4 takeaways for your DMO’s strategic planning during COVID-19

Chess player
David Archer

17 April 2020

In this moment of COVID-19 crisis, is your DMO’s strategic planning on hold? 

Temporarily pausing your DMO’s strategic planning to take care of urgent needs is understandable. In many places, tourism businesses are closing, travel has ceased, and DMO funding is being threatened. You have a lot to manage. Before long, though, decisions about your destination’s future will need guidance from a well informed, long-term strategy. 

During the first session of our live Virtual Forum events, Chief Strategist William Bakker gave destination marketers a keynote presentation on strategic planning. He outlined a clear-eyed approach toward your DMO’s future – even amid the daily pressures of doing business and living life during a pandemic. 

Here are four key takeaways for your DMO’s approach to strategic planning during COVID-19.

1. Find space away from the day-to-day 

The proactive approach begins here. Everyone in tourism is facing a rapidly changing crisis. There are many factors to consider on a daily basis. But it’s very important to create some space away from that day-to-day churn of decision making, says William. “Start thinking strategically about what’s next in the short term and also in the long term.” To do that, you’ll need to set aside some time.

2. Create a data framework

Use some of that time away from day-to-day decisions to become more informed. Learn about different possible scenarios and where they could lead. As Switzerland Tourism said recently in another webinar, “In times of uncertainty, data matters.” Your DMO will need to gather the data that is relevant to your region in light of the larger crisis. 

3. Develop plans based on scenarios

The data you gather will help you understand potential scenarios. Your planning doesn’t necessarily need to be detailed, William says. “For some of our clients, we have created a range of scenarios based on a one-page strategy framework.” (You can find support for your DMO here.) This way, you can quickly communicate what you’ve learned and also identify the key assumptions, messages, and target audiences. 

Four levels of scenario planning for DMOs
This slide from William Bakker’s Virtual Forum presentation on DMO strategy shows four levels of scenario planning. (Source: McKinsey & Company)

4. Be ready to execute

Your strategic framework and scenario planning will eventually lead to action. Prepare your team and keep tourism partners updated on your efforts. That way, when the time is right, you can start supporting your industry and local community further. 

Click here to see William’s full Virtual Forum presentation and slides on destination marketing strategy. 

Support for your DMO

From Bermuda to California to Campbell River, our team helps tourism destinations respond to crises and work toward recovery with poise and confidence. Speak to us to learn about our collaborative approach to strategy, communications, and creative solutions or click here to send us your RFP.

1 Comment

  1. Greg

    These takeaways are common sense? If we have to spell this out to DMOs the tourism industry is in real trouble. One tourism business shared, ” Tourism associations are always there in times of greed, but disappear in times of need.” I tend to agree. So no, most of the tourism front line businesses do not understand nor agree with the TAs going ghost on them. It is not acceptable nor should we encourage them. This is when front line tourism needs them, not when money is rolling in head over fist.


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