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On the List for Consideration

Thursday, January 15, 2015

After the last DMAI Future Study in 2008, leadership at the Durham CVB took the bones of a graphic in that report that attempted to define all the things for which Destination Marketing Organizations should be engaged and customized it. Their version of what was dubbed “The Maltese Cross” by some has always been my favorite version...and we’ve shown it to a number of our clients over the ensuing years during Strategic Planning retreats across the country (see it HERE).

While there are a lot of similarities to the DMAI version, the Durham change-up that captured my imagination appeared in the very top “Mission” box. Where the DMAI language was “Inform, Educate and Advise the Visitor,” this version added, “Get Durham on the List for Consideration.”

On the List for Consideration. Not book more meetings. Not increase Hotel Occupancy. The Durham CVB’s role is to get its community on the “list for consideration.”

As I look back, I am struck by how visionary that bold statement was...and continues to be under Shelly Green's guidance. Six years ago, it encapsulated the concept that DMOs should be more about brand management and outreach than counting room nights for which they could attempt to claim responsibility.

Today, it has taken on an even bigger meaning, as there needs to be an agency in every one of our communities dedicated to getting Millennials to test drive our destinations. Because, as the elder cohort of this generation begins to put down roots, they won’t consider a place they haven’t visited. If we want the best and the brightest young professionals to choose our communities, the DMO is the agency best positioned to make that happen. To get on the list for consideration.

Resonance Consultancy recently published their U.S. Place Equity Index 2015 in which they use 6 data points to gauge destinational “Quality of Place.” Their underlying thesis: Today, it is increasingly quality of place that determines where talent, capital and tourism flows. We would add a seventh (level of taxation) based on Travis Brown’s breakthrough book How Money Walks...but that’s for another post.

It’s natural to grab a report like this and look for one’s hometown. How did we do? And, for Madison (which makes an inordinate amount of Top Ten Lists), Resonance ranks us as 50th. Not as good as Portland, Charlotte and Pittsburgh...but better than Charleston, Savannah and Louisville. But, as the 84th largest city in the nation, being ranked 50th means we are punching significantly above our weight class.

Whether you agree with Resonance’s methodology or not, we found some of their rating criteria compelling: Number of Google searches for each community and the ratings of culinary, cultural and nightlife amenities from TripAdvisor and Yelp, among others.

The very way that Millennials gauge, measure and judge their options.

It's time for DMOs to focus on creating experiences, content and messaging that target Millennials. If our communities covet the best and brightest young professionals, there's no one else better equipped to tell that story. 

And, our communities deserve no less.

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