A New Currency for DMO Relationship Capital (Part Two)

HR-Man_Icon-resized-600Earlier this week, Destination Marketing Association International released the Phase I report of its DestinationNEXT initiative at their Las Vegas convention. (Full disclosure: I was a contributor to its development.) The report synthesizes insights from global futurists, industry leaders and marketplace customers into a blueprint for how DMOs can evolve, survive and thrive in a “fluid” (today’s hipster term for uncertain) tourism/event ecosystem environment. The DestinationNEXT study refers to these as NEXTPractices and will be more fully explored in Phase II.

So…following on last week’s posting about how Apple is leveraging the relationship capital of its former PC nemesis, IBM, to enter a new space as its existing space becomes more crowded, the question of the moment is: what opportunities exist for DMOs to leverage their existing relationship capital to create new uncontested value in such a fluid environment?

I believe one such compelling opportunity is for DMOs to use their existing marketplace and destination partner relationship capital to become the expert on tourism/event analytics and insights for their respective destinations.

The new relationship currency for DMO’s?: Insights..not just Room-Nights.

And just like Apple did, DMOs should find partners with big data infrastructure and expertise to collaborate with around the provision of marketing analysis and operational insights for their marketplace clients (e.g. tour operators, meeting professionals etc.) and also for their destination partners (e.g. venues, attractions, governments etc.).

Now…I’m not saying that DMOs should dump everything else they do and bet the farm here as the applicability of the opportunity will obviously depend on a DMO’s particular scenario, priorities etc (the DestinationNEXT report defines four differentiated scenarios to consider). What I am saying is that as DMOs struggle with to find their future in a highly fluid ecosystem, this is a space ripe with opportunity for DMOs to not only to create exclusive uncontested value but also to create new service revenues for their own enterprises.

I can see the eyes rolling now. But can you imagine what would have happened three years ago if someone suggested to Steve Jobs that a partnership with IBM was a good idea? For everything there is a season.

Before you hit ALT-Q to shut this down, consider this:

  • At the moment, this space is largely uncontested. A veritable blue ocean of opportunity.
  • Is it valuable? A recent HBR article – The Ultimate Marketing Machine – notes that a survey of 10,000 marketers in 92 countries identified “Big-Data, Deep Insights” as one of three winning marketing characteristics of high performing organizations.
  • Decisions around everything from convention center expansion investment to tour itinerary development to event destination selection now require increasingly credible and relevant data. Better informed decisions improve destination performance (i.e. room-nights, event attendance, visitor experience) and investor returns. The destination that can readily provide those data insights will have an advantage over those that cannot.
  • For-profit big data enterprises (e.g. IBM) cannot do this on their own. They need a partner with marketplace and destination credibility in order to access, package and monetize the data analytics. Only DMOs have built the powerful trusted relationship capital with their marketplace clients and their destination partners to access the data and to pitch it to their clients.

00935PTo be clear, this is not suggesting that DMO’s should develop their own big-data infrastructure. This is about finding a partner who already has it and then leveraging the DMO’s existing relationship and tourism expertise capital to build a whole new destination business service. The DMO’s role is as trusted owner of the destination data undertaking the necessary analysis and packaging up the insights (which will require new organizational competencies e.g. data scientist) for marketplace clients and destination partners as required.

Who knows, maybe the tourism industry is one of the industries being targeted by the new Apple-IBM partnership for specific analytic app development…the possibility of which should be motivation enough for DMOs to give this some serious thought. And if its not, maybe this is an opportunity for DMOs to help build a smarter planet.



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