Proof is in the Distance Decay

Last fiscal year was our first year using Environics Analytics to analyze postal codes and we collected 98,065 of them from our amazing stakeholders. From that data, those businesses now have a better understanding of their visitors and as a bonus Central Counties was able to learn more about visitation to the entire region from the aggregated reports. More than just that, we were also able to create a baseline of measurement for those businesses that took part in our 2018/19 Visitor Research Program. Meaning, that if your business sent us your postal codes last year, and you are collecting postal codes for this year, then we can compare apples to apples (2018 vs 2019)!

This is exactly the case with one of our stakeholders that collected postal codes from online sales during their signature 2018 event and again for the same event in 2019. Using this information, we can now compare and contrast the data and also see if the 2018 data helped them grow the event. After all, the point of collecting data is to understand your visitors and help you make more informed decisions by applying the results to increase revenue and visitation.

This analysis of a stakeholder’s data was especially fascinating from a research standpoint. Without knowing the revenue that was generated during the stakeholder’s event in 2018 and 2019, or the number of tickets sold (total tickets or online vs in-person), there were some discoverable statistics that proved to be very interesting in the Distance Decay report. The Distance Decay report measures the distance the visitor travelled to the event (from their postal code to the location of the event or tourism attraction). This helps us to know if the event or attraction is more of a local event or a true tourism event or attraction.

The definition of a visitor is someone travelling more than 40km to an attraction. Travelling more than 40km also means the visitor is bringing new money into the entire community. Exactly 95.23% of the postal codes that were collected in 2018 from the online sales were within 40km of this event. In 2019, 90.99% of the online sales were within 40km of the event. This means that the event’s reach expanded further with 4.24% of the postal codes travelling beyond 40km and 4.24% new money came into the community. This is not a drastic change, but it is moving the needle in the right direction to increase visitation.

In addition to the distance decay data, there are a few other differences that are worth noting. In the Ranking Standard Area report, there were thirty new FSA (forward sortation area – the first three characters of a postal code) identified that were collected in 2019. This means that thirty new neighbourhoods discovered this event, bought their tickets online and might even recommend the event next year to their network of friends. Also, these new FSAs resulted in a higher household income of the attending visitors. The average household income of 2019’s postal codes was $1317 higher than the postal codes from 2018. This year’s event was able to attract higher-income generators as a result of the data. Thus, slightly changing a few of the demographics of the visitor as well. For example, the order of some social values shifted, their interest in festivals and events increased across the board and their third Prizm profile altered slightly.

Now you’re wondering how did they do it?

This stakeholder used the data from 2018 to help them validate most of their marketing and business decisions for the 2019 event. Knowing their market still comes from their local area, the business was able to extend their reach to target FSAs that have similar profiles by choosing radio stations that scored high with their 2018 visitors for advertising, including the local station to continue to reach the local market. The music selection was made by the results of the data, though others wanted another genre of music based on anecdotal stories. It really came down to understanding their 2018 visitors, and applying the knowledge the business gained to reach more of that profile and promote the event through the right channels and messages. The results are exciting to see because they validate how our Visitor Research Program can help a business or event grow its local audience and also reach out to attract more visitors.

If your business took part in this program last year and you are collecting postal codes this year, please reach out to Central Counties. We will work with you to analyze the 2019 data and compare it to 2018. If you haven’t collected for 2018, let’s start this year!

If you have any questions about the Visitor Research Program or and want to get involved, please contact Tom Guerquin, Manager of Research and Development.



Central Counties is located North of Toronto


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Chuck Thibeault

Executive Director, Chuck Thibeault