What is it worth for a tourist destination to focus on big data?
The Italian city of Cremona, one of the most important cities of art in Lombardy, has decided to embrace the new challenges of tourism in 2023 by harnessing the full power of big data to:
- Know in detail the profile and opinion of travellers
- Understand the tourist impact and attractiveness of each event promoted by the municipality
- Anticipate incoming flows
- Capture new trends previously unnoticed
- Scientifically plan the next steps in destination management and marketing
- Implement a Public Tourism Observatory to guide operators’ choices
Leveraging big data to make more effective decisions in real time
Cremona is one of Italy’s most important art cities. Its tourist offer knows no seasonality. The city offers artistic beauty and numerous events of all kinds that attract thousands of international visitors all year round.
The latest analyses show that Cremona has returned to pre-pandemic tourist flows, mainly thanks to a rich calendar of events, both for leisure and business, such as the Nougat Festival and Cremona Musica.
For this destination, cultural and musical events and fairs are an invaluable tourist resource, but the general feeling of the Cremona Municipality’s Tourism Service was that there was not full control and awareness of the potential offered by each event.
“We have always Istat data, which is provided by the Province when they are consolidated, so a year and a half later. This data provides us with general insights into attendance trends. The limitation of these insights is that they only come when the events are over, that they are only quantitative information, and that we cannot divulge them.
They were not enough: we wanted to understand more.”
Paola Milo – Head of Tourism Service Cremona Municipality
This is why the Municipality of Cremona decided to build an innovative dashboard of tools based on big data, with the aim of having the pulse of the situation for each event, understanding sector trends, anticipating tourist flows, and improving visitor satisfaction.
Why Cremona chose D / AI Destinations
Gaining real-time access to historical and forecast data for informed decision-making
In 2023, the Municipality of Cremona decided to revolutionize its tourism strategies by embracing big data. This involves harnessing the vast amount of data available online and on tourism portals to enhance the promotion and management strategies of the tourist destination.
With D / AI Destinations, Cremona now has real-time access to all the necessary information to understand current trends and make decisions accordingly:
- Past and future bookings of hotels and non-hotel accommodations on online portals (OTA)
- Visitor sentiment trends
- Rate trends
- Analysis of expected attendance for each event
- Analysis of traveler demographics
How Data Appeal responded
Beyond Hypotheses: Using big data to discover emerging events, unexpected trends, and visitor preferences
Thanks to data on OTA bookings and visitor patterns, it was possible to analyze the expected flow of tourists and their behaviors for every single event taking place in the destination.
Furthermore, the data unveiled ongoing trends of which Cremona was previously unaware.
“To understand the real impact of events on tourism, on one hand, there was our personal perception, supported by tangible facts such as hotel sell-outs that we could directly collect. However, this remains a partial view.
On the other hand, there is the scientific certainty and broader perspective offered by big data. Thanks to D / AI Destinations' OTA booking data, we had the complete picture: we saw in real-time that for certain events, not only were hotel accommodations saturated, but so were short-term rentals, about which we had no prior information.
The data helps us track how full hotels and other accommodations are over time. We hope that the Tourist Observatory can soon expand to the entire provincial territory; this way, we could understand how flows move across the region and on what occasions they are forced to stay in areas adjacent to the capital.”Paola MiloTourism Service Manager, Municipality of Cremona
Thanks to the timely analysis of data, Cremona could finally obtain a comprehensive overview of each event and understand the real appeal of each one.
The data revealed that some different but concurrent events have the potential to make the destination fully booked.
For example, the Pet Festival, along with less-known newer events, defied industry expectations by rapidly growing and drawing visitors from across Italy.
“Monitoring event trends and attractiveness is vital, requiring timely and predictive observation.”
D / AI Destinations has evolved into a crucial tool for predicting visitor behaviors, enabling the monitoring of booking trends over time and providing insights into the lead time people take when making reservations.
A strategic Tourist Development Plan Entirely Based on Data
“Big data is the foundation of our new Strategic Plan because it allowed us to scientifically understand quantitative and qualitative information about visitors. Thanks to D / AI Destinations, we have gathered all the data to outline the strategy for the next 3 years, analyzing who comes and what they say about the destination. Studying the data allows us to work better.”
Paola Milo – Head of Tourism Service, Municipality of Cremona
The data provided by D / AI Destinations have been used by the Municipality of Cremona to concretely trace the strategy underlying the three-year Tourist Development Plan 2024-2026.
For the first time ever, big data has entered the decision-making process in full force: data on destination sentiment, room occupancy, and revenue per room for local operators (every day and with six-month forecasts) will now guide all public and private sector strategies.
The data available to the destination was mostly historical and quantitative, such as visitor numbers: D / AI Destinations data has allowed for a more precise profile of the visitor. Where they come from, what language they speak, when they book, how much they are willing to spend, their perception of the quality of their stay, and what they discuss online in reviews.
Big data maximizes strategic choices for the Municipality of Cremona
The Municipality of Cremona is determined to continue managing tourism with a full data-driven approach.
In 2024, the team responsible for data analysis will be expanded to glean insights and information necessary for the strategy, such as investigating:
- What new initiatives to propose in line with public preferences
- In which period of the year it is more strategic to launch new events
- Which events are generating increasing interest
- How to improve the promotion of scheduled events
Additionally, Cremona will create a public Observatory of Tourism with periodic analyses on sentiment, attendance, and forecasts to help all local operators optimize their marketing and pricing strategies.
Thanks to data analysis, Cremona will optimise all its initiatives to improve destination performance, attract new tourist flows, and help every local operator to grow.