100 Years of Advancing Destinations

Upping Their Game: When DMOs and EDOs Unite, Everyone Wins

Author: Guest Guest Karyl Leigh Barnes, Managing Partner/Tourism Practice, Development Counsellors International
Posted: January 29, 2015
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Competition among destinations for convention business has never been stiffer. Destination marketing organization (DMO) employees around the globe are more educated and sophisticated than ever before, and so too are the buyers of meeting locations and space. Raising the bar even higher are savvy DMOs who are joining forces with economic development organizations (EDOs). Collectively, they are pursing conferences that are strategic for exposing potential investors and talent to their city, while leveraging the destination’s local talent assets –speakers, on-site industry learning sessions and local membership/delegates – to enhance the meeting itself. These early adopters are paving a path toward the future. While their approaches to success differ, here are a few examples of DMO/EDO partnerships that are proving successful.

Smart Move:  Greater Raleigh CVB & Wake County/City of Raleigh Economic Development 

Raleigh, N.C., was leading the country in nearly every measure of economic success, including rankings that are key for recruiting skilled workers. To leverage this substantive position, Greater Raleigh CVB and the Raleigh Convention Center teamed up with Wake County/City of Raleigh Economic Development teams to market the destination for conventions that would introduce potential skilled workers in the areas of Life Sciences and Biotechnology (third-largest biotechnology cluster in the U.S) and CleanTech (world's top 10 CleanTech clusters) to the community. Pursuing what they dubbed “the cerebral trail,” conventions such as the Southeast Alternative Fuels Conference, International Conference on Ecology & Transportation and the CED Life Science Conference were wooed, thus introducing several hundred targeted individuals to Raleigh’s business community.

Sowing Convention Seeds: City of Salinas and the Monterey County CVB 

In the wake of a major company closing, Salinas, Calif., needed to showcase its assets, including its world-renowned agricultural industry, to the world. Leveraging its strengths in agriculture technology, the city of Salinas partnered with several organizations including the Monterey County CVB, to position Salinas as the perfect location for an ag-tech focused summit. The concept proved to be a major win when Forbes agreed to create “Forbes Reinventing America: The AgTech Summit.” This conference will gather 400 of the top leaders and companies at the intersection of technology and agriculture in Salinas, thus helping the city achieve its economic development goals.

Hooking Decision Makers: VisitScotland & Scottish Development International 

Scottish Development International (SDI) sought to position Scotland as the premiere destination for quality seafood products. In collaboration with VisitScotland, the two organizations teamed up to boost awareness, increase exposure and ultimately drive exports. While SDI’s proactive media relations campaign boosted awareness and a BtoB campaign introduced potential North American seafood buyers to Scotland’s capabilities at the Boston Seafood Show, VisitScotland pursued the International Institute of Fisheries Economics and Trade (IIFET) conference. By winning the conference VisitScotland has secured a commitment to 1,320 bed nights and an economic impact of nearly $1million, yet the strategic approach to its pursuit will bring strategic influencers directly to Scotland to witness its seafood production capabilities.

Official Business: Business Events Sydney (Australia) & New South Wales State Government 

Business Events Sydney has taken partnering with the state government’s economic development arm to a whole new level, actually ensuring that a commitment to business events was part of the city’s strategy for economic development as showcased in “Progressing the NSW Economic Development Framework.” Through the development and successful roll-out of a business events ambassador program, which includes leaders who represent the New South Wales government’s priority sectors, Business Events Sydney has secured $22 million in expenditure by confirming such conferences as The World Conference of Dental Traumatology (1,000 delegates), the 12th Congress of the International Society for Organ Donation and Procurement (400 delegates) and the International Bar Association (IBA) 2017 (4000 delegates).

While each DMO’s approach differs slightly, the end result remains the same. While convention sales drives delegates to the destination, thus supporting jobs within the tourism sector, economic development organizations benefit from the opportunity to expose potential investors and talent to their local community.

Is your DMO partnering successfully with your local EDC to pursue conferences that are strategic for your destination? If so, let us know what you have found leads to success.