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Our rollercoaster today: The role of DMO´s in the pandemic and the future

Updated: Dec 7, 2020

All Destination Marketing and Management offices (DMO) are in a rollercoaster these days both dealing with the pandemic within the organizations and in their destinations along with their stakeholders. Are the destinations going to stay open? Is the destination on a red list somewhere? Is there a second wave going on right now?  Is this just the tip of the iceberg again and a bigger wave will hit us? When will the vaccine be ready? When is this new normal going to begin? So, many questions are hitting us and literally no one has the answers.

In my opinion, we can´t just sit and wait for this to end. We need to use the time in this maybe already new normal. There are so many trying find answers and trends to the new normal in tourism and for destinations. I therefore decided to gather few of them together that focuses on DMO´s and the destinations themselves. Basically, wondering what is the role of the DMO in this pandemic and moving forward:

·      Place Brand Observer recently published a white paper with ideas from leading place brand specialists on 10 tips for DMO´s on how to resume tourism after the pandemic while ensuring sustainability. Key take away are e.g. triple bottom line approach with focus on people, environment and profit with UN Sustainable Goals as a good starting point, implementation of new KPI´s, focus on destination community and that their interest is vital as well as internal communication. To read more.

·      Signe Jungstad, CEO of NAO group did a presentation at Global All Stars for Miles Partnership Marketing in July that you find here. She discussed that DMO´s needs to shift to hybrid mode and that this is not about being in marketing or management. As she said: “there is no single road to recovery and DMO´s need to improve and diversify their value and relevance across multiple priorities and responsibilities, taking a value stand and contributing to creating a thriving local communities and global resilience”.

·      David Peacock, at Simpleview did a summery from the Destination International Convention in July, on the role of DMO´s and in closing it says it is inarguable today that alignment and the need for real and meaningful engagement with multiple communities of interest, as well as a pressing need for digital improvement are all accelerated by this crisis and will play a significant role in the successful destination organization of the future.” There some very interesting points in this article from several directors in the industry. Read more.

·      Six global tourism organizations united in June to create coalition for the future of tourism. There are 13 guiding principles that are supposed to provide clear moral and business imperative for building a healthier industry while protecting the places and people which it depends. The idea is that taking a holistic approach to responsible and sustainable tourism is the only way to secure the future. The guiding principles can be found here but they are e.g. to see the whole picture, protect sense of place, collaborate in destination management and use sustainability standards. It is a very interesting initiative with over 300 DMO´s, businesses, consulting firms, non government organizations, academia and PR and media, that have signed up. See more here.

As Jeremy Sampson, CEO of Travel Foundation, as one of the founding members, says on his LinkedIn: “The principles put particular emphasis on ensuring the often-overlooked voices of local communities are at the forefront of tourism development, and equipping local people with the opportunities and resources to lead conversations around tourism and its impacts on their home and livelihoods.”  

·    The consultancy company Toposophy has also put forward some of the task DMO´s will have with the realization that competition for public funding will become intense. Therefore, they say that the task of DMO´s will be to show that they are meeting city´s broader interest to be able to put them on a stable path to sustainable recovery.

 They also say in conclusion: “the Covid- 19 epidemic is beyond any crisis we´ve had to manage so far, and it has taught city DMO´s and their stakeholder that ´we´ are all in this together. For this reason, we believe that as people who know and care for their cities, have well -established communications channels and contacts, DMO´s are well place to be the ´great facilitator” in their destinations, supporting their stakeholders to support each other.” See more here.

As can be seen there are many that are wondering about the new role of DMO´s in our rollercoaster we are facing today. I mentioned in an article in April that in this crisis, my recommendations to DMO would be focusing on four things: bring good to the world, create crisis group and reassess the strategy, develop platform for cooperation and also network around the world. I still stand by this recommendation along with that it is clear that we will be building the new normal on good relationship with locals and other stakeholders, focus on the environment and communities, and in general on the UN Sustainable goals. In that, digitalization will also play important role. 

How is your destination and DMO coping now that we are further into the pandemic? Have you used any of the recommendations from those organizations and companies that have been mentioned above? What is useful for you to know and move forward as a DMO? I would be interested to hear as we are all in this rollercoaster together!

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