Overview of all visitors
The tourist office turned to Orange for the solution. With Data Analytics, Orange can anonymously collect the location data of mobile phones on the Orange network. How often are particular locations visited, where do visitors come from, how do they navigate the city, what are the busiest periods? These are all questions that Data Analytics can answer.
“We opted for Orange because they gave us easy access to the data,” explains Elise Dereppe, Communication Manager at Liège Tourist Office. “Every other month, we receive an overview of the people flows in two tourist areas in Liège. If there is a festival, for instance, we can see how many people were in the city during the festival and where they came from. This allows us to map out which events are a draw for tourists and which events are less popular.”
The tourist office started collecting data in January 2020, two months before the national lockdown due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. Dereppe looks back on that period: “Initially we were disappointed, because at the exact moment we had such a powerful tool at our disposal, the tourists stayed away. But little by little, as the lockdown measures gradually relaxed, we realized this was a unique opportunity. The museums were the first to open, then the shops, restaurants and bars. That gradual reopening of society allowed us to analyze with great precision what the tourists found most important.”
We had no idea of the number of visitors apart from those who dropped by for a few words of explanation or those who booked a room at a hotel. That’s why we went in search of a solution that would give us a more accurate picture of tourist movements in our city. Data Analytics has also given us a deeper insight into the diversity of tourists.
Elise Dereppe, Communication Manager at Liège Tourist Office
Better than instinct
Thanks to Data Analytics, the Liège Tourist Office can now make decisions based on data instead of instinct. “For example, every year on 15 August we organize a major festive event, with traditional processions that always draw huge crowds,” says Dereppe. “We thought these festivities also attracted tourists, but the Orange data disproved our assumptions: as it turns out, most of these visitors are from Liège and the surrounding area.”
In addition, the tourist office gained a clearer view of which period of the year is the most popular among tourists. “Based on the numbers of hotel bookings and visitor counts in the institutions, we always thought that the busiest period for tourists in our city was from April to July, with an additional peak during the Christmas market in December. However, the data showed that the period from September to December is quite popular for tourism, too. That’s why this year the guided tours, which normally run from April to October, will be extended until mid-November.”
Targeted marketing actions
Data Analytics also shows where these visitors come from. For foreign visitors, the location data indicated the country of origin; for domestic visitors, the town where they live. This helps Liège to target specific groups within Belgium, Dereppe adds. “The traffic situation is not perfect in Liège at the moment, so we launched a marketing campaign this year to motivate tourists to travel to Liège by train. That means they don’t have to worry about congestion or finding parking spaces. The campaign specifically targets cities with a direct train connection to Liège, such as Brussels, Antwerp, Ostend, Ghent and Bruges. In a few months, we’ll be able to determine the impact of the campaign.”
Another example shows that not every tourist exhibits the same behavior. “French and German tourists usually come on any day of the week, from Monday to Sunday, whereas visitors from Flanders often come during the weekend, from Friday to Sunday,” Dereppe explains. “Thanks to Data Analytics, we now have a clearer overview of that diversity. If we want to organize something for Flemish tourists, I now know the best time is from Friday to Sunday and not earlier in the week, whereas Tuesday is perfectly fine for an activity for French tourists.”
The major advantage Data Analytics offers is user-friendliness. Dereppe: “Naturally I had some questions at first, and I didn’t fully understand some of the data, but Orange was quick to supply transparent answers.” She also emphasizes that you don’t need a background in math. “I studied history, and I wasn’t all that familiar with data analysis, but it’s a powerful and user-friendly platform, and Orange provides excellent support. Meanwhile, I’ve been making my own reports based on the data I export from Data Analytics in the form of spreadsheets.”