Nobody had it easy. No one. Our memories remain vivid and dramatic. They can freeze us from progress and threaten to drag us further away from where we started.
We must relax, think, and then swim parallel to the riptide in order to swim safely back to shore for another go. Resist the initial reaction to panic for often the best passage in the unconventional one.
Riptides represent 80% of lifeguard saves and over 100 people die annually. Those are the statistics. This tells you “What” has happened. It’s good to know that this is a danger, but why do some people die? Why do some people survive?
Stop trying to swim back straight back to shore. Stop reporting for reports sake. The questions from your Boards, Elected Officials and Stakeholders require a deeper understanding of “Why.” That is how we survive a riptide.
Over the past few months I came across three Destination Marketing Organizations who didn’t panic, swam parallel to the shore, and not only survived but thrived. And they knew “Why.”
Destination Niagara USA
After reviewing their geolocation movement data over the 4th of July holiday, Destination Niagara USA learned that their biggest city for overnight visitation was nearby Buffalo, NY. The interesting thing was they weren’t staying in hotels, they were staying overnight in campgrounds. Instead of dismissing the group because they weren’t staying in hotels and possibly bringing their own food, the DMO embraced the opportunity to work with new campground partners. Destination Niagara USA has proactively reached out to the campgrounds to come up with incentives to extend the stay in the area and have the campers explore more local shops and restaurants.
It’s the elephant in the room. The main reason visitors come to your destination is the local university. Try as you will to diversify and showcase everything else your community provides, the school still draws the highest visitation. The team at Visit Stockton saw this as an opportunity to connect with students and parents in different ways. Working with Pacific University, the DMO will begin exploring joint marketing efforts to not only recruit students but to offer incentives for campus visitors to explore other neighborhoods. Both the University and the DMO are working together to help improve the experience of both residents, visitors and students within the community.
Missouri Division of Tourism
There is no better time for a sports fan than autumn. Rabid football fans travel all over the country to support their team. But where do they stay? Do they visit restaurants and bars or just tailgate? The State of Missouri has begun looking at visitation patterns to their college football games and the NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs. They want to know how many visitors come from the opponent’s home towns and if they travel around to all that the State of Missouri has to offer. This could open up new markets for the DMO, help with creative strategies and tell a more complete story of the Fall Time traveler. Instead of Missourians asking to “Show Me”... they’re going to “Show Them” what smart research and marketing can do for a destination.
Getting caught in a riptide can be scary and disorientating. It’s inspiring to learn from our peers who were going against the tide but remained calm, swam away from the current and found inventive ways to go back out to market. Be creative, embrace unconventional thinking and have the guts to carry it out. The ocean is full of untamed opportunities, get back out there and swim.