This is my formal apology to the Washburn University Marketing classes I spoke to years ago. It’s also my formal apology for completely disrespecting our industry! I now realize years later I was totally wrong!
I shared to the class how what I, well, we do working in destination marketing organizations is difficult because we have no control over what we market. We can’t control the greeting at the hotel or the cleanliness of the room. We can’t control the flavor of the steak at the restaurant or the quality of the museum exhibit. We’re not Coca Cola and control the flavor of the soda, the look of the can, the cost of the bottle of soda, where it’s distributed or how it’s advertised. But while there is a lot out of our control, there is still a lot we can control.
What are those kids hearing in Marketing 101? Remember the 4 Ps? Product, Price, Placement, and Promotion. As destination marketing organizations, we have a role in each and everyone one of the 4 Ps.
Product… some would say this is the most important thing we do. In Bill Geist’s book “Destination Leadership for Boards” he says it is the most important thing we do!
(It’s) up to (the) DMO Board to be the advocator for smart and unique destination development in your community. (The) most important function (of the Board) is that of advocator and champion of destination development. …in its most basic, boiled down form… that’s what a DMO Board does. It doesn’t choose the ads or help create the marketing plan. It doesn’t design the promotional brochures or the website. You’ve got staff that can do that. Duplicating efforts does nothing but slow your progress. Do something that no one else can do… build the destination.
Price… this may be the most difficult one to be engaged in, but as we in Norman looked to raise our GSA rates, the CVB had to take a very proactive role in informing the hotels that GSA rates are set based on STR reports and if the ADR is low, the GSA is going to be set low. We then advocated hard and regularly to keep driving rate. Result? GSA in our county rose this year!
Placement… hand in hand with Product… is that new sports complex going in a part of town miles from the interstate or nearest highway? Is the new museum being built far from restaurants or any other attraction? Or worse, is it going into an old building because 1. it can’t be leased so the owner is giving it lease free? Or 2. it’s in a horribly run down part of town? How about the ‘cardinal sin’ of destination development – is the conference center or meeting hall going in far from any hotel? You’ve got to be advocating hard on where the attractions are going to be placed!
Promotion… this is the easy one right? After all, this is what we do. Ever thought of helping the attraction with their marketing? Do you type up all your notes from the annual conference and send them to the hotels and attractions and say “thought you’d want to know what was discussed!” Maybe promotion of the destination is not just the advertising we control.
And… the reality is, destination marketing has a have a 5th P. I’ll discuss that next month. In the meantime, if you have comments on the above, I’d love to hear your thoughts. Feel free to leave them below. Thanks for reading!