Workshop Explores Synergies Between Tourism Marketing and Economic Development
There was a time when destination marketing organizations (DMOs) – i.e., tourism promotion bureaus – and economic development organizations operated in complete isolation of one another. Today, leading states and metro areas find ways the two can work together to spark synergies that support both their missions. “The middle ground is talent attraction,” Dariel Curren told a group of about 30 NCEDA members gathered in Asheville for a pre-conference professional development workshop. “Today’s visitor may be tomorrow’s talent,” she said.
Curren, executive vice president at New York City-based Development Counselors International (DCI), works both with tourism development authorities and economic development entities. The firm’s 500 clients include organizations in Seattle, Orlando, Charleston and other destinations. In addition to talent recruitment campaigns, successful collaborations have also involved air service development and community beatification efforts. While DMOs and EDOs share many similarities, Curren has noticed one major difference economic developers should note. “Tourism organizations do a better job of measuring their impact,” she said. In contrast, EDOs lack industry-wide standards for gauging results.
With its labor-intensiveness, travel and tourism outpace industry as a net generator of job growth, Curren explained. Main Street associations also can participate. “The most successful communities are where EDOs, DMOs and downtown organizations are sitting at the table together,” she said. “People who are really doing this well are scarce.” Collaboration also creates the scale necessary for communities to conduct high-impact media relations, Curren said, citing efforts by the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce and its convention bureau allies and government partners as a national best practice. “Getting people to your destination is the first step in business attraction,” she added. “That alone should be a driver in sitting down with your tourism counterparts.”
Even though she holds a Master’s degree in Hospitality and Tourism Management, Brittany Brady began her marketing career with the Henderson County Partnership for Economic Development, where she is now President and CEO. “What I quickly learned was that economic development marketing and tourism marketing operate in different realms, even if they both focus on place marketing,” said Brady, who was among the participants at the two-hour overview. “This professional development workshop highlighted how the two worlds can work together,” she said. With its real-world examples of common branding and strategic unity, the event offered insight on collaborating “for the greater good of the community,” according to Brady. “These are obtainable goals that we all can put into action.”