Lone Star State of Mind

Urge to Get Out Limited to Local Travel

I’ve been following the travel industry close and notice that fellow RVers and camping enthusiasts are chomping at the bit as destination open for spring and summer planning.

In an attempt to determine more indications of park and destination openings opportunities, I researched an area of the tourism industry usually not thought of.

In travel and tourism terms, DMO stands for Destination Marketing Organization. They represent destinations and help to develop their long-term travel and tourism strategy.

According to the leading industry group, the Destination Marketing Association International (DMAI), each $1 spent in destination marketing generates $38 in visitor spending across international markets.

The Covid-19 pandemic has brought travel and tourism to a near-standstill, and although we can’t be certain when it will restart, experience from September 11, 2001 tells us we’ll first notice more road trips not too far from home.

A look at DMOs today show their primary focus has shifted to the local market — reinforcing pre-existing relationships with government bodies and other key constituents.

They’re forging relationships that up until now have been deemed as unnecessary or unimportant, such as local media (because most visitors come from outside their market, most DMOs haven’t historically invested many dollars on local marketing efforts). 

Unfortunately,  an important part of trade lost on many residents in any given city is that the restaurants, retail establishments and attractions they all enjoy are supported by both visitor and resident dollars. And if the visitor dollars go away, so will many of the things the residents love. 

Smart cities, not those run by mediocre politicians with a power hungry agenda (yes, San Antonio, Dallas and Houston, that means you) quickly turned its attention from travel sales and marketing to community support and outreach.

Fort Worth redirected advertising to promote restaurant pick-up and delivery. Their website gained a big new local following and maintained narrow YTD traffic gains instead of dropping into negatives. 

In my neck of the woods, the Texas Hill Country, Fredericksburg has been forced to eliminate or reduce sidewalk construction, street maintenance and unnecessary travel by city officials.

With a $70 million city budget they’re looking at a $2 million shortfall and contemplating layoffs and staff reductions.

Abilene, Texas is taking a $120 million hit overall in tourism dollars.

Visit Denver teamed up with a multitude of tourism and hospitality partners to develop “Love This City Denver,” a new initiative designed to inspire locals to show their love of the community by supporting Denver businesses and attractions suffering from mandated shutdowns. 

Orlando has a “virtual dinner table” encouraging residents to order takeout or delivery from one of the 400+ open restaurants, garnering upwards of 30,000 site visits. 

Visit Sacramento. (Agriculturely rich)  had a video series in the works called “Breaking Bread,” featuring some of the city’s best restaurants and chefs in an unscripted reality show — but when the pandemic hit, they tweaked the title to be “Breaking Bread…At Home,” now showcasing the ability of the chefs to create spectacular takeout food, and what it means to the local community to do so.

In two months, the U.S. hospitality and travel industry lost 8.2 million jobs.

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