Bahamas Pushes Tourism Analytics

With tourists as its lifeblood, the government of the Bahamas this month hooks all its major hotels and tourist boards into a centralized BI system for tracking visitors.

InformationWeek Staff, Contributor

January 5, 2005

2 Min Read

After shopping around, and looking at reporting applications from Cognos, Microstrategy and Business Objects, Indusa finally settled on a tool from Actuate. Indusa won't say how much it spent for the Actuate apps. ("What we can say is: the Bahamas is spending nothing more from its budget than it did before," says James Ram.) But Indusa was able to obtain from Actuate a broad server license with an unlimited number of users, whereas the purchase of some other reporting apps would have required a per-seat user license. With the Bahamas on the verge of a huge deployment to a much wider audience, Actuate, therefore, was the less expensive choice.

But perhaps more importantly, Indusa says, Actuate gave them more flexibility. "Their reports have the look and feel of Excel," says Jo Ram. "So end users at the hotels can get the reports they want without extensive training." Also, the technology behind Actuate allows for the building of highly focused OLAP cubes. With Cognos, says Jo, "one of our main cubes had the ability to drill down, by day, into eight years' worth of data," including ZIP codes and flight numbers for individual visitors. "All of that sounds good," she continues, "but depending on what report you were pulling, that's just a massive amount of data hitting you." Actuate's smaller, more targeted cubes can be built in a matter of seconds, she says.

Key metrics in the reports now include the ever-important trip purpose; mode of arrival, which provides insight into visitor-spending levels; and visitor volume based on DMA, or designated market area -- the places around the world with the highest density of Bahamas travelers.

The system's success has been determined based on actionable information gleaned from the hard numbers. For example, the Bahamas had for a long time assumed that most private flights into the country carried people from Florida. Therefore, it had blanketed the state with advertisements for charter airlines. After a look at the new data, however, the ministry learned that visitors who arrive in the Bahamas on charters mostly come from Europe. They fly to the U.S. commercially, then charter flights once in Florida. The Bahamas soon changed its marketing strategy.

In another instance, a hotel learned that many of its visitors were arriving from New York. But only one flight a day flew direct to the Bahamas from the New York area. Most New Yorkers, then, had to connect in Atlanta. The Bahamas took this information to the airlines. Delta and Jet Blue started direct service from New York to Nassau in December.

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