The DMO Download
A weekly digest for those who market and manage destinations.
A Big Tourism Wave Is on Its Way
by Paige Schamberg
Boost Your Destination Know-how
Happy spring! This week, learn about how to sell experiences to LGBTQ+ travelers, check out a new online course about sustainable destination management, prepare yourself for the big tourism wave this summer and more. Keep reading to equip yourself with the latest destination news and resources.
What DMOs Need to Know About LGBTQ+ Travel
The annual travel spend for LGBTQ+ travelers was over $218 billion pre-pandemic. This represents a huge number of travelers, even post-pandemic, and it is a hugely underserved market. But, this segment is looking for the same thing other travelers are looking for: a safe and welcoming travel experience. However, safety considerations go even further with individuals in this community. Sexual orientation and gender expression are marginalized in some places, meaning many travelers can experience anxiety about going to the bathroom, sharing a hotel room and showing public displays of affection.
Despite those challenges, the LGBTQ+ community still desires travel, and tourism organizations should consider their specific needs while valuing individual travelers. Aurelio Giordano of Ace World Travel explains:
“A lot of consciousness and awareness needs to come into play when serving this community,” Giordano added. “The travel industry views LGBTQ+, community predominantly through the lens of their sexual orientation or gender identity. But it’s wanderlust that causes them to travel, not being gay or bi or trans. Tourism boards need to reshape and understand that this community is just like everyone else in that they want to have the most authentic travel experiences.”
When marketing to this kind of traveler, it’s important to note these nuances in your approach. Make sure that there are options available for LGBTQ+ travelers, without singling them out or giving them stereotypical experiences. This will separate your destination’s offerings from another and provide your LGBTQ+ visitors with a positive travel experience that will bring them back again and again.
A ‘Sustainable Tourism Destination Management’ Course Is Equipping Professionals
Cornell University is partnering with the Travel Foundation for a “first-of-its-kind” online course to equip destination professionals with the skills and knowledge needed to get ahead in 21st-century tourism. Developed from the original report published by the two partners, “Destinations at Risk: The Invisible Burden of Tourism,” which covers how destinations have struggled to manage the growth and impacts of tourism in a changing world. The 40-hour course will include:
- Measuring the unaccounted-for environmental impacts of tourism and managing them
- Defining and achieving key economic development goals
- Training on equitable and inclusive management of tourism’s shared assets
- Applying sustainable destination management tools and concepts to real case studies from the tourism sector
As destination professionals, it’s vital to keep up with the ever-evolving trends and skills that the industry demands. As tourism is constantly changing, learning how to adapt smoothly and improve management skills in changing cultural times will set your destination up for success.
DMOs Can Expect a Big Tourism Boost
The United States is expecting a big tourism boost in the coming months, according to Tourism Review. As restrictions are gradually being lifted, Americans’ willingness to travel is at an all-time high with over 80% (or 208 million) of adults looking to plan summer trips. Additional fees for services due to rising fuel prices are not discouraging travelers from booking trips, proving that Americans are ready to shed the cabin fever.
Positive travel sentiment paired with an influx of federal funding for tourism and national parks is positioning the summer of 2022 to be a very busy one indeed. This is the boost the tourism industry has been waiting for and excellent news for DMOs and CVBs who have been struggling to attract visitors since the pandemic. As more visitors are eager to travel, it’s likely that audience engagement will increase in response to hopeful messaging, niche itineraries and other marketing methods.
Meet the Semifinalists for the Great American Main Street Awards
The Great American Main Street Award, awarded by Main Street America, recognizes exceptional Main Street communities in historic small towns, mid-sized areas and urban commercial districts. To win the award, main street organizations must establish efforts to spur community transformation, historic preservation, innovative programming, implement cross-sector partnerships, community outreach and stakeholder engagement and diversity, equity and inclusion.
This year’s semifinalists are:
- Heart of Biddeford in Biddeford, Maine
- River District Association in Danville, Virginia
- Denison Main Street in Denison, Texas
- Florence Downtown Development Corporation in Florence, South Carolina
- Hammond Downtown Development District in Hammond, Louisiana
- Laramie Main Street Alliance in Laramie, Wyoming
- Mount Vernon-Lisbon Community Development Group in Mount Vernon, Iowa
- Main Street Toccoa in Toccoa, Georgia
“The Great American Main Street Award is the highest honor within the field of commercial district management,” said Main Street America’s President and CEO Patrice Frey. “These eight semifinalists are shining examples of the kind of transformation that is possible when using the Main Street Approach. These programs have brought renewed vibrancy to their communities and sparked impressive preservation-based revitalization.”
The winners will be announced on May 16 at the Main Street Now Conference in Richmond, VA. Each community overcame loss of industry and negative perceptions to become thriving areas for business, art, culture and creativity. DMOs and CVBs should take a look at these organizations and the steps they took to reach success. By learning from these downtowns, DMOs and CVBs can gain inspiration on how to encourage growth and development in their own communities.
Cleveland To Rebrand Itself As ‘Kindland’
Cleveland, Ohio’s efforts to rebrand itself as “Kindland” exceeded its goal for 2021 and the city looks for an even more successful 2022. The initiative, supported by the Values-in-Action Foundation, seeks to foster a more empathetic and respectful community by unveiling an app that allows people to document acts of kindness on their smartphones. The foundation hoped to record 1 million acts of kindness by the end of 2021, but instead the app recorded over 37 million.
This year, efforts are expanding to include yard signs, billboards and school programs to spread the word. Over 300 community leaders and organizations also signed up to be involved in the project including churches, community organizations, parent groups, media outlets, local police organizations and more. The initiative and its supporters are looking to combat negativity by spreading happiness, because raising collective happiness increases the quality of life in a community.
“We very well could become the kindest place in the country,” Values-in-Action President and CEO Stuart Muszynski said.
This rebranding effort is bold and shows that destinations can change the perceptions of others through effective marketing strategies. While not many would associate Cleveland with being the kindest city in the country, the overwhelming response to the acts of kindness app proves that its residents believe in the campaign. As the initiative moves into 2022, this will be a campaign to watch.