Today, the travel industry is a hyper-competitive landscape with new opportunities seeming to come online daily. In addition, the traveling consumer is becoming ever more savvy, fickle, and demanding. In this environment, what can DMOs do to thrive? Start by understanding the characteristics, preferences, attitudes, and opinions of your visitors and potential visitors. With this insight, you and your marketing partners will be able to make the best marketing decisions possible for the available marketing budget of your destination.
If you want your destination’s marketing efforts to be effective, market intelligence is the bedrock on which marketing decisions should be made.
4 Reasons Why Market Research Matters
Here are four reasons DMOs should rely on research to help create a tactically-driven marketing effort with vision, direction, and strategic focus:
- Objectivity – hiring a third-party research firm to build the best visitor profile of your historical and potential visitors allows you to transcend the subjective opinions of your stakeholders, partners, staff, attractions, etc. With this information, your DMO has an objective, reliable, third-party resource for making decisions about how to market and message to your best visitor prospects. The market research can also provide data that will help inform decisions related to which marketing channels (including online/digital, print, and more) to leverage most effectively. Hint: it is helpful to hire a researcher you and your strategic marketing partners can call regularly to “pick their brain” related to overall industry trends, questions about the primary research they performed for your DMO, and for informed opinions related to your DMO’s potential marketing directions and decisions.
- Perception – when it comes to visitors making decisions on where they should travel, perception is reality. Understanding how you are perceived in the travel marketplace helps define your brand position and can provide new ideas for targeting and messaging. Randomly sampling consumers in your top feeder markets to determine awareness levels and perceptions of your destination, as well as your destination’s top competitors, can help shine light on the way forward. Hint: once you have a clear picture of your perceived competitors, you can dig deep into their digital channels to gain insight to help set your destination’s marketing apart.
- Historical Data – many DMOs try to merely guess or imagine what their best visitors look like, who they are, how they think, where they live, etc. On the other hand, research-based persona development is based on your actual historical visitors, not those you think about anecdotally or hope you are getting – helping ensure you’re not missing the mark. Hint: digging deep into your website’s historical Google Analytics as well as the virtual treasure trove (pun intended) of historical analytics available related to your DMO’s digital marketing efforts can also help reinforce the research findings and help guide your future marketing efforts.
- Strategy – with a marketing plan that is rooted in solid research, you have the ability to put together a true strategic vision and focus that can guide all of your tactical marketing initiatives. The new-found integration and direction will carry you forward with renewed focus. Hint: as you build your DMO’s Marketing Action Plan, research can help provide powerful insight as you work to define the Required Beliefs of the target groups that will influence your success.
Destination Marketing Organizations have a significant role in stimulating tourism demand for their destination. As the expectations of travelers evolve, research allows DMOs to have the knowledge to position their destination strategically and compete effectively in today’s ever more challenging travel market. And as DMOs are increasingly under resource constraints, it is even more important that they rely on research to help ensure they utilize budgets as effectively as possible.