What three insights were your key takeaways from the conference?
- The digital landscape means there is no excuse for DMOs (Destination Marketing Organisations) marketing blindly without an evidence base.
- Many problems and opportunities we face as an industry are similar in each country. I found this particularly with the Visitor / Welcome Centers stream.
- I am going to listen more to some of our younger tourism professionals. I think sometimes those who have been in the industry are guilty of stunting their creativity.
Many of the attendees were DMOs from within USA. Are they happy campers at the moment?
Yes. They are in the wonderful position of being funded to the extent that they can inform decisions via market research. Many DMOs work closely with their local universities. This is something that should happen more in Asia Pacific.
What discussion topics kept coming up outside the program sessions?
ROI, ROI, ROI. Risk and disaster management was also a big topic, considering the prevalence of natural disasters.
Was lack of DMO budget a big subject?
No, because in the US there is a bed tax that directly links tourist expenditure to DMO budgets.
What were the causes for enthusiasm or optimism among DMOs you talked with?
Technology and the digital marketing space. Measurable metrics, reviews and social media sharing have all allowed destination marketers to be more flexible and adapt to changing external environments.
Are DMOs up to speed on how Google’s algorithms are changing travel search results?
Yes. Most of them use progressive digital agencies whose job it is to keep on top of these things. TheVienna Tourist Board showed clear evidence of being up to speed with their amazing rebranding campaign. The Utah Office of Tourism is also doing great things in the digital marketing space.
Which sessions were you really impressed with?
I was really impressed with the Clemens Koltiringer of the Vienna Tourist Board and its use of open innovation in shaping Vienna’s 2020 Tourism strategy. Also, Kara Gau for the University of Montana did a great little study on the significance of visitor spending on locally produced goods and services.
Were there any that were as dry as old bones?
I am really happy to say no! It is the first travel and tourism conference I have been to where I have learnt lots. Too many conferences now are sales pitches, which personally I find insulting. I am there to learn and I learnt all through the TTRA conference. I would highly recommend it to others.
As a result of the conference which subjects do you intend to address more in your MyTravelREsearch.com work?
We found some amazing students doing highly innovative research. We plan to help publicize their work through MyTravelResearch.com blogs and webinars. We aim to bring new and innovative travel researchers to our members and readers.