Throughout the world, tourism in all its forms has suffered massive blows. Tourism means travel and when travel is forbidden or restricted so many individuals and businesses suffer.
The visitor economy is threaded throughout a destination’s economy; accommodation, restaurants, retail, attractions, heritage, cultural centres, the list of damaged businesses goes on. This impact is then felt by the communities hosting visitors; jobs disappear, incomes shrink, upkeep of buildings and landscapes hampered, and tax income shrinks.
So what does all this mean for a destination’s promotion agency?
In a word- leadership!
We are witnessing the transformation of a DMO’s focus from marketing, through management to leadership. No longer is it good enough to say a DMO job is to build a destination brand and promote it. Tourism officers who focus on market segmentation, brand execution, PR and travel trade engagement are doing a disservice to the destination they represent. Sure, marketing can get you on the map but much more is needed today to sustain a destination’s success.
Tourist boards over recent years have developed their offering to embrace management. The M in DMO switched from marketing to management – as written well by Patrick Richards in his blog.
The Cambridge English Dictionary defines management as “the process of dealing with or controlling things or people”. DMO’s have been trying to manage their destinations. For example, by engaging with suppliers to get a better product-market fit to ensure visitors are served products and services they want. The river trip company that has tied up with local restaurants to provide picnic baskets or the B&B that sells all the bits and pieces in the house as well as arranging shipping of the goods to the guests’ homes.
The DMO is trying to manage the offer by influencing the shape of the tourism experience. And of course, marketing the destination continues alongside this.
Over the last few years there has been rising awareness about the “problems” of tourism centred around over tourism where tourism impacts have harmed local communities, the landscapes as well as leaving visitors unhappy with their experiences. This calls for leadership. The DMO is ideally placed to provide this.
DLO: Destination “Leadership” is the future of DMO
There are three dimensions the DMO needs to consider; community needs, place needs, and visitor needs. A DMO needs its local population accepting and welcoming of visitors, destination experiences that respect the natural and built environment, and tourism offers that excite visitors leading to lasting memories of the destination. This is a tall order but necessary if a destination is to prosper economically and societally. The aim is to ensure tourism has a net positive effect on the destination. How to do this is perhaps the subject of another blog.
One group of stakeholders that can help the DMO in this leadership role is the travel intermediaries (B2B) that represent, package, and sell the destination. Tour operators, travel agents and other firms still play a big role, and will for many years, in getting a destination in front of potential visitors’ eyes.
A core element of the DMO’s leadership opportunity is to build a supportive B2B community. Building destination awareness and preference sits at the core of this.