The DMO Download
A weekly digest on economic development and cultural, heritage tourism news.
Salem’s Complicated Journey From Trials to Tourism
The Latest DMO News, From Us to You
Merry (almost) Christmas! Before you set your out-of-office messages for the holidays, check out some heritage tourism and economic development news. This week, read about Boston’s new campaign, a clever lodging trend inspired by a holiday movie, how Salem balances their dark history and more.
Boston Goes Beyond the Freedom Trail With Its Newest Campaign
The Greater Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau (GBCVB) launched a new marketing campaign for both the city and the bureau itself. Called “Boston Never Gets Old,” the campaign will focus on highlighting the city’s hidden gems instead of the famous Freedom Trail and other beaten-path historical sites. The campaign meshes with the city’s previous campaign, “All Inclusive Boston,” to promote the area’s ethnic and cultural diversity. Even the bureau has decided on a name change, opting to be called Meet Boston instead of the GBCVB.
“The new ‘Meet Boston’ corporate identity reflects our plans to continually elevate Boston across the world, and the ‘Boston Never Gets Old’ advertising and marketing campaign captures both our tradition and innovation,” said Martha J. Sheridan, Meet Boston’s president and CEO.
This is an excellent example of how DMOs can show off their destination’s most unique attractions and events. By featuring your area’s hidden gems, you can showcase all of your stakeholders, not just your most popular ones. Sharing promotion opportunities is a DMO’s way of sharing the love. Show your stakeholders that they are all equally valuable to your region!
A Holiday Movie Inspired a New Way to Lodge
“The Holiday,” starring A-list actors Jude Law, Cameron Diaz, Jack Black and Kate Winslet, is a 2006 festive rom-com that captured the hearts of millions. While viewers were swooning, they were also planning. If characters Iris (Winslet) and Amanda (Diaz) could switch homes from across the ocean and have a steamy holiday experience, why couldn’t they?
Home-swapping is growing in popularity as inflation skyrockets and the price of lodging increases. Home-swapping travelers can save thousands of dollars, especially if cars are included in the swap (handsome British brothers not guaranteed). According to Celia Pronto, the managing director of Love Home Swap, an online membership community of home-swapping travelers, there is more mutual respect since both parties are sharing their homes.
“There’s a deep level of respect between our members, unlike many rentals, these are real homes that are much-loved. The very concept of home-swapping is based upon trust and open communication, and this is really important to ensure a successful home swap,” Pronto said.
While DMOs may not be able to have influence over these accommodations through legislation, it’s important that they’re aware of this trend, especially in destinations with lodging shortages. While short-term rentals, inns and B&Bs are time- and money-intensive for many residents, home-swapping may be a less stressful alternative while still encouraging tourism in the area.
Salem’s Journey From Witch Trials to Witch Tourism
When people hear “Salem,” their minds immediately go to one of the darkest periods in Massachusetts history: the Salem Witch trials of the 1690s. Today, the city of Salem profits greatly from this scar of the past. The “Witch City” is the capital for tourists celebrating Halloween and is a holy mecca for those practicing magic and witchcraft. These curious visitors and spiritual seekers bring about $140 million to the town annually. Despite the grand success that the town experiences today, the transition from history to tourism wasn’t a smooth one. Kathryn Miles, an investigative journalist for Boston Magazine, has done extensive research on Salem’s past and present and dives into the complicated history behind witch tourism in this interview.
According to Miles, the town has a unique relationship with this dark history, leaving some to ask themselves if witch-based tourism is the best way to honor the victims of the Salem Witch Trials. None of the victims were actually witches, but pop culture continues to view Salem as the epicenter of all things witchcraft. Before the 1880s, many townspeople were divided on how to respond to this dark period. Some wanted to ignore the event altogether, while descendants of the victims wanted to erect memorials and acquire political pardons. But once the 1880s rolled around, Salem chose neither of those paths. Instead, the city capitalized on the public’s morbid fascination with dark history, eventually leading to Salem’s current moniker, “Witch City.” While there’s no denying that witchcraft is becoming a hugely popular tourism segment, it brings into question whether Salem is the best place to allow its practice.
This is the difficult line that the Salem tourism industry has to walk. Tourism officials have to pay attention to the livelihoods of their stakeholders while also ensuring an accurate representation of the past. Many DMOs with dark pasts have similar experiences of being forced into nuanced situations as a result of historical mistakes. Despite the complications for DMOs, it’s a special position in which they find themselves. Dark destinations have unique opportunities to be beacons for both integrity and success. Learn more about dark tourism here and read Miles’s full article from Boston Magazine here.
A Guide to Funding for DMOs
Whether you’re a DMO or an economic development authority, funding is a necessity when it comes to the continued success of your destination. Grants allow for your destination’s cultural, historic and natural resources to authentically represent the stories of the past and present through economic development and community growth. It may seem like a tedious process, but when executed properly, it will provide your destination with a strong foundation to build from.
So where do you start when it comes to getting funding for your efforts? It’s essential to start with a successful marketing strategy that offers the data and necessary steps to convince funders that you have a clear, actionable plan for success.
Once your marketing strategy is established, it is critical to invest in a solid proposal to make sure all questions are answered and there are no gray areas for the investor. Funders want to know that their money is being put to good use and that your data and research back up what you will be hoping to accomplish. It is also important to inform them of how much will go to the funder in the form of tax revenue.
After submitting your grant, you may not hear back immediately or even receive the full amount of money you are asking for. It is essential that you prepare for these circumstances. If you receive a grant totaling a portion of how much you were asking for, it is important that you accept this amount and work with it. This lets the funder know that you are serious about your plans regardless of the number of funds you have. After all, the most important part of this whole process is how it will impact your destination.