When Looking is Seeing

The most innovative and enriching ideas exist beyond the realm of solid data. Where one must , as Robert F. Kennedy said, "...dream things that never were and ask 'Why not?'"

Oscar winner James Cameron turned the sunken ship Titanic and an Avatar of the Na'vi on Pandora into a couple of billion dollars for Paramount Pictures and 20th Century Fox - without reams of the data that bank loaned committees like to see.

When we were exploring turning a New Mexico town on old Route 66 into a major tourist destination we had to work without a lot of solid data.  The closest comparison might have been Las Vegas, NV. 

Whether Las Vegas, "Ground Zero" for gambling and entertainment, was put on our mental maps by Bugsy Siegel, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Elvis Presley, Steve Wynn or Cirque du Solei could be endlessly debated.  There wasn't an existing model to follow so innovation was based on the data that was available, which wasn't as "solid" as it could have been.

The casinos treat their visitor counts, length of stay, dollars spent per visitor and other such data as proprietary information. We turned to vehicle counts from the highway department and visitor counts from parks and publicly funded tourist sites to draw some reasonable expectations of traffic that might be drawn to our New Mexico town.

Published Nielsen ratings for popular television shows gave us a reasonable breakdown of demographic interest clusters.  These were used to model the size and prominence of proposed tourist attractions.

The key to creating reasonable expectations and grounded calculations is to use data that you CAN access to derive the information that you need.


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