adjust for changes in the incoming data. And within ZDOS®, we apply our Place-Based Strategy to align groups of data points based on time, place, region, or category to reflect the way that people engage with places.

The result is trustworthy, actionable insights that destinations can use for data-led strategic planning.

Gray Lawry is the Senior Vice President of Strategy & Insights at Miles Partnership, a strategic marketing consultancy that works with more than 150 destinations and hospitality businesses worldwide and is at the forefront of both integrated marketing and data-led strategy.

“The inherently messy nature of data for tourism marketing presents challenges for marketers,” he says. “The absence of a single point of purchase to measure and the geopolitical inconsistency in defining a DMO further complicate matters. Zartico addresses these challenges by establishing data relationships with leading data providers, implementing data quality checkpoints, and normalizing the data to consistent, place-based categories. The resulting dataset is trustworthy and scalable, enabling us to quickly access and utilize complex destination data.”

Better when we work together

Destination leadership is a heavy lift. Few other industries answer to as many stakeholder interests or juggle such a broad variety of activities. And few others have the big-picture vision that destination leaders hold for the future of their communities.

A lift like this demands the strongest rope — and integration is that source of strength.

By combining and connecting multiple data streams, Zartico’s Integrated Data Model is built for maximum stability, reliability, and relevance to the challenges you face. And the benefits of integration don’t stop there.

Just like integrating data streams creates a stronger source of intelligence, the same happens when you integrate the understanding and application of these tools across your organization. When colleagues across multiple departments share and leverage the data, the tool itself — and your organization as a whole — becomes stronger, too.

Curious how an integrated approach could power up your destination marketing and management efforts? Get in touch to explore integrated data in the ZDOS®.