The Hottest Data Resource in TourismDarren Dunn
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About Our Guest
Darren Dunn, President at Entrada Insights Inc., joins this episode of the Destination Marketing Podcast to talk all about one of the up-and-coming data companies in the tourism industry. Listen and learn how Entrada is revolutionizing the way that destinations view data on their visitors and learn how it might be helpful in your destination.
"If we can't humanize the data, destinations aren't going to understand it and they're not going to be able to tell stories with it. Bringing this together is going to be healthy for the destination industry and for me, it's rewarding because it's allowing me to help destinations tell amazing stories and figure out not only what to do, but more importantly right now what not to do."
- Name: Adam Stoker
- Position: Co-founder and CEO of Relic
- Favorite Destination: Fiji
- Dream Destination: New Zealand
- Name: Darren Dunn
- Position: President at Entrada Insights Inc
- Favorite Destination: Patagonia and Easter Island
- Dream Destination: New Zealand and Africa
“The Hottest Data Resource in Tourism” – Show Notes and Highlights
- Darren shares his background from growing up on a ranch to running an online tourism tech platform.
- COVID has created more collaboration and coming together in the industry than in the past.
- They speak about Entrada Insights on how the data and the report shows value to the DMO such as in sales and marketing data, tax data, traffic, and hospitality employment.
- Entrada Insights helped Mississippi DMO in future economic decisions during COVID by understanding data sources from the different city departments.
- Aurora, Colorado used visitor behavior data to make important decisions within their organizations.
- Darren points out that humanizing the data helps improve decision-making from the management and marketing standpoint.
- The future of Entrada will have enhancements to the platform, continuous growth and collaboration with the needs of people.
Resources Mentioned in the Podcast:
Darren Dunn: [00:00:00] If we can’t humanize the data, destinations aren’t going to understand it and they’re not going to be able to tell stories with it. Bringing this together is, long-term, going to be super healthy for the destination industry. And for me, it’s really rewarding because it’s allowing me to help destinations tell amazing stories and actually back it up and figure out not only what to do, but probably more importantly right now, what not to do.
Adam Stoker: [00:00:25] Today’s episode is brought to you by Relic. As many of you know, I own an advertising agency called Relic and we work specifically with tourism destinations. If there’s any of you that are struggling with what to do next or you’ve tried agencies that don’t specialize in tourism or if you’ve been using a local flavor for years and years and you’re just looking for something new, I would say give us a call. Give us the opportunity to take a look at your plans, see what you’re doing, use our tourism knowledge and industry specialty to examine everything from your brand to your tactical execution and make recommendations of how to help. We’ll do that assessment for free. We’ll give you those recommendations for free. And if you like what we say, maybe you can hire us to execute on those plans. So, kind of a risk-free opportunity to have us take a holistic look at everything you’re doing, provide some recommendations, and you can kind of see us in action.
If you’re interested in having us do something like that, please send me an email directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would love to set that up with my team.
Hello everyone, and welcome to another episode of the Destination Marketing Podcast. I’m your host, Adam Stoker. Got a great show for you today. We are back in the office. We’re not on the road like we have been for the last several weeks. And I’ve got a great, great show planned for you today.
Our guest today is from a data company that we’re going to talk all about today. His name is Darren Dunn and he’s with Entrada Insights. Darren, welcome to the show.
Darren Dunn: [00:02:04] Thanks for having me. A pleasure to be here. I’m jealous that you’ve been on the road for the past few weeks.
Adam Stoker: [00:02:10] Yeah, it’s been a wild ride. And we might even get into how you may have helped me inspire that little road trip that I went on. But before we get too far into the episode, I want to ask you a couple of these icebreaker questions we like to ask at the beginning of each show. So, first question is, if you could go anywhere in the world, Darren, where would that be?
Darren Dunn: [00:02:29] I haven’t explored South America all that much. I did go to Peru last year. Actually, this week last year. So, probably Patagonia is top of my list, and Easter Island as well.
Adam Stoker: [00:02:43] So Patagonia’s been a popular answer here on the show, and looks like an amazing place. I’d love to know what draws you to that? And I’ve actually never heard of Easter Island, so I want to get into that a little bit too.
Darren Dunn: [00:02:55] Well, with respect to Patagonia, it’s really the mountains and the outdoors that really attracts me to going there. I grew up in Montana, I grew up in the great outdoors on a ranch, the whole works. Spent a lot of time in Glacier Park and the mountains of Montana and hiking, so that’s what really draws me.
And Easter Island, it’s also called Rapa Nui, and it has the distinction of being the most isolated island in the world, off the coast of … I want to say … You know what, I don’t know. Off the coast of South America. It’s the one with all the giant stone heads –
Adam Stoker: [00:03:34] Oh, okay.
Darren Dunn: [00:03:34] … that are in the ground.
Adam Stoker: [00:03:35] Well, we’ll all have to jump on a map after this and find Easter Island, Rapa Nui, because I’m not totally sure either. But I feel like I’ve learned a little bit about you here, Darren, that while you’re a people person and you’re very engaging when I’ve talked to you before, you kind of like your space a little bit, don’t you?
Darren Dunn: [00:03:54] I do. I’m actually in the process of moving to the Salt Lake City area right now from San Francisco. And one of the big draws besides that’s where headquarters is, is actually the ability to quickly get up in the mountains.
Adam Stoker: [00:04:07] Well, as a resident of the area, I can attest that you’re going to enjoy it here, for sure. Especially if you like the outdoors and the ability to get away.
Darren Dunn: [00:04:15] Yep, can’t wait.
Adam Stoker: [00:04:17] Well, good. I think that’s a great answer to the question of, what’s your dream destination? Let’s talk about, and I know you’re well-traveled, Darren, so it’s hard to narrow it down, but one of the trips that you’ve been on that you had a really great time that stands out to you?
Darren Dunn: [00:04:33] Probably one of my favorite places in the world is New Zealand, for all the reasons I just explained. I love the outdoors, the people are amazing, the culture is fantastic. I’ve had the luxury of going there eight or nine times for work. And also gotten to take a week or two to just enjoy the country on my own.
Adam Stoker: [00:04:56] Awesome.
Darren Dunn: [00:04:57] And the other place probably, I mean, Africa. Certainly going to Kenya and South Africa, there’s something about Africa that’s just bewitching and so different from our existence here. It is the outdoors, but it’s a much different outdoors. Everything’s bigger and can kill you there. I guess that adds to the adrenaline.
Adam Stoker: [00:05:22] So your two favorite trips are a country with zero predators and a country with the scariest predators, it sounds like.
Darren Dunn: [00:05:32] That’s actually a great way of looking at it.
Adam Stoker: [00:05:36] That’s good. You like safety, but you also like a little bit of danger in your life. That’s good.
Darren Dunn: [00:05:43] Well, part of New Zealand is actually the adrenaline part. So that’s where they invented bungee jumping, the jet boats up and down the rivers, white water rafting, so it’s a different adrenaline there.
Adam Stoker: [00:05:54] Yeah. New Zealand has always been on my bucket list. I’m a little bit afraid of large predators, so Africa’s a little farther down the list for me. But New Zealand has always stood out to me as they’ve got every season there, they’ve got really high mountains. They’ve got beach experience. They’ve got the best fly fishing, maybe in the world, and it’s all these amazing things packed into one relatively small country.
Darren Dunn: [00:06:21] Yeah. In two weeks or less, you can see the whole country. That’s what I love about it.
Adam Stoker: [00:06:26] Pretty amazing. Well, that’s a good answer too then. I’m glad you’ve gotten to visit those places. When you were in Africa, did you have any uncomfortable experiences with any of those large predators?
Darren Dunn: [00:06:39] I did a cage dive with the great white sharks, that was a little startling to have those big predators coming up, literally biting on the cage.
Adam Stoker: [00:06:49] Wow.
Darren Dunn: [00:06:50] So that was an encounter. We had a number of large animals coming into camp at night from lions and those types of predators, to elephants, et cetera. But there’s always guys 24 hours a day that are keeping those animals at bay for you.
Adam Stoker: [00:07:08] Wow. Africa may have just moved even farther down my list after hearing about these large animals coming into your camp at night. Well, good stuff, Darren. It’s fun to get to know a little bit about you and what drives your travel decisions.
And we’ll talk a little bit today about the research that you’ve done on what drives travel decisions. But I want to have our audience get a little bit of an insight into your background. You went from growing up on a ranch in Montana to being in a tech company. That seems like a long journey to go from growing up on the ranch in Montana to running a tech company.
Darren Dunn: [00:07:49] Yeah. It is a long journey. I have to preface that it was a hobby ranch in Montana, so I don’t want to put our land in the same classification as the thousands of acres of ranches that are around there.
Adam Stoker: [00:08:03] So you weren’t living the TV show Yellowstone up there?
Darren Dunn: [00:08:07] I did. Actually, we had horses and cattle and I spent most of my time working on other ranches every single summer.
Adam Stoker: [00:08:14] Oh, wow.
Darren Dunn: [00:08:15] And winter, many times.
Adam Stoker: [00:08:19] So you definitely learned hard work.
Darren Dunn: [00:08:21] Yeah. Going through this pandemic and trying to keep employees and coworkers motivated, when they get anxious about something, I’m like, “Listen, nothing’s going to die today if we don’t get this done.” And when you grow up working ranches, if you don’t get up and do your job, something can die. Crops will die, animals will die, people’s food will go away. So that’s really where you get the work ethic from. And working in the tech world, nothing’s going to die today if I don’t get a PowerPoint done.
Adam Stoker: [00:09:00] Well, tell me about that journey. Tell me what led you to where you are today.
Darren Dunn: [00:09:04] So, I left Montana around 20 years old, and I started a tech company back in the late 90s with the first dot-com boom. That company was an online advertising and promotions company. And we were lucky enough to sell it right before the crash.
Adam Stoker: [00:09:26] Good timing.
Darren Dunn: [00:09:27] Yeah. And to a larger advertising company in New York City. And during that time, I got an odd phone call from the state of Louisiana and they said they were interested in doing some online advertising. I had never worked with a tourism bureau before, so I thought, “Well heck, I’ll take the money.”
I remember it was like $32,000, but not insignificant. And so, what was very interesting about that time is their state director at the time, a guy by the name of Philip Jones, he convinced the state legislature to count somebody visiting the webpage as an inquiry. In the entire industry back then, that was the key measurement for success, was measuring inquiries. Most of the time, that meant people calling 800 numbers or stopping by welcome centers to pick up guides. So it was all about how many guides you sent out. And once Philip convinced the state legislature to count somebody visiting the website as an inquiry, the next thing I know, I got a call and the state wanted to spend $650,000. And I thought, “Huh, tourism. This is interesting.”
And then another state changed, and another state changed and I fell into this path of working both in the online tech world as well as tourism. And there was, literally every conference, there was one other guy at the time, he worked for Travelocity, that was actually chasing online advertising dollars and tourism. But it was pretty easy pickings there for a while.
Adam Stoker: [00:11:07] Wow. What an interesting way into the industry. I’ve heard a lot of stories about how people got in, yours is a pretty unique one.
Darren Dunn: [00:11:15] It was made more unique because I went to my first tourism conference in 2001. It was called the Southeast Tourism Society. And we had the conference and I flew home after that conference and the next day … and home then was New York City. And flew home the next day and 9/11 happened.
Adam Stoker: [00:11:38] Oh, wow.
Darren Dunn: [00:11:39] And it was interesting because when I went to the conference, I knew I was on the right career path. I loved the people, the people seemed a lot like the folks from where I grew up in my home. I just felt … because I had worked in … I had sold into auto and pharma and all these different industries, but tourism really spoke to me. And I was just like, “Okay, this is it. I found my calling in life.” And 9/11 happened, which made us all rethink a lot of things back then. But two weeks later, I was, actually, in my office and I got a call from a guy named Chuck Bonelli from Southeast Tourism Society.
He was like, “Hey, Darren.” He’s like, “It’s Chuck Bonelli, Southeast Tourism Society.” I said, “Hey, Chuck.” He goes, “We’ve all been so worried about you.” And he goes, “We’ve all been talking about you and we just want to make sure you’re okay.” And I was really touched by that because I had met this person one time. And I won’t go into the whole story, but somewhere in the conversation he said to me, he goes, “Well …” because I had spoken on stage at STS about online and tourism, and he said, “So, what are you going to do with this whole tourism strategy you just talked to us about?” And I remember a few expletives kind of went off in my brain that I said out loud and I said, “Chuck, there are tanks on the street right now. I don’t really know.”
He’s an old Army guy, he said to me, he goes, “Darren,” he goes, “Listen, I’m going to give you some advice, take it or leave it.” He goes, “But if you choose to stick by tourism during this time, tourism will always stick by you.” And I literally hung up the phone and knew what I was doing for the rest of my life.
Adam Stoker: [00:13:24] Wow. Wow, that’s an impactful experience there. And it’s something that I’ve seen in the industry too. And we’ll talk about COVID today, but even in COVID, I think I’ve seen a lot of people in the industry coming together during this. More collaboration than I ever saw before, destinations that may have even struggled to work well together, coming together. And it really is amazing how well people work together in this industry, as opposed to other industries that I’ve been in in the past.
Darren Dunn: [00:13:53] That’s been one of the few ways everybody’s been able to get through this thing, is everybody’s really is working closely, collaborating, listening, trying to learn how to handle this. Because nothing has prepared us for this. 9/11 or the downturn, nothing has looked like this.
Adam Stoker: [00:14:13] Well, let’s talk a little bit about … so you knew you were going to be in tourism. I know that at one point, you had a stint at ADARA, right?
Darren Dunn: [00:14:21] Yeah, sure did. I spent seven years at ADARA, and I conceived and brought to market one of their measurement platforms, which is called Impact. And then another one with one of my coworkers, Dave Ballman. We conceived and brought to market a product called Market Monitor, which is a forward-looking predictive product there.
Adam Stoker: [00:14:43] Great. So you are at ADARA for seven years, and ADARA is one of the biggest names in the tourism industry. They’ve been at the forefront of a lot of innovation that’s happened in the industry, especially with digital marketing and as you mentioned, some of those products that you specifically worked on. And you go from the juggernaut in the industry to starting this company Entrada Insights. Tell me what led you to do that, and then let’s talk about Entrada because it is the technology platform that I am the most excited about in the industry right now —
Darren Dunn: [00:14:43] Thank you.
Adam Stoker: [00:15:18] … and I want to really dive into it today.
Darren Dunn: [00:15:21] I just had run my time at ADARA. I felt like it was … the last two years there, 2017 and 2018, I literally flew over 300,000 miles a year. And I was working on some really big projects, like working with Japan’s tourism entity for the upcoming Olympics. Working in the Middle East with Abu Dhabi and many other clients out there. So it was just, it was a lot.
And the end of 2018 going to 2019, I knew I had worked my last year at ADARA and if I was ever going to work that hard again, I was going to do it for myself.
Adam Stoker: [00:16:03] I can relate to that.
Darren Dunn: [00:16:06] And our co-founder at Entrada, Jay Kinghorn, he was one of my clients at ADARA. And I, with the utmost respect, say Jay was one of my most challenging clients because he knew too much. And so, whenever we had new product testing or we’re rolling out new features, Jay’s the one I would have really stressed tested. Because-
Adam Stoker: [00:16:28] Because it’s like, if it’s good enough for Jay, it’s good enough for anybody.
Darren Dunn: [00:16:32] Right. Zeek Coleman’s another one out of Savannah, I would always go to him as well. And so, over the holidays in 2018, I was talking to Jay, and Jay was actually thinking about starting his own consulting firm. And in March of 2019, I said, “Listen, I know how to come up with great ideas, but building something isn’t my forte. Sales and marketing, that’s my thing.”
And I asked Jay if he’d be interested in forming a company together because I rather own half of something that’s absolutely spectacular and very impactful for the industry, versus just having, say, a small consulting firm.
Adam Stoker: [00:17:09] Got it.
Darren Dunn: [00:17:10] So, that’s how we got started.
Adam Stoker: [00:17:12] Got it. Well, I want to dive into your product. Before we do that, we’re going to take a quick break and we’ll jump back in.
Darren Dunn: [00:17:19] All right.
Adam Stoker: [00:17:21] Okay, guys. Since we started the Destination Marketing Podcast a little over a year ago, I’ve had several destinations reach out and say, “Hey, could you help me start a podcast?” And at first, we were like, “No, that’s not really what we do.” But after enough requests, we said, “You know what, let’s explore this.” And we’ve created a turnkey program for destinations where we will produce, we will host, we will edit, and we will publish your podcast for your destination on a weekly, biweekly, or monthly basis. And all you have to do is show up and answer some questions. We’re really excited about this program. We’ve got a few destinations that have been doing really, really well with their podcast. And if you’ve ever thought about creating a podcast for your destination but you don’t have all the equipment or you don’t have the expertise or any of that type of stuff, let us take that off your hands. Let Relic handle your podcast creation and production, and all you have to do is show up and answer questions about all the amazing things there are to do within your destination. So let me know if you’re interested. Email me at email@example.com, and we’ll get you set up on this podcast program.
So Darren, as an advertising agency that serves tourism destinations, I have really worked hard to procure what I think is the best technology products to offer the clients that fall within my range of expertise. So the New Yorks of the world, those haven’t really been my clients or San Diego. We work with a lot of small to mid-level destinations. And I feel like there’s a big gap in the industry as far as technology goes.
I’ve been on so many different demos with … there are data companies out there who will just help you gather the data from your visitors. And then others are more that like an attribution tool. And then there are others that will do different pieces of it. And when I went through the demo with Entrada Insights a couple of weeks ago, my eyes got super huge and I said, “Oh my gosh, this is all the different things that I’ve demoed, but in one platform.”
And that’s what got me really excited about it because you would have to pay two or three different vendors to be able to get the comprehensive dataset that you guys are able to offer destinations. And by the way, we haven’t done any business together. This isn’t a paid endorsement. I have seen your demo and was blown away and was like, “We’ve got to talk about this on the show.”
And so I would love to have you just give us the general overview of Entrada Insights, why you built the tool the way you did and what you feel like it does for destinations.
Darren Dunn: [00:20:19] Well, first of all, thank you. I appreciate the kind words. In 2018 when I knew I was going to move on from ADARA, I really spent … I spent the year listening to all the various pain points. Whether it was with very large destinations like Dubai or Japan, to smaller destinations like Provo or Vacaville, California.
And the pain points were almost always the same, and that’s that for the past seven years, everybody’s been told to be a data-centric organization. The problem is, is there wasn’t really any center to be centric around. So, you have the sales department and they have all of their data and their CRM. And you have the marketing department, which has all of their various tools and plans. And you have other departments within the bureau or the city government all with their own datasets. And so getting at the truth, having one source of truth within an organization was really difficult, because there was nothing that could actually bring in all of those different things, especially offline data like tax data and STR data and how does that help steer your compass in terms of what the cause and effect of your organizational decisions?
And so that’s really the impetus of the platform, was to create one source of truth. And then, one of the other pain points was, certainly, people had a really hard time doing storytelling around their data. And so, we needed to create something that actually brought all that together and made sense out of it, so the whole community could begin understanding what the value of the DMO is.
And so, how does the DMO better communicate their value to police, to fire, to economic development? Parks and Rec. They all didn’t understand necessarily what the value of the DMO is. And about this same time, there were certainly winds of change in the tourism industry that were blowing. And that’s solving for pain points, such as things like over-tourism. And really beginning to focus on more community values. And how do you actually build a visitor economy while still creating a very good live-in experience for your local community?
Because at the end of the day, if the mayor’s going to get voted out, you likely aren’t going to get your budget.
Adam Stoker: [00:22:52] Yeah, I think those are great points. As somebody who has to demonstrate two types of performance in any DMO, one being marketing and making sure that we’re spending the money responsibly and effectively and that we’re seeing a return on investment. And then the other is, using the data or creating a report to show, hey, I’m doing a great job for the residents and stakeholders of this community who have entrusted me to market the destination.
And your platform provides both. So let’s dive into the platform and talk about all the different datasets or modules that there are, and then let’s get into a couple of use cases. For example, I really want to talk about what Hattiesburg, Mississippi did, and how you guys were able to help them with some of the problems they were trying to solve. So, let’s head down that path.
Darren Dunn: [00:23:43] Sure. From the very beginning, we really wanted to build out a platform that focused on destination management. And creating something that could create intelligence as a currency, that the DMO can give back to the community to show their role is much bigger than just room nights.
And so, we had to ensure that we could bring all of those different things in there so that a CEO could quickly look at some top-line highlights and know exactly where his room nights are, how’s it compare to STR? Where are the people coming from? How much are they spending?
So by bringing in all the different components of marketing data, again as well as offline data, and then truth base that on what the ultimate measurement is, which is the tax data. So how much money is coming back into the community from these tourists? Being able to keep an eye on resident sentiment and ensure that the community’s happy.
And then be able to communicate that currency out in a way that means jobs for the community. So actually measuring things like hospitality employment, which is so important right now. So there are modules built around each and every one of those. No one person in an organization, except for maybe a research person, would really be going into all the individual modules. We’ve really built this to help inform decisions and communication for the C-suite within a DMO.
Marketing, of course, has all their various components. We’ve also tried to help inform decision-making around sales as well, so where are your best leads coming from? Where should you be focusing? Along with what I like to call a little bit more clunky data. So we just had a call the other day where a destination wants to overlay crime data to better understand where visitors and crime are coming together, or if they actually are at all.
Traffic data. So, if there’s a lot of compressions happening. This is a super big issue, and especially near mountain destinations right now. So is your marketing and advertising causing a lot of compressions, not only with things like traffic and the environment but also, obviously, during these times? The residents don’t want a ton of people visiting. So we’re literally taking a lot of these data sources that have actually existed for a while, but we’re bringing them together to help the DMO better tell its story to the community and focus on actually being able to manage that destination, giving them situational awareness so that they can make decisions today and take actions tomorrow and stay ahead of the … before the politicians come after them for certain destination management issues or the press starts knocking at the door. We want to have this awareness ready so that they can communicate it in a way that’s going to be beneficial to, obviously the DMO, but the community at large.
Adam Stoker: [00:26:48] Well, this is where it gets really interesting for me, because there’s been a lot of talk in the industry over the last year and a half or so about the transition that needs to happen from a destination marketing organization to a destination management organization. And I feel like your platform basically gives a destination all the tools that they need to go from marketers to managers of the destination.
Darren Dunn: [00:27:16] Well, I appreciate that coming from you, especially working with small communities, I think making sure that they’re aware of their impact on their communities and having that marketing component, along with the different management tools to communicate out is super important.
And during these times that we’re in right now, I think the winds of change I spoke about was around destination management and things like over-tourism and resident sentiment, visitor sentiment, I think those typically in a tourism timeline that probably would’ve taken five or six years to become important KPIs, and all of a sudden with COVID, they’ve become hyper important. So really using marketing to help manage how visitors interact with those communities has become critical. They are a critical part of helping manage what’s going on right now, while still trying to get the economy back on its feet.
Adam Stoker: [00:28:17] Well, Darren, tell me a little bit about how your platform has maybe helped a couple of the destinations that you’re working with get better during COVID and navigate the situation.
Darren Dunn: [00:28:28] So, I’ll give you an example. We work with a small community in Mississippi called Hattiesburg and we worked on a project with them last summer to better understand who their visitors were. So it wasn’t just the DMO, but it was the mayor, the mayor and all departments, the chief of police, the fire chief, waste management, etcetera, everybody was involved in this conversation and wanted to understand if we are going to increase tourism by 4% each of the next four years, what impact does that actually have on the community? Let’s run numbers. Let’s bring in all the data sources we can to understand what it looks like if we increase the visitors by 4%.
And further, economic development was involved because they not only wanted more visitors, but they wanted more visitors to interact with their downtown area, which is really the heart and soul of their community. And they’re trying to attract new restaurants and potential residents to come live in the downtown area.
So getting to understand how they can potentially attract people that are going to an SMU football game and get them to go downtown versus to the TGI Fridays that’s right near the university there. And so by pulling year over year data and visualizing that and then expanding it by 4% to understand what the economic impact would be was just … it was extremely important.
And literally, when you have waste management that’s sitting there at the table, it’s like, what is a 4% increase over each of the next three years, what does that mean for the pipes? Especially during events and festivals. And how many more police officers do you need to get on the street? And in this case, now, it’s actually, how do we have events in the future and how do we spread those events out?
I mean, I hate to be crass, but it might involve actually changing where you’re placing the port-o-potty’s to pull people away from large areas. I mean, that’s how the DMO is actually getting involved now, to help manage the visitors that are coming these days. And so they can really do that through marketing and potentially having the sales department focus on smaller groups, small and medium-sized businesses versus large conventions, which I don’t think will come back for a while.
Adam Stoker: [00:30:52] I’m going to jump in there, because one of the things that … and this is specific to the Hattiesburg example because you showed me this when we were doing our demo, is that you can literally see the actual visitor flow. So, where did these people come from? What market did they come from? And when they got there, where did they go?
Let’s say they were there for a festival, which I think it was an event you were showing me when we did this demo, that you could actually see what parts of the event people from different markets visited. And you touched on the idea of where to place the port-o-potties. Your data actually helped decide where to place those port-o-potties, right?
Darren Dunn: [00:31:30] Yeah, it did, because it was able to show compression during a particular festival. And again, try to understand how to get those people, instead of compressing them all in this one area, how do you spread this out into a larger area that’s going to be a lot more beneficial to other business districts around the city? And how do we pull people away from the main freeway corridors that are going there?
And again, get them into these areas, understand where they’re coming from, what they like, where they potentially want to place marketing in order to get people that … not all the people they are attracting like the same things so that compression’s there. Or how do we get people that like different aspects of this community? How do we highlight those aspects? So, again, it’s a great resident experience as well as a great visitor experience.
Adam Stoker: [00:32:19] Awesome. Do you want to share with us another use case of how a destination has utilized your software to make important decisions within their organization?
Darren Dunn: [00:32:28] I do. Sure. I’ll actually talk about Aurora, Colorado. And they’ve been super progressive in how they’ve used data to better understand their city, and actually-
Adam Stoker: [00:32:46] We’ve had them on the show. Great guests.
Darren Dunn: [00:32:48] Oh yeah, great. With Aurora, this is kind of a real-time example, because again, they’re trying to figure out how to get people outdoors and how are people using their outdoor product? They’re known for their parks and their rivers and their waterways there. They have a lot of opportunities to expand the capacity of restaurants by using many of their outdoor spaces, working with local restaurants to build out and onto the sidewalk so that they can still stay in business.
And one of the things they did recently, which I thought was just fantastic, was they, on Colfax Avenue, which to be fair, has some blight issues in certain areas, they pulled in all these amazing artists and they did huge murals on the sides of the building. And the DMO, as well as the arts department there at the city worked together to promote these buildings and actually create a walking tour for people to come experience this art and celebrate their cultural diversity that they have there in the city.
And what we did was be able to really keep an eye on where all these murals were, and how is visitor behavior? And this would be visitors defined as people from the nearby metro area. How do they come and interact with this particular area and actually get to be outdoors and visit businesses that visitors don’t normally come to?
And so we were able to measure that and tell that larger story for the city. Again, just the promotion of the cultural diversity, creating an outdoor event, improving an area of the city and getting people to interact with it in ways that they never have before. And so helping destinations tell those stories, using data to back it up, helps everybody in city government.
Adam Stoker: [00:34:38] Well, that’s another great example. And they’re able to create a new, amazing event understanding how it impacts the community. I love that. I think a fear that I would have if I was listening to this episode is that sounds like a lot of data and a lot of information, do I need to be a data scientist to be able to interpret all this data that you guys are providing? So I mean, how easy is this to use?
Darren Dunn: [00:35:06] It’s very easy, actually. We have a team of analysts run by Esra Calvert and she spent nine years leading the research team in the state of Virginia. We just hired a young lady named Katie Stadius who’s done a lot of great work with destinations across the country at her last company, MBuy.
And so working in the destination industry for 20 years, we know that they aren’t running too heavy with data scientists that are able to actually extract this data and pull it out. I mean, sometimes you’ve got to hire the mayor’s nephew. I mean, that happens. But-
Adam Stoker: [00:35:44] Sometimes whether you like it or not.
Darren Dunn: [00:35:46] Right. And there’s some truth to that one. So, we wanted to make things highly intuitive and I always said from the beginning when we formed this company, if we can’t humanize the data, destinations aren’t going to understand it and they’re not going to be able to tell stories with it. And therefore, we don’t have a long-term business on our hands. We don’t have a scalable business on our hands.
So it’s really humanizing that data, and that’s where from the management piece and the marketing piece sitting together, all of a sudden the story becomes very human. You’re telling a story about cultural diversity. You’re telling a story about bringing beautiful murals to the city of Aurora. You’re figuring out how to improve different business districts around town by targeting different types of visitors that might enjoy different types of product.
So it’s bringing this together is, long-term, going to be super healthy for the destination industry. And for me, it’s really rewarding, because it’s allowing me to help destinations tell amazing stories and actually back it up and figure out not only what to do, but probably more importantly right now, what not to do.
And so just at Entrada, we’ve put together such a great team. Jay and his team over there developed a product that does just that. It does data storytelling. It humanizes things. And we’ve been lucky … got to do a quick shout-out to my CEO, Sarah Lehman, who joined the company this past February. Her leadership has really allowed Jay and I to really focus on the customers and building a great product, and me really out there figuring out, what is it they need? What are they missing? How do we help them easily be able to tell their story? Whether you are a two-person organization or you’re a 100-person organization.
Adam Stoker: [00:37:36] Great stuff. Well, Darren, tell me where you’re headed, what’s next for Entrada Insights?
Darren Dunn: [00:37:42] Well, with the pandemic this year, what’s next has been, how do we survive? Thankfully, we took on some funding last February and March and April, and May, June was all pretty-
Adam Stoker: [00:38:01] July.
Darren Dunn: [00:38:02] Yeah, right. All pretty tough months. Once we were able to get back out there from a sales perspective and Dave Ballman who I formally worked with at ADARA came on to help with sales and we jumped in an RV, we drove across the country, we met with 42 destinations and what we found out was that, really, we have created the right product at the right time. It might’ve taken five years to, again, really get the industry’s arms around the management piece of this and how do you measure it, but we found that the product’s resonating. And so, just continuing to grow, ensuring we don’t grow too fast. I can’t give too much away, but Jay has some amazing enhancements he’s doing to the platform, which I think are going to be game-changing this coming year.
So from an R&D perspective, we’ve just got to stay as far out ahead as we possibly can. And from a sales perspective, we just need to force ourselves to get out there and talk to people. I’m sure as you know, Adam, it was really tough when you’re not able to get any kind of customer feedback during those … especially those really bad ones.
So now we’re out there. Again, I feel like it’s a chance to collaborate with people in a healthy way and understand what their needs are so we can help them navigate in this volatile environment we’re in.
Adam Stoker: [00:39:33] Yeah, totally agree. And I love that you guys took that trip and met with 42 destinations. When you and I talked about that, it kind of inspired, hey, let’s get out of this office and let’s get out and meet with people. And had such a great time on my trip on the road. And we hit Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, and it was just such a great trip, and inspired by you. So thanks for that inspiration.
Darren Dunn: [00:39:58] Well, thanks. I appreciate that, but we work in a very human industry and I think being able to go out and connect with people is extremely important, even in the current environment. So, making sure you do that safely. But it’s also cathartic. We all need each other right now.
Adam Stoker: [00:40:16] Yeah, absolutely. Well, is there anything I haven’t asked you, Darren, that you feel like our audience would need to know?
Darren Dunn: [00:40:22] No. I think we’re pretty well covered. I’m-
Adam Stoker: [00:40:26] We covered it.
Darren Dunn: [00:40:27] … sure I’ll think of something in 10 minutes, but …
Adam Stoker: [00:40:31] Well, no problem. How about if people were intrigued by what they heard here today, how do they find you?
Darren Dunn: [00:40:37] You can go to EntradaInsights.com or you can find me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or you can follow me on social @EntradaInsights on Twitter, or follow myself personally, which is wheelsupDDD on whatever platform you’re looking at.
Adam Stoker: [00:40:56] Nice. And it sounds like there’s a story behind that Twitter handle, but we’re going to save that for another day. But it’s D-U-N-N?
Darren Dunn: [00:40:56] Yep.
Adam Stoker: [00:41:05] So Darren and D-U-N-N, darren.dunn@EntradaInsights.com, right?
Darren Dunn: [00:41:09] Yep.
Adam Stoker: [00:41:10] Okay. Well, Darren, thanks so much for coming on, sharing your insights and experience with us today. I’m excited about your software and I think we’ve just scratched the surface of what Entrada Insights is going to become in the industry.
Darren Dunn: [00:41:23] Thank you, Adam. We appreciate what your company’s doing in the industry as well. So keep up the great work over there.
Adam Stoker: [00:41:29] Thanks a lot. Well, everybody, this has been another great episode of the Destination Marketing Podcast. If you enjoyed today’s show, please make sure you leave us a rating or a review, that really helps us to continue to climb up in the results and search results within your podcast platform. Thanks everybody for listening, and we’ll see you next week.