Des Moines Tourism Agency tracks visitors via cellphones

Catching Monks started using upstarta service that tracks visitors through their cellphones, in April, Trina Flack, vice president of sales, told Axios.

why is it important: It can better estimate the economic value of events and where future promotional investments are spent, Flack said.

  • Catch Des Moines will distribute more than $500,000 in incentives this year to attract or help events in the metro.

How it works: Arrivalist uses mobile location data and algorithms with an average accuracy of 30 feet.

  • In the past, Catch Des Moines relied more on an event’s self-reported statistics, such as registration numbers, to estimate economic impact, Flack said.
  • The new data allows tourism officials to see how many people were at specific locations during an event.

For instance: Some of the initial reports from DSM Arrivalist have just come back, including data on last month’s Red Bull Soapbox (which Axios Des Moines participated in).

  • It generated an estimated total economic impact of nearly $1.4 million, which is good for a one-day event, Flack said.

To note: No personal information is collected or distributed to third parties, according to the Arrivalist’s privacy policy.

  • Information provided to Catch Des Moines measures aggregate data and does not identify individuals or their phone numbers, Flack said.
  • Heidi Mannetter, an associate professor who teaches digital marketing at Drake University, told Axios that because of this, she thinks the privacy threat level is low.

Yes and: Data can also help with public safety by alerting event planners to things like overcrowding or traffic jams, Arrivalist CEO Cree Lawson told Axios on Tuesday.

  • More: Only people who allow apps such as weather services to track their location are included in Arrivalist’s algorithms, he said.

The big picture: There are concerns about the use of location-based technologies or mobile data.

  • The Federal Trade Commission this month threatened to use privacy laws against companies that exploit sensitive health information.
  • ACLU last week released thousands of government filings alleging mobile location data led to constitutional violations of unreasonable searches and seizures.

At the end of the line: Phones now influence DSM tourism.

Comments are closed.