It seems like every day I see more evidence that destination marketing organizations (DMOs) in the USA are under greater threat of extinction than ever before. The diminishing role of print and broadcast advertising, the ready availability of new sources of unbiased destination information and new distribution systems all challenge the DMO to redefine the value that they add for the community. They must not only adjust to reduced budgets, but also avoid the oncoming technological and consumer behavior changes that are totally reshaping the game. Added to that, there are now previously unseen competitors and alternatives that threaten to replace them. Never before has the relevance and role of DMOs been as hotly debated.
It’s not hard to find DMOs that have had their budgets decimated or even worse are closing their doors. In most cases, this is extremely short-termed thinking where the objective has been to balance the City’s bottom line because of shortfalls in taxes and revenue. Cities that are serious about economic development and tourism, and the long term prosperity and growth of their communities need their DMO and stellar reputation for their city like never before. However, it will be necessary for the DMO to adjust its focus, role and the way that it operates. They must become brand managers on behalf of the city. Part Two tomorrow.