100 Years of Advancing Destinations

7 Make-or-Break Strategies for DMO Growth in the Meetings Market

Author: Guest Loren Gold
Posted: December 17, 2012
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Collectively, as direct sales channels for meetings and events, we should be proud of our impact. We quantified for the first time ever, bookings representing over 37.5 million room nights for future periods. For a year like 2011, that’s one and every five group room nights. So how do we continue to grow our influence?

DMAI’s Sales and Marketing Committee is working hard on behalf of the industry championing the following seven key industry strategies:

1. Educate planners on the DMO value proposition. 

We all know about the misperceptions and unawareness planners have about working with DMOs. And we also have our raving fans, planners who just "get us." We just need more raving fans! In 2012 empowerMINT has hosted ten webinars and reached over 2,000 professionals, over 65% of which were planners, with topics ranging from "10 Tips for a Perfect Site Inspection" to "5 Factors that Boost Your Negotiation Power," all designed to educate planners on the DMO value proposition. We have also conducted 12 face-to-face education sessions at all major industry events. In 2013, all DMO sales professionals should use this education content as an opportunity to reach out and invite their customers to attend.

2. Our industry must be more visible in print and online.

We must be top of mind and interruptive during the stage where planners are looking for a meeting location. In 2013, we need to band together our advertising dollars and support the campaign for "DMO Value Proposition" across the major industry publications. Be on the lookout for each media coop program. And while you’re supporting the print, empowerMINT’s effort is supporting our presence in the major search engines by ranking on the first page for all selected keywords.

3. Continue to improve our database as the industry’s most precious asset.

In 2012, to date nearly 340,000 meeting records have been researched by the 1,900 users of empowerMINT’s historical database. And so far, 5,875 bookings and 5,605 histories have been reported for 2012. We need to improve upon our reporting of bookings and histories and continue to nurture the planners who currently use another DMO. 

4. Our DMO content needs to be wherever planners hang out.

If you are an empowerMINT subscriber, we have your destination and DMO content aggregated into one place. This now gives us the opportunity to syndicate your destination profile into other channels, like Cvent.com whose leadership believes our DMOs are the best first point of contact to help planners find the right fit for any size meeting. This is only the first of many content syndication relationships that we are working on for the industry.

5. Speak the same language and promise the same thing.

Our work with the MPI Foundation crystallized the need for DMO sales professionals to build trust with planners and integrity for the industry by addressing the "elephant in the room," those questions and concerns planners have about lead distribution, membership models and bias, size of meetings sourced and serviced, credit for their other planning partners and address why are we free. Through the INSIDE OUT education sessions we have educated over 500 DMO sales professionals on our brand promise and unique value proposition. In 2013, we will take our education series to the next level about the DMO’s evolving roles. 

6. Deliver our leads directly to the hotel sales professionals' CRM.

Hotel sales professionals are most likely to respond to leads deliever in their CRM first. This makes perfect sense, right? This means GSOs and third parties, who use systems like Cvent, are getting the RFP directly into the hotel's CRM. Should this be a concern of DMOs? We think so. For starters, we will begin to educate ourselves on the technological changes going on in the hotel systems. Look for an invitation to a joint empowerMINT/Hotel Technology Next Generation webinar to take place on February 7, 2013. 

7. Collaborate. Collaborate. Collaborate.

We're all in this together. While we are competitors, we are also collaborators. And we have a lot to show for our collaboration. We have our own tradeshows (Destinations Showcase), our own web portal (empowerMINT.com), our own historical database (MINT), and soon we’ll have our own customer advisory board. But the real game changer is when we can scale the efforts of our collaboration so we can magnify our reach and influence. How can we create this rising tide? It begins with the mindset of not only are we in it together, but we will also create new levels of success because of it.

Have any questions or more ideas? Contact Christine "Shimo" Shimasaki at shimo@destinationmarketing.org.

Loren Gold is the Executive Vice President, Greater Raleigh Convention & Visitors Bureau; Chair 2012-2013 DMAI Sales and Marketing Committee.