LABELLE -- Hendry County will have a new marketing tool available that tracks visitors’ activities, interests, and purchases.
Erin Katniss Hitsman, tourism development coordinator for the Hendry County Tourism Development Council explained to the Hendry County BOCC during its regular meeting Aug. 24, 2021 how Datafly, a New Jersey GPS data collection company can gather data from thousands of different apps worldwide that most people have on their mobile devices and provide that information to the county.
Most apps require a user to agree to allow GPS tracking for any number of things as a condition of using it for free, Hitsman said. That information may be used by the app for any number of things including selling it to other companies.
“It’s a Big Brother type of thing,” she said. “But we all say ‘yes’ to it to use these free services on our phones.”
Now it’s a matter of what information the county wants and it seems just about anything is obtainable.
Datafy will create profiles for people that will tell the county the likes and dislikes of various age groups and why they come to Hendry County.
“They really get into the psychology of and give a layout of who they are and why they come here,” she said.
Datafy can track where visitors shop, which hotels they stay at and for how long, what community events they attend, how much they spend and if they use cash, credit or debit cards, and access likes and dislikes based on the things consumers click on when surfing the internet for shopping or vacations.
It can also obtain visitor zip codes and addresses from their mobile devices, how long they stayed and have the option of pinpointing the information every day, every week, every month for a year.
Tracking begins after the first 15 minutes someone comes to the county.
“We can do all kinds of reports,” Hitsman said. “Once we have an understanding of who’s coming here and why and when, we’ll be able to see seasons and season trends – things we may not know about – and then turn around and market to them through social media apps.”
The information can be tailored to various “clusters” such as community events, hotels, shopping, sports and many more categories.
The clusters and "points of interest" come in a variety of package options with corresponding prices for the service.
Hitsman said it will be a useful tool to attract visitors, businesses and track competition in surrounding areas.
Chairman Mitchell Wills asked if other area counties were doing this.
“There’s a lot of bigger counties using it, but not the smaller ones I’ve spoken with,” she said.
For a one-time fee, Datafy will provide three years of historical data which will be useful for the county to notice any patterns.
Until now, Hendry County didn’t really have a way to track the economic impact of tourists or the tourists themselves other than information gathered from local events.
Now it will be able to target individuals with specific interests like fishing, festivals, and RV camping to come to Hendry County as well as get true attendance numbers at the Sugar Festival and Swamp Cabbage Festival.
Commissioners voted 5-0 in favor of the contract in the amount of $21,964 for a one-year annual contract with Datafy for GPS data collection and credit card tracking, including a $15,564/year, plus a one-time cost of $1,000 for three years of historical back data and the addition of a one-year annual contract of $5,400/year for tourist credit card tracking.