Time to Own Something
As my wife and I walked through O’hare, catching our return flight to Denver from a speaking appearance in Montreal, we passed by a curious sight.
A Marriott Courtyard lobby in Terminal 2.
‘You should tell DMOs to do that’ my wife remarked as we passed by. ‘Free wifi and a nice place to sit? I would go for that.’
I suspected that part of the request was a subconscious plan to place comfortable seating areas in airports frequented by our family, however the suggestion of ‘why not a DMO?’ was intriguing.
Unfortunately I did not have time to enjoy the comforts of the Courtyard lobby, but I found out the space was open to all travelers resilient enough to endure a likely Courtyard sales pitch, the unfortunate placement of a very loud blues band and general hysteria of Concourse E/F…not exactly as relaxing and quiet as your standard hotel lobby.
A missed opportunity I thought, as we boarded our return flight.
While frustrated questions would certainly ensue, could Marriott have reserved that space for only those flyers who stayed at or would be staying at a Courtyard in the next, say, 7 days?
Talk about a loyalty program.
A nice perk for the weary traveler, but not the most valuable opportunity for Marriott…or a DMO.
Data is the hidden ROI for this pop-up oasis.
Picture a tourism destination operating this quasi-lounge or just providing WiFi in the airport. Either in-destination or in specific feeder markets. Yes, it could be a nice thank-you and yes, the DMO could claim brand awareness, but the real value is the hidden data waiting to be mined and polished.
A one-question survey, or Facebook log-in requirement could begin to identify those visitors who came to the destination and were also Facebook fans.
Or email database members.
Or influenced by the DMO.
An opportunity to close the loop and begin identifying ROI. A task that is difficult (at best) for most DMOs considering confirmation of visitation via hotel or attraction partners.
And specifically for the destination, the chance at ownership. Ownership of data, knowledge, research about the traveler.
For an industry that does not truly own anything, the path to sustained relevance is ownership.
Capturing this data may take on various forms…airport lounge, contest, email sign-up…but the value is hidden within the data we own and how it could inform our peers, stakeholders and members.
And frankly, how that information could build the DMO’s expertise, value and longevity within the community.
Destinations are unlikely to own hotels, attractions or museums. But there is an opportunity to own the intangible trail of information left behind by the tourist.
Data is one of these opportunities.
An opportunity to own a portion of the travel experience.
Even if the tourist cannot see it from their seat in the lounge.