A number of destinations suffer from a generally accepted image, often perpetrated by the media or lifelong local curmudgeons, that is far less flattering than one would like. And, most DMOs respond with a blind eye to the negative brand and attempt to simply counter with a positive message. And, I get that.
But, what turns my head is the acknowledgement of a destination's challenge...and a bold response to challenge that perception. Discover Puerto Rico went viral when they did it a week ago. Destination DC just did it with the simply sensational "Discover the Real DC" campaign.
After Dubrovnik imposed restrictions on cruise lines, the Vice Chair of Royal Caribbean began a dialogue with the city's Mayor and jointly developed a solution to the community's fear of over-tourism. Adam Goldstein offered the story during a panel discussion at the World Travel & Tourism Council Global Summit in April
Virtuoso CEO Matthew Upchurch responded, "I do think it’s an interesting approach to say, 'What do you want? Don’t tell me what you don’t want.' When everybody focuses on what they don’t want, it’s always somebody else’s responsibility. When it’s what I want, it makes me focus."
He went on to say, "The over-tourism report suggests DMOs should be destination management organizations rather than destination marketing organizations. The problem is, we live in a world where it’s actually hard to manage people anymore: You’ve got to inspire them to do the right thing."
Brilliant...and the rest of the panel discussion, moderated by Travel Weekly's Arnie Weissmann, can be found here.
It starts with having the most flights out of MSN on the largest planes. That means I get upgraded more often because I fly them the most.
But, it goes beyond that. Delta gate agents are, hands down, less likely to lie to customers when something goes wrong than any other airline in this country. I've only caught them in one lie in the past five years and, though it resulted in me driving home from Atlanta rather than Roanoke (which would have been closer), I get that it was a weird day (the ATC fire in Chicago) and they were probably doing the best they could. Yeah...bless their heart.
It's one of the banes of our existence as Destination Marketers. We promote great brands and experiences. And a hurricane, tornado, flood (fill in the blank) occurs. And, then the "Jim Cantore Effect" descends upon our community. The reality that the national media arrive, showcase the carnage...and then leave, with no intention of coming back to report on the recovery. Thus, consumers believe destinations to be off the board far longer than they are. And far longer than they need to be.
Puerto Rico suffered just such a devastating blow almost a year ago. And after an embarrassing lack of aid from the Federal Government and hours upon hours of coverage of the devastation...most Americans are still leery of a vacation there. And, they so shouldn't be. I was in San Juan last December and could find few examples of a city not ready to welcome the world.
To be sure, the more rural areas were still struggling...but, they are now mostly back. And, none more sensationally than Punta Santiago...the site of the iconic SOS image painted on their street.
I had the distinct pleasure to hang with a DMO Board this morning in Chicago...the day after many of them walked the floor at ASAE, often called the Super Bowl of Meetings and Conventions oriented Trade Shows. As one could imagine, this was the first time many have ever experienced such an event...and I asked what their primary takeaway was.
With as much one-upmanship technology and swag that is on display at the show, one shouldn't be surprised if the glitz was what turned heads. But it wasn't.
The first-timers came away pointing to the booths in which the destination representatives actively engaged in conversation with them. Yeah...pure old-time salespersonship (which, as Jack Carroll once wrote "is the absence of salesmanship - characterized by a quiet, relaxed, well-prepared salesperson who forgets every aspect of technique and just listens and reacts in real time").
Just people who love their town encouraging those passing by to consider a visit. Even from a 10x10 booth.
As one Board member opined, "I was surprised at how competitive it was out there on the floor...because any size budget can compete if they have the right personnel out front."
I gotta be somewhat careful here, as there are members of my extended family that feel passionately about organic and vegan options for their lifestyle. And, I'm good with that. I've made several shifts in my consumption to be more vegan as a result of their recommendations. All good...and thank you.
But, let's be clear. Organic is stuff that isn't rock. That the word is supposed to convey other meanings is a challenge. And, it's one being dealt with by the Bareburger chain.
Bareburger has long claimed to be organic...but a recent challenge from a customer has rocked the company. Apparently, some of the meat served there is 80% organic. And the mayo and tomatoes weren't. But...restaurants aren't held to the same standards as other companies when it comes to just how organic is organic.
But, here's the classic bit from this story. Another restaurant that built its trade on being organic says they have no interest to be certified as such. “It is our own transparency and integrity that makes us organic, and not someone that puts the label,” Vladimir Grinberg said. “I don’t think the government knows more about food than we do.”
So white hot was her talent, Aretha Franklin was being called "The Queen of Soul" within three years of her debut. Fourteen years before MTV made music videos popular, Aretha shot one for her first hit, "Respect." No female singer has charted more hits in Billboard magazine. And, Aretha was the first female inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. So, yeah.