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Transforming Performance Reporting with Destination Arena: An Interview with Richard Vaughan

Posted: April 21, 2014
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Fresh off the heels of the announcement surrounding the Destination Arena benchmarking platform for DMOs, I sat down with Managing Director Richard Vaughan, CDME, CTA to talk about his plans for the growth of the platform and how it will help DMO's take their efforts to the next level.

Can you give us a little history about Destination Arena and its origins?

DMAI issued an RFP for a bench-marketing tool as a result of feedback from the Chief Marketing Officers at a CMO forum in 2012.  The Arena partners of InterVistas, Gaining Edge and Simpleview responded with a robust bench-marketing platform that was very comprehensive and was awarded the work and an agreement was created.  The Arena partners engaged a Global Advisory Board of over 25 senior DMO leaders to help create and structure the platform to meet the needs of the industry.  DMAI wanted to develop a global repository for DMO comparative data and a comprehensive database for research and strategic insights thus partnered with the Arena group to drive this initiative.

Richard A. Vaughan, CDME, CTA What are some of the Capabilities of the platform today and how it will elevate and transform performance reporting for DMO’s?

The platform is currently capable of providing over 100 metrics within 7 major categories of Sales, Booking pace, Membership, Leisure, Interactive, Mobile and Social.  The tool allows you to build competitive sets along with providing some trend lines for an Industry average comparison plus the ability to roll those individual reports up to a master report, which is cool.  It allows you to filter by budget size, staff size, number of rooms in the destination, largest meeting space, whether you have a convention center or not and if you are member based. 

The ability to compare yourself with a comp set or industry average provides current intelligence, which can help you plan strategically and allocate your resources more appropriately.  You can verify your strengths and weaknesses in various sales and marketing channels and develop a plan for improvement.  

We’ve seen recent scenarios recently where DMO funding can at times come under scrutiny. How do platforms such as Destination ARENA aid DMO’s in justifying their roles as economic development drivers?

The long-range vision is to create this global repository for all DMO data that will provide the most current intelligence on the size and scope of our industry and its contribution to the sales and marketing efforts for every community.  Currently it provides a vehicle to aggregate many of the metrics that DMOS get evaluated on as to their effectiveness as a destination marketing organization in the various sales and marketing channels.  Every DMO is under scrutiny at one time or another and the important thing is to be prepared.  It is difficult when you constantly feel you are on the defensive so the goal with Destination Arena is to provide the tools, in advance of criticism, for every DMO to have current and fresh data that provides a bench marketing tool, with graphs and custom reports to strategically see how they match up with comparable size bureaus and the industry as a whole.  This knowledge will allow them to chart strategies and improve their sales and marketing productivity before the scrutiny takes place and puts them on the offensive to display preparedness and professionalism.  It could also give them data to justify an increase to their budgets.

With your hotel background, you have seen first hand the impact that reporting tools such as STR (Smith Travel Reports) can have on the hotel industry. How do you see Destination ARENA having a similar impact on Destination Marketing, not just domestically, but worldwide?

STR certainly is the gold standard and a wonderful example of utilizing the power of shared intelligence. Destination Arena can follow in those pioneer footsteps by consolidating all the DMO data on a platform that is easy to use and capable of providing a strong visual representation of how DMOs are performing in various metrics that influence visitation. Tourism is a growing worldwide product and business intelligence has no boundaries thus Destination Arena wants to work with DMOS around the globe

We know the capabilities of the platform today and how it will elevate and transform performance reporting for DMO’s, but 5 years down the road for instance, where do you see this product from a growth standpoint?

The possibilities are endless. We would like to be known as the STR report for DMOs.   It would be awesome to have all DMAI members load their budgets and strategic/sales and marketing plans, 1 time at the beginning of their fiscal years, into Destination Arena and provide us with the most comprehensive and most current DMO super database in the industry.    Every DMO would have instant access to the freshest data for research, education, comparative analysis and strategic planning.  That would be powerful!