A colleague at a recent tourism function was sharing how her DMO was getting in a “turf war” between the City and the Chamber – both trying to take over the management of the organization. She concluded by sharing ‘I’m staying out of it. I’m not in politics.’ A few of the glancing looks from others at the table communicated that we were thinking the same thing, “Oh yes you are like it or not!” (And you’d better engage now or you may find yourself in a place you aren’t going to like!)
Remember the Four Ps of Marketing? Product – Price – Placement and Promotion. It’s Marketing 101. It’s the core of what we do – destination development (Product), drive hotel rates (Price), advise on the location of the attractions (Placement), and of course advertising and media relations (Promotion.) But the longer I spend in destination marketing, the more I realize there is indeed a fifth P of marketing. That fifth P is Politics.
I once read that destination marketing professionals are “politicians with marketing skills”. And while I don’t like to consider myself a politician, I recognize more and more frequently that we do a lot of politic-ing. Consider that…
– The CVB was active in recent City Council elections. We assisted with candidate profiles and submitted questions for the candidate forums.
– Recently we’ve monitored and spoke on City issues related to business lighting and storm water runoff. Further back, we took a stance on a state education issue and supported both a parks master plan and funding for a business park. (Following this post, we monitored and spoke on high density housing near a popular shopping district and engaged in the passage of a bond issue to improve one of the main corridors into the destination.)
– I accompanied our Chamber of Commerce on a ‘fly-in’ to DC to meet with our five representatives and Senators. We also met with NOAA as weather is big business in Norman! (Delighted to see my successor continued the practice!)
– In the near future we’ll discuss raising the transient guest tax and the split of that tax to maximize it’s economic impact on the local economy. (It passed increasing the DMO budget by $250,000.)
US Travel Association has long recognized the fifth P of destination marketing. DMAI is engaging more and more in advocacy. A committee is developing a tool kit for a community to utilize. Not soon enough as we spend less and less time on the Promotion side of our jobs and more time on the Politics of our job. Update: that tool kit has been developed. It and many other resources can be found here.
It’s not the customer interaction we crave. It’s not the full conference hall corridors we like to see. And it’s not the dynamic new advertising creative we like reviewing but politicking has become a vital part of our jobs. Again, like it or not.
I’d love to hear success stories or best practices. Please share those below.