Case Study: Union Square Business Improvement District

Using feedback and data to increase event sponsorship.

345% increase

in event sponsorship.

As a retail and cultural hub of San Francisco, Union Square is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the city. The team at Union Square Business Improvement District (USBID) works to keep the area clean and safe, assisting and engaging with tourists with an end goal of attracting more footfall through marketing and advocacy.

The initial project tender was for collecting feedback at the Union Square Winter Walk – an annual award-winning event that is hosted by the USBID. Attracting 2.2 million visitors per annum, the event takes place over five weeks and includes holiday decor, food trucks and stations and craft beverages.

Previous Approach

Previously, Union Square had contracted a service agency to provide boots-on-the ground surveys to capture feedback from attendees. However, taking a stop and talk approach prompted negative feedback from attendees. It was deemed to be time consuming and not cost effective for the findings that were produced. Reports generated took the form of a static PDF that provided one layer of feedback and could not be explored or filtered to provide additional insight.

New Requirements

This led USBID to search out a solution that allowed individuals to give feedback quickly, which could then be converted into real insights. These insights would then be provided to key stakeholders to allow them to understand the economic impact the event was having on the area, as well as examining trends in the data from attendees.

For Union Square, this meant finding a platform that could reach a number of participants quickly over a set geographic location without having to pay for on-foot surveyors. Efficiency was judged to be key, allowing the system to draw maximum benefit while causing minimum disruption to attendees. Union Square also identified a need for increased volume, as previous efforts to elicit feedback had not produced significant data.

The end goal for Union Square was to analyze the collected information and prove the economic impact that the event has on the local areas. The intent was to  allow key decision makers to validate their decisions based on data to help bring in more sponsorship and involvement at the events. In addition, data needed to be  hosted onshore in compliance with the USA Compliance with California Privacy Act (CCPA).

The ntropy Solution

“It’s crucial to use smart data to drive the conversation and help organizations make well informed decisions, especially when it comes to managing a downtown like ours. As the Union Square Business Improvement District in San Francisco, our partnership with ntropy has helped us immensely when it comes to engaging with stakeholders and visitors in a seamless and less time-consuming way. ntropy’s technology has allowed us to collect and analyze unique data points that can be interpreted in hundreds of ways so that we can advocate and tell our story effectively.”

Robbie Silver, Director of Marketing & Events

Broad demographic reach

ntropy partnered with local companies to produce signage and flyers. This was handled in-house by the ntropy team, allowing the customer to focus on running the event. Visitors and attendees were invited  to text ‘unionsquare’ to a number which then sent them a link  with a web survey that provided an e-voucher when completed.

Mobile Friendly

The platform needed to be mobile friendly as most respondents would be engaging in ad-hoc interactions on their smart devices.

More responses with incentivization

ntropy’s capacity to offer rewards to incentivize feedback was critical for the success of the program, along with the ability to automatically distribute rewards to winners.


ntropy’s ability to use SMS text push notifications to trigger feedback helped engage with respondents. This was supported by the configuration of advanced analytics dashboards which filtered results by people who were in the area primarily for the Winter Walk – letting the customer see the amount of money these people spent and where else they spent their time.

The Results

The approach captured a wide demographic of respondents from under 21s to visitors that were 70+. All questions were tied to understanding the economic impact on the sector tied to key data about users such as spend, attractions visited, length of travel, etc.This directly led to sponsorship increasing by 345% while also proving to be 40% cheaper than the previous approach, and ntropy was confirmed as an ongoing supplier of choice for Union Square.

Throughout the course of the event, 570 attendees took part in the survey, answering 9,135 questions and sharing more than 100,000 data points. During and after the event, the dashboards were reviewed by USBID to learn more about attendees and their habits.

This initial success led the process to be deployed at other Union Square events such as Lunch on the Lane and the Wine Walk, proving it to be a mission critical part of USBID’s data processing work to demonstrate the value of projects to stakeholders, sponsors and relevant bodies.

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