When it comes to marketing, do you follow what you think will work best, or are you paying attention to what successful travel companies are doing, especially in the destination marketing area? Or are you doing a little of both?
A report in Skift detailed the best practices for destination marketing organizations (DMOs), as designed by the Destination Marketing Association International. Their project, called DestinationNEXT, collected information from over 300 of these companies all over the world to see what was working in their promotion and development. The resulting handbook describes the case studies and strategies related to these trends and how all DMOs can benefit, whether they are large and more established or smaller and need a plan to follow.
The three mentioned in this particular article are:
- DMO cognitive systems, which are essentially the applications of artificial intelligence in personalized travel marketing;
- Shared economy collaboration, detailing the often-contentious relationship between these companies (like Airbnb) and DMOs and how they can work together;
- The value of DMO network models, or the creation of an interdependent system of business related certain destinations and their local service providers.
While these practices relate to DMOs and not so much to travel service providers, the latter can gain value from being aware of them and take elements from them to build their own businesses.
The applications for cognitive systems could help travel marketers find a new way to reach their audience, especially mobile-toting millennials and Gen Z (the demographic that follows them). The most appealing technology would provide a customized multimedia experience, particularly one that involves video or photos, an interactive voice guide (think Siri for Apple’s iOS) and user-generated reviews and content.
More than any generation before them, millennials and Gen Z love the idea of the sharing economy wherever it can best fit them. With the rise of ride services like Uber and Lyft and the aforementioned Airbnb, the sharing economy looks like it’s here for good. Its most clear demonstration is in travel, where younger travelers tend to use these services more than traditional ones like taxis, airport shuttles and hotels.
How far DMOs, who have traditionally supported these latter businesses, can work peacefully with them remains to be seen. But forward thinking marketers have set aside the differences they have with the sharing services and have developed partnerships that are successful for both involved parties. The problems with taxation and a drawing business away from traditional travel service providers may need to be overcome to achieve this compromise.
The final area of best practices, creating a business network with local DMO’s, is perhaps the easiest to implement. Travel service providers can form these mutually beneficial alliances with DMOs fairly quickly. If they are adventure travel specialists, that can distinguish their business even more especially if they are they only provider of their kind in the DMO’s target area. If they are one of many, it may take a few unique factors to help them stand out and for the DMO to promote it.
What are other ways that DMOs can implement best practices and work collaboratively with travel companies? Share your thoughts below!