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How the future looks for DMOs

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SINGAPORE, 23 November 2023: This week, Sojern, a digital marketing platform for travel, launched its “State of Destination Marketing” report for destination marketing organisations (DMOs). 

This first-of-its-kind report, produced through a partnership between Sojern and Digital Tourism Think Tank (DTTT) and supported by Brand USA, Destination Canada and the European Travel Commission, the study sheds light on the latest industry trends and challenges.

It explores effective marketing strategies for engaging travellers based on insights from nearly 300 DMOs, government departments and affiliated tourism entities worldwide. It offers a glimpse into the future of destination marketing. 

Sojern says it “commissioned this report to ensure its global destination clients have access to the most comprehensive marketing insights.”

Report takeaways

Economic uncertainty, inflation, and the cost of living: They significantly impact strategies, with more than 50% of respondents considering these areas require careful attention and planning. 

“As the travel industry undergoes rapid transformation, we remain committed to empowering destinations to navigate these changes effectively,” said Sojern Chief Revenue Officer Noreen Henry.

“The insights uncovered in our report highlight destination marketers’ strategic priorities and overall approach to digital marketing while also highlighting the significance of promoting sustainable and diverse tourism and meeting consumers’ increasing desire for unique experiences. Working with strategic technology-powered partners like Sojern ensures success in an increasingly dynamic and competitive environment.”

AI is revolutionising marketing:  This will significantly influence how destinations market to travellers. According to the findings, DMOs anticipate AI’s impact will be most pronounced in content creation, with nearly half (49%) foreseeing significant impact. Many AI tools are transforming creative processes, from long-form content to social media posts.

In addition, 40% of DMOs see significant potential in AI for predictive analysis and forecasting, 38% for data analysis and interpretation, and 37% for marketing content personalisation. However, 71% are less confident and see little potential impact in AI’s ability to shape their teams’ web, app and platform creation, and 63% in conversational marketing. DMOs perceive the least impact when it comes to AI on campaign creation and optimisation (29%), creative media (25%) and web, app, and platform creation (25%).

Prioritising digital paid media investments: 96% of DMOs invest significantly in paid media to achieve their marketing objectives. Notably, 58% take an always-on approach, investing year-round, while 38% invest seasonally, and only 21% invest when specific opportunities arise. Social media advertising maintains its prominence, as does Search Engine Marketing (SEM), with 96% and 95% of DMOs rating them as having a high or average importance, respectively.

The most important channel formats comprise 94% native advertising or sponsored content, 85% display and video advertising, and 78% in-stream video ads. Additionally, Connected TV (CTV) shows promise, with more than half of respondents considering it of mid to high importance.

Instagram and Facebook remain the most critical platforms for prioritising media and content investment, with 45% and 35% of all respondents ranking Meta’s channels as their top channel of importance. 

While TikTok has become a global sensation, media investment hasn’t yet grown to the level some might expect, with only 5% ranking it as their most important channel. 

Prioritising environmental and social goals: DMOs adapt their strategies in response to sustainability, diversity, equity and inclusion trends. European DMOs are leading in prioritising environmental sustainability (62% for climate change, 56% for biodiversity) compared to Canada (29% for climate change, 24% for biodiversity) and US DMOs (8% for climate change, 33% for biodiversity).

Many DMOs emphasise social diversity and sustainability in their strategies, with figures showing that 42% of all those surveyed prioritise gender equality, and 45% of European and 40% of US DMOs strongly prioritise accessibility for visitors with disabilities. Around 35% of all respondents said that LGBTQ+-specific strategies (i.e. sexual orientation) were strongly prioritised, with similar importance (34%) placed on promoting social and economic diversity.

*To see the full survey methodology, download the “State of Destination Marketing 2024” report here.

(Source: Sojern)

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