Tag Archives: Management

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.

We work in the NOW world

I live in Norman, Oklahoma.  There’s a small university here and the University of Oklahoma is pretty good at football.  The Sooners played Alabama in the Sugar Bowl two weeks ago.  (A Thursday evening.)  While friends were relishing the upset victory, a video starts popping up on social media.  An Alabama fan goes crazy on an OU student.  Friday afternoon a story is posted – Bama Sugar Bowl mom ‘sorry’ but would ‘do it again if I had to’.  Okay, sympathy for the mom?  Wait… have you seen this video – the Crazy Bama Mom BEFORE attacking OU student?  All of that played out through social media within 36 to 48 hours.  Anyone pay attention?  The first video has been viewed nearly 3 million times.  The Yellowhammer story has more than 2,000 comments.  Who knows how many views?  And the third video has been viewed 391,000 times.  (Warning: videos and comments contain offensive images and language.)

So what?  What if the headline is “attraction GM goes crazy on family” or “restaurant owner goes crazy on diners” or “salmonella outbreak after banquet at Yourville convention center”?  We never know what is going to set something off or when a mobile phone is recording.  What could it be that potentially embarrasses the destination?  Maybe it’s not even an embarrassing situation.  Perhaps it’s a hurricane that hits the Gulf or massive flooding in the east or ice storm just before the Super Bowl?  Welcome to your job in the NOW World!  What do you need to prepared to work in the NOW World?


1. You need to be ready… ready now… ready now for anything!  You need to have an emergency public relations plan.  The next chance you get, lock yourself away with your staff and imagine the 20 worst scenarios.  Just scan the headlines: water poison, bed bugs, salmonella, tornado, hurricane, scandal… Then think of the 20 you’d never think of – Crazy Bama Mom.  Doubt the Alabama Alumni office wasn’t prepared for that one!  Talk through what your response should/would be for each situation.  Type them up and store them away.

2. You need to realize we’re not in an 8am to 5pm job any longer.  Tornadoes don’t strike during business hours.  Videos of drunk fans go viral at any time!  If you’re the PR / Communications person for your office, you need to understand that you may be called back in even though it’s after 5pm or it’s during the weekend.  And if it needs reminding, comments on Facebook don’t end at 5pm, people don’t clock out and quit posting and watching videos on YouTube, and tweets are tweeted 24/7.

3. You need to understand that you can’t be passive any longer.  We are not in control of the message any more!  They are and they can post, tweet, pin, comment anything they want – and they do.  It’s as Dan Patrick said numerous times on Sportscenter: You can’t stop him.  You can only hope to contain him.

4. For the messages you are trying to control, you need to understand social media is not posting something once a day and never going back to view the comments or looking at it the next day when you sign in to post another message.  Social media is not loading up Hootsuite on Monday and never participating in the conversation.  (And if Hootsuite is your only portal to social media, I’d suggest shutting it down now.)  Social media is monitoring 24/7 or if you’re a small office, 16 to 18/7.

5. You need to understand you don’t have a private life any longer.  Can you cringe with me just imagining if that Crazy Bama Fan was your employee?  No, this isn’t a case of bad press is good press!  The press would love to run “Executive Director of CVB is Crazy Bama Fan”.  And your personal social media accounts aren’t personal either.  Don’t believe me?  Just ask Justine Sacco.  We have a cool job that allows us to experience a lot of cool things but the bad news is we don’t have a private life any longer.

Those are my initial thoughts of our working now in a NOW World.  Did I miss one or two?  Leave your comments below and thanks for reading!

Kansas Tourism Conference Summary


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.

Another Cliche New Year Read

Well not really.  New Year.  Resolutions.  Blah.  Blah.  Yuckity yuck.
I don’t make resolutions.  Heck, I’ve already had a soda this year.  (More than one if you count Dr. Pepper 10.)  I’ve gone a day without kissing my wife and left the office without addressing all the new emails in my inbox.  I know by January 2 or 3 resolutions are by the way side.
But then again I’m reminded that really the problem is we come out of the blocks January 1 in a sprint when this whole new/better you thing is a marathon over the year.  And it’s okay to stumble out of the blocks just so long as we keep going!
Here’s thoughts on how your entire year can be better.  Not just the first week or so.

Learn More… What book are you going to read this year?  And not a teen supernatural fiction.  One that is going to help you in your profession.  I have 14 identified that I want to read.  This year I’m gonna read one of them.  First up is Getting Things Done by David Allen.  Others that peak my interest are Destination Marketing Organizations Bridging Theory and Practice by Steven PikeMarketing in Leisure and Tourism by Patricia Click Janes  and Marketing Outrageously by John Spolestra.  I’ll put the entire list on my website.

There’s also tons of research and you don’t really need to dig for it (or pay).  It comes to your inbox.  US Travel Association sends a weekly news brief.  Every other issue or so has a story on research, trends or an industry study.  I also like Lou Taverna’s Hospitality Newsmaker Alert.  Again, periodic research or trends.  The third I like is TripInfo.com’s Internet Travel Monitor.  The Marketing & Research and Technology Bits are great!

Relate More… That thing in your hand does something really cool and it’s not Angry Birds.  It allows you to talk to someone miles away.  Hear their voice.  Laugh with them.  Pick up the phone and call someone once a week.  Not just old friends too.  When was the last time you went out to eat with the Chamber person, City Council rep, Parks and Recs Director?  Don’t get complacent about those relationships.

Work Smarter… I’ve started on David Allen’s Getting Things Done.  I’ve completed Order From Chaos and am trying to implement Liz Davenport’s cockpit system.  Hopefully I’ll get more things ticked off my to-do list and not have so many small pieces of paper lying around with scribbles on them.

Stress Less… Really it starts with exercise.  I’m not talking running a marathon.  Simple stress reducing exercises that relax muscles, gives you a feeling of happiness, reduces pent up frustrations, and takes your mind off of problems.  On top of all that, you’ll look better and have more energy too!  Energy to stay up late cleaning out the email inbox.

Believe More… Just tonight the Bible story I read my 4-year-old reminded us that He provides food for the birds and clothes for flowers.  Aren’t you more valuable than they?  “Seek first His kingdom and righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well!”

Here’s to a great 2012!  Thanks for reading!

Men at Work Singing of You?

December marked the two year mark for me at the Norman, Oklahoma, Convention and Visitors Bureau. As expected, this has been a tremendous, tremendous professional growth opportunity. I joined a DMO right at the brink of full-scale transition and have experienced a “re-branding”, a complete staff re-engineering, and a 75% turnover of the Board to hit the highlights. But it hasn’t all been smooth.

I’ve had Men At Work’s “It’s A Mistake” ringing in my ears a time or two. I alienated a core committee and group of volunteers. It haven’t had the best of relationships with a hotelier and my predecessor who is still in the community. As I annually take time to reflect on the year past and what I could have done better, I perused common mistakes managers make. They’re from numerous sources and are – January’s Five @ 5:

1. Not being flexible to change and open to new ideas. Be open to what employees have to say. Even if you don’t always agree. At least acknowledge them. It shows you’re open-minded and a good listener. park of being an effective manager or supervisor means practicing good listening skills.

2. Changing everything. Don’t re-invent the wheel. Just because the way something is done isn’t the way you would do it, it isn’t necessarily wrong. Learn the difference between “different” and “wrong.”

3. Not acknowledging that you do not have all the answers. A Good manager does not make the mistake of trying to solve every problem. Seeking help from individuals with expertise in specific areas is a sign of strength, not weakness. In addition, a good manager must understand that his or her way is not the only way to do the job.

4. The glass is always half empty. Managers who continually focus on the negatives, without recognizing positive achievements or employee accomplishments, end up with employees who are not motivated and often have one foot out the door looking for a more positive work environment.

5. Too much technology. A new breed of managers are more tech-savvy than they are comfortable handling and managing people. Embracing technology is a key to success in the modern office environment, but not at the risk of embracing people skills. Do not hide behind e-mails and other technology.

Whether you’re a newly appointed manager or working on your gold watch, these mistakes managers make will create a more enjoyable work experience for you and your employees.

Too Eager Out of the Gate

A friend and colleague, Craig Molitor, recently landed the Fond Du Lac, WI, CVB gig. As I emailed congratulations, I was completing my first year review. Naturally my mind started thinking of all the changes I would have made that first year and, if asked, what I would advise Craig or any other colleague starting their first year at the helms of a DMO.

I fear the first trap we first year execs fall into is the “we-need-to-change-everything” trap. Sure, there are probably some things that need changed. I inherited a bureau that was using three different logos and many different communication styles. Additionally we were not a part of the greater community. That had to change. But often no change is needed. Instead five simple steps the first year on the job – July’s Five @ 5:

1. Meet, meet, and meet – You had better get a membership to the Y or a new pair of running shoes ’cause if you’re doing it right that first year, you’re eating breakfast and lunch with someone every day. Hoteliers, attractions, Mayor, City Councilmembers, City Manager and department managers, business leaders, the Chamber and ED execs, sports clubs, University President and department heads… and that’s the first month.

2. Listen – it’s not enough to just meet with all of those community leaders, but listen. They may actually have a great idea. “Something I always wanted to share with the CVB…”, “Something that was really successful years ago but then just dropped…”, “What (your predecessor) did real well was…” You’ll miss some real good advise or promotions if all you are thinking is “what can I share from my resume to impress them?”

3. Read everything – Your predecessor may have had a great marketing plan. No sense ‘fixing what wasn’t broken’. By-laws, research, contracts, research, visitor guides, research, history books research, board minutes, oh, and if there’s any recent research on your community, visitor profiles, etc., peruse it. (If not, call someone and have some done. Then read it!)

4. Set Goals – Quite frankly, they can be very modest goals but set goals. I didn’t set any goals and at times I truly wondered what I was targeting. I knew we were getting some stuff done but hadn’t prioritized. What needs reviewed? What is fully functional and doesn’t need looked at? Which employee needs guidance and which one should I leave alone?

5. Check the Attitude – Harsh I know but first, you got the job! You don’t need to impress anyone any more. Secondly, your predecessor may have left in good graces! You aren’t coming in to ‘clean up a mess’ ’cause he/she may not have left a mess. And finally, you’ll be appreciated for what you show a year from now or 18-months from now. Again, you don’t HAVE to change anything just to say ‘I’m the new sheriff’.

If you’re 15, 20, 25 years on the job, the above can still apply. When’s the last time you sat down with everyone to chat and listen? Do you still read new things or ‘just know it’? And maybe everything is still working and you don’t have to change anything ’cause it’s been used for a long time.

(Originally posted July 2010)