OWENSBORO, Ky. (WEHT) Cell phones can be used to call, text, or share video and photos with other people. Now, Owensboro tourism officials are using the data from cell phones of tourists to learn more about where they go and how effective their marketing is.

Whether it’s the park, a museum or other tourist attractions, people who visit Owensboro likely bring their phones with them. Visit Owensboro is working with Arrivalist to learn more about where they come from, and where they visit.

“Let’s say if you come to the bluegrass music hall of fame and museum, that the geofence is set around that. When you walk in with your phone, it picks up that you’ve come from Louisville or Lexington, or one of the markets we’re targeting,” explains Dave Kirk of Visit Owensboro.

The project started in January. Kirk says it’s to help them better understand how well their marketing does in places where people come from to visit. It only applies to people living more than 50 miles outside of Owensboro, spend at least several hours in the area, and visit less than ten times a month. Phones of Owensboro area residents are not tracked as part of this.

“We do know Lexington, Louisville, Indianapolis, Nashville, and St. Louis are really good markets for us,” said Kirk. “We see a lot of people that are coming for that, going to green river distillery, staying downtown, enjoying some of the amenities that we have.”

Arrivalist Founder Cree Lawson says they have similar projects in about 130 communities, some of which have been going on for years. He says it’s helped those places improve their tourism marketing, and it picks up places people come from only down to their zip code.

“We want to measure what is important to the travel community, but it’s not so granular that anyone can purposely be identified,” said Lawson.

Kirk says tourists visiting owensboro can opt out of having their data collected by turning off location services on their phones and the apps they use on it.

(This story was originally published on April 28, 2022)