And why “(Open) Data” is needed for this.
The Influence of Digitalisation on the Tasks of a DMO
The abbreviation DMO once stood for Destination Marketing Organisation. The DMO concentrated on marketing the region by means of classic “push” advertising campaigns – print, radio, out-of-home, online marketing as well as press activities – in order to convince potential guests of its own region. As there were few alternative information providers, the DMO was able to control the image of the region well.
In the meantime, the majority of DMOs are defined as destination management organisations – a consequence of digitalisation and the associated changes in the tasks of a DMO.
Facebook was founded in 2004. The first iPhone appeared in 2007. Since 2014, movies can be watched in Germany via the streaming service Netflix. The game Pokémon Go send people into the streets in 2016. In the same year, the voice-based assistant Amazon Echo, better known as Alexa, appeared in Germany. Since 2018, it has been possible to make cashless and contactless payments in stores using your own smartphone via NFC (near field communication) technology, and e-scooters have been available for use in many cities since 2019. All of this is digitisation. And all of this has consequences. Also for tourism.
- Digitisation is fast and has an impact on all areas of life: Digitalisation influences how we live. It not only affects communication via social media, it changes the way we furnish our homes, our shopping habits, how we get around, how we work, how we travel. New providers, offers and opportunities are constantly emerging. Keeping an overview of this will become increasingly important for companies in the future in order to be able to take advantage of current developments.
- The amount of content and channels is increasing: digitalisation ensures that every individual person can put content online in addition to companies. This creates a constantly growing amount of content, which is distributed across different channels. Content shock is the result: there is more content than the customer can possibly consume. For inspiration and information for their journey, the customers choose contents and channels that suit them from the vast range of offers – but not necessarily the channels of the DMO. Consequently, others – especially the guests themselves – do the marketing. Thus, the DMO’s control function over the region’s published content is becoming less and less important, and the distribution of content is increasingly becoming the focus of attention.
- The dependence on external providers is growing: Relevant digital channels are mostly operated by large, globally active players (e.g. Facebook), which have a great deal of market power with their algorithms for playing out content. The same applies to search engines (e.g. Google). Instead of search hit lists with links to websites, these already provide concrete answers to users’ questions. Search engine optimisation to get the own website organically in the focus of the customer, therefore, works only conditionally and is strongly dependent on well prepared data. New strategies are necessary to ensure that your own content reaches the customer.
- Product quality is becoming more and more decisive: In order for tourism products and offers in the region to be interesting for potential guests, an above-average product quality is necessary. This is reflected in rating portals as well as publications on social media networks and convinces further potential guests to visit.
In order for products to be interesting for large online platforms, good quality is also necessary – good data quality. In order to ensure both, further training of tourism stakeholders is absolutely essential.
Guests come into contact with data throughout their entire customer journey – but hardly ever on the DMO’s channels. The customer journey graphic shows that guests already come into contact with data on various channels throughout their entire journey.
DMOs are also increasingly trying to accompany guests throughout their entire customer journey, but this requires the appropriate data. Thus, the DMO must offer customers creative products and services for which the customer is willing to disclose his personal data in return. In order to design these products and services, the DMO in turn needs the data from the region of POIs, events, visitor flows, etc. Currently, mostly guest cards or corresponding apps form this interface between customer data and destination data.
The new tasks of a DMO
In order to keep pace with digitalisation, the DMO must set an example of leadership in digital topics to the players in the region. The same applies to the management level of the DMO towards its own team. This requires a fundamentally open attitude that reacts positively to new developments and is curious about them. The results of digital developments are not always predictable, which is why trust in one’s own team and an open culture of failure are also fundamental.
The DMO must ensure that appropriate and correct information is available on all channels and that it can be used by the various platforms as well as the (tourist) stakeholders in the region. Instead of marketing on its own channels, the DMO thus becomes the curator and distributor of existing content as well as the person responsible for quality assurance.
Knowledge of new trends and developments, as well as the requirements for collecting and maintaining data, must be shared within the region. The DMO is therefore increasingly responsible for the “digital” training of (tourism) service providers. The aim is to impart both general knowledge and practical application. Networks and joint offers with organisations such as DEHOGA, the IHKs etc. are necessary in order to be able to offer on-site workshops and individual coaching, as well as location-independent webinars or e-learning offers.
However, it is not only about continuing education in terms of trends and current developments. As product quality becomes more critical and transparent, the DMO needs to help service providers create high-quality experiences on the ground. By means of data, it is then a matter of linking suitable offers with each other and directing visitors accordingly. This requires live data on numbers of visitors and visitor flows, which provide information on the capacity utilisation of the establishments. The DMO should support the service providers in generating the data as well as monitoring and adding value to it.
“Open Data” supports the DMO in its new tasks
- The content reaches the guest: concrete answers to queries via smart assistants or search engines, integrated data in (tourist) apps or even the display of data on screens in hotels or in tourist information are a result of Open Data. Structuring the data ensures that it can also be used for future technologies. The data collected will thus provide more points of contact with the guest and support improved information and service offerings. The basis for this is that open data can be displayed on various output devices and channels and can be used separately from the DMO’s own channels.
- Higher reach: More users are reached with the same effort for the production of the content. Thanks to the consistent structure and lack of restrictions on usage rights, open data can be used by a wide range of players: local tourism service providers, partners, global players, start-ups, etc.
- New products & services: The linking of freely available data offers completely new possibilities for the design of offers: For example, it is possible to create an automated advertising of experiences according to the current weather forecast and occupancy rate from combined weather data and guest figures from the past. An on-site environment search provides concrete tips based on current opening hours and the preferences of the guest. The combination of weather data with visitor flows will ensure better visitor guidance in the future. It is precisely this – not necessarily foreseeable – combination of data that can form the basis for new products and services.
- Lower costs: Several partners can use the same data (e.g. texts, photos, videos, but also address, route data, etc.) that has been purchased or produced by one company or organisation. This means that only one-off costs are incurred for the production, storage and maintenance of the data. The use of open data thus creates added economic value for the entire region.
- More efficiency through the use of external data: However, the added value of open data for a DMO does not only result from the redistribution and utilisation of its own data. Likewise, external open data can help increase efficiency within your own organisation. This could be, for example, adapted content on your own website or in the e-mail newsletter based on current weather data.
How data ends up with the guest.
Looking at the extensive importance of data to the work of a DMO in the context of emerging digitalisation, it becomes clear that the DMO is moving towards becoming a data management organisation. Accordingly, the DMO must accept the tasks associated with this topic for itself and create the necessary conditions for it: Knowledge is the most important aspect along with digital value chain determining the (digital) success of a destination in the future.
Kristine Honig is a consultant and network partner at Realizing Progress (formerly Tourism Future). She advises and supports tourism companies with their strategy, storytelling and the organisation of barcamps.
More about the person at: https://www.realizingprogress.com/kristine-honig