Research & Business Intelligence Division
To know a customer’s expectations, you have to actively search for them. To manage those expectations, you have to monitor and listen to your target market.
The Research & Business Intelligence division ensures the Bermuda Tourism Authority is well informed and responsive to its market. The unit provides consumer demand and behaviour research and business intelligence to enable the development of products and sales and marketing strategies to improve the tourism industry in Bermuda.
The aim of the Research and Business Intelligence division (RB&I) is not just to measure performance, but also to proactively monitor trends. Market intelligence and research work as tools to help shape strategic decisions, tactical choices, and achieve business objectives. A consistent research strategy and coordinated approach allows the BTA to investigate broader tourism issues and share information about current trends, new market opportunities, and changing traveller profiles.
The unit collects and communicates data and tourism industry intelligence to external parties as well as internal departments, and maintains historical tourism data. A quarterly report on the BTA’s activities is also published online every three months.
The R&BI division has been proactive in exploring new research tools and learning about global trends as they are associated to our own tourism industry. As part of this ongoing learning, the team attended the STR Hotel Data Conference, where over 350 Hotel and Tourism professionals gather to learn about the latest trends in travel and hospitality from leading Economists, Researchers and international hotel brands. They also attended the PhocusWright Conference, which included workshops and presentations from the likes of Trip Advisor, Expedia, HomeAway and many others. The conference highlighted the importance of companies and destinations having a significant presence in the online space and using innovation to differentiate themselves from competitors.
One of the initial projects completed by the Research & Business Intelligence division was the development of new metrics and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for monthly measurement for Bermuda Tourism, to now include the source and revenue performance of the island’s hotels. This is in addition to the data currently released on visitor arrival numbers, revenue generated by tourists through visitor spend, and contributions to Gross Domestic Product. The division is also now releasing survey data on visitor satisfaction.
Metrics are distributed internally as soon as they are available, and are released on a monthly basis on the BTA’s corporate website, and stakeholders are encouraged to access the information at any time. The information being released is broad in scope and timely, which enables the BTA to understand the industry in detail and to respond accordingly. The majority of the metrics are issued monthly, while others are shared quarterly or annually.
In 2014, the R&BI division implemented two new data tools that will assist the organisation in the areas of Sales & Marketing and Product & Experiences development:
- nSight – allows tracking of demand (searches) and conversion (bookings) by demographic region as well as customer profile.
- ReviewPro – aggregates all online travel reviews about Bermuda and can be used for training & standards, product improvements, and identifying strengths for use in marketing.
The staff in the division were provided with extensive training on the new intelligence tools and consequently created a strategic plan for analysing and distributing the data to stakeholders.
On-site Event and Experience Customer Satisfaction Surveys
During this fiscal year the R&BI division rolled out an on-site event and attraction survey programme on iPads. All events and attractions receiving funding from the BTA, where at least 30 surveys are able to be collected, have a consumer element in the post-event report that includes satisfaction, net likelihood to recommend, type of visitor (air, cruise, etc.), length of stay, and demographics.
Online Research Panel
The division created and implemented a website and screening questionnaire for recruiting an online research panel. The soft launch took place at the end of 2014, with the intention that all consumers and travel agents in BTA’s database will eventually be invited to participate in ongoing research initiatives.
Research & Data Collection
The processing of Visitor Landing Card Data was fully transitioned in 2014 to the BTA from the Department of Immigration and the Government Information Technology Office (ITO). The BTA is now able to receive arrival data on a frequent basis and to monitor trends in arrival origin, purpose of trip and demographic information. The in-house processing also enables the Sales & Marketing division to receive frequent uploads of email addresses to the BTA’s CRM tool for timely contact with visitors.
Quarterly local opinion polls were conducted, which include in-depth questions on the tourism industry and perceptions of residents, the results of which are shared with staff. A general public focus group was held in mid-May, and the findings helped the Communications team to formulate their strategy for communication with the public and key stakeholders. As the local opinion polls continue, the questions are refined as issues arise, which helps to guide the communications strategy.
Exit Surveys for Cruise and Air continue to be conducted to gain further insights into visitors’ experiences and habits on-island and just prior to their visit. The surveys have been transitioned to tablets, saving time and money on data collection and entry. This also allows the R&BI division to make instant adjustments to the questionnaire as business needs arise.
During the year, the division undertook a competitive analysis study, based on consumer demand from destinations with similar hotel products, prices, climate, geographic source markets and demographics/personas travelling there, in order to assess Bermuda’s current competitive set as well as its desired competitive set. Following on from this competitive analysis study, the division continues to monitor online demand and conversion by geographic region and persona targets.
The following additional ad-hoc research projects were conducted over the course of the year:
- Launched Online Visitor Panel – screening to date almost 10,000 former and current visitors to Bermuda in order to utilise their opinions and feedback as needed
- Collaborated with the America’s Cup committee to discuss and refine projections of the economic benefit for Tourism in hosting the America’s Cup events in 2015 and 2017
- Assessed economic tourism loss attributable to Hurricanes Fay & Gonzalo
Reports for BTA Divisions
One of the mandates for the Research & Business Intelligence division is to assist and provide research support to the other divisions in the Bermuda Tourism Authority. Over the course of the year, the R&BI division:
- Assisted the Investment division by approximating the losses associated with the decline in tourism over the last 23 years, specifically: visitor spending, taxes, hotel inventory and employment.
- Assisted the Sales & Marketing and Product & Experiences divisions to gain feedback from visitors, stakeholders and industry partners by programming and managing online surveys for:
- Sponsored events
- Feedback from stakeholders on the Product & Experiences Funding application process
- Lunch & Learns
- Product & Experiences Workshops
- Take Bermuda With You Cards
- Worked on standardised ROI reporting for Sales & Marketing initiatives by geographic
Discussion Paper on Vacation Rental Market in Bermuda
Members of the Research & Business Intelligence, Sales & Marketing, Product & Experiences and Operations divisions are represented among a working group compiling research and public feedback on the island’s vacation rental market in order to produce a discussion paper that will be delivered to the Ministry of Tourism Development & Transport. Government officials will use the paper to determine whether current legislation that speaks to Bermuda’s vacation rental market is sufficient, should be amended or whether new legislation should be drafted.
Hospitality and Tourism Forecast 2014-2024
Over the course of the year, the RB&I division revised the Hospitality & Tourism forecast for 2014-2024 based on analysis of Bermuda’s current position, overall market trends and known future hotel developments. Bermuda’s tourism industry is beginning to show promising signs of recovery and, according to several market forecast reports and analysis, rising indicators suggest positive results are ahead for the island.