The DMO Dilemma: Fight or Focus

The DMO Dilemma: Fight or Focus

A one-stop shop.

The ultimate source.

Destination experts.

Select your nomenclature and prepare for a fight. Especially in digital spaces, the battle for the travel-planning consumer is reaching a fevered pace. A few DMOs see this, but most do not. Blissfully unaware or simply confused as to the amount of competition they now face.

I see it frequently…working with clients, writing about trends, listening to conference presentations…the majority of our peers still assume that they are the ultimate, unquestioned source for travel planning information about their destination.

And somehow, using the word curation will mask the reality of an organization that is unprepared to wage this new content war.

Certainly, destinations could compete with Google, Yelp, TripAdvisor, the local paper, Trippy, Facebook, WikiTravel, Urbanspoon, the local TV channel, bloggers, Fodor’s, Frommer’s, Virtual Tourist, Lonely Planet, About, Viator, Travel Channel, Oyster, USA Today…should I continue?

Don’t think you have competition for those would-be trip takers? Think again.

The average traveler visits ~22 travel related sites during 9.5 research sessions prior to booking. (Source: Google)

The average DMO site only reaches 9% of the visitors to the destination. (Source: mark)

Do the math on that last one. How many website visitors did you have in 2011? And how many visitors to your town, county or state? Guessing there is a pretty big gap.

Joining the battle for the consumer’s attention is possible, but don’t be fooled by your web developer, agency of record or some consultant.

This is not easy.

This is war.

If you choose to fight, and plan on winning, you need to prep for battle. Hire more staff…yeah, your lone web gal ain’t going to get this done on her own. Increase your budget. Change your perspective. Eliminate the membership model.

If you are going to make it your mission to be the ultimate source for travel planning information about your destination, you need to accept the terms of this fight.

Or, you could focus.

Perhaps it is not your place to be the one stop-shop for travel information. Perhaps Google is a better resource for the consumer. Perhaps less really is more.

What do I mean by focus? Consciously curate. Simplify. Say no.

Build a smaller website.

Stop trying to be everything for everyone.

Actively ignore the commonplace, and promote the truly unique.

Focusing will demand a greater commitment than fighting. Focusing requires a change to the mentality of the DMO. Focusing means becoming exclusive, rather than inclusive. A decision most DMOs would rather ignore.

Destinations are committed to the improvement of the entire community through tourism, not just a specific segment. But as the traveler and technology change, the DMO must be willing to change as well. Our roles in the community are shifting…our role of promoter is being reduced by the same organizations we are fighting against.

Does your community still require mass promotion or do they need a niche focus?

To be clear, every destination will approach this choice from a different perspective. Some are ready to fight. But most are not.

And most do not need to.

If the choice is fight or focus, I would focus.

Comment? @travel2dot0 or email.