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So, Your DMO has a New Strategic Plan, Now What?

Issue #18 (706 words/3 Minutes)

"If you plan, that's a way to guarantee losing. If you do strategy, it gives you the best possible chance of winning."

Professor Roger Martin, University of Toronto

You have a new strategic plan you have spent months choreographing and spent a significant budget on; now what? Well, if Professor Martin is right in his thinking, now might be the perfect time to reevaluate the process and the plan. As I reviewed in Part 1 of this three-part series Strategy is Not Planning. What you may have in your new strategic plan is a list of your organization's expenditures, not a strategy to win on the competitive playing field.

A great place to start is how your organization formulates a new strategy. Clearly, the kinds of strategies that would work before 2020 have changed as we see today's very different market environment and moving forward.

The essence of this article is about developing your organization's strategy to fit the situation. The situation for most DMOs before 2019 was pretty consistent as the industry had experienced a tremendous run-up in success post-2008 recession, and for the most part, planning had become routine. There was a strong economy, and many DMOs had plenty of money for tourism promotion; many jurisdictions had recognized tourism as an essential part of economic development. The market had become very consistent and predictable. But all that changed.

Underneath that success, significant issues were lurking; Overtourism had emerged internationally and was emerging in this country, climate change was once seen as a hurricane here and tornado there, and for the most part, DMOs, went about their business of promoting in a very stable environment. That is until 2020 and COVID which brought about many changes all at once.

Since then, many destinations have been impacted by forces that have reshaped the industry. Some of these changes include the following: