Without a doubt, it has been and continues to be a tough time for the tourism industry.
If anyone had predicted at the end of 2019 that international tourism would see a decline to the tune of a billion fewer arrivals or that the U.S. would suffer a loss of $1.1 trillion in international tourism receipts in 2020, I would not have believed it.
And yet, that's precisely what happened.
The global pandemic brought a level of adversity that DMOs and CVBs have never faced before and one that will reverberate for years to come. Challenges include (but are by no means limited to) budget cuts, staffing shortages, changing mandates, and shifting traveler sentiment.
Thankfully, many regions are starting to see recovery, and many DMOs are beginning to return to their normal activities – or "the new normal," as it's often called. It brings new pressures because the economic needs of our stakeholders have never been higher.
Our purpose as DMO’s has never been more vital to our communities, all eyes are on us, and this is when we're needed most. DMOs are going to have to innovate to succeed. What's worked in the past may not work in the future.
As the Director of Digital Marketing Strategy for Simpleview, the majority of my time is spent developing data-driven insights and actionable strategies for our clients and partners, but with my background in management and development at the DMO level, I remember well the annual planning cycle.
Each year we would add new projects, markets, and other activities. However, budgets and staffing would remain the same. It felt like every year, we had to do more for less, and the list gets bigger each year. We never really asked ourselves, “What should we stop doing?” We were simply too busy to consider it.
It is a critical time for DMO’s to rethink and redress their relevance, role and function.
We need to come to terms with the fact that we must address what activities should DMOs stop doing, what measurements should be prioritized, and at an organizational level, what skills and roles are needed.
While it is tempting to rush into resuming past activities, there has never been a better moment in time to reinvent your DMO. This starts with critically assessing what you are doing, why you are doing it, and if there is a better way?
Right now, we need to ask ourselves three fundamental but very important questions:
- What activities should DMOs stop doing?
- What measurements should be prioritized?
- Do you have the right skills and roles to propel you into the future?
Future-Proofing starts now!