Sunday, April 18, 2010

Tracking Tourists

Carleton Proctor of the Pensacola News Journal steps ahead of the business section today to report the front-page news that "there's a good chance" Springtime visitors to the Pensacola Beach area come from "Indiana, Arkansas or Alabama." So, should we be looking for more Hoosier T-shirts in all the gift shops?

The real news here, as it seems to us, are the sources the Pensacola Bay Area Convention and Visitors Bureau draws upon as it tries to figure out who comes here. Among them:
  • A survey of "900 visitors to Pensacola Beach, Perdido Key and downtown Pensacola over the past couple of months;"
  • Unspecified "data from last summer show that other top points of origin were Alabama, Georgia, Texas, Tennessee, Missouri, Mississippi and Illinois;"
  • More data -- including zip codes -- compiled by the "Haas Center for Business Research and Development at the University of West Florida" from "a study of some 130,000 people and groups outside the Pensacola area who contacted the Visitor Information Center, or its website, to request tourist guides;" and
  • Most intriguing of all, "an American Express cardholder report detailed the spending and point of origin for 565,356 customers who used their credit cards in the Pensacola area in 2007."
How many AmEx card holders know their every purchase is being schlepped around to let the whole world know what they're buying? And, what do you suppose are the chances Visa and Mastercard do the same?

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