Pooling Resources: Doing More with Less
Working harmoniously with your partners creates not only goodwill, but synergies in promotion and results. Consider dine-arounds as a classic example of pooling resources. Not only are you providing added visibility to the businesses involved, you are actively engaging with them as a partner in the promotion and the resulting success. Consumers embrace the variety of options, which makes it broadly appealing and impactful. It’s truly a win-win situation.

Now, extend that thinking to seasonal promotions. Can you, for example, pool your efforts with other non-competitive destinations? Imagine the power of a targeted e-mail marketing campaign that leverages the databases and profile information from multiple DMOs, specifically honing in on hot prospects that are seeking summer getaways. It’s a mutually advantageous effort, where the whole is truly greater than the sum of the parts.

Case in Point: The Tucson CVB has created an attractions passport that entitles the visitor to 2-for-1 admissions and other offers, with a total savings of up to $400. They are not only working closely with their community stakeholders boosting their relevance; they are providing real value to travelers.

The Internet: The Great Equalizer
The Internet truly levels the playing field for DMOs; whether you’re a mega-convention destination or a boutique leisure market, leveraging search engine strategies and optimizing your online spending will help capture a significant share of web traffic and influence travel research and decision-making. With the proliferation of competing information portals aimed at travel consumers and meeting planners, DMOs must move quickly and aggressively to position their websites as the first-stop and most reliable information source for destination information and planning resources.More and more hotels, attractions, consumer travel sites, travel publications, travel review sites, and other specialized interests are diverting visitor attention away from DMO sites. How can a DMO compete?

Aggressive search marketing and corresponding content development strategies will help you cut through the clutter and strategically position your destination in the major search engines that could be responsible for 50%-75% of your current site traffic. It’s hard to manage what you haven’t measured. While you are increasing your search and online marketing efforts, ensure that you incorporate the proper analytics and reporting tools to better understand and quantify your success. Thirty percent of destination marketing CEOs indicated in a DMAI survey that they do not analyze traffic statistics for their sites, which means they don’t have clear insights into where their website visitors originated, what resources they use, and more importantly, where and why they left the website.

The same concepts hold true for online media buying. There are proven and methodical ways to test your messages and conversion rates so that you can continually fine tune and optimize your online marketing efforts. Measurement spans not only visits, but also requested visitors guides, completed RFPs or other indicators that you deem are appropriate to measure ROI. Abandon the ‘spray and pray’ mentality in favor of proven techniques and measurable campaigns that will let you understand the economic impact you are having on the communities you serve.It is time to start tracking meaningful metrics that are a true measure of your success.

Leveraging and Recycling Promotions

There’s the old adage, if it’s not broke, don’t fix it. Many DMOs are reusing or recycling promotions year-over-year and adding new punch to an already successful campaign.This concept is well suited for campaigns that tie into a recurring seasonal theme, special event or holiday.As an example, the Scottsdale CVB runs the highly successful “Take Pity on Me” campaign each year.The weather-triggered campaign encourages consumers to submit photos and videos of their weather-related woes.A dedicated micro site displays contestants ‘suffering in the worst winter weather imaginable.’

The first year the contestants submitted photos; this past year, a new submission category was added that featured a more dynamic Web 2.0 element: video entries.By leveraging the momentum of the original promotion and making a small tweak from the previous year, the campaign now requires less programming work by the CVB and still drives significant returns through the collection of qualified database entries.  In addition to their consumer marketing success, the “Take Pity on Me” campaign also garnered a significant amount of press coverage--an added benefit to a cleverly merchandised promotion.

Green is the New Black
With the intensifying focus on preserving the earth’s resources for future generations, the travel industry is under scrutiny to do their part. One area where today’s DMOs can be ‘seen as green,’ while simultaneously realizing great efficiencies, is in online fulfillment. For example, when the Carlsbad CVB website re-launched, their visitor guide inquiries nearly tripled, creating significant financial burdens associated with printing, fulfillment and postage.

The CVB created an online version of the visitors guide tied to a form that asked the prospect whether they wanted a printed version mailed to them or alternatively, to download it immediately. Prospects wanting the ‘instant gratification’ and the immediacy of the information resulted in a reduction of the overall number of visitor guides shipped by one third. These tools and fulfillment methods are quickly replacing traditional media, printed guides and maps, resulting in not only eco-friendly practices, but also tremendous cost savings. A conservative estimate for fulfilling a visitor’s guide is $1.75 per piece; multiply that by 100,000 and the resulting cost savings of $175,000 could be applied to cutting-edge technologies and interactive marketing campaigns that will help DMOs build business, generate leads for their stakeholders, and generate economic impact to the communities they serve.