DI’s CMO Summit Brings Out the Entrepreneurial Spirit of Destination Marketers

From Jim Schlesker opening keynote on fast growth organizations to Refinery 29 CEO Piera Geraldi’s take on creating an inspired corporation, Destination International’s CMO Summit in Houston this past April gave destination marketers every reason to think like entrepreneurs as they tackle destination marketing today.

Think Like a Startup

The key insight was to think like fast growth organizations and how to find kinks in your organization to help focus on problem solving versus trying to be all things to everyone. It’s not only a relevant lesson for professionals as a whole but for today’s destination marketer.

Today, DMO marketing teams are being challenged by the rapid speed of changing technology, while maintaining their positions as destination management experts for their community stakeholders and as specialists in managing the highly charged political atmosphere. Having a more entrepreneurial take on destination marketing today will help DMOs as they fight for relevancy and maintain political goodwill in their communities.

Americans love the story of a startup – exploding onto the scene with a product or service we never knew we needed but we now can’t live without.  To think like a startup, DMO professionals must be focused on key performance indicators.  Growing startups have a laser focus on the bottom line, on relevancy and on developing their core customer base.  These are all attributes that will help today’s CMO.

Shirley Smith and I co-founded Digital Edge. Having worked for DMOs, we knew we could create an agency that utilized innovative meetings marketing to bridge the gap between DMO’s sales and marketing teams.  This was and is our focus, and helped us create relevancy for our agency within the industry. As a new business, we had to be entrepreneurs and carve out our own niche. Helping DMOs carve out their niche and express their vibe is key to our business model.


It Takes a Village

We also heard from Houston First CMO, Holly Clapham-Rosenow who encouraged attendees to be bold, be brave and don’t be afraid to shake things up. She recounted how the community input led the organization to develop innovative marketing practices that bubbled up from the stakeholders to be award-winning marketing campaigns for the destination.  With their investment in a content-first approach, Houston First developed niche marketing campaigns across audience segments that helped support their efforts in augmented reality, the launch of 29 niche websites and video development.


No More ‘Heads in Beds’ Speak

Jack Johnson, Chief Advocacy Officer for DI, shared his ideas on the needed shift in the tourism lexicon and a strategy that will help destinations positively engage and influence public opinion, to shift the way the people of the destination view the CVB and raise public awareness of the organization’s value. Talking about heads in beds and economic impact won’t and hasn’t worked.

Challenge Us

Let’s collectively work to create destination marketing programs that tell that story and show value beyond yesterday’s key measurements.  Let’s shake things up and figure out how we can put your destination on the map both among your core audience and your community stakeholders.

Digital Edge is ready for the challenge. Let’s talk.

Share the Post:

Related Posts

Looking for that edge?
Contact our team directly.