It's the end of what has been an exciting 2013 here at DMAI as well as in the travel industry, but as we embark on 100 years of destination marketing Joy Lin and I wanted to take a quick peek into the future and give our ten trends to watch for in 2014 (besides the zombie apocalypse, of course).
These items aren't ranked in order of importance, but more for the purpose of listing each item out as we thought of them.
1. Service Design in Tourism
Fresh off the heels of success at the recent Service Design & Tourism Conference, expect to see this concept take off in 2014 as DMO's and subsequent providers begin to plan more around the aspect of service and product development centered around the visitor experience. This begins with asking the question about how the best possible service experience can be provided for the customer.
Taking the old crystal ball here and predicting that DMO's will begin to look to each other for benchmarking, measurement and analysis. Knowing how you measure up amongst your comp set has always been a marker in the lodging industry, and this trend will become more apparent in 2014.
3. Creativity Challenge
As technology continues to shape how we experience the world in ever more targeted and customized ways, leisure visitors, business travelers and event planners alike are expecting more authentic and personal experiences out of their travel. We'll continue to be tasked with the challenge of not only engineering creative experiences, but doing so in a serendipitous way.
4. Responsive Design
I am going to call this simply... "The Year of Responsive." If you are not familiar by now with Responsive Design, let me be the first to slap you on the wrist. Building a website to accommodate the user experience no matter the device is a no-brainer to me. The speed at which new devices come into existence with varying screen resolutions is quite blistering and some marketers will struggle to catch-up.
5. Sales Consultation
The art of creating buy in over the hard sell is making its way through the DMO sales community. We've spent the last few years understanding our role and where we add value if we're to stand between the meeting professional and the hotel, and now is the time to incorporate it into our actions. Being the inquisitive driver of our meeting planner relationships and acting as destination consultants and solution providers will determine our long-term success.
6. Embracing the Collaborative Economy
Disruptive hospitality technologies in the sharing economy is forcing DMOs to react to the changing behavior of our travel customers. While the result is still uncertain, 2014 is the year that many if not most destinations will embrace the collaborative economy as here to stay and evaluate their options accordingly. As Martha Sheridan explains, DMOs have an opportunity to educate themselves on the landscape and start some serious conversations with each other and their stakeholders on the best way to move ahead.
7. e-RFP Spam
With the explosion of e-RFP services over the last decade, meeting professionals are empowered to cast a wide net for their event. However, the result has been a huge amount of e-RFP spam - duplicate, unqualified, or just way too many leads that end up cluttering our CRM systems. How are our hotels dealing with this? Where can the DMO step in to be part of a solution? It's time to take a proactive approach towards this issue that could determine whether we stay part of the lead management process.
8. Data Driven Marketing
You are going to hear more and more about terms such as "big data" and "database marketing" in 2014 and beyond. While most DMO's may not dabble in big data in the traditional sense, database marketing and analytics will come to the forefront as savvy CMO's and their teams begin to leverage the treasure trove of data not only residing in their current databases, but from companies such as Adara, Sojern, and PhocusWright just to name a few.
9. Google Plus
Often deemed the red-headed step child of social media within the travel industry, DMO's would be well advised to pour more resources into Google Plus. Not simply for its powers in the area of content syndication, but more so for the benefits that follow in terms of impact on organic search results.
10. Room Nights Debate
As 75% of total DMO budgets are largely funded through transient occupancy taxes, it's no wonder that room night goals are a huge driver for destination sales incentive structures. However, as more and more event attendees choose alternate accommodations outside of a contracted room block, DMOs are left with the challenge of booking more and more meetings in order to meet their ever-rising room night goals. DMOs will either be looking at new ways to estimate room nights beyond traditional definitions or explore potential alternatives to room nights as a definition of their success - whether that's economic impact or something else remains to be seen.
I think we can all agree that we've got a pretty interesting year ahead of us, and we can't wait to explore with you all that will unfold in the months to come.
Signing off for 2013, good night and good luck!