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ECM International Conference: What’s next for DMOs?

ECM International Conference: What’s next for DMOs?
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At the European Cities Marketing International Conference in Dubrovnik, May 31-June 3, 2017, a record number of 200 delegates from European cities met industry thought leaders and tourism academics from around the globe to debate and strategise the new normal in urban travel and tourism.

The new normal: DistURBANce in TRAVEL
Only now are the DMOs beginning to understand urban travel and tourism as one global marketplace under constant disturbance. DMOs navigate in a network of connected cities with an ever growing exchange of visitors seeking to become temporary locals, with seamless sharing of great moments and ideas of the good life, with many celebrations and urban events manifesting the popular identity of the city, with surging exports of entrepreneurial creations and commercial concepts. The new normal in urban tourism is a wonderland of opportunities, but it can also be a no man’s land for the DMOs that can’t or won’t engage.
During ECM International Conference, attendees started with a shared belief that the new normal is both creative and destructive. Constant change is the only constant.

Matthias Schultze, Managing Director of the GCB German Convention Bureau presented a session on the future of meetings with the presentation of their innovation network called “Future Meeting Space”. It looks into trends, innovations, and societal developments and their possible influence on the Meetings Industry. Matthias believes that “The unique selling point of a destination is expertise – if there is no expertise, there will be no events.”

About Hybrid meetings and events, Richard Torriani, COO of MCI Group insisted on the importance of creating hybrid meetings that merge virtual and face to face meetings. But regarding the technology part of these hybrid meetings, “it’s not about who attends, it’s about who engages”.

With the example of the Roskilde Festival, Per Ostergaard Jacobsen, Director & External Lecturer of Copenhagen Business School (CBS) stressed the importance of Big data on events. During the Festival they collected data from the visitors to analyse everything allowing better sales, more safety and cleaner toilets!

Fabrice Valentin, Head of Market Research & Forecasts at Airbus then presented Airbus’ 20-year Global Market Forecast showing that the global middle classes are taking to the skies in massive numbers especially in emerging countries but also revealing that air traffic doubles every 15 years.

The booming market of the Halal tourism was analysed by Fazaal Bahardeen, CEO of CrescentRating, showing impressive figures highlighting the volume it represents. There is a huge shift in the Muslim travel behaviour from families to millennials (Muslim millennials being the biggest segment of millennial travellers). By 2030, Muslims will occupy 25% of the world population and 50% of them will be under 30 years old. It’s important to note that other destinations will benefit from Halal travel in wake of Trump travel ban, but your destination must be ready for it!

Meet. Share. Grow.
Three member cities (Graz, Ljubljana and Reykjavik) highlighted their innovative approaches in City Showcases and Inspiration Lounges. From the implementation of a collaborative strategy by working with influencers to the sustainability of growing tourism, attendees were offered chances of learning from their peers.

The Future of DMOs – The ECM Manifest
In the frame of the Conference, European Cities Marketing launched The Future of DMOs – The ECM Manifest that looks at the daily changes and disruptions occurring in European tourism; it sets out a vision on how Destination Marketing Organisations (DMOs) can empower to take on a leading role in city marketing and management.

The sector of Destination Marketing has undergone several identity crises, resulting in name changes. Thus, the “Destination Marketing Organisation” (DMO) is becoming “Destination Development, Management and Marketing Organisation” (DDMMO). Of course we do not want to come up with another acronym but this is a way of describing the changes occurring in both Tourism Industry and Meetings Industry. DMOs require a much fuller and deeper coalition of destination partnerships to maintain the visibility of their destination as a great place to live, work, study and visit. With this holistic approach, there is for sure room for DMOs to engage not only towards leisure travellers but also with meetings, incentives conferences and events industry in a targeted way that meets the wider policy objectives of their city.

The freshly published The Future of DMOs – The ECM Manifest produced by European Cities Marketing (ECM) in collaboration with Toposophy, gives 8 principles around which, it recommends Destination Marketing Organisations to take a chance on their future.

The leitmotiv of the Manifest is the radical switch from external to internal, from outbound to inbound, from focus on visitors to focus on locals. If destination marketing used to be about appealing tourists, it is now a more complex undertaking which consists in beginning with the locals, making sure they feel good in their city building a quality of life for them. People are now appealed to destinations by the genuineness of the accessible local experiences: “In communicating who you are to the outside world, what matters most is how local people live and what they think makes their city unique…“. (Source: ECM Manifest)

From DMO to DDMMO?
It not enough to only market your destination, DMOs should also play a role in developing and managing it. It’s what makes DMOs become DDMMOs (Destination Development, Management and Marketing Organisation). “An extended horizon that includes destination development and management necessitates greater levels of alignment and partnership with other public and private enterprises within the destination.” (Source: ECM Manifest)

Building partnerships: a sign of strength
“Today, the most forward-thinking DDMMOs are re-inventing themselves primarily through building deep and meaningful partnerships. Whether it’s through teaming up with a local university to analyse data, rolling out a major campaign with an online travel agent, or building a political taskforce to tackle a specific issue, partnerships are essential for helping you get where you want to be.” (Source: ECM Manifest)

The seminar was coordinated and moderated by Peter Romer Hansen, Founder and CEO of Romer Agency.

All the participants deeply enjoyed the hospitality of the Dubrovnik team and the city itself: every nook and cranny of this Pearl of the Adriatic, as it is known, hiding a treasure! Its rich history, geographic location, mild climate and traditional hospitality and excellence in tourism make Dubrovnik a recognized high quality product on the international tourism markets.

ECM International Conference 2018 will take place in Malmo, Sweden, on June 13-16, 2018 and the focus will be on “The Meaning of Tourism”.

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