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 2. Perception Management
We're all about to get a lot cozier, because behind Engagement on the DestinationNEXT top list of trends comes branding for meeting planner perceptions.
The challenge is that branding is not simply a marketing responsibility. Branding is the collective responsibility of the organization and the industry as a whole. Every one of us either builds the brand or breaks it with every interaction we have with meeting planners.
I mentioned in Part 1 of this series that meetings will increasingly be driven by business success, which means that your destination is going to send some pretty clear messages to meeting planners about the value you bring to the table. This will require not only more interaction between sales and marketing teams at DMOs to craft more targeted and interactive B2B communications, it will also require significant support from services teams to make sure that the destination can execute on planner expectations.
Branding for meeting planner perceptions of value has already and will continue to expand outside of the destination. Many DMOs are already finding themselves part of a community of similar destinations when it comes to meetings and events. Often neighboring towns or counties will partner together to attract business or combine under one entity to market the region. Large, international gateway cities go abroad to sell together. And geographically varied destinations team up to make it easier for rotating meetings to book several destinations over time. The point was clear at the CMO Roundtable at Annual Convention this year: DMOs are more likely than ever to leave their egos and their logos at the door when it comes to partnerships, because simply put -- it's just good business.
The same can be said about the DMO industry as a whole. Traditionally, the relationships that each destination has with its planners is unique, and there's little transfer of information after the planner leaves your destination. However, DMAI's empowerMINT initiative has uncovered the fact that planners don't see us that way. They see us as one channel -- the DMO channel -- and they are frustrated that when they go from one DMO to another, they have to start over every time.
This perception and frustration will dictate our future success. While every destination will always be unique and different in the experiences it delivers, we can still work together as an industry to deliver a more seamless shopping experience across all destinations.