Have you ever considered offering local businesses (members, partners, etc.) advertising opportunities on your DMO website? If not, you certainly should. DMO website advertising is a powerful strategy that puts your local businesses in front of their perfect customers—your website visitors! This exposure occurs at the very moment they are planning a trip to your destination, or even as they are ready to make a buying decision in-market.

Should you commit to offering this major marketing opportunity to the businesses you represent, you will undoubtedly be met with a myriad of objections, obstacles and myths (both internally and externally). Like most myths, misconceptions stem from a lack of knowledge on a topic. By shedding light and educating your peers, it is possible to dispel many of the most common objections to DMO website advertising, ultimately allowing for a win-win situation for all members of the community.

Below, I've detailed some of the most common website advertising objections, as well as their rhetoric solutions, so you can be armed and ready when the opportunity presents itself.

1) "This will cannibalize the visitors guide sales program."

Yelp, Google and Trip Advisor are already cannibalizing your visitors guide program, not to mention other local online media advertising options and businesses across the nation that are shifting more of their marketing to online. Many of your larger local businesses are already establishing online marketing budgets, and without an online ad program, the local DMO will see none of that money.

Another point to keep in mind is that the target demographics of the visitors guide and the DMO website do not overlap 100 percent. In fact, a recent survey conducted by MMGY Global (Portrait of the American Travelers 2015) concluded that Millennials use DMO websites more-so than print visitors guides for travel ideas and inspiration. The DMO website itself now serves the role of the classic visitors guide for Millennials.

So why only offer advertising in the print medium? Some businesses may have a specific vision for their advertising. Print and online are different mediums for different goals. It's good to have options to meet your organization's various marketing plans. The print and visitors guide options are only half of the equation.

2) "A DMO website is no place for ads. I don't want our site looking like NASCAR!"

Like all things in life, there's a right way and a wrong way to place advertising on a destination website. Distracting display banners that do not blend in with the page elements, DMO brand, color palate, fonts and style guide are indeed obtrusive. Thankfully, there is a way to design advertising into the page so that it is tasteful and fits in seamlessly with the DMO brand.

Additionally, you can and should offer native advertising and sponsored content opportunities. There are many options to match your website design, including sponsored header images, featured listings, sponsored articles, advertorials, sponsored video, featured events, featured special offers, sponsored image boxes and sponsored dropdown navigation images.

3) "Our stakeholders say this is double-dipping. Why should they pay for this too?"

Remind your stakeholders of the value they already receive for whatever they're currently paying the DMO. Online advertising is simply an additional, optional opportunity for exposure on the site beyond a basic listing. It's also important to educate them then on the value of online advertising, particularly on a DMO website.

Additionally, you can encourage them with the knowledge that the revenue received for online advertising will be put towards further destination marketing efforts, which will only benefit them even more. Thus, the DMO website ad is the only advertising they'll purchase that will work for them twice! First through the inherent value of the ad itself, and second through the revenue that the DMO will reinvest into further marketing of the destination.

4) "Should we combine this with visitors guide sales or our partnership options?"

This is a common myth. Despite the gut feeling, do not combine your website and print advertising programs. This leads prospects to expect bundled pricing and discounts, and relates two disparate mediums that are difficult to sell together. Keeping them separate ensures they'll consider both options independently and at the right time.

Additionally, being qualified to sell print ads does not necessarily translate to effective online ad selling ability (no more than selling cars qualifies one to sell helicopters). Often, if you put a print sales person in charge of the online program, online revenue will suffer as they focus more on the print sales and apply the online revenue towards covering visitors guide production costs and goals.

While you should give members and partners first right of refusal and priority pricing, do not bundle online ads with their membership/partnership packages. This kills the independent value of the online opportunity and limits pricing options such as cost per click (CPC) or cost per thousand impressions (CPM).

The Bottom Line:

Travelers are increasingly online:

  • 85% of travel planning is now conducted online
  • 80% of lodging is now booked online...
  • ...20% of which occurs on smart phones no less (mainly low rate, same-day stays, but still)

Your DMO may or may not be ready for website advertising at this point in time, but when weighing the virtually no strings attached opportunity, it is important to make those decisions anchored in knowledge. And who knows, the conversation may just be easier than you think!

Have additional DMO website advertising myths in need of debunking? Email Paul Franke, Senior Director of Revenue Generation for more research and information.