COMING UNDONE: Five warning signs your Destination Organization might be at risk.

In today’s news of “water is wet,” the topic of DMO/CVB relevancy is once again…a thing.

Not that we ever really strayed from this problem.  Over the years, the destination marketing industry has been plagued with attacks ranging from budget to effectiveness to transparency to completely unqualified politicians.  2019 saw dozens of DMOs defunded or severely hobbled.  The most infamous being Visit Florida. And, with all the lovely gifts 2020 has brought us, it’s no surprise the target is larger. Bowling Green and Madison are the latest to be hit. No one enjoys conflict, and we aren’t saying to start a fire.  But there are some key indicators that you should pay attention to and make sure you are defending your place in the economy.

IF Your community does not fully understand your role or misunderstands how you are funded. 

Many residents, especially now, think their taxes pay for DMOs.  But now, of course, residents and day-trippers should be a core part of your marketing and recovery strategy.  Businesses and stakeholders must also be fortified; each one needs a specific outlet for their economic survival.

IF You don’t have a strong alternative funding strategy. 

Think like a startup, bootstrap style.  If your funding is threatened, how will you replace it?

IF Your ad spend is not transparent. 

This is an area where we find the most leakage.  Are you buying ads direct with publishers or through a firm?  Most DMOs save 60-97% in ad costs with a tighter purview here.

 IF You’re tracking outdated KPIs. 

What metrics matter in the shift and beyond?  Likely, if you are beholden to bed tax only, your board, leaders, and community need a good education in metrics that matter in our new world of DMO responsibilities.

IF You’re stressing about doing more with less. 

It’s possible.  Good strategy can allow your DMO to demonstrate an increase in impact, even if your budget or team is slashed.

There could be a variety of other reasons your destination relevancy is threatened.  Political pressures can come out of left field.  It’s imperative to get a DMO eval in core areas – not to see what you are doing wrong; you’re doing great!  Rather, to find the opportunities and strategy to make sure you are successful.  Everything that has ever been a “best practice” is coming into question or completely irrelevant now and tomorrow.

You’ve worked too hard to get punished for external factors; your team has sacrificed for the good of the community.  You must fight before the fight starts.