The DMO Download
A weekly digest for those who market and manage destinations.
This Destination Just Made Itself Phone-free
The News You Need
From economic development to futuristic travel, this week’s DMO Download is loaded with interesting stories for DMOs. Learn about one community’s unique partnership to combat unemployment, a destination that declared itself “phone-free,” how to market your whole region instead of a single amenity and so much more.
When a Community College and Chamber of Commerce Team Up, Magic Happens
The collaboration between Patrick & Henry Community College and the Martinsville Chamber of Commerce in southwest Virginia is aimed at addressing local unemployment and reversing the decline of manufacturing jobs in the rural area. This partnership is significant for rural destinations because it tackles the common challenge faced by many rural community colleges.
Rural community colleges often struggle to attract new businesses and industries to their areas because they lack a trained workforce. Potential employers are hesitant to invest in an area that does not already have a skilled labor pool. This creates a cycle of stagnant economic growth, as colleges can only offer training programs for the industries that already exist in the area.
Patrick & Henry Community College has found a way to overcome this challenge by offering certification courses and entrepreneurship training programs that do not require the same extensive approval process as degree programs. This approach has resulted in an increase in enrollment in workforce programs related to advanced manufacturing and other industries.
By partnering with the local chamber, the college can promote its ability to quickly develop tailored workforce programs to meet the needs of companies considering moving to the area. This helps attract new businesses and, over time, allows the college to introduce degree programs aligned with the industries that have established themselves in the region.
The strategy of providing industry-specific training and emphasizing job placement has been successful not only for the college but also for the community. It has led to the expansion of existing companies like Eastman Chemical Company and Ten Oaks, as well as the establishment of new manufacturing operations such as Shok Industries. These successes contribute to economic growth and job creation in the rural area.
Changing negative perceptions about manufacturing jobs has been another crucial aspect of the college’s efforts. By demonstrating the stability and potential of advanced manufacturing jobs through successful outcomes and positive community impact, the college is challenging the notion that such jobs are inherently unstable or undesirable.
Overall, the collaboration between the rural college and the Chamber of Commerce is addressing the catch-22 situation faced by many rural areas. By actively developing a skilled workforce, attracting new businesses, and promoting economic growth, they are making a positive impact on the local community and providing opportunities for individuals to obtain well-paying jobs.
This Destination Just Made Itself Phone-free
Ulko-Tammio Island, located off the coast of Finland, has introduced a voluntary phone-free initiative to encourage tourists to disconnect and enjoy nature. The uninhabited island, part of the Eastern Gulf of Finland National Park, is popular for its pine forests and rare bird species. The initiative, which aims to attract travelers seeking a digital detox, is seen as a great example that could be implemented in other nature and recreational destinations.
This unique approach offers DMOs some key takeaways:
- Catering to specific traveler needs: Ulko-Tammio Island’s initiative to become a phone-free area specifically targets travelers who are looking to unwind and disconnect from technology. DMOs should identify specific traveler segments and tailor their offerings to meet their unique needs and desires.
- Voluntary initiatives: The phone-free initiative is voluntary, allowing visitors to make their own choices without any enforcement or penalties. DMOs can create similar initiatives that encourage certain behaviors or experiences without imposing strict rules or regulations.
- Off-the-beaten-path destinations: The article mentions the rising interest in remote or out-of-the-way destinations. DMOs should consider promoting lesser-known destinations and highlighting their unique features to attract travelers seeking unique experiences away from crowded tourist hotspots.
- Collaboration with relevant stakeholders: The initiative on Ulko-Tammio Island involves collaboration between Visit Kotka-Hamina (tourist marketing) and Parks & Wildlife Finland. DMOs should work closely with local authorities, conservation organizations, and other relevant stakeholders to implement initiatives that align with the destination’s values and goals.
- Marketing campaigns focused on specific themes: The article mentions the marketing campaign for Islay Island, which centered around its whisky distilleries and traditions. DMOs can develop targeted marketing campaigns that highlight specific themes, attractions, or experiences unique to their destinations to attract specific interest groups.
By considering these lessons, DMOs can develop strategies and initiatives that cater to specific traveler needs, promote unique attractions, and encourage sustainable tourism practices.
This Is How Travel Will Look in the Internet of the Future
The future internet will revolutionize travel by offering immersive virtual travel experiences and enhancing real-world travel with advanced technologies. Virtual reality (VR) will allow people to explore destinations without leaving their homes and make informed travel decisions. The metaverse will enable seamless travel experiences by incorporating digital replicas of real-life destinations. Technologies like augmented reality (AR) will provide interactive information and guidance to travelers, improving their navigation and overall experience. Web3 technologies such as blockchain and non-fungible tokens (NFTs) will transform the travel industry, offering secure and unique booking options and potentially digitizing passports.
While this might sound intimidating to rural destinations, this shift into a more technological future doesn’t mean that they need to feel left behind. Rural DMOs can take away the following points from this trend:
- Embrace virtual travel: The future internet will enable immersive virtual travel experiences, allowing people to explore destinations without physically traveling. DMOs can leverage virtual reality (VR) technology to showcase their rural areas and attract potential visitors who may be hesitant to travel long distances.
- Enhance real-world travel experiences: Future internet technologies, such as augmented reality (AR), can enhance real-world travel experiences by providing interactive information and guidance to travelers. DMOs can explore incorporating AR features into their destinations, such as offering AR-based navigation or interactive visualizations of points of interest.
- Embrace Web3 technologies: Web3 technologies like blockchain and non-fungible tokens (NFTs) are expected to impact the travel industry. DMOs can consider integrating blockchain-based booking platforms or exploring partnerships with NFT creators to offer unique digital assets related to their rural destinations.
By keeping up with emerging technologies and incorporating them into their marketing strategies, rural DMOs can stay relevant, attract new visitors, and provide innovative travel experiences to their target audience.
Market Your Whole Region, Not Just a Single Amenity
When visitors are planning a trip to a destination, there’s one simple truth: a destination with multiple attractions always sounds more exciting than a destination with one attraction. And with the right strategy, your destination can meet their expectations, too.
It can be easy for DMOs to fall into the habit of promoting only one attraction or amenity. But doing so isn’t the best use of your marketing budget because your destination has a lot to offer all kinds of visitors. By promoting your region’s historical attractions, you can open up a whole new demographic of visitors to your destination.
By marketing your restaurants, breweries, wineries and cafes, you can reach travelers who are chasing down their next flavor. Whatever you have to offer, there’s a visitor who is interested in making it a part of their getaway. Promoting your whole area offers the opportunity to market to all kinds of visitors so that your stakeholders and local economy will benefit.
Before settling on a marketing strategy with a limited promotions calendar, consider all your amenities and attractions and begin marketing them together as a whole experience. Your visitors will be blown away by how many things your area has to offer, coming back again and again in order to try them all.