Part Two 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”.
DMSpeak: If destination marketers really want to add greater value, think beyond dates, rates and space. Destination marketers need to play an increasing role in being a steward of the development of the destination product and experience as a way to grow the business of tourism and its contribution to the community.
The Reality Check: Destination marketing leadership can no longer be exclusively anchored upon the results of aggressive sales pitches and flashy promotions. As McKinsey notes: “As more advanced marketing science and analytics take hold, they make it increasingly natural for marketing to go beyond messaging and to shape the business, particularly the experiences of customers, the delivery of functional benefits, and the drive to develop new products and services.”
As great at story-telling as Disney is, they are even more masterful at translating a vision into a compelling destination experience. They know that without a carefully crafted product experience, there isn’t a story to talk about.
What that means is that destination marketing organizations should look at this as an opportunity to evolve their mission beyond the traditional “heads in beds” focus to leadership around “quality of place” – an elevated mission that focuses as much on the development of an authentic, compelling visitor experience as it does on telling its story. And destination marketers are uniquely positioned to engage all participants in the experience conversation — industry, community and visitor — in order to enhance the long-term impact of tourism on the community economy and its quality of life.
What Does that Look Like?: One of the three transformational opportunities noted in DMAI’s DestinationNEXT study was Growing and Sustaining the Destination Brand: “This could include the creation of a tourism master plan for the destination outlining a vision of how the tourism industry “footprint” will evolve over time, impacting the destination’s economy, social fabric and environmental sustainability.”
The Tourism Master Plan (TMP) is the co-created roadmap for a high-value evolution of the destination experience…which ultimately is its brand. In the case of a TMP, that roadmap could include the evolution of infrastructure, attractions and cultural experiences, even leadership structures and policy recommendations.
The master plan process is about engaging stakeholders about the reality of their destination experience/reputation by asking them to help shape the future of the experience and ultimately the brand. Successfully activated, it will take all stakeholders on a journey to long-term business success and quality of place through tourism.
This is an unparalleled community leadership opportunity for DMOs as only the DMO has the community and marketplace capital to extend conversations about the destination well-beyond traditional stakeholders to include the wider local community (e.g. the local economic development leaders) as well as a destination’s customers – tour operators, meeting professionals and visitors themselves.
The Hack: There is no definitive structure for a TMP. It’s a developing “next practice” for destination marketers. The best way to get started is to take a look at what others have done and be part of the conversation. TMP’s have been around for a while, primarily in resort areas. TMP’s in urban destinations are gaining traction with plans now in-place for Vancouver, Winnipeg, Drumheller (Alberta), Curacao and Myanmar. TMP’s are currently in various stages of development in Indianapolis (a project I am honored to be part of) and in the Greater Palm Springs area. I am sure there are others.
This Just In: Las Vegas continues to define exceptions as well as the exceptional. With their recent purchase of the Riviera Hotel property (including gaming license) to ensure there is an adequate supply of convention space to meet future needs, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Association has moved beyond the realm of Las Vegas’s chief convention and tourism rainmaker into an architect of the future of the Vegas brand experience.
Next Up: Story