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Destination Marketing: Why Locally Owned Businesses Matter



The roles and responsibilities of Destination Marketing Organizations (DMO) are constantly changing and growing. Pre-pandemic, the primary role of a DMO was to promote tourism to their destination and to grow interest from potential travelers around the world. Over the past few years, the responsibilities of DMOs have grown rapidly. They not only are they required to grow tourism, but now many are focused on quality travelers over quantity traveler, supporting the communities that rely on tourism, ensuring that responsible travel is at the forefront of everything they do.


DMOs today are often referred to as Destination Management Companies since they not only play an important role in promoting tourism in a destination. They help to showcase the best that a place has to offer, from its natural beauty to its culture, food, and people. With so much to focus on, many DMOs may overlook is the importance of supporting locally owned businesses and showcasing the unique experiences and products that these businesses offer. Locally owned businesses are the lifeblood of a destination's economy. They provide employment opportunities for local residents, support the local supply chain, and help to preserve the unique character of the destination. But for many small businesses, it can be challenging to compete with larger, chain businesses that have more resources to invest in marketing and advertising. This is where DMOs can play a crucial role.


By working with locally owned businesses to promote their products and services, DMOs can help to level the playing field and ensure that these businesses have a fair chance to compete with larger businesses. This can involve creating business directories or maps that highlight locally owned businesses, telling the stories that these businesses have on the DMO's website and social media channels, or involving them and collaborating on marketing campaigns to promote locally owned businesses to visitors. Supporting locally owned businesses goes above and beyond just talking about their services and product. They must work at showcasing the unique experiences and culture that these businesses offer.


Many destinations focus on their natural beauty and and main attractions if they have them but, while scenic beauty is undoubtedly an important part of the destination's appeal, it's the people, culture, and experiences that truly make a place unique. By working with locally owned businesses to showcase the beauty of their culture and people, DMOs can help to create a more authentic and immersive tourism experience for visitors.


Bhutan: Gross National Happiness

One great example of a destination that has successfully integrated local culture and people into its tourism marketing can be found in the country of Bhutan. This small Himalayan kingdom has embraced the concept of "Gross National Happiness," which emphasizes the importance of cultural preservation, environmental sustainability, and community well-being. As part of its tourism marketing strategy, Bhutan has focused on promoting cultural experiences and supporting locally owned businesses that reflect the unique character of the destination. Involving the many stakeholder in a destination that rely on tourism helps to create a positive feeling towards the growth of tourism and its effect on local communities.


Portland, Oregon: The Flavors of the Pacific Northwest

Another example is the city of Portland, Oregon, which has a thriving food and beverage scene that showcases the local ingredients, flavors, and traditions of the Pacific Northwest. The city's tourism board, Travel Portland, worked with local food and beverage businesses to create marketing campaigns that highlight the unique experiences and flavors that visitors can discover in the city.


Although this has shown to be successful for Portland, one pitfall that many DMOs fall into is the temptation to talk about their growing craft beer scene. Craft beer at one point was a very appealing draw for travelers looking for more authentic experience, but many cities have growing craft beer scenes and for many travelers craft beer is a great addition to a destination, but no longer a reason to travel to a destination. Craft beer is a great highlight, but the impact happens when paired with other culinary aspects of what make your destination unique.


By supporting locally owned businesses and showcasing the beauty of a destination's culture and people, DMOs can help to create a more sustainable and responsible tourism industry. Locally owned businesses tend to have a smaller environmental footprint than larger businesses, and they are more likely to reinvest their profits back into the local community. By promoting local experiences and products, DMOs can also help to reduce the negative impacts of tourism on the destination's natural resources and cultural heritage.


The role of DMOs in promoting tourism in a destination is more important than ever, but it's important that they also prioritize supporting locally owned businesses and showcasing the beauty of a destination's culture and people. By doing so, they can help to create a more authentic, immersive, and sustainable tourism experience for visitors, while also supporting the local economy and preserving the unique character of the destination.


This article is written by Movement Marketing. Movement dedicated to working with DMOs to help them to tell the stories of the entrepreneurs and experiences that truly makes their destination authentic and unique. We go "Behind the Scenes" to show the communities that bring amazing destinations around the world to life! We create Marketing That Matters. Reach out to us to find out how we can help you Join the Movement today.

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