Increasingly, Destination Marketing Organizations are assuming the role of ensuring a more complete destination experience for the visitors they lure. In most cases, this is a response to an absence of a private sector answer to a consumer need. For example, when Visit Quad Cities received repeated requests for bike rentals from visitors, they acquired bikes to supply the need.
But, what if there were private sector bike rental companies already providing such a service?
Over the weekend, I saw an Op-Ed piece from an entrepreneur that supplies bike rentals in Cocoa Beach FL, challenging the allocation of Room Tax revenue to develop a bike-share program in the destination. The TDC there has apparently allocated over $100,000 to create an option for visitors to bike the destination.
The existing private sector provider certainly has an axe to grind. The County is using tax dollars to "compete" with his business model. At the same time, the entrepreneur might not be in a position to deliver a destination-wide solution. I have absolutely no idea who here is right and who is less right. Nobody here is wrong, as everyone is looking to ensure visitors a great experience.
But, it is a signal to us all in the DMO space. Be very clear that the private sector doesn't have a destination-wide solution before stepping in. And, if there isn't a destination-wide solution (but a small solution exists), look for ways to enable entrepreneurs to grow to fill that need.
It only makes sense.