Five top tips to enhance your place’s data strategy

Data is the universal challenge. What data should you be collecting? How do you collate data from multiple sources and from different stakeholders into an end output that actually means something? How can you transform the data you have into actionable insights?

We reached out to five of our place experts for their top tips to ensure that you’re maximising the impact and efficiency of your data strategy…

Develop an integrated strategy that works at all levels of nation, region, and city branding.

In my opinion, the main thing that would drastically improve a place’s data strategy is actually having a strategy in the first place. More specifically, having an integrated strategy from the national level down, rather than for each destination to do as much or indeed as little as they can with the budgets available, in isolation. This would create the opportunity to truly be able to benchmark and understand performance, as well as highlighting potential economies of scale. Having such a strategy and a clear set of guidelines and principles would mean that the insights captured are stronger and serve more than a closed, isolated place.

Raluca Brebeanu, Head of Research, Go To Places


You need to understand more than just what is happening – you need to understand the reason behind those behaviours.

Many destination brands have data that tells them how many people were at particular locations on a certain day or over a certain period. The data, however, doesn’t say why they were there, what they thought of the experience, or how they could get more people to go there in the future.

At Four, we combine postcode and demographic data with consumer spending information and our own insight methodology to help identify the high value audiences who will fuel footfall and spend. An overview of the whole picture = the ‘how’ ad the ‘why’ is crucial when it comes to fully understanding a brand’s audience and their competitive advantage, which in turn, can really help to future-proof place strategy by combining hard quantitative data with qualitative insights.

Megan Butler, Chief Strategy Officer, Four Communications


Create a one-stop shop to consolidate all your key data sources.

The places that are best able to extract insights from their data have a consolidated, real-time dashboard. We find that when teams at place organisations operate on one-singe set of music (consolidate data warehouse, centralised insights dashboard, etc) they are able to achieve much more success in place branding and marketing.

Developing ‘one view’ of data that pulls in marketing, resident / investor / visitor sentiment, digital and web data, investor data, and brand health data, in to one place is key to a flexible marketing strategy, strong communications, and an effective place brand. Real time data that is in one place allows for connections and comparisons between disparate data sets, and places are able to see causality between new branding and marketing efforts and gains in brand health, financial investment, resident satisfaction, or visitor growth. At Trove Tourism Development Advisors, we have seen major gains from place organisations that centralise their data and insights versus organisations with disparate reports, graphs, and datasets.

Danny Cohanpour, CEO, Trove Tourism Development Advisors


Advocate for the importance and value of data to encourage residents to participate in your data eco-system.

It is important for a place brand to ‘label’ and own the benefits that come from data in order to improve its strategy, rather than rely on third-party channels. In our view, doing so would boost citizens’ motivation to contribute to and use data within their community, which would ultimately create a richer, more useful strategy.

For example, take a busy urban destination with data sensors monitoring traffic flow and car parking availability. How does the destination gain advantage of this data available to residents and visitors? It is through their own brand – in the form of a community-branded app or similar – or do they expect people to use commercial apps such as Google Maps for checking traffic and The Parking Spot for finding available spaces?

It undoubtedly requires investment for a place brand to own these conversations and interaction themselves (though white-label products can help). However, the more a brand starts to actively help its residents and engage with them through its own face, the more those residents are likely to participate in a data strategy. By opting into providing data, acting on it, and feeling part of a true digital environment and community, the investment would then pay back in the long-term.

Roger Misun-Gray, Global Head of Strategy, Brash Agency

Ask yourself – who, what, and how? As we face the demise of third-party cookies, places need to re-assess their gated content to ensure they’re collecting first-party data while also delivering a seamless experience.

Content-gate strategies designed for data collection need addressing across all industries. As we enter a world where first-party data becomes ever more invaluable, knowing which content to gate (the what), which users have already shared their first-party data, and therefore should be given free roam of content (the who), and how to implement a content-gate data strategy without impacting user experience and/or crawlability of content for SEO (the how), become fundamental questions that need answering in order to improve a place’s breathing data strategy.

Krishan Gandhi, Head of Data & Analytics, iCrossing UK

What does it take to measure the impact your place brand strategy has on your place economy? City Nation Place are partnering with Bloom Consulting on a ground-breaking research study to attribute investment in place branding to an eventual increase in tourists, residents, and businesses. 

“Today, there are little to no studies that demonstrate the correlation between perceptions – about countries, regions, cities, and so on – and economic and social performance,” highlights Jose Torres, CEO of Bloom Consulting and lead on the research study. “There’s some academic approaches in a few papers, but never something that deep[…] It’s time to develop a global research project to address these aims.”

Cities, regions, and nations are all invited to participate as data partners – please email to find out more.


The Place Brand Portfolio is City Nation Place's searchable portfolio of Awards case studies from the past five years.