If there’s one thing good that came out of 2020 it will go down as the year that Tourism Boards & Destination Marketing Organisations started to pay more attention to the needs of their operators.

Pre 2020, DMOs were the gatekeepers of the destination’s marketing. It makes sense, right? Someone has to tie it all together. If you don’t, who is going to publish whats-on, list the key operators and experiences on one website – THE WEBSITE – that is trusted by visitors. How can people possibly make informed decisions about the destination without one source of truth? THE SOURCE OF TRUTH, did I say…. TRUSTED BY VISITORS.

DMOs have been incredibly slow to realize that Destination Marketing Organisations and Tourism Boards don’t control the destination brand. *Mind Blown?*

Naturally, you are probably already thinking – ‘of course we do, if not us, who?’

2020 has highlighted a clear mandate for DMOs. If operators (tourism businesses) don’t exist, you may as well not have a DMO either.

A natural asset can sit there, visited by tens of thousands annually but if you don’t have the infrastructure, people, and businesses supporting it there’s no economic impact. There’s no reason to stop, stay, and spend more. If there’s no economic impact there’s no community. You get the point.

The fact is, all brands, are not actually controlled by anyone.

“It’s a person’s gut feeling about a product, service, or company.” (from “Brand Gap, Revised Edition, The” by Neumeier Marty)

We can influence it, and we should, but we don’t control it.  It is a gut feeling living in visitors, potential visitors, or customers of your business.

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If I asked you, how are you going to influence the destination’s brand, naturally you would say deliver remarkable experiences on the ground. Meet the brand promise. The conclusion…

The job of the DMO/Tourism Board is to help their businesses be better.

Imagine the impact you would achieve if your sole focus was to help your industry create amazing products and experiences? Delight their customers. Reach further with their marketing. Differentiate from one another. Run more events. Provide world-class service. Make memories. Collaborate with each other. Come together to support the destination’s brand promise within the visitor (the gut feeling).

This (tourism businesses) is the horse. The cart is destination marketing. Not the other way around.

Successful destinations of the future will be the ones who nurture and support their industry to build and deliver a remarkable experience for the visitor.