100 Years of Advancing Destinations

Destination Next for the Destination Sales Pro, Part 3

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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 3. Distribution

After Engagement and Perception Management on the DestinationNEXT top list of trends is managing your distribution network.

I use the word "network" when referring to distribution, but maybe "relationships" is a better word for it. 

Technology-Enabled Buyers

In the session "Digitally Disoriented" at July's Annual Convention, Tom Martin explained that with the growth of search technology, the sales cycle isn't getting shorter. It's becoming invisible, because on average, a buyer has already done their research and is already two thirds of the way to a business decision before ever speaking to a sales person. Cindy D'Aoust, Chief Operating Officer of MPI, shared that meeting planners are doing their own research reading news articles, attending webinars, getting advice from their social and professional networks. Sadly, DMO sales pros have been noticeably absent from the conversation online, but when social media itself has overtaken the telephone and trade publication advertising as a source for researching potential meeting locations, we have a responsibility to embrace this channel as a strategic opportunity to nurture leads.

Third-Parties Everywhere

Third parties are everywhere and on multiple levels, whether as planners, content aggregators or lead generators. DestinationNEXT predicts only a growth in these organizations and networks, and DMOs must be ready to monitor their relationships, understanding who the key influencers or channels are with their target groups. DMAI's empowerMINT team powering the industry initiative to position DMOs as a natural partner to third-parties of all kinds, will continue to address these influences throughout the coming year through education, discussion and technology. To see how the team has already established this with Cvent, HelmsBriscoe, and Meetings & Conventions, go here.

Clutter and Collaboration

Ultimately, with the increasing availabilty of information and connectivity through technology, what has resulted is a 300% increase in electronic RFPs being delivered to our hotels over the last five years alone. It usually takes about 20-30 minutes for a hotel salesperson to respond to a qualified lead, meaning that only 2-3% of electronic RFPs ultimately get responded to -- often due to lack of fit or lack of sufficient information in the request. Here is a golden opportunity for true collaboration to decrease the amount of clutter that DestinationNEXT predicts for the marketplace. As DMO sales pros, you are in the best position to:

  1. Qualify a planner's requirements and needs.
  2. Tailor a planner's RFP to better fit the local hotel climate, and therefore garner a better response rate.
  3. Save your hoteliers time required to sift through the chaos of RFP SPAM.

DMAI's empowerMINT has been running a special series of sessions this fall educating planners on better RFP management by working with you, the DMO sales pro. Catch the last one at CMP Conclave in New Orleans on September 7 from 9:45 - 11:00 AM.

Read Part 4: Performance