ONLINE MARKETING THAT ENGAGES AND DELIGHTS YOUR PEOPLE

From DMO To CMO

Strategic Issues in Destination Management

Overview

Forward-thinking destination marketing organizations (DMO) realize that an important consideration for their future is the question of relevance and ability to advocate for their work in the face of seismic shifts in the destination management industry.

Today’s technology allows individuals to craft messages for viewers from all over the world to read and form opinions via a variety of sources. As people learn about destinations through word of mouth, social media, and other venues, an opportunity exists for DMOs to prepare and disseminate a different message. Nowadays, people buy and talk about the experience. Because of this game-changing emphasis, trailblazer DMOs are taking heed by re-engineering themselves into community marketing organizations (CMO) and re-packaging the promise of the destination to include the community and its culture within the context of the overall guest experience.

While both DMOs and CMOs are communications professionals, CMOs can deliver significant advantages and economies of scale by releasing coordinated brand-centric community messaging into the marketplace that is appealing to both visitors and residents. When stakeholders align collectively and get behind the brand promise, the community embodies and exudes a particular vibe (examples include Orlando’s Disney World, New Orleans, and Las Vegas). This is the manifestation of how the community defines itself collectively and is characterized by look, feel, and tonality – it is what the destination stands for and the values it embraces.

This unified voice can also be compelling for people looking to relocate and for attracting new business activity. In fact, more and more DMOs are starting to be, or are, players in the resident relocation and economic development markets. By defining their value, forging relations, and determining their place in their community, CMOs are best positioned to market, sell, and deliver exceptional experiences.

From the moment a visitor arrives at a location, they form an impression.

What is that impression? Is there a sense of arrival? Are gateways visually attractive? Do people feel welcome? Is ambassador and customer service training provided?

A CMO is in a position to craft a better experience for visitors and residents because it can protect and oversee branded service standards and ensure they are consistent with the destination’s promise and unique selling proposition.

Concept Application

Destination marketing staff are tourism politicians and ambassadors. Their power is to connect and champion their destination to audiences with a single coherent brand-centric voice. As the overarching marketing arm for the community, the CMO can help community clients construct distinct messages that contain the brand promise. It can market community assets and events such as local television channels, DDAs, public golf courses, and competitive baseball and softball tournaments.

The following actions are examples of what should be considered when positioning to become a CMO: the visitor center becomes an

attraction and the destination concierge; an educational curriculum is created with the city manager’s office and the tourism retail advisory committee on how the city and community operate (similar to a Citizens Police Academy program); a hospitality and customer service training course is developed that includes classroom, online trainings and tours of area assets and culminates with a certificate for successful completion; a relocation program is created for individuals and businesses; the local government channel is rebranded (e.g. Channel 191 becomes VisitMontrose TV and Channel 192 becomes Montrose TV); and a “Locals Use It, Locals Love It” campaign is started as a catalyst for storytelling through community members’ experience.

“The ethos that embodies and becomes a manifestation of the community brand promise can inspire a destination super brand and become a household term.”

Rob Joseph

SuperDMO

Perceived Outcomes

Moving from a DMO to a CMO begins to address the current three dominant trends in the travel industry: The importance of social media and personalized content, understanding tourism within the context of economic development, and brand development. Through the efforts of a supported CMO, community groups can gain leverage as the focus expands from tourism to community marketing.

This holistic and integrated approach brings a singular and brand-centric focus to everything and provides professional assistance to groups with good intentions, but limited resources who are unable to afford professionals to assist with marketing their message. Participating organizations are not disenfranchised, rather they retain autonomy of their boards, approve the final work, and benefit from marketing efforts that are consistent with and support the messaging of other community groups.

Community relationship management is a fundamental aspect of DMO relevance and advocacy. A coordinated message, good government relations, and involved stakeholders make for an appealing community, whether for residents, visitors, and businesses or folks in search of a place to call home.

Defining The CMO Culture

What is the business of a community marketing organization (CMO) and what is its nexus with culture? A CMO is generally viewed as the protector of the brand promise and the champion of what a community holds dear and places in high regard. The specific standing is the unique selling proposition that is at the heart of that community. Culture is a set of accepted behavior patterns, beliefs, values, assumptions, and shared common experiences. It is something we learn that defines social structure, communication styles, and decision-making practices. Successful CMOs have cultures that are complementary to and advocate the brand promise.

This unified voice can also be compelling for people looking to relocate and for attracting new business activity. In fact, successful DMOs are starting to be players in the resident relocation and economic development (ED) markets by forging relations and determining their place in all things ED within their community.

From the moment a visitor arrives at a location, s/he forms an impression; therefore, destination marketers must ask: What is that impression? Is there a sense of arrival? Are gateways visually attractive? Do people feel welcome? Are ambassador and customer service training provided to residents and employees? The CMO is in a position to craft a better experience for visitors and residents because it can protect and oversee branded service standards and ensure they are consistent with the destination’s promise and unique selling proposition.

Concept Application

The CMO culture can be influenced by various factors. While the values it embraces at the onset may be more deliberate, over time its ability to adapt will result in an organic and unique mindset that is truly reflective of the community it serves. The following are application considerations for the onset stage:

Our people are our programs.

  • The right number of people with the right skills should be in the right places. Individuals must be accountable for their work and their attitude as well as efficient and effective team members. All must be exemplars of the brand promise and exude professional, courteous, and respectful behavior at all times.
  • Make the workplace fun. People who love what they do will produce results with minimal supervision and will have the best interest of the CMO at heart.
  • Apply the 9/80 concept used by Newport Beach & Company. A three-day weekend every other week is a benefit-rich and persuasive value offer.
  • Account for thinking time and provide a creative workspace. Without time to ruminate people may burn out and lose their edge. A place that team members can use individually – or in groups – can encourage problem-solving and new ideas.
  • Do less well. A group-driven strategic plan with clear objectives and a balanced approach will yield sustainable and consistent results and produce proud people.
  • Value-driven. Clearly defined values and core beliefs are the rudder that guides an organization. A strong culture exists when every team member supports these values.

The culture should instigate stories that are brand complementary. It is from here that the content for great stories that excite visitors and tug at their hearts is created.

The culture can inspire the marketing plan. Because the CMO works for the community and develops programs that benefit it, opportunities to leverage marketing efforts that promote the CMOs culture should be explored. For example, a family-oriented community may consider creating programs to attract visiting friends and relatives since the VFR market accounts for nearly 25 percent of occupied rooms.

The CMO culture should also take into account the trends that define the successful future DMO/CMO. For example, it must welcome change, be flexible and adaptable, and explore ways to increase revenue sources. Additionally, it should be:

  • A technology leader. Research, information collection, and data analysis should take center stage in shaping organizational strategy.
  • Social media savvy. A CMO that understands high-tech marketing and can generate stories with personalized and meaningful content can effectively push information to receptive audiences.
  • Societally engaged. The CMOs culture should support advocacy and encourage partnerships with local government and community leaders. It should bring groups together and be involved in planning, land use conversations, and act as an economic development catalyst.
  • Obsessed with education and customer service. The culture should champion professional staff development and create training programs that consistently ensure a level of high customer service.

Conclusion

The CMO is in the business of selling the community and ought to strive to perfect the experience one has of one’s visit to that destination. A culture rooted in a philosophy requiring visitor expectations to be exceeded will catalyze its community’s long-term viability by being viewed as a preferred destination while increasing the quality of life for its residents.

The ethos that embodies and becomes a manifestation of the community brand promise can inspire a destination super brand and become a household term. One of the difficulties in destination marketing is that the consumer cannot try the product; however, if the message and promise of a positive memorable experience are compellingly strong the value proposition will trump hesitation and price consideration.

The final question then becomes, “What space can we own in the marketplace that can be of value to the prospective guest?”

A CMO is the key that unlocks the uniqueness of a place and delivers on the promise of remarkable experiences.