DMAI recently sat down with Ryan George, CEO of Simpleview to get his thoughts on what’s happening in the world of destination marketing and what Simpleview is doing to help their clients adapt to new demands.
DMAI: We talk a lot about this idea of a redefined marketplace, and what it means for DMOs in terms of changing their roles to evolvebeyond being a traditional information source or promotional intermediary. How have you seen DMOs change their strategies in light of this?
Ryan George: One of the biggest things we see from a trend perspective revolves around the idea of content creation. Storytelling is a big part of what a DMO needs to be able to do and creating quality content has become necessary to encourage potential travelers to engage with your brand. We feel strongly that the DMO is in the best position in a destination to curate that message and create that content.
And so that’s where the focus of our tools has been. Our brand new CMS, which we now have running on 75 different destination websites, was built from the ground up for content creation and curation, and the ability to do that more quickly, more easily and share the job with more people.
DMAI: You mentioned that you feel the DMO is in the best position to tell a destinations story, and yet you also talked about being able to share the job with more people. Can you talk about how you see the DMOs role evolving in terms of content creation vs content curation?
George: When you mention the redefined marketplace, platforms like social media that create a two-way conversation have been around for a while now. But we’re starting to see DMOs take hold of the conversation, take part in the conversation, curate the conversation and use that as their content message. So rather than trying to tell the story themselves, they’re finding the stories that are already out there and bringing them to the attention of potential travelers. And we're working with our clients to bring the most effective content to the forefront and tell their stories in the best possible format.
DMAI: What are some ways that you’re doing that?
George: We’re seeing DMOs do a lot more in terms of AB testing their advertising or content on their website and then measuring those results to see which one’s working better and steering things more in that direction.
DMAI: Data, and in particular the concept of Big Data, is certainly talked about a lot today. How have you seen the DMO industry being impacted by this trend?
George: As an industry, we’re still trying to define what the data sets are that are available to us. We certainly feel that CRM is a valuable source of data, as well as tools like Google analytics for DMOs to mine and leverage in terms of how good of a job their doing. But we’re also trying to pull in data from nSights, STR, Arrivalist and others. You’re seeing more and more companies pop up that are providing unique data sets. DMOs want to know what they can do with that data to create insights that allow them to market to their customers more effectively.
DMAI: How has Simpleview attempted to address this issue?
George: We’re still in the walking stages from an industry perspective, but we’re doing what we can do better understand it, educate our customers and provide tools in that space. Our Destination Dashboards product is one that consumes data from basically any source that a DMO can identify and puts it into one place so organizations can determine how big an impact they’re making and how they can shift marketing dollars.
DMAI: Is this why you brought in “Billy Beane” to talk about his famous Moneyball philosophy at Simpleview Summit? To help educate the industry?
George: We figured he would be a really good kick-off to the whole idea of looking at our data to both prove our ROI and make decisions. I had seen him speak once before and thought it was phenomenal. It’s a spot on way to open our conference and get people thinking in that mindset.
DMAI: Finally, what does the future hold for Simpleview? Where is your biggest opportunity for growth?
George: For us, there’s a lot going on in the international space. We’re working with new international destinations around the world that have varying needs. In Asia-Pacific for example, they’re just starting to organize and promote tourism the way that we do here in the U.S. They need tools, they need guidance, they need support. In Europe there’s a lot for us to learn, they do things differently. There’s a tendency for the DMO to be booking focused whereas here in the states we tend to be more aspirational and inspirational. We see instances here where bureaus here are looking to do things that they have been doing in Europe for a long time and vice-versa. It opens a good opportunity to mix ideas.