DMO Marketing Resources for COVID-19 - Digital Edge Marketing
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DMO Marketing Resources for COVID-19

How We Can Help

Digital Edge is staying informed about the effects the novel Coronavirus is having on the travel industry and in particular the Meetings & Conventions sector. Our team is working diligently to provide DMOs with the resources, tips, tools, and ideas to maintain proactiveness. 

We understand B2B marketing and realize that the road to recovery can be overwhelming. That’s why we’ve created a multi-phased approach to help you with your Meetings Recovery Strategy, Funding Request, and Strategic Presentations and Tactical Marketing Plan to help your destination bounce back and re-enter the market prepared to do business.

Let's work through this crisis together!

DMO Resources & Tools

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Webinar Resources & Key Takeaways from our Experts

Smart Meetings Sept 2020 Issue, Smart Meetings Magazine, September 2020 Issue
Digital Edge Takeaways:

  • Moving towards Gen Z audience, those who crave Instagram-worthy experiences they can POST ABOUT
  • Gen Z is fueled by networking in relaxed and low-pressure environments
  • Keep things diversity-focused
  • Hybrid Meetings: Reinvent, Don’t Reproduce 
  • Small meetings are the new pandemic trend

EventsMB: The Hybrid Revolution Virtual Summit, EventsMB, September 10, 2020 
Digital Edge Takeaways:

  • Use hybrid to complement the face to face experience NOT replace it
  • As audiences learn to adapt to technology it’s still important to have real-life interaction and people on the property, i.e. guides, sales teams, on-property ambassadors (DON’T REPLACE PEOPLE)
  • Don’t force anything on your attendees, allow them to choose their own journey 
  • Note to planners: Negotiate your bandwidth NOW if you’re thinking about going hybrid

How Tempe Tourism Ran A Virtual FAM Trip With UGC, Crowdriff, September 9, 2020
Digital Edge Takeaways:

  • Create virtual presentation through user-generated content to enhance authentic experiences and have ambassadors do the “selling” for you 
  • Play the SWAG card, offering gifts to your attendees can assist with attendance, engagement, and overall exposure/marketing of your destination. 
  • Expand reach with the use of influencers and partners! Get your partners (especially those participating) to buy-in and promote the Virtual FAM on social, email lists, etc. 

[ESTO Webinar] Funding Futures: The Impact and Future of Tourism & DMO Funding in Response & Recovery from COVID-19, Thursday, August 20

Digital Edge Takeaways:
DMOs need to be resilient. Doing more with less.

  • With budgets reduced and staff cuts, get creative in your organizational changes, and look at ways your team can become cross-functional. Learn more – 

Coronavirus Travel Sentiment Survey Findings Week 23 & Panel with Millennial Meeting Planners – Destination Analysts, August 18

Digital Edge Takeaways:

  • Change your way of thinking, traditional marketing taking a back seat to digital. 
  • Millennial meeting planners differ from the “older generation”:
  • Independent vs collaborative, but will come together at the end to share ideas; More tech-focused, Want to reach clients globally; Want different methods and change in the industry; Would like events and meeting to be more about the experience with sustainability

What millennial meeting planners think about Gen Z:

  • Believe digital is enough, but in-person meetings and regular site visits are important; planners need to physically see, feel and do to plan accurately
  • It shouldn’t be all about speed and getting things done so fast because sometimes you miss the boat on details and the strategic planning part of the process

CVB and planner’s company sales teams consistently communicate and reach out about updates on the safety of properties, sending live videos of face-to-face meetings, and showing how the new normal setups fit in spaces

Planners must work with CVBs and understand their services.

  • CVBs are the experts on the city; Planners are the experts of their meeting/group/organization

Planners want to receive information from CVBs by email, by learning about what the community and partners are doing to help them figure out liability and make introductions to properties they do not have relationships with

The Meeting Professional (MPI) Magazine Digital Issue – August 2020

Digital Edge Takeaways:
Planners, DMOs, and the world are making the most of the “Groundhog Day” challenge COVID-19 has sprung upon the meetings & conventions industry

Planners and destination CVBs  must retrace the journey to break free of daily routine to become a better version for the community and the industry

  • 58% of planners want to hear about suppliers’ safety plans/strategies more than anything else, and seemingly hollow messaging such as “We’re open for business” resonates with just 5% (MPI Survey)

Drive-In Destinations Increasing in Popularity

  • Walkability, outdoor restaurants/activities, and easy access are key assets for destinations hoping to thrive as car-accessible meetings gain popularity in the reopening landscape

Outdoor Offerings are More Attractive

  • Destinations that have plenty of outdoor enjoyment to offer groups are now actively promoting these attributes in an effort to attract more business as live events begin again
  • Natural environments reduce feelings of isolation, promote calmness, and lift moods

Meeting planners are increasingly asked to do more with less, and choosing a destination is only the first step- that’s where CVBs come in as the strategic partner planners are looking for and need

The Future of the Event Industry Digital Event – July 30
Digital Edge Takeaways:

The Business of Virtual & Hybrid Events in 2021 & Beyond

  • Three things to do for hybrid events:
    • Alternate between live and on-demand
    • Keep changing the pace and size of the group
    • Challenge people on what they should attend, what they find intriguing
  • Execution: There is an opportunity for disruption if the software can simplify it and create a virtual event in a cost-efficient way whether than extremely expensive

Integration: Revolution will be year-round for virtual and mobile as tools and technology evolve

  • Planners will have to decide if they want to go with the stream and become digital marketers

Designing Hybrid Experiences

  • Hybrid events can drive change for participants but must be designed with empathy for both audiences
  • Hybrid provides a solution for bringing all relevant audiences to an event by being flexible and reactive
  • A highly curated experience to understand why people are attending, where are they joining from, will they join from home, what platform will they be joining from, using a two-screen experience
    • Two-screen experience: Using an online platform along with mobile app
  • Determine the integration between platforms-when you’re going to share content, event duration, and time zones of both audiences

The Future of Destinations: Virtual to Reality

    • CVBs are getting creative by developing customized agendas for planners to experience a destination virtually and in-person, launching virtual destination experiences (FAMs), partnering with convention centers and venues to make 360-degree videos for people to explore on their own time, and more

How can DMOs help bring live meetings back? Some planners are ready to travel and some aren’t.

  • Meet them where they’re comfortable, be dedicated to helping planners with marketing support, virtual platforms, and hybrid options
  • Collaborate with convention centers & have conversations with hotel partners about cancellation and attrition policies

The Future of Trade Shows

  • Over the next 6-9 months, how can CVBs help in planning events safely?
    • Look at where you’re destination stands for planning small or large gatherings, who the attendees are, and if you’re having the show in an appropriate market
  • Trade shows will become more hybrid as hundreds of companies are investing in virtual technologies

Navigating the New Normal: Trends in Customer Experience & Commerce in the Age of COVID-19 – Webinar July 29
Digital Edge Takeaways: 

  • Digital is having year-to-year growth and CVBs need to adapt
    • The COVID-19 pandemic will have long term implications on consumers and how they are changing the way they interact
  • Digital experiences, security & automation are all at the core pivot for marketing your CVB
    • Shift to digital delivery or customer experience
    • Automation of business processes
    • New information security tools/practices
    • Adopting cloud-native software development practices
    • Data analytics
  • Digital leaders prioritize customer experience over costs
    • Will have to transform how businesses are attracting, retaining and supporting their customer
    • Emotion is the currency of experience
  • Data, digital, and intelligence will separate leaders from laggers

The Future of In-Person Events: Find & Plan Space for Safer Events Podcast Discussion – Podcast Discussion July 28
Digital Edge Takeaways:

  • Safety is first and foremost: Working with hotels & venues on safety meeting outlines, best health practices, implemented guidelines, a care-of-duty plan, and other accommodations will be the standards of convention services moving forward
  • Smaller meetings are coming back first, with secondary destinations picking up faster than main and top destinations
  • Communication has been key between planners and hotels/venues
    • Planners need to really understand the destination venues & hotel measures for guests from the first step in the venue to the very end of the event
  • It’s not about getting as many attendees as possible to attend now, but about how many in-person attendees are you able to take and plan accordingly

Adobe Experience Makers Live 2020 Digital Event – July 22-23
Digital Edge Takeaways:

The Future of Marketing is Creative

  • Set ground rules for innovation
  • Digital is the main event
  • Re-imagine: Offline strategy doesn’t directly translate to online behavior
  • Continuous engagement: From a moment in time to long-term value

The 5 Phases to Leading the Change

  • Plan on using data to unlock customer insights
  • Understanding customer pain points, selection of sessions, content creation, reevaluating event goals and benchmarks, & leveraging analytics
  • Create brand loyalty on and offline
  • Marquee content, new video formats, authenticity, ease of consumption, lead with your customers
  • Engage and forge deep connections on and offline
  • Convert – make the conversion as easy and intuitive as possible
    • What content is most relevant? How can you align content to your attendees’ journey? How can you entice attendees?
  • Optimize

Pivotal Steps to More Empathetic B2B Marketing

5 immediate actions we can all take to develop helpful, relevant content

  • Listen to your customers and employees by giving your ecosystem a forum to share feedback
  • Communicate clearly and consistently both internally and externally
  • Make sure you’re talking to your peers with consistent and clear communication
  • Practice inclusivity – Now more than ever, this is top of mind so don’t just solicit feedback from the top, solicit feedback from all places
  • Be authentic in your voice and your actions

Launch Virtual Events to Make Your CVB Stand Out and Win Big

  • When going virtual, everything must be more engaging & automation is key
  • Having employee advocacy can extend reach, keep people engaged, and lets you control your content

What kind of data can CVBs and planners leverage from virtual events?

  • Besides just the number of registrations and leads, we can really dive into firmographic/demographic data which helps to identify the interest in the market, the regions are you getting the most attendees from, and help inform future strategy

Move to a Virtual Landscape: Budgets, Events, and More

  • Virtual has made digital transformations that are much more important for:
    • Reviving our own demand engine
    • Revamped and scaled sales processes,
    • Previous clients coming back because they realize the digital transformation reality we’re in
  • Virtual Accommodation Tips for DMOs and Community Partners
  • Turn webinars into series rather than one-offs: Leave them wanting more and follow-up.
  • Surprise and delight: Have something nice sent to people involved in the webinar and start it off casually, rather than hopping right into it
  • Ask yourself: What types of events were working for in-person events, and in what ways can it be translated into the virtual space?
  • Don’t hit all of your customers with the same webinar. Target accordingly to those in different phases of the buyer journey.

Preparing for Hybrid Events -Webinar July 22
Digital Edge Takeaways:

Hybrid Events are Driving Digital Transformation

  • 52% of event professional planned to move portions of their event content online (Source: PCMA Convene)
  • Technology has seen a massive advance capable of facilitating hybrid meetings and events

It is IMPORTANT for CVBs to continue providing content marketing around this topic to showcase their tech capabilities and inform planners of their hybrid options as a meeting destination.

  • Think Creatively about meetings. Create awareness of Hybrid Meetings as the Solution
  • For Planners: Becoming more savvy with technology and methodology or hiring an expert that is can ensure a more successful hybrid event
  • For Meetings Hotels/Venues: Need to forge greater relationships with planners and suppliers; Have greater flexibility as a hybrid event host; Learn how they can accommodate planners on the virtual side

Hybrid Events: What You Need to Know Now -Webinar July 16
Digital Edge Takeaways: 

Incorporate Content, build a sense of community, attract Sponsorship, and use Analytics in one event while engaging an in-person audience and a virtual audience

  • Shift from an event organizer mindset to an event producer mentality.

Hybrid is the path forward, so think about The Hybrid Event Opportunity

  • More people can be included even internationally
  • Green + Sustainable
  • Bigger platform=more opportunity for monetization

Northstar Meetings Group Pulse Survey: (July 15, 2020)
Digital Edge Takeaways:

  • 40 percent of meeting planners expected to hold rescheduled events during this calendar year, according to the Pulse Survey’s June 17 findings, but that number has now declined to 25 percent in the latest results.
  • More than half (56 percent) are now eyeing the first half of 2021 as the earliest time frame for rescheduled meetings, with the remaining 17 percent pushing dates into the latter half of 2021 or beyond.
  • When they are able to meet, safety will be a top priority with nearly 3 in 4 meeting planner events will require and supply face masks.
  • Uncertainty is and will be meeting planners’ biggest obstacle as the variability of COVID-19 cases continues to change. A close second is inconsistent guidelines and/or protocols being implemented/followed by each state and its counties.
  • Expectations for meeting and event planning in 2020 have sunk significantly as more planners currently look a year out (or later) to book new events.
  • Sports will lead the recovery: Meeting planners are particularly optimistic about sports and esports recovering from the pandemic.
  • One sentiment is universal: Nothing can replace the face-to-face experience during meetings, but the reality is virtual/hybrid meetings are here to stay and planners need to become savvy or get experts on the technology and methodology to put on successful meetings.

Destinations International Annual Convention July 14-15
Digital Edge Takeaways:

  • Diversity & Inclusivity will be a priority within the Meetings Industry (Travel and Tourism).  Ensure your destination is prepared and involved in this discussion both internally and within your community
  • Use social to focus on informing, rebuilding trust and ensuring destinations remain top of mind
  • Five primary themes of importance to travelers:
    • Health and Safety
    • Flexibility
    • Local/Drive Markets
    • Value for Money
    • Destination Timing/Guidance

Evolve and Elevate Microsessions: Understanding the Recovery After COVID-19  Sponsored by STR

  • Stay top of mind with planners by continuously providing updated information and relevant messaging
  • Get innovative in meetings
  • Get digital; learn how to sell and cultivate relationships digitally

Developing Community Partners for  Meetings Growth

  • Focus meetings marketing growth/recovery where your local community is looking to grow
  • Create symbiotic relationships & use metrics that go beyond room nights to engage your community
  • Utilize free research to develop a phased recovery strategy
  • Tell your story & utilize your own channels
  • Ensure your sales team is ready & equipped to sell and service digitally 
  • Avoid industry jargon
  • Leverage digital marketing & media to target more effectively

Investigating the Latest Trends in Outdoor Recreation, US Travel July 9
Digital Edge Takeaways:

  • Destinations with outdoor spaces/recreation are poised well for recovery
  • 60% of Americans view outdoor activities are safe which can encourage attendees to travel if the destination has access to outdoor activities
  • Dive into analytics and look at visitation growth within your regional markets
  • Create hyper-local targeting
  • 2020 will be all about the PIVOT

Coming out of the Shutdown – there will be winners and losers, Connect Travel, July 8
Digital Edge Takeaways:

  • Spend the next 6 months preparing for a fruitful new year
  • DMOs ARE a massive advocate for travel and tourism use the platform wisely and keep audiences informed
    • Activate engagement
    • Support the product
    • Support the industry
  • Understand purpose-based travel
  • Emotional connectors: what is your community purpose?
  • Logical connectors
  • Build and strengthen relationships and partnerships during this time

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