In this time of global crisis and uncertainty, we put the call out to leaders, CEOs, strategists and consultants to sit down and tell us, in their own words, what is going on and what is going to happen next in this vital global industry.

Before the global pandemic of COVID19, the bulk of work — for that matter, the bulk of funds at most destination organizations — was spent on marketing. More specifically, advertising. 

There were outliers in that schema, destination management organizations (DMOs) in pockets around the world that had already turned a corner in the last decade and were critically focused on stakeholder engagement, distributed storytelling, and creating legacy value for their citizens. But truth be told, they were the exception and not the rule.

The good news is that the pioneering work of those outliers created a template that made it easier for us all to shift to a much more engaged and community-based focus when the ravages of COVID-19 closed borders and caused us a very significant and likely enduring reset.

One of those outliers, one of those people who has been working on engagement, relevance and placemaking for more than a decade, is Dave Herrell.

Herrell is president and CEO of Visit Quad Cities on the border of Iowa and Illinois, located about three hours west of Chicago on the northern Mississippi. He sees a key role and function of DMOs to be that of  “strategically and creatively positioning your community to add value for residents to drive a high quality of life experience.” 

“Placemaking ideates and develops cities and destinations in order to demonstrate their authenticity, brand, and story — to emotionally connect with a variety of audiences including but not limited to locals, visitors, and businesses,” he said. “Placemaking transforms communities and destinations, and that allows them to better compete for people’s attention and share of mind in a hyper-competitive marketplace. The stronger and more vibrant a place is to visit, the more worthwhile a place to live. And, if the stronger and more vibrant a place is to live, this will make a place worthwhile to visit. They are uniquely interconnected.”

David Herrell is a builder, a connector, and a maven, to use Malcolm Gladwell’s term. He brings that all to bear every day as he and his team work with partners across the spectrum to create a vibrant and engaging Quad Cities for residents and visitors alike.