Despite representing 10% of global GDP, the tourism industry is one of the last to embrace big data and analytics. Darren Dunn and Jay Kinghorn have experienced this firsthand – Dunn as a sales executive at various travel companies, including FarePortal.com, and Jay as an associate managing director at Utah’s Office of Tourism.
“Destinations around the world [are] Relying on legacy quarterly and annual reports to make key decisions on marketing allocation, product mix and coordination with stakeholders such as hoteliers, attractions and local government authorities,” Dunn told Technology Flow in an email interview. “The tourism and hospitality industry was one of the hardest hit during the pandemic and the industry has not fully recovered. The industry needs to provide attractive career paths for people to build their careers and have long-term sustainability.
To try to inject some data and digitization into tourism operations, Dunn and Kinghorn co-founded Jartico, a platform that provides analytics and visualizations to destination management organizations, or DMOs — government-affiliated tourism boards that promote locations as travel destinations. A token business that lives up to expectations, Jartico announced today that it has raised $20 million in a Series A funding round led by Arthur Ventures in partnership with Peterson Partners, which Dunn said will use the proceeds for R&D and hiring.
Zartico’s platform takes geolocation, cost and event data from partners — Dunn didn’t say which vendors — and overlays it on top of other data streams (e.g. from customer relationship management systems and jobs boards). Using it, customers can see where visitors to a location move and move at street level, and track tourism impacts on locally owned businesses.
On the analytics side, Jartico uses AI to predict activity such as the number of visitors to a specific region and extract mentions of travel destinations from structured text (e.g. social media posts and web pages). Dunn said the acquisitions will help customers develop new travel products lines and fine-tune their marketing campaigns.
“DMOs don’t have first-party data like customer email addresses or shipping addresses, or conversion data to clearly connect marketing initiatives to sales and revenue growth,” says Dunn. “Advancements in our integrated data model tighten alignment between our core data sets [for DMOs,] Making faster, more accurate and easier self-service insights into spend, movement, marketing and web data sets.
Zartico’s geolocation tracking may not be a good fit for all privacy advocates or tourists. After all, in August the US Federal Trade Commission accused a data broker, Kochava, of selling the precise locations of US users to clients, including therapists’ offices and homeless shelters. A seminal piece from The New York Times showed the various ways location data — typically from smartphones — can be used to track a person’s movements, especially when correlated with publicly available records.
“We don’t allow our data to be used to target ads to people under the legal age — for example, alcohol and casinos — or to create audiences for places that are primarily visited by children, such as preschools and playgrounds,” Dunn added. “We [also ] Do not allow our data to be used for employment, credit, health care or insurance purposes, and we do not allow our data to be used to target vulnerable or sensitive communities — for example, by political, religious or sexual orientation — or in areas sensitive to identification (eg, conflict zones, protests, religious places, clinics etc.) or places.”
Jartico launched in March 2020 — a week before most of the world shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Dunn says Jartico has grown to more than 188 customers in less than three years, despite an inauspicious timing and competition from rivals including Arrivalist, Rowe and Datafy (which specialize in data visualization and reporting) and Placer.ai (which tracks people’s movements). years All clients are government agencies — cities, counties and visitors bureaus — that actively contribute to Zartico’s $10 million in annual revenue.
Dunn has big plans for the future, including using machine learning to create behavioral models that prevent “over-tourism” in specific destinations. He said Zartico is also focusing on new markets – mainly sports venues, municipalities and airports – which will increase its headcount from 61 employees to more than 100 in the next six months.
“This pandemic has increased global awareness and appreciation of the impact of the visitor economy. This experience has brought to the fore the need for real-time decision-making,” Dunn said. “Not content with rearview mirrors, the destination industry is looking for and deserves forward-looking tools. Jartico is eager to lead the technology transformation due to the rapid pivot toward using high-frequency big data sets to provide contextual understanding.
Jartico has raised a total of $24.5 million in capital, including the Series A tranche that closed today.