Destination Innovate Blog

DMO Volatility, a rally cry.

Hey, it’s me again. Your friendly neighborhood DMO advocate. In case you missed it yesterday, Travel Weekly published a piece about the compression and needs for cash-strapped DMOs with a particular focus on threats to Brand USA. You can find that here.

Just last month, VISIT FLORIDA lost a significant portion of their budget, barely making the cut to exist at all. They cut 1/3 of their staff and are making surgical decisions on where best to spend money. That’s a tough job, not just dealing with advertising strategy, also working on how best to support smaller DMOs with threatened programs now. I don’t likely see an increase to their reduced budget until a couple of years have passed. Roger Dow really says it best when he talks about a 2-3 year impact after de-funding or budget slashing. By that time, it will take 2-3x more than the original budget just to *begin* to recover.

It’s 6 months until 2020, and our vision for our DMOs must be on point. It’s critical. It’s no longer a “that might happen”, it’s a “this is happening”. And, it’s scary and it’s inevitable and it’s no longer a luxury to have a relevancy and partner plan in place.

So, what does this mean to you?? The potential threat is that the potential ‘combatant’ is unknown. It may not be your legislature or your board (which is what most DMOs think I mean). Under-served partners are the most common threat to the average city or regional destination.

  • Not illustrating a straight line to the economic impact of your efforts to their bottom line is a miscalculation of proving DMO impact.
  • Seeming to ‘pick favorites’ is a common thread of all partner complaints. Not having a collaboration and each and every partner role defined is an issue. For more about stakeholder roles, catch my post about that here.
  • The perception of co-op is an issue. A lot of stakeholders I talk to in destination really view the DMO as just trying to sell them or only promoting those who buy in. Co-op is a huge area of opportunity to rethink and help cash-strapped DMOs in a more healthy and business win-win with partners.
  • Lack of training for partners. A lot of DMOs do hold workshops for partners, but fall short in consistent education so the smallest business can utilize the most sophisticated strategies on their budget. This is why I created AMP CAMP.
  • The list goes on, but your stakeholders are both your biggest threat and your biggest opportunity. It takes a lot of work for DMOs who are already stretched so thin just attracting visitors and meetings. It must be a priority as we slide into a new decade.

The other ‘rally cry’ area that I implore you to consider is your own marketing and advertising. This is where I’m gonna get all southern Mamma on you. I see and help evaluate the RFPs put out for digital marketing and some of you are simply asking the wrong questions.

That’s how I feel when I see DMOs choose RFP vendors that do not stretch them to stand out in the competition. To get some idea of how your marketing should be in shape for 2020, check out this post I wrote way back when. DMO 2020, 8 must haves.

You deserve the best, your community deserves the best. If I go to your website and I cover up the logo and it looks like 100 other destinations, let’s do better. If I check out your social and I don’t see hyper-responsive concierge type engagement or just posts that push and not pull, let’s do better.

Two main issues will give you insurance to staying relevant and fully funded:

  1. Treat your DMO like a business and your partners like customers.
  2. Choose partners who can truly help you stand out and rethink your RFPs in terms of value/creativity not box checking.

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As always, I’d love to talk to you about your DMO, your marketing or just trade knowledge. HMU here.

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