One of the most challenging things for a Destination Marketing Organization to do is to inspire collaboration among stakeholders. It’s difficult to persuade cooperation especially if area businesses and organizations do not see the big picture related to tourism, share the DMO’s vision, or if the participants with whom they are asked to cooperate with are perceived as competitors.
Perhaps the first step to elicit cooperation is to share the vision. If the local community doesn’t understand the economic impacts of tourism or mission of the DMO, they are not very likely to engage in activity that promotes collaboration.
One way to educate the stakeholders on the DMO’s mission and goals is through an annual meeting. The mission for most DMOs is to solicit and promote tourism thereby enhancing the economy. The inherent challenge for the DMO is that usually they are promoting something that they have no immediate control over. For example, DMOs do not control the development or availability of attractions or points of interest, accommodations, community services to visitors, or dining establishments. However, a DMO has influence and, their success relies on the promotion of the destination’s attributes. It is imperative that the DMO and all stakeholders understand and believe in the mission and goals of the destination. There’s no better way to harness existing opportunities and create new ones than a meeting of all relevant parties.
There are huge benefits to face-to-face meetings, not only with the staff of the CVB or tourism committee, but also with each other. In-person meetings reduce distractions and allow for focused attention on tourism and destination marketing efforts. When a lodging partner has a chance to rub shoulders with an attraction or restaurant, it provides an avenue to discover shared passions about city, improvement opportunities, partnerships, and promotions that can help make a lasting impression.
According to The World Tourism Organization, “To compete effectively, destinations have to deliver wonderful experiences and excellent value to visitors. The business of tourism is complex and fragmented and from the time that visitors arrive in the destination until they leave, the quality of their experience is affected by many services and experiences, including a range of public and private services, community interactions, environment and hospitality. Delivering excellent value will depend on many organizations working together in unity.
“Destination management calls for a coalition of these different interests to work towards a common goal to ensure the viability and integrity of their destination now, and for the future.”
Likewise, the International Centre for Responsible Tourism says that “organizations that perceive a degree of interdependence and an alignment of objectives are likely to cooperate with others to achieve their goals.”
Some topics that can be discussed at annual stakeholder meeting include:
- Analysis of the destination’s strengths, weaknesses and opportunities, or SWOT
- Tourism training and presentations from experts in the industry
- Research and results from marketing studies on the destination
- Current marketing efforts by the DMO along with existing results
- Developing a comprehensive destination Marketing Action Plan
- Design charrette to shape the future through community improvement
- Branding, positioning, messaging and materials
- Package and partnership opportunities
- Economic impact of tourism
Why wait? Begin planning to facilitate stakeholder collaboration today and the results may surprise you.