The one magic question every destination marketer must ask

Rodney Payne

5 July 2016

Have a look at your calendar. Your time is likely filled with meetings, projects, and the great world of unknowns: responding to requests, emails, phone calls and putting out the occasional tourism fire. All your colleagues are doing the same. At times, requests pile up and overwhelm the system. That’s when everyone stays late to finish the latest report or the slides for next week’s presentation. Some may ask themselves, are all these tasks worthwhile? What are we hoping to achieve? A single question could empower your organization’s employees and help your team work toward tangible results.

The magic question that will help any organization focus is:

“What does success look like?”

You need to be able to answer the question in one sentence. Many organizations struggle to define success in a concrete and realistic way that allows their team to focus and flourish. This is certainly not limited to destination marketing organizations (DMOs) – it applies to any business that lacks a clear definition of success. Without this clarity, there is no way staff can know if they’re effectively investing time and resources. They become more likely to react to every demand from the industry and from their coworkers. This often leads to a lot of wasted time, or even worse, people doing work just to appear busy.

For this reason, everyone in your organization, from your board to the CEO to seasonal staff, should know their answer to the question, “What does success look like?”.

As responsibilities cascade through the organization, the specific definition of success will vary for different people. How will your CEO know what success for your DMO looks like for this year? Make it specific by putting a number on it to justify the investment (e.g. improving repeat visitation from 50% to 55%, or increasing the Net Promoter Score (NPS) from eight to nine out of ten). Your marketing director could define success with concrete goals – “we need to reach as many people as possible” is not specific enough – to increase the percentage of visitors who show intent to visit within a target audience, for example. Perhaps an assistant’s job becomes “saving time for the organization,” which could include KPIs and goals around efficiency and collaboration.

The more solidly you define success, the more empowered your employees will be to support the goals as they work within those structures. They will be able to focus on what’s most important, while being able to politely say “no” to what isn’t important. Every task can and should be mapped back to the strategy and definitions of success for the organization. Leaders can then measure the outcome against the investment in order to improve over time.

You can try this today. Go and ask your boss, your team, or your head office: “What does success look like?” And if they can’t answer that question… you know what to change.

How do you define success in your organization?

Related reading: A destination marketer’s guide to strategic leadership

Featured image credit: U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Flickr

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