Tourism is an important factor in the growth of many countries’ economies around the globe. It is scrutinized as an inducer of positive changes for regional development in three directions: a social catalyst, a conservation tool, and an income and employment opportunity. In simple terms, tourism adds diversity, boosts revenue, helps to develop the infrastructure, creates employment, and develops a sense of cultural exchange between the citizens of the home country and foreigners.
As a professional in the travel industry, I can tell that every region is different, having unique attributes, challenges, and opportunities. Hence, there is no “one size fits all” approach to destination management. As a result, destination management in the tourism industry needs to have a holistic approach to developing tourism. There is an increasing interest in destination management as more and more places are striving to put their name on the map of world tourism.
What is Destination Management?
Mr. Manoj Tulsani, my colleague and friend, considers destination management the practice of leading and coordinating all the elements that make up a destination, contributing to a traveler’s experience while ensuring that your destination delivers something unique for travelers. All this is done taking into consideration the needs of the local communities, businesses, and the environment. The different aspects to be considered are the local resources, events, tourist attractions, activities, facilities (restaurants and hotels), infrastructure, transportation, hospitality resources, environmental concerns, and marketing efforts.
In addition to the aspects mentioned, destination management focuses on areas of branding, image creation, and marketing of a location’s tourist attractions. A strategic approach is required to manage a destination that combines planning, marketing, developing, and communicating how well the destination will be managed financially, physically, and operationally. Usually, it is the responsibility of a Destination Management Company (DMC) to manage tourism for their destination in coordination with their members or stakeholders, including governments, local businesses, community leaders, and charities.
Why is Destination Management Important?
A destination management company essentially helps in bringing together all the tourism related businesses in a town, city, or country and gives it a proper structure. Such a company can help all travel and tourism businesses and stakeholders to work towards a common goal, thus improving cash flow in the local economy and revitalizing the place. Moreover, a DMC can help in preventing the negative effects of tourism, like exhaustive use of resources, pollution, landscape damage, traffic congestion, etc. A DMC has the resources as well as the skills for tourism management, which not only helps the destination to thrive but also adds long-term value to it.
How to Implement Destination Management?
Establishing a destination management company requires a lot of time, research, and planning. You need to follow a step-by-step process to identify the right destination and implement your plan.
1. Defining the Destination
The first thing to do is choose your destination. This can be a village, town, city, state, island, or country. On the other hand, a destination could also be a prime location of a place, like a mountain range or a coastline. In other words, your prime destination may be a part of another broader or larger destination. For instance, Mount Everest is a destination on its own, while it is also a part of Nepal and can be seen or visited during your trip to the country. The trick is to consider whether the location has the potential to be called a destination and why it is important to have a destination management company to manage it.
2. Knowing Its Visitors
The next step is to consider the people who want to visit the selected destination. Some of the questions you need to ask here are: who are the people who are currently visiting the place, what is their purpose, what experiences they are choosing, which part of the world are they coming from, etc. A particular destination may attract a specific group of people or varied groups of people for the same reason or different reasons. For instance, Dubai is a city visited by different groups of people like families with children, couples on honeymoon, and even a tourist group with people of different ages. However, Mount Everest is usually visited only by those people who are looking forward to an adventurous hike up the highest mountain in the world.
3. Understanding the Offerings of Your Destination
The popularity of a destination depends on what the place offers. This can be in the form of products (attractions, tours, accommodation, etc.) or experiences (how the visitor feels after using the products). Hence, it is crucial to make a list of things that the place already has on offer, expectations of the tourists, accommodations and transportation facilities currently available, etc. You also need to think about whether the place has the potential to deliver something unique to the visitors, or it is already available, and if not, then why so. These points will also bring you to things like where tourists are likely to spend money on and what impact it will have on the destination. Only when you understand the offerings of your place, you will be able to create a blueprint for your brand and its values.
4. Determining Your Plan
Once you have a detailed understanding of your destination, its visitors, and offerings, the final step is to create your plan. For this, you need to compare what the place is currently offering and what are the expectations and aspirations of the visitors. This will help you to see the gaps and come up with strategies and plans to fill in them, thus ensuring the satisfaction of the visitors.
What is a Destination Marketing Organization, and Why is it Important?
Having a plan for your destination management company is only the beginning. There is no point in your detailed planning if no one knows about the offerings of your DMC. This is where a destination marketing organization (DMO) comes into the picture. A DMO creates a marketing strategy to educate people about your destination through a combination of channels like content marketing, display advertising, offline advertising, social media promotion, and experiential marketing. A DMO will help you to create and establish a brand for your destination, thus attracting more tourists and eventually boosting business revenue.
Many destination management companies specialize in the logistics of destinations by finding the perfect venue, transportation and suppliers to suit the needs of potential travelers. Effective management of tourism-related issues results in a destination’s ability to reap the benefits of tourism successfully. Destination management guarantees that tourism contributes actual value to a destination – by emphasizing the location, people, product, and process; taking into account the interests of stakeholders by adopting a holistic approach; marketing the destination; and developing a cohesive management plan.
As you now know the concept, I hope that it is easier for you to understand the value that destination management creates for a destination and the tourists.