Critical DMO Leadership Actions for 2015 – Part One

In the last 30 days you’ve probably read more than your share of the typical New Years blogs and articles in the “best of 2014” and “critical trends for 2015” genre. And so you should. As the world continues to prove that every day is a new adventure in disruption and mind-shift, keeping abreast of “what was”, “what is” and “what could be” has never been more vital to executive leaders.

Particularly for those in the world of destination marketing where a booming global travel industry is catching the attention of entrepreneurs and disruptors alike looking to make a splash in the world’s largest industry.

Heated competition does that. So do legacy business models.

So…in the midst of intense competition and a wave of disruption sweeping an industry flush with profits, just what key actions should DMO leaders be considering for 2015? Over the next couple of weeks I’ll share two that I believe you ignore at your peril:

This Week: Making Content Creation a Primary Organizational Core Competency:


At their very heart, DMOs are stewards of their destination’s story and scribe of all-things local and remarkable. And even though technology has made every traveler an instant travel-writer, no one knows the history and the future, the folklore, the personalities and the incipient destination magic like the DMO. Their leaders need to reflect on this once in a while and figure out how to ensure that this torch they bear remains bright and dry in their hands.

Entrenching content creation in their enterprise is one sure-fire way to do so.

With the fragmentation of the sales channel and the dominance of review sites like TripAdvisor (200 million monthly user visits, 50+ million new reviews in 2014), the DMO’s value proposition as dominant sales channel manager and destination information counselor has expired, forever disrupted by a hyperconnected marketplace and the global democratization of information. Get used to it and move on.

Now what? The time is now to develop content development competencies and lock-in a value proposition for which DMOs can and should be unrivaled: that of chief destination storyteller and dominant content creator.

Consider these metrics about the marketing power of content:

  • 78% of CMO’s believe content is the future of marketing (Hanley Wood 2013)
  • 46% of brands have an on-site, dedicated content director (Econsultancy 2012). Its certainly higher now.
  • 72% of marketers believe branded content is more effective than magazine advertising. 69% say it is superior to direct mail and PR. (Custom Content Council 2011)
  • Per dollar spent, content marketing generates 3X as many leads as traditional marketing (NewsCred 2014)

To be clear…content marketing is not about creating expensive new ads, taking endless selfies or generating press releases and pumping them out via social media or posting them on a YouTube channel. Content marketing arose out of the need to fix a marketing paradigm that was fundamentally broken – shifting the marketing posture from broadcast to engagement (which is the first transformational opportunity in DMAI’s DestinationNEXT project).

Engagement through content is designing your content in a way that informs, inspires, entertains, even irritates your audience (in essence clearly provides them with something of value, not you) to the point where they either respond, share or seek out more of the same from you. Telling your foodie followers that there is a weekend cocktail special at a local restaurant is broadcasting an offer. Sharing with them a short video on how to make the same establishment’s award-winning cocktail is engagement through relevant and compelling content marketing.

Screen Shot 2015-01-21 at 12.39.29 PMFor a wonderful primer and roadmap on developing content marketing for your organization, check this out: The Ultimate Guide to Kickstart Your Content Marketing Machine. (If you want to go deeper into the next frontier check out Native Advertising.)

As DMO legacy paradigms continue to disappear, one of the biggest opportunities for DMO leaders in 2015 is to develop the competencies and resources to build a destination marketing content machine for their organization as the dominant go-to source and resource for compelling content about their destination. It’s a high-value opportunity that every DMO can seize right now. And no one does it better.

But you better move fast before someone else figures it out.


3 thoughts on “Critical DMO Leadership Actions for 2015 – Part One

  1. “DMOs are stewards of their destination’s story and scribe of all-things local and remarkable.”

    One other trend I’ve seen from my role working in social media & review data is a big increase in destinations using that information to make strategic positioning decisions …as well as empowering their hotels & restaurants to offer better service. Saw a lot of interest after the World Tourism Organization put out this research:

    Enjoyed this article, Bruce, and look forward to seeing part 2!


    • Thanks Josiah! Great insight. Destinations are starting to realize that they also have the missile key to a trove of high value data that can be used by multiple community and marketplace (customers) stakeholders.


  2. Pingback: Critical DMO Leadership Actions for 2015 – Part Two | Hacking the System

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