Conference Report: Adventures in Big Data


Today I attended Wales’ first national event for people involved in the visitor economy who are interested in learning more about digital big data. Entitled Adventures in Big Data, the day was intended to inform and inspire and, from a personal point of view, it most certainly did.

Some highlights from the programme included:

  • We heard from Ken Skates, the Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism, on where next for Wales.
  • glamping specialist who filled a brand new glamping resort on a marketing budget of £1150.
  • From an artist/inventor who gave a live demonstration of emotion detection software in a phone’s selfie camera – incredible!
  • Senior Directors at IBM on how we can use big data to improve and protect crops.
  • Former Danish tourism employees on what happens when things go wrong (and right). And many more.

I was there to run a workshop session and pleasingly got to work with about a third of the attendees on how to best use audience intelligence to improve decision making. I enjoyed the sessions and hope attendees did too. Key findings from the two sessions were:

  • Try to reach as broad an audience as possible when getting feedback
  • Make sure that the method of providing feedback and / or opinion is both simple to use and quick
  • To ensure participants answer honestly keep things anonymous
  • Make it usable on mobile
  • Reward participants for taking part, ensuring they’re more likely to participate again
  • Where possible let participants see the results

Of course, we ran a poll too. The results thrown up were interesting, especially these three.

Firstly, Andy Daines, the Director of UK and Ireland for Flanders Tourism, spoke of their segmenting of marketing into different ‘products’ each appealing to a different subset of visitor. I wondered how this might impact the overall appeal of the Flemish region.

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Secondly, as Joe Connor filmed himself with his mobile and mirrored the imagery to the big screen. There were involuntary gasps from the crowd as his emoteyourday app detailed the emotions it read on his face in realtime. I wondered what the gasps were symptomatic of and was surprised by the results below.

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Finally, as Michael Williamson took us through the mechanics of commissions and the impact they have on hotel’s chances of success, I wondered what it would be like if sites were transparent about this. Would the conscious traveller opt for a room where they knew the hotel itself was benefitting most?

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But the conference was so much more than a variety of bright, intrepid and funny speakers.

We were also witness to the first ever conference artist in residence. In just four hours, graffiti artist R.mer (real name Bradley) created an amazing piece of work coupling Wales’ mining history, with it’s future of mining data. There was a fitness session from a gym instructor and live music marked our arrival too. A really great mix.

All in all it was a great day, in a quite spectacular location; the closest University to the sea in the world.

Let’s do it again soon,