During its Annual Convention DMAI and industry leaders discussed the highly anticipated 2012 DMO Marketing Activities Study – the first-ever benchmark study focuses on DMO marketing practices primarily in the leisure market – and how it can help shape marketing agendas of U.S. based DMOs from the smallest town and largest state to the new national tourism board, Brand USA.
“Until now there hasn’t been a definitive, comprehensive study about how destinations are investing their marketing dollars and why,” said Michael D. Gehrisch, president & CEO of DMAI. “It was critical to create a study that would give the industry this vital information to better shape their marketing agendas. On a national level, this is a really great snapshot of what marketing needs are being met or underserved.”
Commissioned by DMAI and funded by the Destination & Travel Foundation, the study provides key insights into the marketing strategies and spending of 240 DMO respondents from around the country, with budgets ranging from $15,000 to well over $20 million. The 31-page report covers crucial themes such as: how budgets are deployed; traditional and digital marketing mediums and initiatives; international marketing efforts; current and future website applications and integration; and mobile websites and destination apps. One major finding was that DMO allocation of online leisure marketing budget is generally in line with the way U.S. adults consume media each week. Although television still accounts for 40 percent of media consumption, more than three-fourths multitask online while watching.
“This study comes at a critical crossroads in our industry,” Gehrisch said. “With the recent launch of Brand USA, and the creation of the first national travel and tourism strategy for the United States, we’re poised for enormous growth. However, the industry has been hindered by lack of comprehensive, centralized information on marketing practices. This study gives all DMOs, vital information in terms of investments and technological trends. This information will help us to evolve and more effectively compete in the global marketplace.”
During the Industry Spotlight session, , pioneering DMAI leaders and CEOs from various DMOs highlighted a few key findings from the study, sparking conversations about the state of the industry, the necessity of innovation and key drivers for DMO relevance. Among the main insights is that while traditional marketing mediums still command a sizeable portion of DMO marketing budgets, DMOs are making significant investments in digital marketing, spending more than $39 million in websites and mobile app development in the last three years.
Another interesting finding was that half of responding DMOs market internationally, and those who do so invest one-third of their marketing budget outside of the U.S. The most popular countries where DMOs are marketing their brand to potential customers are Canada, the United Kingdom and Germany. In order to reach these and other global consumers, more than ever DMOs are integrating their online activities, especially social media, into their overall marketing efforts. Banner ads and search engine marketing dominate the online spending landscape, and almost all responding DMOs said they were present on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
Since consumers are demanding increasingly sophisticated content and functionality, DMOs are spending more and more on their destination websites and mobile websites. More than three-fourths of DMOs use a Content Management System (CMS) and almost one-half have at least one staff person devoted to website content management. Almost all DMOs have or plan to have a mobile version of their website available by the end of 2012. The development of destination apps is also progressing – about half of DMOs have or plan to have one ready to launch by the end of 2012.
“We’re looking forward to the industry using this important study – the first of its kind in the U.S. – as a tool in growing the $1.8 trillion domestic travel industry, which supports more than 14 million jobs in local communities and states across the nation,” Gehrisch said. “Due to great feedback from the meeting, we are planning on creating international editions in the future.”
On average, DMOs' marketing investment mirrors the leisure and business travel market mix in the US with leisure travel dominating, representing 77% of all domestic visitors and 74% of all overseas visitors. On average, two-thirds of a DMO's marketing budget is allocated to leisure market activities. This percentage, however, rises to 83% among smaller destinations, typically less involved in the meetings and conventions market. Though this study primarily focuses on DMO leisure marketing, several additional research resources, made available by DMAI and the Foundation, provide insight into other areas of DMO resource allocation and investment.
To purchase the 2012 DMO Marketing Activities Study, which costs $350 for members and $490 for non-members, go to DMAI’s Product Store at www.destinationmarketing.org. The study, given as an in-kind contribution to Brand USA, was hosted by Mandala Research and authored by Ruth Trojan of Nadler & Associates.