Trendspotting at DMAI’s 2016 Annual Conference

By Kelsey Ogletree, August 5, 2016

Airlift has been, is and always will be a major make (or break) for DMOs. When asked about what’s new in their cities, many CVB executives I spoke with talked about new flights the way a kid might share about his puppy. While it sounds funny to get excited about air travel these days, direct routes can be game changers for a destination—take a new direct from New York City to Sydney (coming soon, promises Paul M. Griffin, business events manager of Americas for Tourism Australia), for example. After all, even the most beautiful hotel at the most affordable price isn’t going to work if you can’t get attendees there.

The business of sports events is bigger than ever. DMO professionals on-site frequently cited large-scale sporting events as major moneymakers; furthermore, they talked about the tremendous marketing opportunity those events provide. “You’re on the grand stage,” says Mark Vaughan, executive vice president and chief sales and marketing officer at Atlanta CVB, of events like the College Football Playoff National Championship (coming to Atlanta in 2018), Super Bowl LIII (2019) and the NCAA Men’s Final Four (2020). Likewise, the 35th America’s Cup, not taking place until summer 2017, has already been a huge boon for Bermuda, giving it credibility as a destination for other sports events, says Jamel Hardtman and Karin A. Darrell with Bermuda Tourism Authority.

Smaller destinations sometimes face an uphill battle with hotel revenue managers, especially in highly seasonal regions, explains Mark Crabb, chief sales officer with California’s Sonoma County Tourism. “We’re competing with the transient industry,” says Crabb. “Business is being turned down for groups because they’d rather sell it to a visitor coming into town last-minute on a higher ADR.” Contributing to the higher room rates that often turn groups off was minimal building during the last recession, notes Crabb, which has led to hotel supply falling short of demand in Sonoma County.

Photo credit: @meetDMAI

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