2021 might be a thirst trap for DMOs.

OpED: from Jennifer Barbee, Co-Founder and Partner, Industry Relations

We want to all take a sigh of relief. “That year” we don’t mention seems to be in the rear view mirror. But, not so fast. The pent-up travel demand of 2021 and outpacing 2019 numbers means it’s tempting to “move on”, business as usual and *maybe* address overtourism.

Here’s the danger, if 2022 softens in demand, you may not be able to keep the 2021 momentum going. Then, we are back to the ol’ familiar “DMO relevancy” conversation.

You can make 2021 numbers in FIT tourism, no problem. But, the smart DMO is doubling down on branding and value prop specifically for 2022 and beyond.

Here are a few things you need to consider for 2022 strategy:

  • Providing VALUE to small businesses and residents must continue.
  • Alternative funding should be in your plan.
  • New competitive sets will cycle rapidly, be prepared.
  • Ad privacy should pivot. Pull instead of push. Strip out creepy ad stalking and streamline ads that people actually want to see.
  • Fiscal responsibility is imminent. Make sure you are spending publisher direct, without third-party markups.

What is great and terrible about the challenges that DMOs now face, is that they are not globally simplified. When speaking with DMOs directly, their immediate challenges range wildly. Furthermore, they have little or no time to think about what the next three years would look like with sustaining or mitigating models.

A good colleague and DMO CEO shared with me that he is more worried about 2022. And he was spot on. But, I have not heard a lot of others share the thought. Perhaps we are just reeling from 0 business and the horrors of 2020. Hopefully, relevancy is on everyone’s mind. Funding arguments of DMOs and their place in the community will surge again if not fortified.

The new money will run out. How are you using it? Big marketing campaign today for market share over the summer, or longer tail marketing strategy that addresses challenges not yet seen?

Don’t know what you don’t know, but want to check your strategy? Talk to us about how we are helping DMOs across the country with truly unique strategies.