If one was in the Destination Brand business, one could be justifiably ecstatic that one of the three pillars of DMAI's DestinationNEXT mandate centers on "Building and Protecting the Destination Brand."
But, that's not what I heard from Duane Knapp (author of Destination BrandScience™ and Global Destination BrandScience™) when we caught up a couple weeks ago. Instead, I heard concern in his voice as he bemoaned the avalanche of new destination logos and taglines masquerading as brands with no mention of a promise or commitment to train the community on how to make their guests feel great.
Anyone who has heard me talk at Tourism and Economic Development Conferences knows that I'm pretty blunt when it comes to the way that most Destination Marketing Organizations have handled promotion of their nightlife.
DMOs are traditionally excellent at promoting their destination assets before 7pm...and lousy after. I can't begin to tell you how much money I've saved because I can't find music in the towns I visit. I know it's out there...but only locals know how to find it. And, that means I leave town with a less enthusiastic impression than I should.
The Chattanooga Area CVB knows it too. Which is why they have just created a new position that will focus entirely on promoting that city's music scene. Mary Howard Ade (ex-Spin magazine) has been hired as the Bureau's Music Marketing Manager.
According to the Times Free Press, having a full-time DMO pro on staff means music gets full-time attention. As Bureau Marketing and Public Relations Director Candice Davis said, "Before, if I promoted the Chattanooga Market [to tourists]...I might focus on the produce and the crafts and mention the music. Now, Mary Howard will focus on the music and mention the food and crafts."
I don't sense it's quite as bad as it was...but I know there are still Destination Marketing pros that walk on eggshells in an effort to balance the interests of the consumer versus members of the business community that demand "fairness." That "fairness" mantra holds that if you mention Hotel A, you must mention Hotel B...even if B gets 2 stars on TripAdvisor to A's 4.5 stars.
I know, it doesn't make sense (it's a DMO thing). And, it reminds me of a Q&A session in which restauranteur (and Social Media expert) Joe Sorge was asked how he would handle the fairness thing in Social Media. Because he is not from the DMO world (but, instead, from the real world), he said, "Fair? Fair? If they want you to talk about them, tell 'em to do something cool."
Alas, some of us can't be that flip. So, here's another way around fairness: sponsor somebody else's guide to your destination.
That's what Chris Jennings and the Spartanburg SC CVB just did (for the second time) by sponsoring "TheUnderground Guide to Spartanburg," a 112-page guidebook by Hub City Press featuring sections on nightlife, eats, arts, outside, shopping and odds and ends.
According to Chris: “Visitors want to go to the places locals frequent, and 'The Underground Guide' highlights them. This publication is sometimes called the 'unofficial visitors guide' because it's edgy, and guests love that."
And, it gets the correct message to the consumer without taking a lot of flak from two star attractions.
Back in the early days of the new millennium, I was interviewed by Billboard magazine on the subject of brands using rock songs to sell their stuff. While it's pretty common today (with very few of us even noticing), it was a pretty unusual experience back then.
And, today, it has come full circle. David Gilmour (best known as a stalwart of the now defunct Pink Floyd) says he heard the five-note sounder used by the French rail company SNCF that alerted passengers to an upcoming announcement. Every time he heard it, he said he wanted to start dancing. And, addicting it is.
So addicting, that he used it as the backbone of his new song, "Rattle That Lock."
You'll not soon get this Music Friday feature out of your head.
I remember all too well the frustration of one of my daughters, upon entering the workforce, with the expectation of some employers that their employees would actually have experience.
"How the hell do I get experience if they won't hire me," she said, the exasperation all too clear. And, as always, she was spot on.
I was reminded of that conversation last week when a newly minted Destination Marketing Organization director (with no previous DMO experience) said, somewhat breathlessly in a news article, that she hoped to target motor coach groups that might stay the week.
That would be a target market of exactly...errr, zero. Motorcoach groups don't ever spend a week in one place, especially in a town that they've never heard of.
Now, to be fair...we all have to start somewhere. And, when I got my first job in DMOland, I had no experience whatsoever in the tourism and hospitality field (I had been a DJ, for crying' out loud). But that was in the 1980s, when Destination Marketing wasn't understood as one of the most vital aspects of economic development. Back then, we came from all kinds of backgrounds and learned the trade.
Today...the stakes are too high. Rookies are rarely successful because expectations are excruciating.
So, where to get the experience? Not a baptism of fire. If you want to be a successful DMO CEO, learn the trade at another DMO first. Then use your knowledge gained to make your mark somewhere else.
Phase II findings were unveiled at DMAI15 in Austin last month. If you weren't there (or, even if you want to hear it again), DMAI is offering a webinar to walk DMO pros through the findings, the assessment tool that has been created and best practices to inspire new ideas.
Both members and non-members are invited to hear the next steps in DestinationNext tomorrow at 2pm EDT/11am PDT. To register, click HERE.
And then, come back and tell us what your top takeaways are.
It was but a stadium built for baseball. Shea was the home of the New York Mets and the New York Jets...the two upstart professional sports teams that challenged the legacy Yankees and Giants.
So, it was somewhat appropriate that Shea was the place where the old world was challenged by the new. 50 years ago this weekend, the Beatles played what would be the first stadium rock concert in history.
On this Music Friday, it's a trip to another world with "Help" from the very sweaty Beatles at Shea.
We took the family there for a Holiday weekend while the whole Bush-Gore chad thing was going on. The irony wasn't lost on me...but, I'm not sure my girls picked up on it. However, the ability to interact with George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and regular townspeople simple mesmerized my youngest. In every reenactment she attended, she always tried to draw the actor out of character. And, I think she was most impressed when she couldn't.
In Williamsburg, she came close to getting George to slip...but couldn't budge Thomas.
Which is why I can't quite understand why Williamsburg has struggled as of late. I get that the Revolutionary War isn't in any way important to today's kids. But, why was it still cool 20 years ago? What has changed? Or, was it just my daughter?
So...I applaud putting George on the road. It may not move the needle...but it is so worth a try.
When you are promoting a destination that has a generally accepted stereotype as being a town that doesn't party hearty, how to fight back?
Full frontal...as Visit Salt Lake did yesterday with the launch of the website theresnothingtodoinsaltlake.com. The opening video is one of the coolest, most evocative plays we've ever seen. Edgy, hip, subtly subversive...oh, yeah.
And after the video, viewers are encouraged to plan their night. Not their visit. Their night.
This works on so many levels...which one can only expect from Scott, Eric and the crew at Visit Salt Lake.
A media that plays to the lowest common denominator, dragging this country further into mediocrity, that's who.
A recent survey of social media posts reveals that the least eloquent posters support Trump. The most eloquent support Carly Fiorina...who was relegated to the second tier debate last week.
Shouldn't the media aspire to highlight the best and brightest in order to elevate and ensure this country's future? Instead, it feeds us the Trumps, Kardashians and sensationalistic tripe that makes us worse as a culture...not better.
For someone that travels through airports as much as I do, it's pretty rare to be surprised. So, as I routed through DTW yesterday, you can imagine my delight in hearing "Delta Airlines welcomes ASAE to Detroit."
I've seen countless signs in airports welcoming conventions. I've heard Mayors welcome visitors over the speaker system. But, I'm pretty sure I've never heard a convention welcomed over the PA.
Of course, ASAE (American Society for Association Executives) isn't just any convention. Called the "Super Bowl" of trade shows, ASAE places more professional association meeting planners in one place than any other event of its kind. Talk about a site visit? With 6,000 potential buyers, this is the motherlode.
When we work with clients across North America, we often encourage them to look outside the Destination Marketing sphere for new ideas. So often (as Carly Fiorina once said), we just breathe our own fumes.
Interesting that Time, Inc. CEO Joe Ripp (who also leads People and Sports Illustrated) recently said, “If we don’t find new revenue streams, if we don’t find new ways of distributing our content on multiple platforms, it’s a slow and steady death.”
If Time's leadership is concerned about identifying new revenue streams, shouldn't we all?
You ply your trade for 20 years. You view each day as an opportunity to learn and, if possible, give back. There are days that clients want to hug you. There are days that clients look at you with that far-away gaze and you think you might be crazy. That you might be pushing the envelope just a little too hard.
And, then...you're featured on Skift, the premier online aggregator of travel and tourism news, trends and thought. An online resource that you read every single day, without fail, to stay current.
What an unbelievable honor. Made even more so by so many friends and clients taking to Twitter, Facebook and e-mail to tell me "Right on." And, one peer who disagrees with my point of view. And, next week, we'll debate his extremely valid argument in this space.
Thanks to Skift and to Greg Oates for the salute...and for giving air to my vision of how Destination Marketing will evolve in the years ahead.