Listings that Work
Listings are the heart of a DMO site. For visitors, they’re the top resource on where to stay, where to eat and what to do. For your industry partners, they’re a vital connection to incoming travel and tourism dollars. It’s a given that listings should be searchable, presented in a consistent, viewer-friendly format with error-free copy and a friendly but professional voice. That’s baseline. Your job is to take your listings to a new standard, delivering more value for “customers” on all sides of the equation.

Are your site’s listings up to the task? If not, adopt these 3 best practices to get on track.

1. Deliver Insider Information

Nobody knows your destination like you. Make sure your listings reflect that expertise. Listings should offer all the basic (and exhaustive) information a travel researcher could find on any site: for hotels, room information, amenities, pet policies, etc.; for restaurants, menus, hours of operation, price ranges. But that’s just a starting point. Is there an appetizer that’s a must-have among locals? Does a venue do 80s karaoke on Tuesday nights? Does the continental breakfast include tofu scramble for vegans? If you don’t have insider information, get it from your industry partners. Anything you can do to make your site a unique resource puts you ahead of the competition.

2. Embrace Video

Broadband penetration has passed the tipping point, not only in private residences, but also in cafes and town plazas and on web-ready phones everywhere. At the same time, YouTube and its wake of multimedia providers has created a web video standard that anyone can achieve at minimal cost. Enhance your listings with virtual tours, spoken testimonials, messages from management and more. Aim for recreating the experience a visitor would have: interview an enthusiastic waitress with the buzz of happy hour in the background, capture 120 seconds at the resort water slide on Saturday afternoon. Embed the content on your site, then extend its reach by posting to YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and other leading social media sites.

3. Location, Location, Location

Not every business is blessed with the ideal location, but visitors want and need to know where something is and, more importantly, what’s nearby. What’s within walking distance? How far to the nearest subway stop? What attractions and shopping venues are nearby? Provide this information liberally. Written text is a simple way to start. Mapping integration offers greater value. Tie mapping to itinerary builders and you’ve hit the tourism sweet spot.

Meeting in Your Own Backyard
It’s natural that people want to travel to an annual meeting or special event. Who doesn’t like an excuse to get out of town and experience something new? But in an economy where saving money is top of mind for many organizations, DMOs have a greater chance of convincing meeting planners to set up events close to home. Use this “3R” strategy for drawing meetings revenue from organizations with a local presence.

Relationship

Business of any kind is built on relationship. If you don’t already have deep relationships with local planners, create them. Set up a series of lunches, take them to a ball game or another fun event. When you’re on a first-name basis, shoptalk comes naturally.

Revelation

DMOs offer FAM trips all the time, but local meeting planners are already familiar with your destination. Your job is to make them see what’s unfamiliar about their own back yard—an unFAM trip! Plan events and activities that let local planners see sides of your destination they’ve been missing—unique venues, activities and qualities that even local residents may overlook.

Rationale

Give meeting planners the tools they need to sell their proposed destinations to committees and managers. In today’s economy, numbers speak louder than words: provide cost-benefit analyses focused on airfare, leverage with local partners, economic impact, etc. Provide examples of other organizations that have opted for hometown meetings, especially those that have garnered positive press for the choice.

Outmaneuver the Naycation
Some of the media declared 2008 the year of the “staycation” and 2009 the year of the “naycation,” as in “Take a vacation? Nay, not I!” There’s no question that dampened vacation plans will affect local economies, but DMOs can help mitigate losses with focused initiatives.

1. Rev Up for Rebound

When travel fell off after 9/11, it came back quickly. Experts predict a slower rebound from the current economic downturn, but travel and tourism will rebound as pent-up demand pushes through and families and corporations take advantage of belt-tightening in 2009. Start planning now—and marketing for—how you’ll capture tourism dollars in 2010.

2. Secure Savings

The travel industry has traditionally resisted marketing that creates the perception that a destination is “on sale” for fear of devaluing the brand. The fact is, savings figure more prominently in the value equation today than at any time in recent history. Travelers want deals—and good ones. Work with industry partners to create meaningful savings and packages for visitors, then communicate them prominently in your marketing campaigns and materials.

3. Dive into Drive

In the leisure travel market, families who have foregone a major vacation may still be looking for last-minute getaways as budget allows. It’s not too late to package and present your destination’s seasonal strengths for nearby customers. Once you’ve productized for the drive market, reach out to a focused group of potential visitors with email and social media campaigns that lend themselves to rapid evolution and late-breaking offers.

Optimizing for Recession
Did you know that for roughly every 50 people who search “vacation,” someone searches “cheap vacation”? That single phrase gets more than 670,000 searches a month on Google alone. What are you doing to draw value-minded travelers to your website and industry partner listings? Our SEO experts can help you adapt your site and marketing to capture the growing segment of budget-conscious travelers without compromising core content. Contact us for more information.

Get Ready for Simpleview CRM 3.0
It’s been two years since the release of Simpleview CRM 2.5. In April, Simpleview CEO Ryan George introduced CRM 3.0 to attendees at the CVB Summit 2009, highlighting some of the system’s best new features, including graphic dashboards, a redesigned architecture for faster performance and improved projection tools for getting beyond rearview mirror sales reporting. Watch for more information soon on scheduled rollouts for Simpleview CRM clients!