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Data: The Value of Sports Tourism

Laptop with Data Dashboard

Our team is in the final stages of a rather large project for the State of Iowa. The project was to determine what the overall value is for grass roots sports tourism in a given year. Trying to gather all of the data needed for such an endeavor can be a bit overwhelming.

The leaders of this study (Cole and Kevin from HUG) worked with over a dozen destinations, interviewed multiple event owners, and used multiple databases to arrive at the final impact number. This was a huge project, and to be honest, the end deliverable was well above and beyond the initial scope of work. For that, I’m proud of our team at HUG for getting this one to the finish line.

Without giving away Iowa’s data, we wanted to share some best practices and lessons learned from this process. Here are six things our team thinks should be considered in any impact analysis…..

  1. Engage a third party. If you want to use the results for anything meaningful, you can’t grade your own paper.

  2. Invite everyone to the table, knowing that they might not all participate.

  3. Think in advance about what you want to use the data FOR. That can direct the process on the front end.

  4. Data is always garbage in, garbage out. The better the inputs, the better he outputs.

  5. It is often the case that the participants in a study like this don’t even realize the amount of data they have at their fingertips.

  6. Use multiple data sources. The more influences you have, the more enlightening the opportunities that may arise.

Hopefully these can be helpful to anyone that is looking to tackle a similar challenge. If your organization needs assistance with data projects or has data that you're unsure how to utilize effectively, feel free to reach out to Cole at

We'd love to explore how we can help your organization make better data-driven decisions!

Congrats to my teammates on the Iowa project! Great work, and more to come.

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