DestinationNext’s Big Reveal and What It Means for DMOs

Condado Beach, Puerto Rico
Condado Beach, Puerto Rico

Meet Puerto Rico’s Annual Meeting kicked off this August with a trends analysis from DestinationNext, a two-phase initiative from Destination Marketing Association International (DMAI) designed to help DMOs and stakeholders navigate through a rapidly changing industry. DestinationNext surveyed 327 DMOs from 36 countries, with additional insights from a panel of industry and futurist—technology, economic, social and political—trends experts. Among the top key findings: 82 percent of DMOs are currently tasked with handling both leisure and MICE market segments. The big reveal could mark a new beginning in the way destinations market leisure and meetings, especially in regions that have historically tipped the scales to either side.

David Kliman of The Kliman Group expounded on this idea by calling for “consistent messaging between leisure and meetings—they should not compete.”

Of the top 20 trends identified by DestinationNext, 13 dealt with various aspects of technology, social media and customer expectations—from when, why and how to use big data to the planners’ preference for value and experience brands. The dawn of the ‘selfie’ marked a new tipping point for social media as ‘bragging rights’ were found to play a pivotal role in the success of meetings and events. Still, the resounding trend of the day challenged the long-held idea that a wider net catches the most fowl.

“The days of packaging and bundling experiences are over,” explained InterVISTAS Consulting’s Executive VP Paul Ouimet. “It’s time to focus on the areas where you can actually have an impact—best practices are now next practices.”

For its part, Meet Puerto Rico (MPR) seemed ahead of the game with the launch of a new Customer Advisory Board (CAB) in July. CAB is expected to mitigate critical sales, marketing and operational issues impacting Puerto Rico. Likewise, MPR’s “Escape the Conventional” campaign launched earlier this year is already leveraging experiential strategies to soften the divide between leisure and meetings. MPR’s strategies are on point—Puerto Rico has been selected to host 49 events through the rest of the year, including conferences, annual meetings and sports activities.

The impact of millennials on the travel industry held numerous implications for DMOs. “In five years, baby boomers will be deseated by millennials in buying power,” said CAB member Adam Hayes, manager meeting/event services at Procter & Gamble. With millennials officially taking the helm of travel purchases at a time when 1.65 billion people are expected to travel internationally, customer purchases will inevitably be driven by peer-to-peer recommendations instead of advertising.

“This notion of peer-to-peer, like-minded meeting professionals creates unintended, powerful synergies—they tend to trust each other,” Kliman said.

Oiumet saw this shift as an opportunity for DMOs to regroup and retarget. “To be successful, DMOs are going to have to evolve their business models,” he said, listing three main improvement opportunities: the switch from a broadcast to engagement model, building and protecting the destination brand and collaborating through technology and deeper involvement in economic development initiatives.

Phase two of DestinationNext is set to roll out over the next 12 months, promising DMOs a number of online analytical tools for finding destination trends that are happening in their segments.