The DMO Download

A weekly digest for those who market and manage destinations.

Lessons for DMOs on Driving Economic Growth From Kentucky Tourism


This Week In the News

We’ve got some great stories this week. Learn about how northern Kentucky is improving their tourism economy, why seeking the perfect vacation can ruin others’ vacation, a new market tax credit that is helping boost rural growth, and more. Keep reading.

Lessons for DMOs on Driving Economic Growth From Kentucky Tourism

This article discusses the remarkable performance of the tourism industry in Kentucky during 2022, with a specific focus on Covington in northern Kentucky. Governor Andy Beshear announced that 2022 marked a record-breaking year for Kentucky’s tourism, generating nearly $13 billion in economic impact statewide. Northern Kentucky, including Covington, has become a popular destination for travelers.

The tourism boom is attributed to the success of initiatives like the self-guided bourbon tour called the B-Line, in which businesses like Smoke Justis are participating. Smoke Justis’ managing partner, Demian Wilson, likens the experience to an “adult Disneyland,” offering visitors the opportunity to explore the region and discover its hidden gems, particularly its bourbon-related attractions.

One of the most promising aspects of the tourism surge is the substantial job growth it has brought to the region. The tourism industry added a thousand jobs, benefiting not only visitors but also the local workforce and community. The positive impact on employment is seen as a significant advantage of the thriving tourism sector.

DMOs can learn several important lessons from this story:

  • Strategic Investment: Advocate for and allocate resources for marketing and promoting the destination. Collaborate with government agencies and stakeholders to secure funding for tourism initiatives, as investment can yield significant economic benefits.
  • Data-Driven Decision Making: Utilize data analytics to understand visitor preferences, behavior, and trends. Make informed decisions based on data insights to tailor marketing campaigns and enhance visitor experiences.
  • Effective Marketing Strategy: Craft a comprehensive marketing strategy that encompasses identifying the target audience, creating compelling messages, and utilizing various marketing channels to reach potential visitors.
  • Measurement and Analysis: Continuously measure the effectiveness of marketing efforts and gather feedback from visitors. Use this information to refine strategies and improve the visitor experience.
  • Celebrate Success: Celebrate milestones and successes in tourism growth to build momentum and community support. Highlight the positive impact of tourism on the local economy and quality of life.

In essence, DMOs should learn from the success of Kentucky’s tourism industry by adopting a holistic and collaborative approach to destination marketing, focusing on innovation, sustainability, and engaging the community.

The Pursuit of the Perfect Vacation Is Ruining Everyone Else’s

This travel author from Vox discusses how the pursuit of the perfect vacation and the sense of entitlement in travel have turned tourism into a competitive and often negative experience. The author explores how travelers’ obsession with optimizing every aspect of their trips, fueled by social media and the internet, has led to over-tourism, strained relationships with locals, and a lack of genuine connection with the places they visit.

The article highlights the negative impact of entitlement-driven travel, where tourists expect flawless experiences due to the time and money they invest in planning their trips. This mentality has created unrealistic expectations, frustration when encountering logistical issues, and a tendency to disregard the authentic local culture in favor of capturing Instagram-worthy moments.

The author suggests that DMOs should promote a more mindful and immersive approach to travel. Instead of focusing solely on bucket-list destinations and trendy attractions, DMOs could encourage travelers to explore lesser-known places, spend more time in one location, and engage in genuine interactions with locals. This approach not only fosters a deeper understanding of the destination but also supports local economies and cultures.

In summary, DMOs can learn from this article to advocate for a shift in travelers’ attitudes and behaviors. By emphasizing meaningful experiences over picture-perfect moments and promoting responsible and respectful tourism, DMOs can contribute to a more sustainable and enjoyable travel industry for both travelers and local communities.

New Market Tax Credits Provide ‘Patient Capital’ for Rural Business Growth

Grassland Dairy Products, a major butter creamery, faced difficulties in obtaining funding for expanding its production. To overcome these challenges, Grassland partnered with CEI Capital Management and utilized the New Markets Tax Credit program, which incentivizes investments in low-income communities. The article emphasizes the positive impact of the tax credit program in generating economic activity, creating new jobs, and decreasing poverty in these communities. It also underscores how CEI Capital Management focuses on rural manufacturing businesses and employs a Good Jobs Framework to ensure corporate responsibility and positive community impact. Overall, the article showcases the effectiveness of the New Markets Tax Credit program in fostering sustainable economic growth in underserved areas.

Rural destinations can draw important insights from the mentioned article:

The article underscores the significance of seeking alternative funding options beyond traditional avenues for rural development projects. It highlights the success of Grassland Dairy Products in securing financing through the New Markets Tax Credit program. This approach emphasizes the importance of exploring partnerships with community development entities that specialize in channeling investments into low-income regions.

By focusing on manufacturing opportunities that provide training and upward mobility, rural destinations can create sustainable job growth. This approach, as seen in Grassland Dairy Products’ expansion, can contribute to economic mobility and long-term prosperity within the community.

Rural destinations should prioritize the creation of “good jobs” that offer more than just employment – they should provide advancement opportunities, living wages, and benefits. This approach not only elevates the local workforce’s economic well-being but also fosters a sense of responsibility among businesses to contribute positively to the community.

The article underscores the importance of patience and a long-term perspective in rural development efforts. It highlights the New Markets Tax Credit program’s characteristic of “patient capital,” which aligns with the gradual nature of economic development. This mindset encourages sustainable growth and the attainment of lasting benefits.

Overall, rural destinations can learn from the article that seeking alternative funding sources, fostering community alignment, emphasizing responsible employment practices, and adopting a patient approach to development can contribute significantly to their success and the well-being of their communities.

A Dynamic Website Is Key to Delivering on Your Unique Brand Promise

The first interaction your visitors have with your destination is often through your website, meaning that a comprehensive, updated website is vital in turning visitors into enthusiastic advocates for your brand. The key element in this process is trust. Before becoming brand advocates, they need to know they can trust your destination to deliver on that brand promise. This blog from our branding expert highlights what DMOs need to know in order to build a robust destination website that converts. Here are some key takeaways:

  • Create a first impression that accurately reflects your destination.
  • Make sure the information you share is truthful, timely and complete.
  • Share content that brings your website – and your destination – to life.
  • Don’t be afraid to address niche travel audiences.

By setting the right expectations, you’re setting visitors up for an amazing getaway at your destination. They’ll understand your community, traditions and residents, giving them the opportunity to have unforgettable experiences and allowing your stakeholders to feel accurately represented. To learn more about how your website can reflect your destination’s brand, watch our webinar “Does Your Website Establish or Break Trust with Travelers?” here.

  • Paige Schamberg

    Content Production Manager at Bull Moose Marketing. A lover of literature and a sunshine enthusiast who probably drinks too much tea. Connect with me on LinkedIn @paigeschamberg

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