Although the tourism industry represents 10 percent of the world’s GDP, it is one of the largest data and analytics industries. Darren Dunn and Jay Kinghorn have experienced this firsthand – Dunn has served as a sales executive at various travel companies, including FarePortal.com, and Jay has served as associate managing director of the Utah Bureau of Tourism.
“Destinations around the world [are] Relying on outdated quarterly and annual reports to make critical decisions on market allocation, product mix and engagement with stakeholders such as hotels, attractions and local government officials,” Dunn told TechCrunch in an email interview. “The tourism and hospitality industry was one of the hardest hit by the outbreak and the industry has never fully recovered. The industry needs to provide attractive career paths for people to build their careers and have long-term stability.
To inject some data and digitization into tourism operations, Dunn and Kinghorn co-founded Zartico, a platform that provides analytics and insights for destination management organizations, or DMOs – government-linked tourism boards that promote places as travel destinations. The token business is running on schedule, with Zartico today raising $20 million in a Series A funding round led by Arthur Ventures, with participation from Peterson Partners, Dunn said, with the proceeds going toward R&D and hiring.
Zartico’s platform ingests geolocation, cost and event data from partners — Dunn wouldn’t say which providers — and overlays it on top of other data streams (such as from customer relationship management systems and dashboards). Using it, you can see where customers are migrating to the area and moving at the street level, and track the impact of tourism on local businesses.
On the analytics side, Zartico uses AI to predict activity, such as the number of visitors to a specific location, and extract travel destinations from unstructured text (eg social media posts and web pages). These extractions can be used to help clients develop new lines of travel products and fine-tune their marketing campaigns, Dunn says.
“DMOs don’t have first-party data like customer email addresses or shipping addresses, and they don’t have the conversion data to link marketing initiatives to sales and revenue growth,” Dunn said. “Advancements in our unified data model strengthen alignment between key data sets [for DMOs,] Make quick, accurate and easy self-service insights on spend, activity, marketing and web data sets.
Zartico’s geolocation tracking may not sit well with all privacy advocates — or tourists, for that matter. After all, the US Federal Trade Commission said in August that a data broker, Kochava, sold the exact location of US consumers to its clients. A seminal piece from the New York Times showed the ways in which location data—especially from smartphones—can be used to track human activity, especially when linked to publicly available records.
“We don’t allow our data to be used to target people under the legal age — for example, alcohol and casinos — or to create audiences for places that are primarily visited by children, like preschools and playgrounds,” Dunn added. “We [also ] We don’t allow our data to be used for employment, credit, health care or insurance purposes, and we don’t allow our data to target or identify vulnerable or sensitive communities – such as political, religious or sexual orientation. In sensitive areas (eg conflict zones, protests, religious sites, clinics, etc.) or to locations.
Zartico launched in March 2020 – a week before most of the world was shut down due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Despite the lackluster timing and competition from competitors including Arrivalist, Rove and Datafay (which specializes in data visualization and reporting) and Pleasure.i (which tracks people’s activities), Zartico says it has acquired more than 188 customers in less than three years. years. All customers are government entities – cities, counties and visitor bureaus – that actively contribute to Zartico’s $10 million annual revenue.
Dunn has big plans for the future, including using machine learning to create behavioral models that prevent “over-tourism” at specific destinations. As it grows from 61 employees to more than 100 in the next six months, Zartico is looking at new markets – mainly sports venues, municipalities and airports.
“The pandemic has heightened awareness and appreciation of the impact of the global visitor economy. This experience brought to the fore the importance of real-time decision making,” said Dunn. “No longer satisfied with rear-view mirrors, the access industry wants and deserves forward-looking tools. Zartico is well-positioned to lead the technical transformation as a fast-track witness to the high-frequency use of large data sets to provide situational insight.”
Zartico has raised a total of $24.5 million in capital, including the Series A tranche that closed to date.