What does the future look like for DMOs?

2020 has been one to forget for the tourism and convention industries. In fact, according to the World Tourism Organization, overall travel could decline 60-80% compared to 2019 numbers when the year is all said and done. Regions that depend heavily on the tourism industry, such as Las Vegas, have been decimated. The recovery will come, but it is expected to be slow. Job losses in the tourism industry could be 100 million or more.

Traditional data points that used to determine success for a Destination Marketing Organization (DMO), such as hotel occupancy rates and transient taxes, may need to be re-examined. DMOs need to be ready to shift their perspective and find new data points to track. While traditional travel, with flights, hotel beds and rental cars, will eventually return to historical levels, the near term outlook is for more local travel. With all of the COVID-19 restrictions, closures, and uncertainty, catering to visitors in a new way will become increasingly important. How does a DMO that is under-staffed and operating on a reduced budget, continue to provide a positive experience for local residents as well as out-of-town visitors?

Sara Pastor, Managing Director Destinations EMEA at ADARA, Inc., has an interesting perspective, Out with the old: the new KPIs for successful destination marketers, where she outlines the importance for DMOs to revise their key performance indicators and put more emphasis on customer service.

“We need to consider ‘place management’ rather than “destination marketing”. This means accountability for responding to resident and business concerns, building community relationships; while leveraging data to ensure maximum market capture with maximum benefit to the location.”

Thankfully, AtlasRTX chatbots can provide an automated solution to answering questions from travelers on a wide range of topics, including COVID-related questions about “what’s open”. When staff numbers are limited and budgets are tight, there still is a way to provide an exceptional user experience and bring people to your region.