Meet Andria Godfrey: VP of Data Science at Miles Partnership

Andria Godfrey lives and breathes destination data. From the beginning of her career in travel and market research to her current role as Vice President of Data Science at Miles Partnership, Andria’s path has evolved alongside the emerging technologies moving the industry forward. Throughout her journey, she has kept a singular focus on one thing — helping destinations find innovative ways to support their communities.

Keep reading to find out what inspires Andria and where she’s traveling next.


Tell us about your career path — how did you get into the role you are in now?

I fell in love with the travel industry back in college. I studied abroad in Shanghai between my junior and senior years, and I was majoring in anthropology and communications. I felt like everybody was going to Europe, so I wanted to go somewhere different. 

Shanghai opened my eyes to the world and to the idea that you could learn so much from going to other places. It changes your perspective and your worldview. And I never wanted to stop doing that. 

So I added on another year to get a degree in communications and recreation, parks, and tourism, and then I did my master’s in that program. I was presenting a paper at the Travel and Tourism Research Associations when I met Julie Chase, then with Travel Texas, and I had my first job in the destination space on the research team there.

Fast forward a bit, and I ended up growing my career to lead research for Explore Georgia, which is where I first started working with technology for travel. I started working with Adara Impact, and I met Ted Sullivan. As a lot of good travel industry jobs happen, I was talking to him at a conference and said, Hey, y’all need customer success — why don’t you have this? Six months later, I had my first job outside of destinations.

Over time, I’ve built this skill set for working with multiple data sets, interpreting data, and making it accessible and useful for destinations. After Adara, I went to Longwoods and was their senior vice president for two years. Then I moved to Epsilon where I was able to pick up some of the training I started at Adara, where I was mentored by Chief Technical Officer Charles Mi. At Epsilon, I moved into a product role, which is very similar to my current data science role at Miles.

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If you weren’t doing this work, what do you think you would be doing instead?

That’s challenging! My parents are always on me because I don't talk about retirement. I don't think I ever want to retire because I love what I do. I feel like I would somehow be in the travel industry — either on the DMO side, which maybe one day my career will take me there, or I would work on the provider side. 

I absolutely love meeting people from different walks of life with different cultures, and I love sharing that with other people and trying to create those experiences. Even with my friends — I go on trips, and then they ask for my itineraries, and I'll craft them for them. Maybe I would be a travel agent? I don't know, but I wouldn't be far from travel. I know that.

Where do you go to learn or to find inspiration? Are there any people, books, podcasts, hobbies, etc. that are capturing your attention lately?

For me, it's about talking to people. I have absolutely no problem sending an email, finding someone on LinkedIn, or picking up the phone, to just talk to people and talk about what they're working on and build relationships with them that way. And that's something I do a great deal of. 

Gray Lowry is the head of insights here at Miles, and so if I want to bend his ear about an article from Digiday — I spend a lot of time with Digiday — I just pick up the phone and have a conversation with him. 

In addition to Digiday, I like Fast Company. They don't focus on the tourism industry as much, but they do focus on tech and life in general. I was just reading an article about a new study, a Gallup poll about the happiest countries, and they also did a generation breakdown. That has implications for us as we provide programs and advertising for our clients. 

And then I have CNBC on all day. I watch the markets all day. When they have the World Economic Forum in Davos, I sit with a cup of coffee and a notepad. I do that kind of thing a lot, watching companies going public or having shifts in stock, and I try to dig into what they're doing to see what takeaways I can find. And my dog likes to watch the news ticker so it keeps him occupied throughout the day.

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Tell us about a place you love — what do you love about it, and what would you tell someone who is planning to visit for the first time?

I went to Iceland last fall, and I spent two weeks with my parents in an RV traveling around Iceland. I love that it’s so different. The ecosystem there is so diverse. You can go from looking at a beautiful waterfall that's covered with flowing grasses, and then an hour later it's like you're on the moon, with black ash fields for as far as the eye can see. It's very unique, and also it's quiet. It's a good place to go and spend time just kind of pouring into yourself. 

My recommendation would be to try to get as remote as possible. It's not a big island, so you can go really remote and still be a couple of hours from civilization. Take the opportunity to go off the beaten path.

What is your “bucket list” travel destination?

I'd love to see the white desert of Antarctica. I haven't seen a penguin in the wild before, and I would love to go and just be on the most remote tip of the world. 

So Antarctica is on my list — that and Socotra, which I think I'm going to do for New Years. It's an island off the coast of Yemen. Tourism is a big focus for the island as an avenue for supporting the economic development of the local communities.

It's beautiful. They have these dragon trees, and their sap is like blood. It's one of the only places in the world you can find them. The water is a vibrant, vibrant blue, and they have whale sharks and a lot of biodiversity in the water. And I have to warn you — don’t Google search it unless you’re prepared to become obsessed with trying to go, because that’s what happened to me.

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What feature or element of ZDOS® either sparks the best ‘aha moments,’ leads you down the best rabbit holes, or makes your job easier?

I really like the ability of ZDOS® to be something that destinations and agencies can access together because it creates a shared understanding, which is so effective. Timothy Bush from Visit Lake Charles and I were geeking out, for lack of better words, the other day, and it was good because we're able to talk about consistent metrics.

I also like how ZDOS® brings together multiple datasets into one location. Research needs to be something we all do in our organizations and do regularly — but we all have limited time. And what I’ve found is that ZDOS® culls together the initial insights you need to have those strategic conversations. 

After I go through ZDOS®, I find that I have a list of questions but I also have a list of answers, and everything is succinctly done. Especially thinking of our clients — or for other agencies trying to support clients — it's about turning around those quick answers or helping our clients in their immediate needs because oftentimes, there's a stakeholder or legislator who needs immediate answers, and they can't wait.

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What’s the biggest opportunity the industry is missing out on when it comes to data or technology?

We’re so focused on first-party data, but we've not yet found the fitting puzzle piece to drive the most value for the unique destination use case.

It’s very similar to what’s happening with AI right now. We’re talking so much about chatbots, but we’re not having the conversation about how to use AI to drive marketing outcomes and create organizational efficiencies, or how destinations can lean into AI to drive guest experiences.

Hilton’s CEO was on CNBC a couple of months ago along with a spokesperson from Meta, and they were talking about how the travel industry shouldn’t be concerned about AI taking jobs. What we should be concerned with is how we shape AI to improve guest experiences.

The speaker from Meta said this is the first year they’re seeing consumers using AI for information-gathering day-to-day. As an industry, we need to look at how we can help shape their experiences and have deeper integrations — versus just how we interface with them. How do we take it one step further and create these deeper use cases for advertising and on-the-ground experiences?  

Hear from Andria at Zartico’s quarterly conversation series, Show + Tell. She takes the (virtual) stage along with Visit Lake Charles CMO Timothy Bush on Thursday, April 18 at 3 p.m. ET. Sign up here.