One of the inquiries I often receive from DMOs is how to increase stakeholder engagement? One of the best examples I have seen of an engaged and educated board and group of stakeholders was during a recent In-Market MAP development session for one of our Destination Marketing Organization (DMO) clients.
The CVB director had strategically scheduled our in-market MAP development FAM tour for the two days just prior to our MAP development board working session. And this board working session was scheduled on the morning of their regularly scheduled monthly stakeholder luncheon. Because of how this was all lined up, the Stamp team was also able to facilitate the stakeholder group in a discovery/development session over lunch following the morning meeting with the board.
The goals for everyone who attends these initial sessions are to: 1. Have an understanding of what the MAP development process includes and what the final MAP deliverable is going to resemble. 2. Understand what our role in the MAP development process is/that we were in the destination for the FAM tour and to kick-off to the MAP development process. 3. And, most importantly, to have the board and other stakeholders be able to contribute openly to helping to shape their destination’s Marketing Action Plan (MAP). Because of the way these sessions worked out, we were able to accomplish all 3 goals with each group.
Approximately 45 days later, we returned to the destination for the final MAP presentation and refinement session. Again, we met with the board first and there was a healthy dialog with a refreshingly informed group. We then presented the finalized plan (including the board’s input) during the luncheon with the stakeholder group and also interacted with an interested and engaged group in an open discussion focused on what we always say is the reason we are building the MAP in the first place—to grow occupancy.
Kudos to this DMO director for having a scheduled monthly stakeholder’s lunch meeting in the first place—making the effort to regularly invite interaction, facilitate networking and encourage collaboration among stakeholders is an exercise well worth the effort. IMO, if at all feasible, this sort of programming should be at the top of the list of stakeholder engagement efforts.
Planning these meetings on a rotation that allows for visits to ten or so different “attractor” locations per year is ideal. This allows other stakeholders to see that they are part of a bigger “visitor ecosystem” and gives them exposure once a year to what actually makes their place somewhere people want to spend the night. Consider making three of these meetings at hotels, four at more traditional attractors, and three at locally-owned restaurants. Depending on the number of options you would want to feature over time, you can rotate locations on a two- or three-year schedule. This will also allow you to feature new locations as they open.