Category Archives: Destination Marketing

Reminder: Tourism IS Economic Development

Another community leadership group has asked me to speak about tourism and it’s impact to the businesses and entities the classmates represent.  No problem.  Do it all the time and am happy to do so!  What shocked me was the coordinator’s request for me to share how tourism works WITH economic development.  In response I replied I would be more than happy to share how tourism *IS* economic development.  She seemed startled at the response and concept.

While CVBs / DMOs are fighting for our relevancy and possible existence, here we are still with some at square one: what we do impacts the community economically and thus, we – tourism – IS economic development.  I know I am preaching to the choir but for the sake of reminding us, here’s in part what I plan to share with them…

1. Even Economic Development defines tourism as economic development!  In the definitions on EconomicDevelopment.net, Economic Development isabout increasing the flow of capital through the community.  They define tourism’s focus as providing services to pleasure travelers and increasing the flow of capital, especially in the form of money, into the places (the communities) they visit. By definition, tourism IS economic development.

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2. DMAI’s CDME courses puts it this way… the temporary movement of people (TOURISTS) to destinations outside of their normal place of work and residence, the activities undertaken en route to an during their stay at these destinations and the facilities / services created to cater to their needs (TOURISM), which leads to economic impacts generated by these activities (TOURISM INDUSTRY).

3. It ain’t just hotels, restaurants and attractions… plumbers fix the toilets at hotels… restaurants deposit money in banks, dry cleaners clean uniforms worn by attraction associates, the gal that cuts my hair has to make someone in the tourism industry look good, printers print promotional material, real estate agents sell houses to hotel employees, car dealerships sell cars to amusement park employees… need I go on?  Those are just the easy ones!  Those amusement park employees put gas in their cars – gas comes from oil – all you oil drillers and refinery workers, we welcome you as members of the tourism industry!

4. Just look at the numbers…  Domestic travelers spent $7.2B in Oklahoma in 2012 making tourism the 3rd largest industry.  Kansas boasts $8.3B in expenditures in 2011.  Your state probably has similar reports to Oklahoma and Kansas.  The US Travel Association has numerous research reports outlining travel’s impact on the economy.

5. But sometimes a simple statement can summarize points better than all the above…Chris Thompson, President and CEO of Brand USA put it this way at the DMAI Convention this past July: There is nothing about economic development that doesn’t begin with a visit.

Take pride!  What you do is important to the community!  You / we ARE economic development!

Thanks for reading!

Kansas Tourism Conference Summary

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The Kansas Tourism Conference theme was Capitalizing on Tourism.  (The conference was held in the Kansas capital Topeka.)  The sub-theme might as well have been Getting Back to Basics.  Roger Brooks opened the conference with a two-part full morning general session sharing Deadly Sins and the New Age of Tourism, Jerry Henry provided guidance on doing research on a shoestring budget, representatives from the state revenue office gave a transient guest (hotel/motel/bed) tax 101, and the state tourism office shared their research and strategy the next fiscal year.

No fireworks.  No glamour.  “Just” a back to basic conference packed with information.  The top nuggets are offered in this month’s 5 in Five:

1. Arguably Roger Brooks’ key takeaway was the command to “jettison the generic”.   All too often we want to present our destinations as attractive to every audience – young, old, rich, poor, family, single, etc.  What we wind up with is a very generic ad that doesn’t attract anyone.  While he didn’t present them, I reflected on Roger’s 40 Overused Words and Phrases to Avoid in Destination Marketing.  Review the list here and then count how many of them are in your ads and publications.

2. Roger suggested 80% of people use the internet before they buy.  While I have seen that number as low as 60% and as high as 95%, regardless it’s a reminder that consumers are using the internet more and more.  Based on that, Roger suggests 45% of a destination marketing budget should be spent on the web/digital/social.  (In case you’re wondering about the other 55% – 20, PR/media; 20, traditional advertising; 10 collateral; and 5 outdoor or trade shows.)

3. Did you know 70% of all spending takes place after 6pm?  I’ve never heard this but Roger sharing it opened a lot of eyes and changed a lot of paradigms as we were challenged to thing about how we should create – or reschedule – events to after 5pm.  Sure it means retail outlets and workers of the events don’t get home to 9pm or later, but want to attract the most spenders?  Start after 5pm.  Our communities’ farmer’s markets are Wednesday mornings.  Yep, a lot of people working at that time.

4. Clearly a testament to the quality of Roger Brook’s presentations when four of the five aha’s are from him, but I appreciated when he stated cities and towns should not hang their hat on a festival or event.  What about the other 364 days (or 51 weekends) of the year?  I reflected on a time I was driving to a meeting in beautiful southwest Oklahoma.  Outside Idabel was a billboard welcoming travelers to the Home of the Dogwood Festival.  The festival is the first Saturday of April.  I was passing through weeks after.  I instantly thought “there isn’t any other reason to visit for the next 50 weeks!?”  (When in fact there is a lot to do in Idabel and McCurtain County.)

5. The last takeaway isn’t going to help your marketing plan or provide any ROI.  It’s merely professional development.  Developer Jack DeBoer welcomed the attendees at the Statehouse and provided sage advise from his book Risk Only Money.  The best was he shared if he had it to do all over again, he would listen more.

Thanks for reading.

Five Things You Should Be Doing on Social Media But Aren’t

Social media… the marketing world never paid attention to it in the late 90s when GeoCities and SixDegrees were starting.  We didn’t engage with MySpace in the early 2000s.  But then Facebook happened.  It hit 200 million users.  Then 400 million.  (Now 900 million.)  YouTube became the second largest search engine.  Twitter reports 1 billion tweets.  Okay, you’ve got marketer’s attention!

Conferences began offering breakout sessions on social media.  Then keynote speakers.  Now full conferences.  (How Dave Serino’s SoMeT didn’t make the list I’ll never know.)  Books, consultants, reporting standards, even it’s own awards.

Marketing departments and DMOs are hiring New Media Managers.  We’re cutting out print ’cause we can post and tweet for free.  Some are doing it well, some are, well, doing it.  While I don’t profess to have the silver bullet to conquering social media, might I suggest Five Things You Should Be Doing on Social Media… But Aren’t:

1. Using LinkedIn… while LinkedIn’s 225 million users pales in comparison to Facebook’s 900 million, LinkedIn is still nothing to push aside.  Most conference sessions tend to discuss Facebook, YouTube and Twitter for attracting the leisure visitor but LinkedIn can be valuable at attracting conferences and meetings.  I have more than 850 LinkedIn connections compared to nearly 500 Facebook “friends”.  Professionals on LinkedIn tend to connect quicker than those on Facebook so you’re able to grow your network quicker.

How do you use it?  Post.  Your office probably has a company LinkedIn page but do you ever post?  If a DMO, post new features or the TripAdvisor rankings of your convention center or a new hotel.  Sales person has a new certification?  An attractions’ new exhibits.  (Off site functions remember?)

Engage… comment on posts so meeting planners keep seeing Joe Gesortenflort, VisitAnywhereville.  Join groups and again, comment on posts.  When you finally call that meeting professional, they’ll be familiar having seen your name numerous times.

If you have significant news, personal message your connections.  We’re focusing on Facebook and not using LinkedIn.  Try it.

2. Monitoring… what are meeting planners and visitors saying about your destination?  Here’s an idea – create a dummy account on Facebook.  Like the association pages.  Then monitor the dialogue.  “Oh crap!  We’re going back to Anywhereville!?  The 2010 conference sucked!”  Engage your PR department and manage a poor perception.  See what the meeting planners are posting about working with caterers, convention centers, or, gasp – your staff!  Social media allows us the opportunity to hear the chatter!

3. Prospecting… Just went on Twitter.  Typed in “Oklahoma Conference” and before the song on the radio ended, I identified 15 conferences that someone could target.  “Association”, “Convention”, “Summit”, “Conclave”, prospect other states business… search LinkedIn too.

4. Engaging… Social media is not a ‘to-do’ each day.  “Posted on Facebook.  Next task.”  Never to look at Facebook again until the next day when you post again.  (Or worse, you use Hootsuite and schedule all of your posts for the week and never look at Facebook.)  If your posts are truly engaging, people are commenting and asking questions.  They’re posting on your wall and sending personal messages.  All which needs to be responded to in a timely manner.

5. Monitoring (2)… especially on weekends.  An office posted about a parade one Saturday morning.  A prospective attendee inquired about the time.  The account wasn’t being monitored and thus, wasn’t seen until Monday morning.

In an experiment, I picked on the Des Moines and Wisconsin Dells CVBs and the Wisconsin state tourism office this July while on vacation.  While driving through Des Moines my tweet inquired about lunch options.  Albeit it was a short time frame, but I didn’t get a response until after lunch (and we had found some awesome BBQ.)  I tweeted over and over about the water slides, cheese and week in Wisconsin.  The Wisconsin Dells CVB and state tourism office only responded once.  “Looks like you had a good week.”  No alternative suggestions, no engagement, no customer service.

Social media isn’t easy.  But it isn’t overbearing either.  These are but five things you should be doing on social media but aren’t.  Is there a sixth or seventh?  What successes are you having?  Comment below and let me know.

Thanks for reading!

DMAI Convention Summary

If you weren’t able to attend the annual gathering of destination marketing professionals at DMAI’s international convention, that’s okay. I have a summary for you. It seemed like last year’s DMAI convention had a recurring theme or two strung between all sessions – mobile and video. Perhaps it was the diversity in sessions I attended this year but there wasn’t a recurring theme it seemed. Instead five or six good takeaways that I’m sharing with you this month:

1. Motivation… DMAI started the convention with this video…

Very motivating as a destination marketing professional. Throughout (and before in the CDME course) there were a few great motivating quotes:

Destination marketing organizations make people’s lives better! We give visitors experiences and memories. We help people learn about other cultures and how to become tolerant. And of course we make the industry and the community money! Gary Sherwin, Visit New Port Beach

Be courageous. Don’t be timid. Do what you need to do to grow the community. Be thoughtful and politically mindful but lead! Gary Sherwin, Visit New Port Beach

There is nothing about economic development that doesn’t begin with a visit. Chris Thompson, BrandUSA

Create demand for the destination. No one else does that holistically like we do. That’s our core purpose – to tell the destination story. Gary Sherwin, Visit New Port Beach

(Of course we needed the inspiration since this was posted days before the convention: Why the DMO model is broke)

2. Social Media… of course there were sessions on Social Media. The biggest takeaway came from the ROI on a Budget session. In it Charlottesville VA CVB’s John Freeman presented their Facebook approach: Beautiful pictures every time 3 times a day – 820a, 250p and 750p. Don’t have pictures? Ask to repost pictures from Flickr, Instagram, etc. The CVB has never had a no. Force the interaction: Can you caption this? Like if you agree that… Share if you think… Hit like if… Results? 44m impressions in 3 months.

Another session speaker said: We need to be human in our real-time communications. Time to loosen up and have fun.

And an attendee tweeted 5 levels of social media sophistication

3. Data Analytics…Think you have the whole reporting thing figured out? Know what to look for in Google Analytics? Don’t get comfortable. Last year’s data analytics methods are likely out of date this year. Wes Nichols, Marketshare.  His session wound up being an infomercial for a program DMAI will probably roll out soon but I really liked this quote. Tends to remind us that we can’t always be making decisions about the future based on the past – at least today’s quickly changing technological days.

4. Group Sales… Didn’t catch who said this or which destination but one attendee in the shirtsleeves shared: We give a bonus to our sales staff AND award the hotels that send the DMO leads. If the hotel can’t book it, keep it in the destination. Brilliant! Although the award probably needs to be more than a free nights stay at a hotel huh!?

5. Crisis Management… Patrick Tuttle shared wonderful insights from their tragedy in May, 2011 when a tornado ripped through Joplin, MO. His best quote: Be proactive. Don’t wait for the media to call you. They may find another source and you may not agree with the choice. Brilliant!

6. Travel Trends… The greatest increases in how travelers get information? Gave you a hint in the opening paragraph – traveler review sites on their mobile device. Couldn’t go through this summary without mentioning mobile could I? We have four months until more people on the planet own a mobile device than a toothbrush. Today, most people keep their mobile device no further than three feet from themselves-they’re that attached to them. And back to the first nugget – more and more travelers are getting their information from travel review sites on their mobile device. That’s why we need to be thinking Web Presence not just website!

And there you go… a few takeaways, aha’s or nuggets from this year’s DMAI convention.  Need more?  I’ve seen this one.  Thanks for reading!