Simple: The New DNA of Destination Marketing (Part Five)

Part Five and the final posting in a series on what the new fundamentals of marketing mean to DMOs and destination marketing professionals as inspired by the recent McKinsey article: “The Dawn of Marketing’s New Golden Age”.

Screen Shot 2015-04-16 at 10.45.30 AMMcKinsey-Speak:  Complexity is the enemy of speed and leading marketers are seeking greater simplicity.

DMSpeak: Bring order to chaos. Focus on where/how you can make the biggest difference for your customers and stakeholders. And then stick to it. Align your organization accordingly.

The Reality Check: As illustrated in a recent SKIFT article, the tourism and meetings/events ecosystem is not only economically enormous, it’s also complex. So it’s no surprise that when destination marketers of any size develop their business plans they are complex, often extending into 30-40+ page tomes in an effort to address all opportunities and constituencies. The inevitable impact of that complexity is fragmentation of limited resources resulting in the creation of a legion operating structures and relationships (often with disparate partners) that consume the two most important strategic leadership resources: time and focus. With the ongoing eruption of new tourism trends, brands, travel personae, partners, technologies etc, bringing order and simplicity to the destination marketing mission and process should be a quest for every DMO. Easy, right?

What Does That Look Like: Easier said than done. To get there requires tough choices to be made by DMOs two areas:

(1) Figure Out What Business You Are In: The travel ecosystem has completely transformed as its economic and social significance has grown. Marketplace roles and relationships have changed with the transformation as new technology and players have replaced legacy institutions and elements (for more on this please read “What Business Are We In?”). For the sake of destination marketing simplicity and focus, DMOs today need to discover their unique and compelling place in this new ecosystem. One that works for their destination. where they can deliver the most value. Then create a transformational roadmap to get there, and OWN it.

jimcollins04In Good to Great, Jim Collins proposes a brutally simple exercise for leaders to undertake to help focus their business. This may mean pursuing a completely new business and value proposition, one that could not have been imagined even five years ago.  Consider the Grapevine (Texas) CVB who made product development and experience management the cornerstone of their business. This includes managing a railroad, owning a heritage building and the creation of a foundation to preserve historical structures in the community. The result, the small North Texas community of 48,000 now receives 15 million visitors per year with an economic impact of $2.2 billion.

It could also mean the status quo. But it starts with an engaging conversation around: “what business should we be in for the next X years?”. If it cannot be answered in one sentence, you’re not quite there yet.

the-greatest-movie-ever-40-728(2) Get Out of Initiatives That Are Not Part of (1): Perhaps the single most difficult thing for any DMO to create and act upon is a “Stop Doing” list. Every idea and initiative has an expiry date…particularly with the rush of new disruptors in the travel and tourism space. The annual printed visitor publication and meeting planners guide used to be the pinnacle of a DMO’s value proposition. Now…why would a visitor need one when they have TripAdvisor and a plethora of other virtual travel communities? DMOs need to face the brutal facts that there are going to be businesses that can do certain things more effectively for the destination with less risk than the DMO. Identifying those underperforming legacy marketing programs and relationships that are easier to keep than to ditch requires a lot of courage, but the inevitable result is simplicity that will allow DMO marketing investment to perform better in the high-value initiatives that really matter.

Here’s a simple yet provocative exercise to try the next time you’re stranded in an airport and your phone is getting recharged: figure out how many of today’s Fortune 50 companies still have the same core profit center business that they had ten years ago. Here’s a hint: The list does not include Apple, General Electric or IBM. What can be learned from this?

Its ironic that of the five identified DNA strands (ScienceSubstanceStorySpeed-Simple) of the new destination marketing reality, Simple might be the most obvious yet its the one typically requiring the most courage to actually implement – which is often the X-factor in the difference between harnessing the benefits of disruption and being a victim of it.


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