THE ROLE OF DMOs IN THE FUTURE
In this article, we tried to look into the near future of tourism and predict what DMOs should do in the era of digital transformation and tourism 4.0.
As far as we know, a stable structure of interaction between the state and tourists through the DMO (Destination Marketing Organization) has developed all around the world.
Different countries may have some differences, but the scheme remains the same: the state finances DMO, DMO conducts various marketing activities and activities to attract tourists to the country. At the same time, the activities of DMO are mainly estimated by the number of overnight stays or the number of tourists arriving.
At some point in time it made sense, but the technological structure is changing. Following the 4th technological revolution, the interaction scheme should be adjusted.
1. Nowadays, even small businesses have begun to care less about counting the number of visitors in order to evaluate the quality of the traffic. If we take stores for example, they no longer need a crowd of customers who walk between shop windows and buy nothing. It needs people with certain income who want the offered products. Otherwise, quite expensive marketing efforts and advertising will not justify the expenses. Therefore, the cost of attracting a customer may be higher than the profit from it.
If we project this situation on tourism, the policy of attracting everyone leads to overtourism and filling the destination with people who have little interest about culture, history, museums, although the main purpose of tourism is to exchange the cultural code. Accordingly, these tourists spend little, often stay illegally in rented appartments, overload the urban infrastructure and cause discontent among local residents.
And here we become to understand the importance of changing analytics and evaluating the activities of DMOs. Governments need to know not only how many tourists are attracted to the country using allocated advertising budget, but also about the quality of touristic traffic ensured, what the involved tourists did, how much they spent and where.
In other words, DMOs should become centers for the analysis of touristic information, which is consistent with the concept of tourism 4.0 in the Bigdata area.
2. While many businesses are monitoring their online reputation very closely, looking for citations and acknowledgements on the Internet, it seems that DMOs pay little attention to this. Given the current state of things, it really does not make sense, because assessment of DMO performance is estimated by the number of visits, overnight stays and arrivals.
However, the current influence of social networks and review sites such as TripAdviser is so great that the importance of feedback cannot be underestimated. Moreover, many studies show that people trust the direct advertising less, while real reviews from people who have visited this place are trusted more.
In our opinion, the role of DMO is to be a monitor and keeper of the destination’s online reputation. They should carefully monitor what they write on social networks and review sites, and interact with local tourism-related businesses. We are not talking about any sanctions in case of bad reviews, but rather about the qualified assistance of DMOs with the correct representation of businesses on the Internet.
3. There is another problem in the destinations, which only few try to solve. This is the correctness and preciseness of posting information about attractions, tourist businesses, restaurants, etc. .. In addition to tourists who experience problems when they can not find any information on the Internet, no one pays attention to this problem. Although the main feature of Smart tourism is precisely this: is it possible to travel through destinations with only a smartphone and the Internet?
DMOs could constantly monitor information posted on the Internet and help local businesses do it correctly.
DMOs can become some kind of “online consultants” for local museums, restaurants and travel agencies
Our company can help with this matter and conduct an online audit of the destination, more details here.
4. The language problem is still relevant, despite the efforts of DMOs. In our opinion, if we just talk about walking around the city, this is still bearable. But when it is about cultural exchange, the language barrier can become a big obstacle.
Technologies of automatic mobile audio guides, for example izi.TRAVEL, can be helpful. Our experience includes 3 years of work on this platform and more than 3 million tourists appreciated its importance and convenience, using this platform more or less constantly. The production of audio guides that tourists download to their smartphones is set up remotely, so no one needs to go anywhere. Details here.
But there is a problem of financing the content creation, because the better the content, the more expensive it is. However, the quality of content directly affects the quality of tourism in the destination and its overall image in the eyes of tourists.
DMOs could become customers of touristic content in different languages, which will be posted on the Internet, bringing the era of smart tourism closer – i.e. when a tourist does not need anything other than a smartphone and the Internet.
5. Despite the common recognition of the problem, the access of tourists to the Internet remains problematic as before. In some countries, a special authorization and registration procedure is required when buying a SIM card. Also it is not always convenient for a modern tourist to change their main SIM card to a guest one.
DMOs can provide significant assistance to tourists, becoming a kind of Internet provider. There are several ways to do this, for example:
establish Internet access points in visit centers,
establish Internet access points in the city, for example, in the form of curbstones, and finance their maintenance through advertising placed on them,
connect tourists via roaming to special guest plans,
organize the production and sale of travel SIM cards.
There are other ways to solve this problem, however, someone should deal with it systematically. In our opinion, who can do it better than DMO?
We beleive that even these small changes can advance DMOs into the future and accelerate the digital transformation in tourism. Moreover, the faster one DMO holds these events, the faster it will receive a larger number of targeted tourists, and, sooner or later, become leaders in tourism around the world
At the same time, it is obvious that a change in the technological structure will force DMOs to transform from marketing to consulting and information organizations. This has been discussed for a long time: DMO – Destination Management Organization.
Conclusion. In our opinion, in the near future the task of DMOs will not be selling and advertising destinations, but rather competent management for the greatest comfort and awareness of tourists. Our company is ready to help all DMOs in the world in the digital transformation of destinations.