It’s hard to beat a lizard laden, sun shiny, ocean retreat like the Biltmore Hotel in Miami, but add in the Travel and Tourism Research Association (TTRA) conference and you’ve got my attention.
I quite enjoyed a number of the talks. Michael Rodenburgh from IPSOS Canada spoke about behavioural data and offered some fascinating tidbits about where people go to and come from during the tourism and travel customer decision journey. Passive behavioural data collection is a fabulous data collection tool and if you’re careful about obtaining explicit consent, I’m a big fan of it.
I was fascinated by a talk that Thomas Roth and David Paisley from Community Marketing and Insights gave about research with people who are LGBTQ+. Terminology seems to be in a permanent state of evolution and I never know what the most current respectful terms are. Needless to say, Tom and Dave will now be my go-to experts.
TTRA holds a number of academic tracks throughout the conference. In these tracks, graduate students and professors share their academic work which means there is a heavy contingent of highly trained, highly specialized researchers at the event. For those of you who love statistics and the nitty gritty of research details, these tracks are definitely for you. I love them for two reasons. First, of course, you learn about the research itself. But second, and most importantly for me, they are a great way to refresh your statistical and methodology training. ANOVA results take front stage and we see betas, f-values, p-values, and all the supporting statistics. People comment on and strategize over minute details. These discussions make me rethink what I thought I already knew and update my opinions about how to use statistics. Love it.
I was delighted to speak on the main stage Thursday morning about AI, chatbots, and voice search (my slides are below). I shared results from a Sklar Wilton & Associates white paper showing that the general population is fairly knowledgeable about the state of AI. AI can now write newspaper articles about anything you ask of it, AI can create humour that people actually laugh at, in some sense AI can even read your mind, and Google’s millions of dollars have allowed them to create an AI voice that is practically indistinguishable from the human voice. Of course, AI isn’t perfect and Joy Buolamwini of M.I.T.’s Media Lab has conducted research showing how facial recognition technology has trouble recognizing dark faces.
Technology for the regular folk who don’t have millions of research dollars backing us up has progressed to such a point where it is useful for customer service reps, marketers, and market researchers. Customers regularly use AI to book flights and hotels whether through chatbots on Facebook or voice assistants, we can now use AI moderators from companies like Quester to conduct surveys with anyone who has a voice assistant, and chatbots from companies like Elsient to conduct text surveys.
As fabulous as AI is, people are still unmatched for their ethics, emotions, and genuine caring for other people. This is what market researchers bring to the research table. Sure, we bring tech. Tech speeds things up and helps reduce technical errors. But people bring research results to life.
Oh, and if you’re wondering about the diversity of speakers, put your hands up, they’re playing our song, 54% of speakers were women. Rock on, TTRA!
Thank you Kathy and Scott for putting on a fabulous conference. We’re off to Melbourne Australia next year!
Along with a group of market researchers from around the world, I was asked to participate in Voxpopme Perspectives – an initiative wherein insights industry experts share ideas about a variety of topics via video. You can read more about it here or watch the videos here. Viewers can then reach out over Twitter or upload their own video response. I’m more of a writer so you’ll catch me blogging rather than vlogging. 🙂
Episode 5: How can you best educate, develop, and improve yourself in market research?
Our industry is really lucky to be one that is focused on learning, educating, and sharing knowledge. We have an abundance of mentors who love to help people grow. No matter your budget, you have great options for learning more about market research.
But given that not everyone has the funds to attend conferences, buy books, or take classes, I’ll share three of my favourite free options.
Blogs: Literally hundreds of market researchers around the world keep personal blogs. They share their unique opinions based on their unique experiences about a plethora of topics from focus groups and surveys, to chatbots, artificial intelligence, and augmented reality. You don’t need to know anything about the topics and you don’t even need to agree with a single thing they say. All you need to do is have an open mind to consider the ideas they’re sharing and you’ll quickly become a more informed and better decision maker.
I keep a list of hundreds of blogs in my RSS reader but here are some of my absolute favourites:
- Affectiva: If you’re ready to see what else is out there in market research land besides questionnaires, this is a great place to start. Facial coding, emotion, AI, biometrics, yeah baby!
- FlowingData (Nathan Yau): Lovely collection of beautiful charts, maps, infographics, and visualizations. Good place to stay on top of new and beautiful data.
- Pew Research Center: For the absolute best production of research about digital, social, there is no alternative. Every post could be considered a how-to guide on analyzing and presenting data. The topics are usually from the USA but the methodologies are universal.
- Lexalytics: Really nice posts on applying social media research to real life problems.
- Math with Bad Drawings (Ben Orlin): Lots of people hate math. Lots of people can’t draw. This blog uses bad drawing to help readers better understand math. It makes me smile!
- Not awful and boring examples for teaching statistics and research methods (Jess Hartnett): If you recall back to your statistics classes in university, most of them were pretty darn boring and made it really easy to tune out (Yup, I think 9 out of 10 of mine!). This blog has so many great ideas on how to teach statistics in ways that people enjoy. If you need a refresher, start here!
- System 1 Research Blog: Extremely well written thought pieces about marketing and research in all aspects of products, brands, life, and culture
Webinars: Ideas that start in personal blogs often make their way into companies where they turn into full-fledged research projects and then webinars. Sure, sometimes webinars feel like sales pitches but if you read between the lines, you can collect many tidbits of knowledge. Besides, learning about competitors’ products will help you in many ways – to improve your own products, point an existing client to a product that might work for them, or even partner with them on a project. In addition, Ray Poynter regularly runs webinars on a variety of topics with guests from around the world. In both cases, you can likely view them after the fact. Just register for the original webinar so you can the link afterwards.
Online conferences: I have two absolute favourite online conferences. You’ve probably heard of the NewMR festival that Ray Poynter runs. I’m also a big fan of VizFest which is run by Keen as Mustard marketing and E-Tabs. These two events run once per year over several days and they host speakers from around the world on a variety of topics. Some of the top speakers from other conferences speak here so if you have no budget to travel because you’re a solopreneur or a tiny company, you can still enjoy some of the best and brightest in the industry!
So there you go! Free and informed!