So goes the classic song from the Glimmer Twins...which is how many in Florida (and the Destination Marketing world at large) felt earlier this month when the Broward County Administrator selected a sitting County Commissioner for the top spot at the Greater Fort Lauderdale CVB, instead of someone with DMO experience.
Most of us don't live in Broward County. Thus, while we may think they need an accomplished Destination Sales and Marketing pro, the truth is that they may not. Maybe they needed someone at the helm who could continue to steer the organization and the industry through the shark-infested waters of County politics...something her predecessor did exceptionally well.
It's a highly politicized world in which DMO pros must navigate, something I shouldn't have to remind anybody in this space. Indeed, I was selected to lead the Greater Madison CVB 26 years ago, not for my knowledge of convention sales but, for my ability to get bills passed in the State Legislature. Madison was approaching a referendum fight to build a convention center and they needed someone with political experience to help guide the process from the DMO side.
Stacy Ritter may be exactly what is needed in Fort Lauderdale and, as the Sun Sentinel said, "We wish Stacy success in her new role. We count on her to deliver results."
Depending upon the way you look at the research surrounding Airbnb, you either see them as wildly disruptive or nothing to get too worked up about (or something in between). For, as revealed in a recent edition of Skift, the statistics (even from the same study) are all over the place. Take the recent Pew research on the sharing economy:
OMG! 72% of Americans have used a shared economy service!
But, only 11% have used Airbnb...while 53% have never even heard of it.
Which begs the question: How can the street value a company at $25.5 billion when the majority of us, confronted with its name, say "huh?"
In 1984, Journey was one of the biggest stadium acts on the planet. Keyboardist Jonathan Cain was basking in the success of "Faithfully." And, the Purple One was on the phone...asking Jonathan to listen to a track he had just completed. He was concerned that his song borrowed too heavily from Jonathan's and didn't want to go forward with it if Jonathan didn't approve.
After listening to the song, Jonathan said, "Man, I'm just super-flattered that you even called. It shows you're that classy of a guy. Good luck with the song. I know it's gonna be a hit."
It was "Purple Rain."
I was in radio at that time and, frankly, I never made the connection, despite hearing both songs every day and, very likely, sometimes playing them back to back. That Prince did, shows an amazing awareness and deference to artists around him whom he respected.
There may have been a time when the direct linkages between economic development, tourism and non-resident tax generation weren't as stone cold obvious as they are today. So I guess I could give some old school economist a day pass if they'd call tourism promotion a "non-essential" service of State government.
"The Nebraska Tourism Commission is, by definition, a non-essential agency engaged in non-essential, and recently, wasteful spending...NTC’s functions are not in the same universe of importance as education, criminal justice, roads or elections."
Hey, Sparky(s)? How do you plan to pay for those essential functions like education, criminal justice and roads (I'll pass on calling elections essential, thank you)? With the very resident taxes your website claims you are trying to reduce through your "research?"
Another familiar complaint in Destination Marketing (see yesterday's post) is that an "out of town" (or out of country) firm or CEO can't possibly know how to market a region.
This, of course, assumes that someone who lives in a place can be objective about what will attract a visitor to that place.
While this is, by no means, a criticism of homegrown talent...there is a certain logic to having someone from your target market (let's say America) lead the resurrection of a Destination Marketing effort in a nearby country (such as Bermuda). Without deep research, most resident marketers wouldn't know what motivates an American to choose one island over another. Bill Hanbury and Vicki Isley, of the Bermuda Tourism Authority, do (and, his recent podcast explanation on how they are developing Bermudian talent to one day take the reigns is sensational).
Local talent is critical for content creation and storytelling. But, just because someone isn't from your town, state or country is no reason to disqualify them from working on your destination's behalf. They might just see things that a local doesn't.
It doesn't happen often...but, when it does, a lot of the public criticism of Destination Marketing Organizations is based on a perceived lack of transparency.
We don't know how much the staff makes. We don't know how they select their target markets. We don't know how much they spent on their website. We don't know how much they paid a spokesmodel to tweet.
That's what we hear from the whiners. Thinly veiled suggestions that something nefarious is going on...and innuendo is a powerful tool.
What these individuals would do with this information, however, is unclear. Unless they were accomplished destination marketers, they wouldn't know what markets held the highest ROI. Nor would they know how much an effective online presence costs.
It's rare to hear people suggest that they want more transparency from the folks running public works (except maybe in Flint) or Parks and Rec. Why does everyone think they know how to do destination marketing?
In 2009, DMOs universally complained that group bookings were off. The same held for 2013.
In a 2013 Z-News post, we suggested that, while we should wait to see what 2017 would bring, it was an uncertainty brought about by the American Presidential elections that was causing some groups to postpone booking their meetings and conventions for the next year.
Diverted flights (where you don't end up at the airport you intended) are actually more prevalent than most of us think. But especially in the land of big weather (Texas), secondary airports get a lot of action.
It happens frequently enough that Nanci Liles and her CVB team have created "Survival Kits" for passengers packed with playing cards, water and snacks from an Abilene company to make the diversion less annoying.
According to Nanci, “when our short-term visitors reach their final destination, a part of the spirit of the community travels with them. As they return to normalcy, we hope they will recognize and appreciate that a mid-size city in Texas tried to make big difference in their travel experience because Travel Matters to Abilene, Texas.”
I can't think of a career more fun than the travel and hospitality sector. But, just because it's fun doesn't mean it isn't hard work...as members of the Greater Madison (WI) CVB staff found out last month.
As a way of saying "thank you" to their industry partners for National Travel & Tourism Week, CEO Deb Archer and her team performed "Tourism Takeovers" at destination businesses, stepping behind the scenes at area attractions and restaurants.
As we begin National Travel & Tourism Week in America, relevance of the travel industry is one of the primary messages to be conveyed. And, while that relevance is so much more than just visitor spending, the amount that visitors drop into an economy every minute of every day can't be ignored.
News of Prince's "transition" (as I heard a Baltimore DJ refer to it last Thursday) bumped to today our originally planned Music Friday tribute to two of the pioneers of mellow Soul whom we also have lost this month to that next great adventure we all take alone.
For readers in the Destination Marketing world, the flurry of activity that accompanied new CEO Don Welsh as he took the reigns of Destination Marketing Association International at the beginning of the month certainly signaled that there was a new sheriff in town. As I criss-crossed the country on speaking and consulting gigs these past few weeks, those clients and friends that didn't attend the association's CEO Forum were quick to query, "what do you think is coming next?"
I would chuckle, wink and say, "I certainly don't know...but, I know it's gonna rock."
The reason I could be so sure? Don was going to go out and land people with DMO experience to revitalize the organization. As I said a number of months ago, there was a time where professional association management was clearly needed at DMAI. But, that day has passed.
Skift's Gregg Oates scored an interview with Don while at IMEX last week in Frankfort in which the picture is becoming clearer and the impetus to become part of the DMAI family more obvious. If you're in the DMO industry, it's a must read, as it goes well past the title subjects in providing a marvelous insight into how the organization is poised to evolve.
Even if you're not, yet interested in a view of how the CEO of one of the largest DMOs in the country evolved in his attitude toward Airbnb? That's in there, too.
DMO CEO Connie Del Signore shared her 300+ year old downtown with me on a glorious Monday afternoon and I was so hooked with the boutiques, bars and brick-paved streets winding around the State Capitol and hugging the harbor. And, on the obligatory visit to the Visitor Center, saw a truly great idea. It's not the first time I've seen such a concept...but the execution by Visit Annapolis was fabulous.
While most Visitor Center ambassadors are forced to point out attractions on paper maps that are impossibly small, Visit Annapolis encourages guests to the Center to take in the full scope of the destination and get a better feel for the community (click image to see)...by blowing the map up to wall size.
Nicely played, Visit Annapolis. And, I'm so looking for an excuse to get back out to the Capital Region to more fully explore one of my new favorite American destinations.
And, score another bowl of the sensational crab soup at Harry Browne's.