More than ever, your destination marketing organization (DMO)’s success is tied to your industry’s ability to market well and deliver excellent experiences. In this time of transition, the old way of destination marketing is rapidly being replaced with a new environment that demands a completely new approach. The changes destination marketers must know about are demanding that destinations lead their industry through collaboration. DMOs must not only learn to help their industries increase their performance, but also be able to measure progress over time.
Demonstrating increased marketing sophistication as this transition happens can be a challenge. This is why regular benchmarking is the perfect way to compare progress against modern best practices – the specific criteria that will tell you how effectively you are progressing as a destination.
Industry benchmarking supports consistent improvement
Your industry partners are also adapting to the new marketing environment. Many of them are looking to their DMO for leadership and assistance – especially small- and medium-sized businesses who don’t have the resources or expertise to stay ahead of the technological trends.
Leading DMOs around the world are filling this need by increasing their investment in effective industry education. This supports two of today’s key priorities for tourism growth: increasing digital expertise among operators and helping them provide remarkable experiences for their guests, which will together generate stronger advocacy and word-of-mouth marketing.
Making a real difference requires investments that go beyond the typical stand-alone educational workshops that most DMOs organize. People love to learn through a good workshop, but often, there is no follow-through. Enabling real change requires deeper engagement with operators over the long term. It takes time to develop good habits, and consistent coaching and training can make this happen.
It’s important to define benchmarks in order to measure the effect of any training program because they will help you understand how your operators are performing. By analyzing the current level of marketing sophistication, you can identify knowledge gaps and how to fill them. When a program finishes, you can run the same benchmark report and understand how the investment paid off and how the industry has improved its skill.
Internal benchmarking for DMOs
By now, most DMOs know that a transition needs to happen. DMAI’s DestinationNEXT report highlights the important shift from broadcasting to consumer engagement. At the same time, DMOs are becoming destination managers as they seek stronger collaboration and partnerships. Does this sound easy? It isn’t, for most destinations.
“Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” This famous Peter Drucker quote represents a barrier to progress at many DMOs. Organizational culture based on traditional structures creates an environment that prevents innovation. Warning signs include tight control of the destination brand, high levels of bureaucracy and a lack of experimentation. The staff in these DMOs lack the safe space to take risks.
One way to reduce the perceived risks involved with change is to define a clear strategic roadmap. In this scenario, every project serves as a vehicle to move an aspect of the organization forward as the DMO transforms into a modern marketing organization.
Destination Think’s destination assessment is one such tool. In order to create the strategic roadmap and show progress, the assessment provides a benchmark that shows the current state of a DMO. Every aspect of the organization’s destination marketing and management functions is rated on a scale from one to five. This benchmark serves as the start of a transformational strategic roadmap. Once the transition begins, the assessment is repeated periodically to measure progress. It shows DMO leaders and stakeholders how the organization is progressing along its plotted path.
Having solid benchmarks can help destinations improve in their emerging role as leaders and collaborators. This will help your organization navigate change, as well as demonstrate value to your industry partners, which will help everyone succeed.
Related reading: Two critical corporate metrics for any destination
Featured image credit: Les Haines, Flickr