Zartico Recognizes Trailblazers in the Travel & Tourism Sector at 2024 Data Hero Awards Ceremony During Zarticon


Zartico, a leading SaaS technology company serving the travel & tourism industry, is pleased to announce the winners of the 2024 Data Hero Awards. Recognizing destination leaders who are using data to optimize strategy and tailor marketing efforts to create a prosperous travel & tourism economy, the awards signify the continued growth of the sector which saw its U.S. GDP contribution increase by 7% in 2023 to reach a record $2.36 trillion.

“Recognizing the myriad ways that data and analytics are being used to drive and inform marketing and tourism development strategy provides our industry with inspiration for how big data can help us address and overcome long-standing challenges,” shared Sarah Lehman, CEO of Zartico. “Each of these recipients exemplifies leadership, innovation and a distinct commitment to improving their respective communities by arming them with the tools necessary to execute a hyper-personalized approach.”

The 2024 Data Hero Awards took place on the first evening of Zartico’s second annual Zarticon, a user conference that sees destination leaders and agency partners convene to share and discuss how they’ve been leveraging data and analytics to propel their organizations and deliver tangible results. This year’s Zarticon is taking place in Charlotte, May 13 -15, 2024. Zarticon attendees were invited to submit their campaigns for consideration in one of eight categories. The panel of judges, made up of Zartico executives and tourism industry professionals, scored the entries on the impact of innovative data use on the planning, execution, and success of the initiative.

The eight Data Hero Award winners are:

Chasing Innovation Award: Victoria Isley, Explore Asheville

The Chasing Innovation Award is an honorary Zarticon recognition bestowed by the employees of Zartico for “outstanding contributions to the innovation of insights for the betterment of the destination industry.” This year’s recipient is Victoria Isley, CEO & President of Explore Asheville.

The award is named in honor of the late Julie Chase who served as the Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer of Visit Austin, celebrating her ongoing quest to discover what’s new and innovative in the world of destination marketing. Julie’s passion was finding new and creative ways to market her destination, track its effectiveness, and report the benefits and opportunities to her stakeholders and fellow residents. She was a pioneer and early adopter of many innovative technologies before they became industry standards, and she was always on the lookout for solutions she could be the first one to use.

Campaign Planning: Putnam County Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB)

Putnam County CVB developed a campaign to promote a new hiking and biking trail system in their area. By leveraging geolocation and spending data from the Zartico Destination Operating System (ZDOS®), Putnam County CVB created a successful campaign that saw a significant increase in YOY visitation to the trail system, attracting visitors that were spending more time and money in the destination compared to the typical visitor demographic.

Community Partnership: ROOST – Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism

ROOST set out to use data to guide its marketing efforts and inform broader management initiatives aimed at enhancing its communities, as well as the overall visitor experience, while also ensuring sustainable growth. Using Zartico data, ROOST created the Adirondack Region Visitors Data Insights Report, sharing valuable information on visitor demographics with local businesses and partners. This data helped them to take a more proactive approach and enabled stakeholders to tailor their offerings more effectively, leading to definitive growth and enhanced collaboration in the region.

Destination Management: meetNKY

Leadership at meetNKY sought to make a case for the expansion of BLINK Cincinnati – the largest art, light and projection mapping experience in the U.S. – to the Kentucky side of the Ohio River. To encourage investment in the expansion, meetNKY worked with Zartico to tap into data to show the economic impact on local businesses and travel to the region, successfully lobbying for the expansion of this year’s BLINK to include the city of Newport, Ky.

Meetings/Conventions: Visit Tampa Bay

Visit Tampa Bay hosted the Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. Grand Chapter Meeting in the summer of 2023, bringing over 15,000 visitors to the city of Tampa Bay. Using data from Zartico to analyze visitor demographics, occupancy rates, local business revenue and regional visitation data, the DMO demonstrated the event was not only an economic boost for the city, but also fostered community engagement and cultural celebration. Armed with these invaluable insights, Visit Tampa Bay was able to attract and retain future groups by substantiating the success of the gathering through data and positioning Tampa Bay as a destination for events and groups.

Sports: Visit Myrtle Beach

In 2023, Visit Myrtle Beach hosted the World’s Strongest Man competition and used data from Zartico to show the event was indeed a high-value event. The data demonstrated the event shattered attendance records and generated a significant impact with over 38,000 attendees traveling to Myrtle Beach, generating $13.1 million in hotel revenue. Competition attendees were also shown to visit more attractions and patronize more local restaurants compared to the typical visitor demographic. Overall, the data proved that the event was a pivotal economic success for a city that boasts a strong travel & tourism sector and helped bolster efforts to secure Myrtle Beach as the host of the 2024 competition.

Stewardship: Visit Lake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe was feeling the pressure of overtourism resulting from an increase in outdoor and nature travel sparked by the pandemic. To alleviate these pressures, Visit Lake Tahoe sought to promote responsible tourism while also maintaining a positive relationship with the locals. Using Zartico data, Visit Lake Tahoe was able to inform and enhance their “Awe and Then Some”campaign, as well as their “Rules to Lake By ” campaign, to attract more sustainable visitors while also promoting responsible tourism. The results displayed an increase in average visitor spending with visitors opting to visit less touristy places as opposed to popular destinations like Emerald Bay and Stateline.

Agency Unique Data Use: Idea Peddler

In order to achieve growth in the travel & tourism sector for the New Mexico Tourism Department, Idea Peddler turned to Zartico data to help identify key new growth markets. Leveraging Zartico’s spending data, Idea Peddler identified two new high-value visitor markets to target on behalf of New Mexico and implemented a campaign to bolster travel to the destination from these markets. The campaign saw success with an increase in visitation as well as visitor spending amongst travelers from one of the identified target markets.