When destination marketers work in tandem with local economic development teams, exponential gains result. So says new research conducted by Oxford Economics on behalf of Destination Marketing Association International. 

Through a statistical analysis of more than 200 cities over more than 20 years, case studies, interviews and a literature review, the key findings reveal the broad economic benefits reaped by U.S. destinations that coordinate key destination marketing organization (DMO) and economic development organization (EDO) activities. 

“The study clearly demonstrates that those markets which coordinate destination marketing and economic development realize even greater gains as a result,” said Cleo Battle, executive vice president of the Louisville Convention and Visitors Bureau Destination and chair of the Destination and Travel Foundation, which funded the research.

The study’s review of best practices revealed several areas where coordination between economic development and destination promotion has been effective. By combining efforts and collaborating on key opportunities, EDOs and DMOs have been able to produce major wins for their cities and states in the areas of air service, high profile events, site relocations, new investments and brand awareness.

In particular, Denver provides several examples of the collective impact of tourism and conventions on resident quality of life and, in turn, on economic development:

The Denver Economic Development Corporation (EDC) works hand-in-hand with VISIT DENVER to develop attractions in the metro area including destination amenities such as Coors Field, Sports Authority Field at Mile High, the Colorado Convention Center, and urban activities including the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District, which raises money for the arts from a seven county wide arts tax. “Denver is a small market, so we need everybody. Collaboration is normal and required,” said Tom Clark of Metro Denver EDC.

The reasons that people visit Denver are the same reasons that people want to live in Denver, including a vibrant entertainment and arts sector, outstanding recreation opportunities, seven professional sports teams and a wide selection of shopping and dining options. The airport, EDC, VISIT DENVER, state tourism and state EDC all work together and meet on a regular basis.

The Metro Denver EDC led the effort for funding for a Major League Baseball team and stadium, which became a catalyst for lower downtown, driving the development of entertainment and restaurants and causing 20,000 people to relocate into the area.  

The Colorado Convention Center stimulated similar development on the 14th Street Corridor with new hotels and restaurants. Along with the Pepsi Center, the Denver Performing Arts Complex and the Denver Art Museum, these facilities have created a significant draw for tourism that also led to new businesses and residents moving into the downtown area.

“Not only does the convention center generate $600 million in direct spending every year, but the meetings held here also attract some of the top political and industrial leaders of the world. Often the first time these leaders see Denver is when they attend a convention here, and that exposure can lead to them returning on vacation and ultimately relocating regional and national business opportunities here,” said Richard Scharf, president and CEO of VISIT DENVER.

On the international front, Denver International Airport, VISIT DENVER and Metro Denver EDC collaborated to land new air service from Tokyo, London, Frankfurt, Panama City and Mexico City.

Beyond Denver, other markets have conducted joint marketing missions to other cities and created marketing initiatives targeting incoming business travelers. Following are five proven best practices for EDO-DMO coordination.

1. Air service development initiatives can be more effective with both DMOs and EDAs at the table. DMOs can provide strong support in discussions with airlines with a unique understanding of visitor markets and the associated demand for new routes. 

2. The building and adoption of a brand should be coordinated between DMOs and EDOs. The research found that the best city and state brands appeal to both visitor and investor markets. This involves both the creation of the brand message and the communication of that brand through all channels of sales and marketing.

3. EDOs and DMOs should maintain a platform for regular communication. In some cases, this involves regular meetings to discuss key issues and opportunities. In others, organizational relationships exist to formalize communication. 

4. For important new investment bids, EDOs coordination with DMOs results in the best possible pitch. Given the importance of destination characteristics in the decisions of investors and site locators, DMOs can provide the marketing content and experiences to visitors to strengthen the bid. 

5. EDOs and DMOs can jointly leverage strategic conferences and trade shows. By targeting events in key industry clusters or with a high profile in certain areas, events can be used to develop strategically important sectors of the economy. In addition, once key events have been secured, EDOs and DMOs should work together to establish a presence at these events and gain an audience with executives and other decision makers. EDOs can further leverage high profile events by connecting with media representatives and hosting hospitality events. 

More information is available at destinationmarketing.org.

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