Visit Owensboro using tourist cell phone data to measure marketing impact

OWENSBORO, Ky. (WEHT) Cell phones can be used to call, text, or share videos and photos with other people. Now, Owensboro tourism officials are using tourist cellphone data to learn more about their destinations and how effective their marketing is.

Whether it’s the park, a museum, or other tourist attractions, people visiting Owensboro likely bring their phones with them. Visit Owensboro works with Arrivalist to learn more about where they are from and where they are visiting.

“Let’s say if you come to the bluegrass music hall of fame and museum, the geofence is set around that. When you walk in with your phone, it detects that you are from Louisville or Lexington, or one of the markets we are targeting,” says Dave Kirk of Visit Owensboro.

The project started in January. Kirk says it’s to help them better understand the effectiveness of their marketing in the places people are coming from. It only applies to people living more than 50 miles outside of Owensboro, spending at least several hours in the area, and visiting less than ten times per month. Telephones of residents of the Owensboro area are not tracked for this purpose.

“We know Lexington, Louisville, Indianapolis, Nashville and St. Louis are great markets for us,” Kirk said. “We see a lot of people coming for that, going to the Green River Distillery, staying downtown, taking advantage of some of the amenities that we have.”

Arrival founder Cree Lawson says he has similar projects in about 130 communities, some of which have been going on for years. He says it has helped these places improve their tourism marketing and it only takes into account where people are coming from down to their postcode.

“We want to measure what’s important to the travel community, but it’s not so granular that anyone can be purposely identified,” Lawson said.

Kirk says tourists visiting Owensboro can choose not to have their data collected by turning off location services on their phones and the apps they use on them.

(This story was originally published on April 28, 2022)

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