A convention and visitor bureau is the organization primarily responsible for attracting visitors to its community for the purposes of tourism related economic impact. In effect, done well this work can result in added jobs, increased tax dollars for the City to invest in community enhancements and vital services, and added livability assets that all can enjoy. In recent years these organizations have been referred to as a community’s “destination marketing” organization or a “destination management” organization. They can also be referred to as travel bureaus, visitors’ bureaus, tourism bureaus, travel and tourism bureaus and more.
Due to the fact that the MN Association of CVB’s is transitioning toward modern references of the world of convention and visitor bureaus, the rest of this piece will reference them as Destination Marketing Organizations (DMO’s). In a few years, there may be another significant shift to most DMO’s being referenced as their community’s Destination Management Organization.
Wikipedia’s definition is as such, “A destination organization, often referred to as a destination marketing or management organization, convention and visitors bureau or tourism board, is responsible for promoting a community as an attractive travel destination and enhancing its public image as a dynamic place to live and work. Through the impact of travel, they strengthen the economic position and provide opportunity for people in their community.
Such organizations are essential to the economic and social-wellbeing of the communities they represent, driving direct economic impact through the visitor economy and fueling development across the entire economic spectrum by creating familiarity, attracting decision makers, sustaining air service and improving the quality of life in a place. Destination promotion is in fact is a public good for the benefit and well-being of all; an essential investment no community can afford to abate without causing detriment to the community’s future economic and social well-being.”
Most DMO’s are not-for-profit organizations that work independently under the auspices of a board of directors. Their primary funding source usually comes from a 3% hotel/motel tax that a hotel guest pays on lodging in the community/ies the DMO represents. In order to collect the lodging tax revenue the DMO has a contract with the local government agency with an obligation to represent and promote their specific destination in order to drive economic development related to travel and tourism. Other sources of revenue can come from membership fees, partnership revenue, event revenue and more.
Specifically DMO’s will promote without bias their community’s attractions, restaurants, hotels, shops, entertainment opportunities, events and unique venues/facilities. They develop strategies that will attract visitors for leisure, sports, conferences, group travel and more based on that community’s particular assets. DMO’s also provide a tremendous amount of services to travelers seeking information about a community if they are planning a trip or on site.
To save time and money meeting planners and event hosts also seek the services of the DMO as they are connected to most people, venues, hotel properties, attractions and more that can ensure an event goes smoothly and participants have a great experience. Using a DMO, an event planner can receive seamless services from a comprehensive community bid to a coordinated familiarization tour to services during their event. The services a DMO provides to planners is free since the source of the revenue allowing for these services to happen in the first place are coming from a public source (e.g. lodging tax).
DMO’s can often be a resource for local partners when it comes to industry trends, a directory of all kinds of local and state contacts in the hospitality, tourism and event services industries, knowledge of pertinent legislative movements and more. They can also serve as advocates for community projects that can promote tourism activities in their community.
Destination Management Organizations tend to go further by implementing strategies that develop their destination in a more permanent manner. These strategies may be related to event creation and management, leisure attractions or infrastructure such as bike trails or park enhancements. It is important to note that in Minnesota, funding for destination management type of work must come outside of the lodging tax.