Recently, someone asked me how many Britons visited Tuscany. I said I’d see if I could find out. I did, but not after carrying out quite a bit of research and running a fiddly calculation. The number I came up with was little more than a rough estimation. I’ll explain what I did in another post.
I should not have needed to estimate the information I was looking for because Italy already has it. I’ll now tell you what this information is and where it can be found.
Italy, you see, routinely requires hotel operators to register guests with local police. A copy of passports or other identity documentation is taken at the time guests book into a hotel, as anyone who has stayed in Italy will know.
What information is contained in passports? Nationality, of course. Generally, though not always, if a passport says, for the sake of argument, Germany, then its holder is from Germany.
Sometimes, though, a German passport holder may be resident in Italy, for work or whatever reason, and so does not strictly count as the same kind of tourist as someone who comes directly from Germany. The number of people who are in this position is not likely to be that high. In some other instances, hotel guests may be in Italy on business and not for pleasure. Once again, the number of business travellers is likely to be minimal compared to those visitors who are in Italy as tourists.
Now, with the information collected by Italy’s police from hotel registrations, Italy will know which areas attract the most Germans and, logically, will know which areas do not attract that many Germans. Italy will also know which areas attract Germans at certain times of the year too. From this information, it would be possible to understand, for example, how many Germans visit a certain ski resort, monument, city or whatever. The same, of course, applies to all nationalities visiting Italy.
Armed with this ‘granular’ data, Italy could prepare highly targeted marketing plans. If for example, not many Germans visited Lake Como during the summer of 2014, then Italy could run web and other advertising campaigns in Germany trumpeting the delights of Lake Como. Then, in late 2015, after having run a spring 2015 promotional campaign, it could understand, from the passport information gathered, just how successful, or not, its area targeted marketing campaign had been.
The same system could be applied throughout Italy and slowly but surely, Italy would learn which nationalities prefer which areas. It could then point these people towards other similar areas to boost their tourism income. Let’s assume, for a moment, that Irish tourists spent a lot of time in the mountains of northern Italy during the summer of 2014. It is likely that the Irish would like other mountainous areas of Italy. In which case, a promotional campaign could be run in Ireland to show off the beauty of the mountains in Abruzzo or Le Marche. Then, after the summer of 2015, Italy could understand whether it had increased the number of Irish visitors to the mountains of Abruzzo.
If Italy wanted to really dig into its already existing data reserves, it could even understand which nationalities stay in which classes of hotel. Imagine that Finns frequented 5 star hotels in Tuscany during the spring of 2014. Perhaps starting now, Italy could run a promotional campaign showing off 5 star hotels in Le Marche. The results of the campaign could then be measured and, if successful, the campaign could be run in the autumn of 2015 in order to attract Finns to 5 star hotels in Le Marche once more. Or else Italy could run a campaign in Finland to show off its five star hotels.
Useful Data for Tourism Operators
The information on which nationalities visit which areas of Italy could be used by Italy’s tourism operators directly. As part of marketing campaign, hotels, or even whole areas, could organise press trips for journalists from those nations prefer a certain category of hotel and a certain area, or even a particular museum.
Using targeted, nationality-specific data, Italy as a whole could develop a highly sophisticated tourism marketing system or even long term tourism development plan. It may also learn where it needs to build more 5 star hotels.
My own attempts to understand which nationalities visit where in Italy did not get too far. This suggests that perhaps Italy is not exploiting information it already possesses.