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Is Your DMO Metric Centric vs. Strategy Centric?

Issue # 17 (893 Words/4 Minutes)

Metric Centric Vs. Strategy Centric? Are DMOs Missing the Forest for the Trees?

“What we see depends mainly on what we look for.”

John Lubbock

Let's face it destination marketing organizations (DMOs) have become incredibly data-centric over the last 25 years. Years ago, it was only the very biggest DMOs and State tourism agencies that could even afford marketing research of any kind on a consistent or regular basis.

Most DMOs were relegated to information requests, phone calls, counting coupons, or business replies to cards inserted into magazines. Metrics were few and far between, and for some DMOs, it was challenging at funding time for that rare City Council person or county supervisor that asked how do we know what you're doing works?

Because of the continual need for accountability to justify their funding and, in some cases, their existence, they have developed an appetite for metrics. But has this culture of accountability come at the expense of focusing on organizational and competitive strategy?

Starting with the Internet and websites became the central marketing tool because they provided DMOs with a new way to reach the marketplace. As importantly, it provided DMOs with something they'd never had, a low-cost way to count things. Gone were tracking phone, calls, coupons, and business replies to cards, replaced by website visitors and impressions.

Fast forward to today, and DMOs have more metrics at their disposal than at any other time in history. DMOs have everything from lodging performance, volumes of information on website use, search engine optimization, economic impact, transient occupancy tax, and even how many people open a newsletter. With all this data, it was only natural that the Key Performance Indicator or "KPI" was developed, enabling DMOs to develop dozens of KPIs for even more metrics. Big data has also entered the DMO metric space with Zartico, Symphony, and and more. These organizations provide a comprehensive way to store and manage data for use in metrics. DMOs and their creative agencies, be it advertising, digital, or public relations, are all well versed in KPIs for the projects they're working on.

The industry has oriented itself around metrics. Everybody wants to be data-driven, and there is nothing wrong with being data-driven. Since DMOs have so many metrics at their disposal and many use outside agencies to supplement their staff, they have lost their focus and concentrated too much on being metric-centric at the expense of developing effective strategies.