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Destination Innovate Blog

DMO Relevancy Argument: Five ways to shut.πŸ‘ it. πŸ‘down.πŸ‘

Ahhh… the haters. Amirite? So much of a DMO leader’s job is political and perception. But, when there is a prevailing issue (it’s been going on for at least the 29 years I’ve been involved with DMOs) it might be worth taking a fresh look at what you can do to alleviate the problem. Here are five ways you can clapback and win the argument:

  1. Build a Predictive Model. The argument that “people will come anyway” has diminishing returns. Big Ones. You should be prepared and communicate, not just the positive impact of your DMO, but what if it didn’t exist? Fear is a strong motivator, and they might just deserve a little reality check.
    See the post on VISIT FLORIDA here, which goes into more depth.
  2. Community. Perception starts with local community. Consider how you provide value to the community outside of the economic impact. Your community should feel like you are improving living in the destination dramatically.
  3. Rally Strategically. This is the stakeholder key. These businesses rely on tourism to survive. Other than inflated co-op, really think about how you support them. Mini-conferences once a year to educate them on what the DMO does for them is just not enough. Giving them the tools to improve their business is a much stronger pay off. This is why we started AMP CAMP. The stakeholders will be a strong key to relevancy for your DMO. Doing it right for them is no longer a luxury, but an absolute imperative.
  4. Trim the fat. Bet there are vendors that probably can be replaced, brought in-house or cut out all together. The large agency relationships can be beguiling, but they come at a price. The larger the agency you work with, the bigger the chances you are not getting the best you can. To keep up with demand, they normally have to over-process handling so many DMOs, ultimately being more factory than unique and not too dedicated to the destination, as numbers are their game. There are really good people working there, but they can be slave to the system.
  5. Audit your Impact. Before the media, legislators, etc start auditing your DMO, take a preemptive strike. DMOs are overwhelmed by the data they receive from so many sources of marketing, but end up in analysis paralysis and worse, do not take action on the data in strategic ways. Auditing spend, impact, influence, etc can educate the community and assist in relevancy. I’m talking YOUR impact, not just “visitation increased X amount.” What can your DMO take credit for, where can you be transparent about improvements the DMO needs to make? Be honest and tell your story before being asked to “explain yourself.”

The time is here, whether you think you are loved and supported for your efforts or not. Don’t get discouraged, have a strategy, and be proactive now. As my grandmother used to say, “Honey, it only takes one opinion to take things from sugar to sh*t.”

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