Roughly 2,500 posts later, I can confirm that business is, indeed, good. And, yes, part of that success can be attributed to this blog…just as some comes from our monthly e-newsletter and word of mouth from our friends and clients in the Destination Marketing sector.
But, that’s not why I have continued to blog while he and so many of my friends have slowed or altogether abandoned their foray into the platform. I know it might sound corny and contrived…but it really is because of you, the reader, that I offer up my thoughts to both industry colleagues, friends and passerbys.
Your “likes” when the blog posts most mornings on Facebook and the conversations in which we engage when you comment are what powers me forward, constantly looking for the cool, the inane and the simply wrong around us.
I may not have the following of a Jay Baer, Lefsetz or Seth Godin…but my followers mean the world to me. And, it thrills me that we can inject a subtly subversive viewpoint, from time to time, into the increasingly meaningful discourse on Destination Marketing…the nation and the world.
Thanks for being part of this journey…and here’s to the next 10.
Skift'sGreg Oates posted an interesting question last week in our DMOproZ LinkedIn group. While Destination Marketing Organizations have been relatively quick to embrace Social Media and Blogs for Leisure markets, why haven't their Meeting & Convention Sales divisions followed suit?
Though maddening in its lack of clarity (likely because the reporter is just as confused as his sources), an article in the Ottawa KS Herald is a case study for why those with a lack of experience in the Destination Marketing world should just STFU.
Are you shocked? Some members of the Bureau Board seem to be. Of course, if a Board Member doesn't know how the funds over which they preside are being deployed, they shouldn't be on the Board, But, that is a completely different rant for another time.
I'm not shocked or dismayed in the least at an 89% "overhead" figure…and here's why: A lot of non-profit organizations have no more idea how to design their budgets and financial statements than Somali pirates know how to build a starship. Overhead ends up being rent, utilities, salaries, benefits, taxes, letterhead, copy paper, software…just about everything that is considered a sunk cost.
"Programming" for a DMO, on the other hand, is typically advertising purchased, trade shows attended, etc.
There are two problems here. If non-profits handled their financial reporting like for-profit corporations, a significant percentage of those "overhead" costs would be assigned to a functional area of the enterprise. The salary and benefits (and phones, computer, internet connection, stationary, business cards, etc.) of the person in charge of the website and Social Media would be assigned to Marketing, where those costs belong. After all, you wouldn't hire and equip a person for this role if they couldn't market.
The only portion of salaries that should be assigned to "overhead" or "Administration" would be that of the Director…and then, only the amount of time that person devotes to running the operation. Indeed, most CEOs should have their salary/benefit costs spread over several functional areas such as Community Relations, Event Support, Fundraising, etc.
So, part of this non-story is that the Visitors Bureau Board isn't sophisticated enough to run their books in a way that breaks down the true cost of Destination Marketing in the right functional areas.
The other issue, however, is even deeper. As online, mobile and social are increasingly becoming the way destinations lure visitors, successful DMOs are staffing up and cutting "programming" costs because it takes people on the ground with real time understanding of the destination to move the needle and increase visitation and spending.
If I had a limited amount of resources (as I'm guessing Ottawa KS possesses), I'd put it all on digital. Not just 89%.
But, here is the most telling quote in the article: The County Administrator questions the viability of the Visitor Information Center, saying, "Quite honestly, I’m asking myself a very simple question: If I was running a business, could I exist on only one visitor or customer an hour?"
Mr. Holmes? You are running a business. And that only one person an hour visits Franklin County? I'd start investing a lot more into advertising.
I'd start investing a lot more in your Visitors Bureau.
Said Jay Baer on his Convince and Covert blog post earlier this week: "Brands want to be heard at all times, but consumers only open their ears when they need something."
He was opining on a recent Hubspot study called The Social Lifecycle that some have been using to say that Social Media for business and brands is no longer as big of a deal as some have made it. That consumers are turned off by branded content. That, while consumers expect business to be on Facebook, they really don't expect to engage with the brand.
Nothing could be further from the truth...for brands that don't use Social Media platforms to sell stuff.
As Jay concludes: "Maybe we need to worry less about sustained exposure and engagement – which this research shows consumers don’t really want anyway – and worry more about crafting social content that it so useful and relevant that it breaks through consumers’ collective disinterest in branded social media."
But the one that got the most page views over the past five years was when I went off on a TSA proposal that, during the last 60 minutes of flight, would have forced us all to put away our books and computers so the flight attendants could see our laps.
Sunday is typically the day when this blog experiences the fewest views of the week. Which isn't surprising, as I rarely post on Sunday and you should have better things to do. So why did this Sunday see one of the highest numbers of visitors ever in almost 5 years? Could I have really struck such a chord in my presentation at the International Downtown Conference that morning?
No...that would be hubris talking. Instead, it was because the "other" Bill Geist (the one on CBS Sunday Morning) nailed one of those segments that rang so true to so many...driving viewers to Google to find out more or see it again. And, in doing so, hundreds found me, too.
My eldest daughter was married the weekend after 9/11, ten years ago this month. I relived some of the same sentiments as I watched Bill's segment online yesterday, remembering that surrealistic time when everything about our world had changed. And, yet...it hadn't, as here were two people getting married four days after the attack on America.
We Bills have several things in common. Both of us began our careers in suburban Chicago media. We both have enjoyed success with segments on top-rated TV programs (he national, me local). We're both authors. And we both have daughters named Elizabeth (though, his goes by Libby while mine prefers Liz).