Conversations with corporate researchers

Lauren Phillips

Director of Research, Visit Fort Worth

Who has influenced your career the most? 

I have met so many impactful professionals during different points of my life. My third internship director, Nikki Barjon, brand director and former hospitality executive, truly changed the trajectory of my career. Barjon was quiet, but made the loudest moves in Atlanta through her clients and services. I wanted to be just like her and interface with clients as she did, but she saw something in me that I never imagined – a researcher. She told me one day that data was the future and I was really good at completing my research tasks. I didn’t realize that day eight years ago that my Google alerts and searches would evolve into what I do now. 

Do you have any tips for researchers who are new to the tourism industry? 

Connect the dots and speak up! In a new role, never assume that something has already been done and don’t forget your past. Whatever you did in past roles can apply in ways that make a difference for your team. It’s in your power to be a change agent. You are important, and you were hired for a reason!

You conducted an attendee attitudinal survey during South by Southwest Conference & Festivals (SXSW). What was the most challenging part of the study? 

This was the most exciting event I’ve ever been a part of. My marketing team created an activation where we ultimately brought Fort Worth to Rainey Street in Austin, giving attendees an opportunity to experience the culture that the city of Fort Worth has to offer – country, rap, BBQ, salsa, travel, film and an emerging group of creatives. 

The challenging part was that I’ve never done on-site surveys before so this was truly trial and error! My goal was to see how the positioning of attitudes about our site activation changed during and after the event. Thankfully, there were enough responses received post SXSW and the attitudes ultimately aligned! Being part of my organization’s marketing team, I was proud to see that Fort Worth branding played a key factor in convincing guests to stop by our Fort Worth Haus at SXSW according to pre and post survey responses. Surprisingly, free food was not the number one factor that reeled guests in! Branding played a vital role.

What methodologies or new tools do you hope to utilize in the coming year? 

A centralized database system with Entrada Insights! I always wanted an output tool that could point me and my team in the right direction. I am so over the days of pulling report after report, only to say, “Hey, look at this cool information!” I’m all about turning insights into action and I am excited for the day where I can come into my office, log into the database system and guide my team on what should be done next. I am embracing this model and I understand that it is not replacing me. It is allowing me to become a more powerful resource for my team, partners and stakeholders. The humanistic aspect is always needed, so this data output is going to arm my team more than ever as I continue to help them understand the voice and behavior of our visitors.