Destination Marketing Action Planning—It’s Time to Tune Up

By David Allred

Destination Marketing Action Planning—It’s Time to Tune Up

Stamp has a long history of developing destination Marketing Action Plans (MAPs) for clients. Because of that experience, we have refined the process to help you navigate the complex and ever-changing ecosystem of lodging providers, meeting & event venues, shopping & dining opportunities, and attractions and help your DMO achieve its travel and tourism goals. Read time: 5 minutes 

Is it time for a marketing plan tune-up for your DMO? If so, a destination Marketing Action Plan (MAP) may be just the tool you have been searching for. Destinations are a constantly evolving ecosystem of lodging providers, meeting and event venues, shopping and dining establishments, and attractions. And these same stakeholders in your community expect their Destination Marketing Organization (DMO) to be charting a course/planning a route that will lead to success for their entity and for the overall destination your DMO serves. However, with the proliferation of marketing mediums and the potential to reach each target group that will influence your success with increasingly granular approaches, it is more important than ever to have a deliberate plan for your DMO’s marketing processes. A destination Marketing Action Plan (MAP) is a proven process that your team can undertake to define and prioritize the Who, What, Why, and How of a successful marketing plan. Following a MAP ensures that your organization is taking an organized and well-thought-out approach to executing a successful marketing program. While we’d love to help facilitate the creation of your MAP, below are several resources including the step-by-step process we go through with our clients that can help you (and your team) create this plan on your own.

Step 1 is listing the WHO.

Who are the Target groups that can influence your destination's success? Example Targets for a DMO to consider including on their MAP might be: leisure travelers, meeting planners, meeting attendees, business travelers, lodging providers, venues, attractions, restaurants, locals, even your DMO Board of Directors. What targets would you add to this list for YOUR destination?

Step 2 is defining the WHAT.

Think about what each of your target groups would need to do to play a role in the success of your DMO. Example Roles to consider including on the MAP under the Target Leisure Travelers might be: Generate room nights; dine out; visit attractions; enjoy nightlife; shop; attend events; share on social media; recommend to other people. The list goes on. Spend some time to fill out this section with specifics that match your area.

Step 3 is determining the WHY.

What does a target group need to believe about your destination in order for them to accomplish the roles that will result in your success? Beliefs for a DMO start to become much more specific to the attributes and advantages of your individual destination making it difficult to give a general example. But start by thinking about what a Leisure Traveler would need to believe about your town in order to plan a visit to your destination versus another.

Step 4 is identifying the HOW.

What should you do to communicate and/or reinforce the Beliefs that each Target Group must possess (required) in order for them to accomplish the Roles that will result in your success? Processes make up the foundation of your marketing plan. Examples could include a social media plan, website, PR efforts, collateral pieces, direct mail, etc. Once these Targets, Roles, Beliefs, and Processes have been created, make sure to prioritize them from most to least important. This will help you clearly evaluate if your current marketing plan is communicating effectively to the desired Targets, is developed to get them to act with the desired Roles and conceived so the targets Believe what you need them to in order for you to have success with them. The desired end result is to ensure that you maximize the impact of your office’s marketing efforts, and ultimately maximize your marketing budget.

It’s important to remember that destination Marketing Action Plans are never completely done. We often find ourselves saying that the MAP is a living, breathing document—returning often to add processes or reorganize the priority.

This comprehensive approach helps organize an easy-to-understand, executable and deliberate marketing plan to help your staff, board and stakeholders more fully understand what role your DMO plays on behalf of your respective community and what you are doing to accomplish those responsibilities. Over the last 10 years, Stamp has facilitated the development and annual re-assessment of over 200 Marketing Action Plans. In addition to plan development, our team has also developed a Marketing Action Planning seminar and leads Marketing Action Planning development how-to sessions at meetings and conferences. If you would like to discuss Stamp facilitating the development of a MAP directly with your DMO, please contact Susan Bryan to schedule a call.

Here are several resources you will find helpful in this process: Secrets to Effective Marketing Planning / Destination Marketing Action Plan Workbook / Destination Marketing Action Plan Cheat Sheet /  Destination Marketing Action Plan Worksheet