Destination Marketing Organizations (DMOs) and Convention and Visitors Bureaus (CVBs) market destinations for leisure and business travelers. These organizations are private or funded by grants and subsidies from the state and/or hotel room taxes. There over 10,000 such organizations in the United States and other countries have similar organizations to promote leisure and business tourism.
Travel has been one of the first industry to adopt Internet. Arcane global distribution systems (GDSs) such as Galileo, Amadeus, or Pegasus existed prior to Internet to facilitate global airline, hotel and car reservations. Consumers would call a travel agent who had access to these GDS systems for travel reservations. Expedia, Travelocity, Orbitz and other online travel agents (OTAs) that retired even the most proficient human travel agents. With over 90% of the US consumers online for travel related purchases according to Hitwise, an Experian company, DMOs and CVBs are still struggling to define their changing roles.
But when it comes to transactions such as booking a flight, hotel or car, OTAs rule. These are transaction-oriented sites where you go when you know where you are going. Expedia, which came out of Microsoft, started this business with $600MM advertising campaign before a single transaction was processed on Expedia.com. DMOs and CVBs do not have such a budget, but their ability to influence consumer choices is still there.
A critical issue with these organizations is that they are member-based. They get funding from the members (hotels, attractions, etc.) and therefore they attend to their needs directly. Although chartered to increase "heads in beds", their ability to connect with travelers is hindered by their existing technology-anemic infrastructure that is not ready for Web 2.0 savvy travelers. Some of these organizations are still struggling with their web site updates and member listings, and forget to garner a real understanding of best casinos online their customers.
DMOs and CVBs need a technology boost and a proper positioning in the market place so that they can reach their Web 2.0 savvy customers effectively.They need to abandon what they have been doing in the past and become more focused on their customers.
They also need to outsource their IT infrastructure. They need best-of-need technologies for search, content management, commerce, GDS integration, and community. They need to dump their "official" destination information coming from their members and start listening to what customers are saying to them directly. They need to help shape this discussion about their products with their customers and really become brand promotors in this "conversation economy".
At LMD Consulting, we have built global brands for our destinations customers (e.g., DiscoverAmerica and Gozaic). Please review our iConversation framework which is our prepackaged solution for the destinations to migrate from the offline to the online world of travel.