Adopt & Drop — Vanity Metrics Edition

Visibility without value is vanity. 

And if you think about it, vanity is a way of courting compliments without much substance. Do we seek compliments for our marketing efforts, or do we prefer the recognition of their value and effect on our destination? 

There are ways of tracking that are for show — for vanity — and because “we’ve always done it that way.” The better we feel about our role in our community, the less we feel the need to show off. So let's adopt some new metrics and drop a few old ones. Words matter.

Five words to adopt and drop: Vanity metrics edition

Adopt: Destination Lift → Drop: Event Attendance

How did our industry become so obsessed with counting? We’re not funded by attendance, there’s no correlation between that number and economic impact.

Not to mention, that number is usually an extrapolation or multiple — it’s not even the real number. 

Destination events are vital to the health of the community, and we need to justify their existence. But we can show more value by tracking and reporting actual ‘lift’ on the overall visitor economy. Showing movement trends, spending habits, and occupancy metrics is a much more effective way to determine the effect of the event than a static number. 

Attendance is just a number, destination lift is a choice. 

Adopt: Quality Visit → Drop: Visitor Volume 

You could have 20 college kids squeezed into one motel room or 10 couples staying at your best property. It’s the same volume of visitors but not the same quality of visit for your local economy. 

By combining spending and movement data, destinations can now monitor patterns of visitor behavior in the market. If we can see where they go to and what they spend their money on, we can determine quality.

And yes — quality over quantity does matter

Adopt: Website Attribution → Drop: Website Visitation   

Website traffic is important. But the ability to attribute web visitors to actual destination travelers — who spend money and visit your stakeholders — tells you much more about your website’s power to convert.

Now you can justify the media budget that drives traffic to your primary call to action. Sometimes half the money we spend on advertising is wasted — with attribution metrics, we can know which half.

Adopt: Visitor Movement → Drop: Social Media Followers 

We’ve all worked for years on creative ways to build a community of fans who follow and integrate themselves within our destination. We even dig into their demographics and online interests to learn more about this group of potential travelers.

But wouldn’t we be better served by excavating the trends and travel patterns of people who actually show up in our communities?

Watching from afar does not always translate to a quality visit, and social media likes are not an indication of destination value. Instead, learn what you can from the people who have already demonstrated a willingness to visit.

Adopt: Visitor To Resident Ratio → Drop: Time on Site

There is no direct correlation between the amount of time spent on a destination website and the time and money spent in your community. Web surfing does not guarantee a quality visit or a positive community impact.

Instead, monitoring visitor-to-resident ratios can help you keep a pulse on the health of your destination amenities. Pinpoint up-and-coming hot spots (things that make visitors happy) and work toward balanced visitation (that makes residents happy). Whoever is happy will make others happy — no matter the time and place.

Words Matter

Let’s stop counting compliments without much substance — especially now that we have the tools to measure and track quality. 

Vanity is fragility and we need to be more gutsy with our narrative. Unless you’re so vain — then you probably think this blog is about you. Don’t you?