Numbers and KPIs: Rules Count!
How many of the following cities have you visited? Count 'em up. I'll tell you my personal count at the end of the column.
New York Toronto Tokyo Bangkok Melbourne Mumbai Hong Kong Beirut Cairo Moscow London Munich Rome Copenhagen Berlin Milan Kiev Los Angeles Sao Paolo Istanbul Montreal Beijing Singapore Abu Dhabi Casablanca Dublin Prague Barcelona Amsterdam Budapest Athens Manila Las Vegas Vancouver Jakarta Shanghai Cape Town Stockholm Paris Vienna Glasgow Osaka Taipei Miami Santiago Seoul Dubai Lagos Warsaw Lisbon Auckland Hanoi Honolulu Perth New Delhi Rio de Janeiro Chicago Zagreb
Of course, the precision of your answer depends on your rules — just like any other KPI you might measure. Here are some questions about your city count you might want to ask.
- If you connect flights in an airport but never physically leave the airport, does that count as a city you have visited? For example, I have connected on same-day flights in and out of Singapore but, as a transient passenger, could not go outside customs. Does Singapore count?
- If you are a passenger in a hired car without input on the route and you pass through a city without stopping or veering from the predetermined route, does that count as a city you have visited? For example, I have passed through Berlin on a chauffeured drive from Amsterdam to Dresden. Does Berlin count? (By the way we were on the autobahn after midnight, so the trip didn't take that long!)
- If you were on a cruise ship that had an outbreak of the pandemic and you anchored at a port but could not leave the ship, would that city count? Luckily, I do not have a personal example of this case(!).
The Freedom of Movement Rule
My daughter and I have had the same kinds of questions in a different travel game. We each keep track of the number of U.S. states and Canadian provinces we have visited. Like daughter, like father, we are both fierce competitors. So, to resolve edge cases, we had to come up with a rule to go (count) by. Rules help keep peace in the family(!). By the way, my personal counts for this travel game are also at the end of the column.
Our solution was what we called the Freedom of Movement Rule. To say you have visited a state or province, you must have the opportunity (even if you don't necessarily take it) to move freely about. For the cities-visited game, the Freedom of Movement Rule would disallow counting Singapore and Berlin and any city where a quarantined cruise ship might have docked.
My daughter once drove us more than 50 miles out of our way in Minnesota to cross the border into Wisconsin so she could count that state. She just did a u-turn at the first legal opportunity. But Wisconsin counts for her — freedom of movement!
Actually, we were over the border for literally only 5-6 minutes. Do you think that's too short a time to count as a visit? What would your rule be for minimum length of visit? (Let me know your thoughts and reasoning. Like I said, I am very competitive with my daughter about this game!)
I think the natural tendency on the city/state/province counts is to inflate. A higher number looks more impressive. But suppose I told you I was willing to finance your visits to places you've never visited. Then, you might be a little more conservative in your count. Motivation matters!
Or suppose the KPI is crime rate in a place. You are the city official responsible for promoting your city to out-of-towners for tours, conventions, and conferences. You'd be tempted to discount the crime rate some, wouldn't you?! Just saying!
Now these visit examples and KPIs are all just games. Business is an altogether different matter. Want to be data-driven? If factual numbers matter to you, you'd better know the rules!
My Personal Count of the Cities: 28
My Personal Count of U.S. States and Canadian Provinces: 49 and 10, respectively
If you have read this far, you are probably curious which state I'm missing. The answer is Alaska, a planned 2020 trip, a casualty of the pandemic. By the way, there are 10 provinces in Canada. Many (most?) Canadians have not been to all 10.
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