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DMO Stories

Luca D'Angelo and Fabio Sacco join us from Dolomiti Paganella and Val Di Sole to talk about their experiences rebuilding their own Trentino based DMOs from the bottom up and the lessons they've learned along the way. Both will join us on stage at #DTTTGlobal on 30th November & 1st December in Brussels. We spoke to Luca D'Angelo and Fabio Sacco to ask them about their approach to tackle the complexities of destination management and marketing.

Quick introduction to the DMOs

Luca D'Angelo, 39 years old, almost 3 years as destination Manager @Dolomiti Paganella Tourism Board. The DMO is relatively small (11 people, including me)  when you compare it with other DMO in the same region. The DMO manages an area with only 5 municipalities but with a high tourism density: 1.3 million overnight stays. The DMO has radically changed in the last 2 years, thanks to the definition of a new strategy that clearly identifies what the DMO manages and what it does not.

Fabio Sacco, 36 years old, 1.5 years as destination manager @Val di Sole Tourism Board. We are a quite big DMO (25 people) which embraces tourist areas which are quite different from them. We reach 1.8 million overnight stays, more than 60% of them during winter time. We are now managing the change towards a new strategy focused on local-based product development.

Biggest Challenges for your DMOs

The MAIN challenge of contemporary DMOs is the shift from marketing to management and from advertising to content distribution. DMOs really need to be Destination MANAGEMENT (and not MARKETING) Organisations, because we need to engage with the real needs of our stakeholders, understand their challenges and - at the same time - maintain an overview on the complexity of the destination. Today we can't just promote our beautiful landscapes or contact tour operators in foreign markets; sometimes we need to "go back to the basics" and try to give meaningful support to our local companies.

Biggest Opportunity in Digital Marketing

We would like to quote our colleague and friend Emil Spangenberg at last year's #DTTTGlobal: "bye bye campaigns!". It's difficult and it's an ongoing process, but we are trying to abandon classic online/offline campaigns and focus on experience-based content distribution. We are trying to produce and/or collect wonderful digital and visual content and find the right format and channel to reach the right target audience!

Rebuilding the DMO from the bottom up

We asked for help from tsm- Trentino School of Management and Pr. Pietro Beritelli of San Gallo University!  The St.Gallen Model for Destination Management (SGDM) introduces an alternative perspective that allows transcending past boundaries and thus getting closer to the real complexities of managing tourist behavior in dynamic systems. While this may sound daunting, it starts with something very practical: the observation of how tourists of different kinds move about as flows of visitors. Strategic visitor flows (SVF) are the basic unit of analysis and planning of the new model. The SGDM connects these flows to demand and supply networks. Underlying mechanisms explain the social forces that drive tourists’ behavior and the interdependencies that determine a viable supply of tourist services in destinations.

Core remit and focus of your Destinations

The core remit in the near future can be advertising while the present focus is product development and experience design!

Building relationships with Partners & Stakeholders

The "human touch" and relational skills are a key aspect of our work! You couldn't even imagine to co-create new projects with your partners and share a vision for the future of your destination without engaging with them constantly, without listening and sharing ideas and proposals. There's not ONE WAY to do it, there's everyday job made of discussions, brainstorming, team working. We need to remember that stakeholders are the main clients of the Tourism Board!

Role of Communication and Changes

From mass communication, we are radically switching to a more personalized message and content. It's also very important how you "pack" the content, the style you use, the visual you adopt. We have drastically cut brand campaigns for the mass market, focusing our attention on micro contents, for a different audience. It's hard work, and we are always trying to fine-tuning it. As a DMO we believe that also internal communication to local stakeholders is important, but we know that boring newsletters and special areas inside web portal do not work anymore. So we are moving more towards everyday contact with local stakeholders, using the social network as a powerful and "not institutional" tools.

Role of Product Development

I will say product development IS the real focus of our DMO. We are really keen to design and build the best tourism experience for our guest. For some specific products we act as project leaders, for others, we help other private stakeholders setting up the best experiences.

Changes to working as a DMO

Our approach has completely changed the definition of the new strategy. We believe we can be the leader in some business areas, not all of them. This means that our stakeholders and all the local business can have a clearer idea of what we are in charge of, and finally how we can be useful to all of them. it needs time, but we believe we are on a very good platform to reach the success! DMO is as a mirror of the destination and so stakeholders have to adapt, to it..not do the opposite!

Internally we are adopting a more collaborative and horizontal model, creating a team that is aware of the main strategy, shares ideas each other and know what everyone is basically doing.

Results

We have boosted new tourism products, reaching great result in terms of numbers and economic impact. We are also really proud that private and public stakeholders know and understand what we are doing and consider our DMO as the Brain of the destination, the place where key decisions and strategic projects can grow (or sometimes be dismissed, if they don't work)!

Why should #DTTTGlobal attendees not miss your talk?

We are planning a lot of surprises!

Discussion

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