The DestinationNEXT study's phase one report was released at DMAI's Annual Convention a couple of weeks ago with over 40 pages detailing the top 20 trends affecting destination marketers. The report also includes the most popular strategies to meet these trends based on the study's survey response. On the broadest levels, the top three areas that DMOs can exploit in the coming years include:
- Playing an expanded role in the community on broader economic development issues.
- Improving branding of a destination in both leisure and meetings and conventions markets.
- Capitalizing on social media and smart technology to engage and access residents, industry and markets.
The implications for DMO sales pros might not be immediately clear, but that's due to the nature of the future that all of us face: one of greater connectivity that continuously blurs the lines between our traditional disciplines.
In this four-part series, we'll explore four categories of trends that directly engage the DMO sales community. We'll also identify where sales pros will be expected to perform, which ultimately will affect how sales performance in general may be evaluated and compensated in the future.
To access the full report, go here.
The One Thing
If you take away one thing from this series, it's this: You are not alone!
Sales pros have a huge opportunity for increased collaboration not just with their customers, the meeting planner, but also with a host of distribution alternatives, and more integrated support from their services and marketing teams.
Part 1. Engagement
The top three trends impacting DMO sales pros relate primarily to how they engage with their customers in the future. These three trends also happened to make the top five out of the total list of 64 trends, making engagement the biggest opportunity for DMOs in general to exploit.
The way that DMOs interact with meeting planners will become more digital, personalized and driven by business sucess.
In the "Digitally Disoriented" session at Annual Convention, Converse Digital and MDRG shared results from a research study conducted this spring with DMAI and MPI on meeting planner activity online. The overwhelming result is that meeting planners rely on online search, are self-educating throughout the planning process with online resources, and increasingly rely on social media to the extent that it's overtaken phone communication and trade publication advertising. With social media being the number one trend surfaced by DestinationNEXT, you can be sure that this applies to meeting planners as well, who are reading reviews, consulting friends and colleagues in private online networks, and educating themselves through webinars and blogs.
In the "forwardTHINKING" session on the future of meetings at Annual Convention, panelists from Association of National Broadcasters to SXSW Interactive indicated that flexibility was key to future meetings success. The ability to tailor the attendee experience to their preference -- whether it's food and beverage, communications, transportation or space design -- can make or break a destination's attractiveness to the future meeting planner.
Driven by business success.
As DMAI's empowerMINT often touts, "Planning a meeting -- large or small -- is monumental." It's a monumental task, because there's a lot of pressure to succeed and the meeting planner is expected to know all the options and deliver the best results. It's important for destination sales pros to always ask the planner, "What does success look like?" and be prepared to explain throughout your relationship, just how your DMO helps get them there.