The evolving role of the DMO in optimising tourism opportunities

From the dawn of democracy in South Africa, we’ve had the pleasure of welcoming swathes of visitors from across the globe. Some came to see the remarkable country that Nelson Mandela did so much to promote, some came simply as part of curiosity and the travel bug biting them. In almost 25 years, the tourism industry here has experienced a period of rapid evolution, and it’s time to examine just how effective our role is in encouraging tourism growth.

No matter what your reasons are for travelling, be they business or leisure, chances are you are joining the majority of visitors who research, plan, pay for and enjoy visits to destinations with the use of a device. This accelerated shift to digital has had an impact on the way hospitality professionals do business, from their marketing efforts to their social media channels. Naturally, this affects how Destination Marketing Organisations tailor their efforts in enhancing opportunities in travel. Cape Town Tourism, for example, produced the first mobile-first website on the continent with a view to speaking to this need. The Industrial Revolution 4.0 means more than just an updated website, though, it means that every aspect of how we do business needs to come under the microscope to see if we’re reinventing to remain relevant.

Gone are the days of brochure-based tourism and paper-heavy marketing campaigns – it makes sense to capitalise on the cost-effectiveness of digital marketing and communications for the benefit of visitors and move to a paperless environment.

DMOs reside in a constantly changing landscape. Whether it’s keeping up with new marketing channels and trends or balancing the promotion of tourism with the concerns of the local community, the role and priorities of DMOs is in a constant state of flux. Looking forward into 2019 and beyond, we will endeavour to stay aligned with the ever-changing demands placed on us, by transforming our role from a DMO to what we term a DxO, where the ‘x’ will be defined by whatever the future demands of us.

Becoming a DXO isn’t merely about technology, it’s a recognition that the tourism industry has irrevocably changed. Nothing is as it used to be, except that people still want to travel. Perhaps there will come a time when tourists will conduct their visits virtually, but, for now, we’re dealing with real humans who want to enjoy seamless, immersive experiences in a destination.

A DXO is better-equipped to manage disruptive business methodologies, to pivot when it comes to times of change and to be agile in the face of challenges. For example, A DMO in a time of water shortages cannot simply sit back and continue to market a destination as if oblivious to the challenge faced by locals and, ultimately, visitors. A DXO tackles the challenge head on, collaborating with relevant bodies in the private and public sector to drive tangible change, having a positive impact on the very environment in which tourism takes place.

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