The Destination Marketing Organisations (DMOs) are facing new challenges. The need to strategize their future and their own existence is real. During the last European Cities Marketing meeting in Gdansk, a record number of 170 delegates from European cities, together with industry thought leaders, shared ideas and insights on how to create best value for the city, the industry partners and the visitors.
The future of the DMO
Keynote speaker, Frank Cuypers, Senior Strategist at DestinationThink.com began with fundamental questions and statements: “Marketing is about value. Why do cities want visitors? Because they create economic value that creates jobs. It is not just about money, but about quality of life. How to add value for your people and your visitors? Why is there (still) too many concern about volume? We forget that the tourist can also add value to your destination. Tourism is about emotions and you remember your experiences when you are sensitively touched.”
Tackling the future of the DMO, Cuypers added: “There is hope if DMOs find and/or rethink their scope. Destination promotion happens through destination stories told by many. Destination stories are a direct result of the destination experience.”
Roger Carter, CEO of TEAM Tourism Consulting and also keynote speaker shared his vision of DMOs as key organisations within their own field: “leaders of the destination community, guardian of strategic direction and catalyst of competitiveness.”
He then concluded: “DMOs should undercover their place DNA (climate, environment, economy, history, people, culture, geography), and then brand their destination accordingly. Your destination’s DNA combined with the projection of your destination gives what is perceived by potential travellers.”
The future is digital
Nick Hall & Emil Spangenberg pushed ECM members to the wall to redefine their biggest challenges but also to indentify solutions by asking themselves the right questions. With just 20 minutes to define four key challenges, and 20 minutes to solve four set by others, the session saw a mix of CEOs, Research, Marketing and Digital Directors getting to work on the most significant topics related to Leadership and Digital First as well as Content and Creativity. These priorities were previously identified in the #DTTT’s Transformation Research Report ran in partnership with ECM.
Time for Destination Marketing Management Organisations?
Keynote speaker Chris Fair, President of Resonance Consultancy advocated the attendees from 65 different cities to turn into DMMOs (Destination Marketing Management Organisations) to keep up with the tourism trends.
“The goals that DMOs have historically pursued now threaten their future relevance and even existence. As tourism continues to grow, DMOs must shift resources from marketing to management in order to balance the interests and benefits of tourism with those of the local communities they serve.” said Fair, who also continued: “As locals, visitors and digital channels become the primary means of place based communication, DMOs must shift from traditional marketing to management to promote their destination.”
Indeed, DMOs are the only organisations within a city structure that have the capabilities, capacities and funding to focus on developing and managing the experiential quality of a city. With this in mind, Chris Fair emphasised the key steps that DMOs should follow to become DMMOs. First, there is a need to engage the community in the planning process, then to distribute the impact and benefits of tourism to the wider region, to develop quality of life enhancing product and program afterwards, to organise to support and develop initiatives, and finally to manage and monitor destination experience.