Last week I attended Destination Marketing Association International’s 100th Anniversary Convention. Underlying many of the educational sessions was a dual sense of urgency and excitement. The urgency was that the world is moving at a faster pace, largely driven by technology, and DMOs need to be solidly in the run. With the multitude of ways travelers get information and make decisions, many Destination Marketing Organizations (DMOs) are rightfully concerned about being relevant. But there are those (like me) who are excited with the opportunities technology brings and the many resources to inform and assist the people we serve- visitors, meeting planners, travel trade, local citizens, industry partners, civic leaders and others.
At the conference, DMAI unveiled the first phase of DestinationNEXT, a project that helps DMOs grasp the many travel trends affecting them and a variety of ways to capitalize on those trends. It’s an excellent document that will be followed up with best practices and strategies. It sets the path to deal with the ever changing landscape in which DMOs thrive. For a more detailed synopsis of the project read Greg Oates excellent feature he penned for Skift.
Another central theme was the need to nurture future leaders of our industry and communities. DMAI has a “30 under 30” program that recognizes 30 rising DMO professionals under the age of 30. I had a chance to casually chat with about ten of them at the end of the event. Wow, what a sharp group! I asked for their opinions and they were not shy with their answers. They enjoyed the conference and showed interest in additional ways to connect and learn. As a member of DMAI’s Education Committee it was clear we had presented a good conference, but we need other ways to engage these future leaders after the convention is done. One idea they liked was a mentorship program with more experienced DMO professionals. Definitely we need to include them at the planning level to meet their future educational needs.
A highlight for me was the program that Lee Fisher of CEOs for Cities gave regarding what makes a vital city and how DMOs can be a catalyst and key player in making them so. His points reinforced my belief that we are actually Destination MANAGEMENT Organizations. CEOs for Cities is doing great work to help communities connect and engage.
The networking opportunities and discussions are always a favorite of mine. Getting a chance to chat with long time friends and colleagues is invaluable, priceless even. Technology is important but it will never replace or replicate one-on-one connections and conversations.
So as our industry turns the corner on 100 years, here’s to the next 100!