Destination marketers across the globe are grappling with how to transform their organizations to meet the needs of today’s visitors and residents. As the industry continues to shift, DMOs are faced with either making a decision to embrace change or to remain stuck in the past.

2015 Social Media Tourism Symposium held in Amsterdam

Destination marketing leaders at the 2015 Social Media Tourism Symposium in Amsterdam.

During the 2015 Social Media Tourism Symposium held in Amsterdam, five destination marketing leaders and experts discussed key areas that DMOs should focus on in order transform their organizations. Here are a few pieces of advice:

Develop a story that is compelling to everyone in the company. – Frank Cuypers, Senior Strategic Consultant, Destination Think

Our city marketing expert Frank Cuypers stressed the importance of creating one consistent message to facilitate change and empower everyone across the organization. Teach this story to new staff, while helping existing staff move beyond outdated ways of thinking. Determining your destination’s Place DNA® enables you to match your messaging to your destination’s actual, authentic identity and purpose.

Spend time on positive forces who want to move along.  – Heleen Huisjes, Director, VisitBrabant

To determine if their team members were the right fit for their evolving organization, VisitBrabant (a progressive destination marketing organization representing a Netherlands province) made current employees reapply for their new job. The organization also hired people from outside the tourism industry to provide a fresh look at its efforts within key sectors, and moved their offices. In all, this helped provide the team with a new outlook and shake off the past, said Huisjes.

Find an outsider who supports your ideas. – Katrine Mosfjeld, Director Media and Campaigns, VisitOSLO

A key to VisitOLSO’s success was working with a consultant to support them in their change process. For a destination that wants to break through roadblocks and inspire transformation, having an outside source who speaks your language can help ease transition. “To have someone say the same things I was saying for 11 years was good…[it can] make it more valid.”

Build an open and transparent culture to improve what you deliver. – Heidi Sørvig, Chief Executive Officer, Visit Sørlandet

For Visit Sørlandet, feedback is all part of the learning process. “We’ve been trying to have an internal culture of telling each other about what we think about the work we’ve been doing,” said Heidi. “If we’re not trying to concentrate on improving internally, people outside the organization will do that to us…Everyday we need to think ‘how can we be better than the day before?’…The intention is to improve the overall delivery of what we’re doing.”

Share results as often as you can. – Catharina Fischer, Head of Social Media, German National Tourist Board

Speaking openly about your work, including even small niche campaigns, can help support your approach and justify your budget. Fischer explained how her organization also runs internal webinars to help the entire organization better understand new marketing approaches.

What’s your top recommendation for destinations undergoing organizational change? Share your ideas below.

Related reading: /change-management-dmo-destinations-proactive/


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