Last week, over 1300 Destination Marketing Pros and suppliers converged on Las Vegas for the 94th Annual Convention of Destination Marketing Association International. For those that missed it (or can’t remember it), here’s our take on the high points:
On DMO Relevance: The DMAI Future Study
Bill Hanbury (Destination DC): Relevance comes from being really good in your sweet spot. Do that first. Only then do you get the right to be “at the table.”
Maura Gast (Irving CVB): We get crowded out of the conversation because we’ve lost focus of the civic side of what we do. That’s what matters to locals. We must define DMO ROI in a different way. To most, ROI is dollar-for dollar. Our ROI is significantly different.
Karl Albrecht: DMOs need to go on the offensive..and hold our community leaders responsible.
Among the other ideas from Thought Leaders at the Conference:
Peter Yesawich (Y Partnership): In their most recent research into the mind of today’s travel consumer, 57% say life is too complicated. 79% express guilt over family/work conflict. Speed Vacations and Speed Meetings are the future (cramming more into less). As business travel declines, leisure travel will be the future (but, how will DMOs respond?). 4-6 Hour drive is the new radius of Marketing Effectiveness. 19% percent dream of an Australian vacation...but only 600,000 do it. The reason? It’s not money...it’s time.
Peter de Jong (Pacific Asia Travel Association): Tourism growth is unsustainable. The carrying capacity for growth is simply not there (mostly in HR). We need to redefine what growth is...and it’s not numbers (as they will stagnate).
Steven Covey (CoveyLink Worldwide): Trust is the Currency of Today...because it is so rare. The 4 cores of Credibility are Integrity, Intent, Capability and Results. High Trust Leaders exhibit: Straight Talk, Listen First, Keep their Commitments and Extend Trust.
Laurie Paolicelli (Chapel Hill Visitors Bureau): Her Bureau built community relevance by positioning the CVB as developing a green economic growth solution. The fundamental cost of traditional economic development is that it encroaches on the biosphere. Laurie reframed the conversation to show the benefits of a tourism strategy...resulting in a doubling of her budget.
Rick Hughes (Kansas City CVA): The traditional view is that there are tourism businesses...and businesses that aren’t in the tourism business. But, when you look at the businesses that serve the hospitality industry, there are very few businesses that fall outside of the tourism industry. The Kansas City CVA has been increasingly successful in bringing these businesses to the table by connecting the dots for them. In the past 4 years, the Bureau has attracted 1000 new members with a 90% retention rate. And, rather than charging its hotels membership dues, Rick’s Bureau collects a 1% commission on booked rooms. Cool concept.
Tim Tyrell (Arizona State University's Megapolitan Tourism Research Center): And, in possibly the most intellectually challenging session of the Conference, Tim asked whether DMOs are measuring the right things. Room Nights are, of course, an appropriate measurement tool...but what about Environmental and Social Impacts? These “Triple Bottom Line” measures are just as important, as they speak to the sustainability of our industry. Our efforts impact Property Values, Taxes, Cost of Living, Job Creation, Quality of Life, Crime Reduction, Reduction of Poverty, Housing, Transportation and Cultural
Ken McGill (Global Insight): Following Tim’s challenge, Ken cautioned DMOs to avoid “fluffing” impact numbers. Though we all know that Visitor Spending results in successive rounds of spending in the community, quoting Total Tourism Spending is a safer course than claiming Total Economic Impact. He encouraged DMOs to avoid the use of Multipliers as it places the organization in the position of defending the multiplier used...and there is no universally accepted figure for this hazy science. Making matters even more confusing, the new NAISC code for Leisure & Hospitality does no represent Tourism spending. And, the whole 50-mile radius qualifier for calling a tourist a tourist? That doesn’t work in Rhode Island (where a 50 mile drive from anywhere puts you out of the state) or North Dakota (where some travel 50 miles to buy groceries). We all need to rethink the way we measure our impact.
And, with that...it’s pretty clear that all the old rules in everything we do need to be reassessed. Which is exactly what the Futures Study is saying.
Congratulations to the DMAI staff for another great conference...and we look forward to seeing everyone next year in Atlanta!