Tag Archives: advocacy

It’s Legislative Season – How to Play a Role

Like Memorial Day marks the unofficial start of Summer, last night’s State of the Union Address by our President marks the unofficial start of Legislative sessions, not just in Washington D.C., but in capitals in every state. How are you engaging in the process? You cannot leave it to your state association to advocate for you. You have a responsibility as a business owner, industry leader, voter, to engage with your Legislator.

I dusted off a piece How to Play a Key Role In Our Representative Form of Government. I did not pen it. I would freely give credit to the author but there is none so with that disclaimer of plagiarism, here’s How to Play a Key Role In Our Representative Form of Government:

Get to know your local Senator and Representative. You should become personally acquainted with your senator and representative. Take a sincere interest in them, and get  know their political philosophies. If you contact your legislators only when you want their support on a legislative matter, it may be too late. It is better to be in touch with them throughout their term of office, thereby creating an ongoing, working relationship.

Make sure your local views are heard and listened to. Few people ever contact their legislators. This reluctance usually results from the belief that legislators have no time or inclination to answer their phones or read their mail, and that one single contact will not make a difference anyway. In most cases, these views are wrong. Thoughtful and persuasive contacts can change a legislator’s mind and bring about a review of his or her positions.

Arrange for meetings when your legislator are back in the district. Talk to your legislators when they are back home as they are more likely to listen and respond positively in a local environment – on your turf. Your senator and representative need to directly exposed to the people they represent – including you as a local businessperson/community leader. They need to know what you think about the issues facing your community and the state, and how legislation pending in the capital will affect your operation. That is why they are in the Legislature.

Helpful Hints:

Know the Procedure – How does a bill become a law?

Evaluate the Issues – Give priority in your lobbying to important issues.

Deal with Principles – If your legislators really support business, most of your battles are won.

Recognize their Problems – Your legislators represent all of the constituents in your area – rural and urban, rich and poor, liberal and conservative, business and labor. Try to understand their problems, outlook and objectives.

Never Threaten – Never threaten political or other consequences if your legislator refuses to see an issue your way.

Inform Allies – If you request introduction of a bill by your legislator, let potential allies know.

Communicate in a Timely Manner – Contacts with legislators before a committee vote and before floor action by the committee of the whole. In both chambers of the legislature, are most effective.

Be Accurate – Be sure to have accurate facts and good arguments about any issues you discuss with your legislators.

Do Not Be Argumentative – Make your point, but do not engage in a quarrelsome debate.

Follow Up Your Request – If you have made your request for a certain action – in person, by letter or telephone call – follow it through.

Show Your Appreciation – When your legislators do a good job on a piece of legislation, tell them about it. Do not take it for granted that they know you are appreciative of their efforts.

Give Them Your Support – If you believe your legislators deserve re-election, do not hesitate to get involved when they are campaigning for another term.

You have additional tips or hints you’d like to share? Or an antidote to support any of the points above? Please share with us below.

Thanks for reading.

The Fifth P of Marketing

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!)

 

I thought going from a DMO to an attraction I’d find less politics. Boy was I wrong. On the heels of her statement above, I thought I’d dust off this post from April, 2011. Still as timely today! 

 

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.

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.

Image

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!

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!