07 Aug 2013

TRAVEL & TOURISM – “Don’t Miss” Advice for Destination Marketers from DMAI2013

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dmaiThe recent Destination Marketing Association International (DMAI) convention in Orlando gathered a savvy group of destination marketers for shared learning and networking. Recurring in many conversations I had with attendees and presenters alike were the following key themes. Keep these in mind as you plan your destination’s priorities for the coming months  –

1. Strategy – It’s not just for the biggest destinations anymore.

Faced with the need to balance new opportunities and existing budgets, destinations of all shapes and sizes are becoming more strategic in their approaches to marketing. This means getting specific about the goals your destination wants to achieve (going way beyond generalities like “attracting more visitors”) and then planning a measurable path to get there.  More DMOs are learning that such a strategic approach helps them focus limited human and financial resources for maximum impact, bring diverse constituents together around a shared vision of success, and show progress toward well-defined objectives.

To set strategic goals, you first need to diagnose your unique challenges.  For example, the strategy for a destination with low awareness among a targeted audience should be quite different from that of a destination with no awareness problem but facing a barrier to visitation. A DMO can develop an effective strategy only when it has built a deeper understanding of the relevant attitudes and behaviors of its current and prospective customers.

2. The availability of new apps and online services is challenging destinations to go beyond their web sites.

Having a mobile-enabled web site is only one element of effective destination marketing. Increasingly, destinations need to understand how visitors are using technologies before and during their trips, as well as to know what apps and services visitors are bringing with them when they come.

A visitor’s experience increasingly depends not only on familiar names like Facebook, Google Maps, Pinterest, and Instagram, but also on emerging apps that connect visitors in new ways to people and services, like airbnb and lyft. Learning more about when and how travelers are using the full spectrum of online services and apps to find information and make decisions will be vital in influencing successful visitor experiences in the future.

3. Collaboration can help Destination Marketers tackle new opportunities and challenges.

“Better Together,” the theme and tagline of the DMAI conference, was raised again and again by presenters and attendees alike. By working together, destination marketers see opportunities to improve their individual performance, innovate, and reduce costs. Market research is no exception – collaborating on research can help destinations learn from each other, identify best practices, and share costs. Engage with your colleagues and service suppliers to explore shared needs and opportunities – it’s in this fertile ground that new approaches and solutions grow.

Destination Marketers, whether or not you attended DMAI this year, what’s your take on these trends?  Let’s continue the sharing here.

Traci Gere

Managing Director
DPA & Digital Research, Inc.

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