Zartico Raises $20 Million to Help Tourist Agencies Promote Local Destinations

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Despite representing 10% of the world’s GDP, the tourism industry is one of the last to embrace big data and analytics. Darren Dunn and Jay Kinghorn experienced this first hand — Dunn as a sales executive at several travel companies, including FarePortal.com and Jay as an associate managing director at Utah’s Office of Tourism.

“Destinations around the world [are] rely on outdated quarterly and annual reports to make critical decisions about marketing allocation, product mix and coordination with stakeholders such as hoteliers, attractions and local government officials,” Dunn told TBEN in an email interview. “The tourism and hospitality sector was one of the hardest hit during the pandemic and the sector has not yet fully recovered. The industry must provide attractive career paths to enable people to build their careers and be stable in the long term.”

To try and inject some data and digitization into tourism activity, Dunn and Kinghorn co-founded Zartico, a platform that provides analytics and visualizations to destination management organizations, or DMOs — government-affiliated tourism agencies that promote locations as travel destinations. In a company that lives up to expectations, Zartico today announced it has raised $20 million in a Series A funding round led by Arthur Ventures with the participation of Peterson Partners, the proceeds of which Dunn say will be spent on R&D and recruiting. .

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Zartico’s platform takes geolocation, spend, and event data from partners — Dunn wouldn’t say which vendors — and superimposes it on top of other data streams (from customer relationship management systems and job boards, for example). It allows customers to see where visitors are migrating and moving at street level and monitor tourism impacts on local businesses.

Image Credits: Zartico

On the analytical side, Zartico uses AI to predict activity, such as the number of visitors to a particular area, and to extract travel destination mentions from unstructured text (e.g. social media posts and web pages). These extractions can be used to help customers develop new travel products and fine-tune their marketing campaigns, Dunn says.

“DMOs don’t have first-party data, such as customer email addresses or shipping addresses, nor do they have conversion data to explicitly link marketing initiatives to sales and revenue growth,” Dunn says. “Advances in our integrated data model are sharpening the alignment between our core data sets [for DMOs,] enabling faster, more accurate and easier self-service insights on spend, movements, marketing and web datasets.”

Zartico’s geolocation tracking may not sit well with all privacy advocates — or tourists for that matter. After all, it wasn’t until August that the US Federal Trade Commission alleged that a data broker, Kochava, sold clients the exact locations of US consumers, including at therapists and homeless shelters. A groundbreaking piece from The New York Times showed the different ways location data — mostly from smartphones — can be used to track a person’s movements, especially when correlated with publicly available data.

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When asked about Zartico’s privacy policy, Dunn detailed the protections the company has in place to prevent abuse – starting with data de-identification and anonymization. He claims that the company does not analyze individuals or store personally identifiable information, does not allow law enforcement to use its data, and will terminate a customer if Zartico learns of “unfair” or illegal practices on their part.

“We do not allow the use of our data to target ads to people under the legal age — for example, alcohol and casinos — or to create audiences for locations primarily frequented by children, such as kindergartens and playgrounds,” Dunn added. ready. “We [also ] do not allow the use of our data for employment, credit, healthcare or insurance purposes, and we do not allow the use of our data to target vulnerable or sensitive communities — for example, due to political, religious or sexual orientation — or to identify those located in sensitive areas (e.g. conflict zones, protests, religious sites, clinics, etc.) or to places.”

Zartico was launched in March 2020 – a week before most of the world shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the inopportune timing and competition from rivals including Arrivalist, Rove and Datafy (which specialize in data visualization and reporting) and Placer.ai (which tracks people’s movement), Dunn says Zartico has grown to more than 188 customers in less than three years. year. All customers are government agencies—think cities, counties, and visitor agencies—that have actively contributed to Zartico’s $10 million annual revenue.

Zartico

Image Credits: Zartico

Dunn has big plans for the future, including using machine learning to create behavioral models that prevent “overtourism” in certain destinations. Zartico is also looking at new markets, he says – mainly sports venues, municipalities and airports – as the workforce grows from 61 employees to more than 100 over the next six months.

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“The pandemic has increased the world’s understanding and appreciation of the impact of the visitor economy. This experience brought to the fore the need for real-time decision-making,” said Dunn. “The destination industry is no longer satisfied with rear-view mirrors and seeks and deserves forward-looking tools. Zartico is well positioned to lead the technical transformation due to its rapid turnaround to using high-frequency big data sets to provide situational awareness.

Zartico has raised a total of $24.5 million in capital to date, including the Series A tranche closed today.

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