100 Years of Advancing Destinations

The Continuing Evolution of Convention Sales

Author: Joy Lin
Posted: June 16, 2014
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Convention sales is no longer "business as usual." With changes in how consumers are conducting their search and making their purchase decisions, DMOs are turning toward new ways and means of selling their destinations. I sit down with Ruth Trojan of Nadler & Associates, to discuss the results of our most recent Convention Sales & Marketing Activities Study to see what she had learned about the topic.

From a high-level perspective, what would you say is the foremost trend driving destination sales today?

What's interesting is that as the industry evolves, we see widespread integration of various disciplines that used to be very distinct. Our research showed that almost one half say that Services is the New Sales while one in four say Marketing is the New Sales. This perspective ultimately affects what activities gets carried out and what resources DMOs will invest in.

Can you share a little bit about how DMO investments might have already changed in this new environment?

Meetings and conventions budgets and shifts in emphasis and focus suggest that online and digital marketing have found a permanent and growing seat at the table. However, this doesn't mean that DMOs are spending less. More than half see growing sales & marketing budgets while nearly half (43%) see the same for services and housing budgets.

Are there any trends DMOs should be particularly aware of, especially over the next few years?

We noticed in this particular study that several challenges abound, and many will not be quickly or easily resolved. Some examples include aging and limited industry infrastructure and transportation access. We've also found three significant issues are top-of-mind for convention sales professionals and receiving increased attention:

  1. Issues of local stakeholder education and cooperation,
  2. Balancing traditional and new paradigms, and
  3. Quickly rebuilding after significant recessionary funding cuts.

How might DMOs address these issues?

Accurate and consistent performance reporting, as well as communicating results toward the right initiatives are critical. In the ten years since DMAI formalized performance reporting for DMOs, which included the meetings and conventions function, many of the recommended measures and metrics have been incorporated into goal-setting for sales personnel. The vast majority of DMOs and convention centers have sales performance goals –- 99% for DMOs and 90% for convention centers -- which is fantastic to see.

The Convention Sales & Marketing Activities Study is the most comprehensive study on destination meetings and convention sales, marketing and services practices, capturing the changing dynamic of sales in an increasingly complex marketplace. For more information on the study, click here.