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Welcome to 2024!

“A smooth sea never made a skilled pirate.”

                                                                                                Franklin Delano Roosevelt

I hope this finds you well as you settle into the new year. As the new year kicks off, I thought I would offer a few thoughts to get your mind going. The tourism industry has always been dynamic, but recent shifts have accelerated the pace of change even more. With emerging trends and shifting consumer behaviors, DMOs must understand and adjust to these changes to stay competitive and relevant in the evolving marketplace. Below, I outline some of the marketplace changes that are worth noting.  


v  Most visitors get it. They seek authentic experiences that reflect their preferences and values but in your destination. Tourism organizations must invest in using new approaches to understanding who visitors are and how they define themselves. Hint: demographics and personas are no longer enough.  


v  Sustainable tourism. By now, most destinations have decided to address stewardship and sustainability, or they haven't. If your organization has, the lesson learned is to develop a coherent strategy that a DMO can handle. Stay away from leading the charge, but do your part in helping to address the issues. Stay in your lane and do what your organization does best.


v  The rise of the residents.  Residents have become increasingly powerful in influencing politicians to shape tourism policy in recent years. The key is to develop community-centric strategies that harness residents and let them know that your organization is there to protect their interests. I'd resist continual efforts to try and prove to them the value of tourism as that approach is old and tired. It may work with politicians, at least for a while, but not with residents.


v  Housing and wages. One of the chronic issues that tourism destinations face is a lack of workforce or affordable housing for tourism industry employees and the wages with which industry workers are paid. For years, housing was available, and wages were low. That equation no longer works, as workforce housing has become much less available, and wages have not kept pace. While wages have risen, they will need to continue to rise to bring employees back to provide the service levels that visitors expect. The good old days for business owners and operators are in the rearview mirror.


v  The institutional investor. Recognizing the role of often overlooked institutional investors in tourism destinations is essential. Corporate interests own many tourism destination elements, from attractions to the lodging industry to ski resorts.  While they may profess to be customer-driven, those companies are primarily focused on institutional investors. It's time to recognize that institutional investors seek increased revenues and reduced costs every year, which will impact your destination. Their interests are often not aligned with employees and the visitor experience.


v  Technological advancements continue unabated. The tourism industry has seen a continual increase in the impact of technological advancements. Technological advancements like artificial intelligence, big data analytics, and blockchain are reshaping the tourism industry. Tourism organizations should embrace these advancements and invest in the necessary infrastructure and expertise to stay competitive or risk becoming less competitive. Watch how Artificial Intelligence impacts the industry over the next six months. 


v  The airline industry is trying to find a suitable model. The airline industry is in constant flux with route changes, pricing, and aircraft sizes and are continually being modified as airlines seek to find the mix needed to make money. These changes will significantly impact small and large tourism destinations, so be ready to adjust.


These are just a few things at the top of my mind heading into 2024. There are more to come….Nobody said being a pirate was easy.


Have a great new year!!!

Take Another Path

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