Meet Your New Competition

I'm going to bust you up.

During a recent meeting with a potential destination client, the discussion turned toward competition.

Well, I might have instigated the change in topic.  Purposely steering him in a direction to help identify his perspective on the overall direction of the DMO.

Our competition is really Destination X.  As well as Local Newspaper Y.  The other convention center.  Oh, and I suppose Urbanspoon and perhaps Expedia too.  And the other visitor guide magazine.  Does that make sense?

No.  No it does not.

Like most of our destination marketing peers, be it DMO, CVB or NTO, our prospective client was feeling the inevitable pull of tourism promotion.

So many channels, so little focus.

In the traditional sense of competition, destinations have each other to look towards as friendly foes.  San Francisco v. Seattle.  New York v. Boston.  France v. Italy.

But in the attempt to remain relevant, many destinations are now facing competition from unlikely sources.  From expert advice to membership dollars, mobile apps to in-room guides, online and offline, destinations find themselves fighting an uphill battle against a variety of organizations.

Publishing and media groups are creating iPad apps.  Yelp, Groupon and Google are fighting for the local consumer, and for local marketing dollars.  The on-site booking engine now means other OTAs could be stealing market-share.  Facebook and Flickr divert vacation photo uploads.

And everyone is attempting to become the expert on your destination.


Because travel is big business.  Even if you only have a small piece of the travel planning cycle.

So where does that leave our confused friend as well as numerous destination marketing organizations?

Grasping for life jackets, rather than swimming to the life raft.

Attempting to remain relevant through broad dispersion.

Searching for focus.

Destinations should view the current upheaval of globalization, technology and sociology as an opportunity, rather than a threat.  It is a chance to redefine our focus, rather than add fruitless responsibilities.

This opportunity demands focus, painful change and the courage to dismiss irrelevant traditions.

Competition in destination marketing and tourism promotion is evolving with little regard for how things were once done.

Your competition has changed.

And your primary mission as a destination must follow.

Comment? @travel2dot0 or email.