Marketing vs. Management

As destinations mature, the challenge for many convention & visitors bureaus – also known as destination marketing organizations (DMOs) – becomes less about messaging and more about tourism management. Are the scenic vistas, pristine beaches, lush landscapes and quaint Main Streets appearing in ads and promotional brochures really what visitors experience when they arrive at their destination? Or instead are visitors exposed to litter, traffic and long lines at various attractions?

 Sustainable tourism management relies on destinations understanding their carrying capacity (how many people can engage in a given activity without compromising the resource or the experience) and establishing controls to help manage the flow of participants. DMOs often describe this as “delivering on the brand promise” – where reality exceeds perception. However, the delivery of experience extends beyond the influence and control of the DMO. Local government has a responsibility in tourism management in the form of litter control, parking, and safety ordinances. Private businesses also have a stake in delivering positive experiences, most significantly in the quality of hosting visitors. Preservation and conservation organizations influence the aesthetics of place through design guidelines, density controls, protection of open space, and restoration of historic buildings. Only when destination stakeholders – public and private – work together can tourism management be pro-active and ensure the positive delivery of a brand promise.

– Cheryl Hargrove, January 2014