What I Learned at Destinations International’s Membership Summit

This month I was fortunate enough to attend Destinations International’s Membership Summit, or what was formerly known as Shirtsleeves, for the first time!  This conference is for destination management organization (DMOs) and convention and visitor bureau (CVBs) staff members to attend and focuses specifically on partnership and membership (P.S. DMOs and CVBs are interchangeable phrases).  Despite the fact that my current title is “Event Specialist,” my role sits within our Industry Relations department at Visit Bucks County, which is the department that not only handle events, but also partnership and outreach.

Aside from the great sessions I attended, I think the most impactful part of the conference was getting to meet and talk with other DMO professionals and hear about all the ways destinations do things differently even though we all have the same end goal.  It was also really refreshing to see how open everyone was to sharing their tips and tricks, their programming schedules, their email templates, pretty much anything and everything, with the other destinations in attendance.  The lack of competition between the destinations in regards to partnership (since partners must be within that destination) made for a very open, accepting, and educational environment.

With that said, I wanted to share some snippets of information that I picked up while at the conference.

(1) “Destination organizations are a community need. They are a common good.  They should be spoken about as a common good.” (Don Welsh, President & CEO, Destinations International)

From my vantage point, if your community is not on your side, your efforts will never be as successful as you intend them to be.  You want your local community to realize the incredible economic benefits of and to help you further your travel initiatives.  Word of mouth is still incredibly powerful and you want your community to share the good your doing and help to encourage their networks to visit your destination.  At the end of the day, the recipient of a DMOs efforts is the community itself.  The entire system needs to come full-circle in order for it to work at maximum efficiency.  In the words of Brenda Scott Savage, Director of Membership for Visit Houston, “tourism and travel is everyone’s business” and the end goal is “quality of place for everyone;” so community must be front and center.

(2) “The easiest way to create memorable event is to have poor service.” (Jim Gilmore, Co-Founder, Strategic Horizons, LLP and Co-Author of the book “The Experience Economy”)

With global connection becoming easier and more expansive by the day, word travels faster than ever before.  The surest way to create memorable experiences, that are shared with others, is to offer poor service.  Unfortunately, humanity is more apt to share bad experiences as opposed to positive ones.  When your organization has a service failure, that small part of the full experience will stick with your Guest.  When that happens, most businesses automatically think that an apology is the end-all-be-all of fixing the problem.  However, as cliche as it is, actions speak louder that words.  The actual response to service failures should be resilient and immediate action to fix the issue.  Unfortunately, businesses cannot be perfect all the time.  When imperfect experiences happen, how they are solved is the true measure of a business’s ability to deliver on experience and Guest service.

(3) “What gets measured gets done.” (Don Welsh, President & CEO, Destinations International)

It’s no secret, data management, measurement, and analysis is the center of the universe at this point in time.  In Don’s welcome remarks, he reviewed 11 trends that Destinations International has been tracking for travel and tourism.  Trend #5 was: “harvesting data and developing business analytics differentiates successful tourism enterprises and destinations.”  At the end of the day, every destination offers the same base-level services, products, and experiences.  Destinations have accommodations, retail, attractions, and food and beverage options.  How do we show the success or grow rates or visitation in order to show difference between various locations?  Data.  Data can chart those elements of business growth and change, which provides a more concrete way to measure the ethereal concept of visitor experience.  If we know where we currently stand in the eyes of the consumer, it becomes much easier to map how we can improve the designed experience.

Collage from Destinations International's 2019 Membership Summit

If you happen to be someone that works for a DMO or CVB and you’re reading this, I highly recommend this conference.  I heard some great ideas and met some amazing people from various countries and I can’t wait to go back again next year!

All my best,

AlexandraMottershead.com

VBC Education Series: Diversity & Inclusion | #WILW

For those that haven’t checked out my first blog, Meet Alex!, yet, I am the Event Specialist for Visit Bucks County.  One of my major projects within this position is managing and organizing the Visit Bucks County Education Series that we launched this year for our tourism and hospitality partners.  With that said, I wanted to highlight a few items from our last program of this fiscal year held last Wednesday, June 6, 2018:

Diversity & Inclusion: Providing Service for Today’s Visitors

This program was generously hosted by Ron Davis (Director of Diversity & Community Outreach) and his team at Parx Casino in Bensalem, PA and the panel of expert speakers included Greg DeShields (Executive Director, PHLDiversity), Dr. Debra Blair (Associate Professor & Director Assessment, Temple University’s School of Sport, Tourism & Hospitality Management), and Tami Sortman (Founder and Vice President, Philadelphia Gay Tourism Caucus).  So first, I would like to thank all of the above and everyone else that made this event possible.

D&I speakers 2018

Despite living in 2018, the term “diversity and inclusion” (D&I) is still a slightly dirty word.  At one point in time people didn’t want to talk about it because no one ever talked about those topics.  Now people don’t want to talk about it because there seems to be an air of desensitivty since so many people are throwing that term, and similar terms around, without understand the vast spectrum and the constant changes that are part of diversity and inclusion training.  Now, with that said, there are many focus areas within this realm, but this particular training focused on the business case of D&I, culture, and LGBTQIA+.

Instead of getting on my soap box and preaching at you on the topic, I wanted to give you some small, more digestible highlights from the program!

  1. When thinking about “diversity,” a great way to conceptualize the term, as mentioned by Greg DeShields, is to think of diversity as a grouping of varying perspectives brought together at one table.
  2. From a business perspective, it is insane that organizations are ignoring the buying power of various segments of diverse markets.  Provided by PHLDiveristy, the African American community has a buying power of $1.3 trillion, the Hispanic Latino community has a buying power of $1.5 trillion, and the Asian American community has a buying power of $1 trillion.
  3. Did you know that Asian Americans, on average, take 3.3 trips per year, in comparison to African Americas whose average is 1 and Hispanic Latinos whose average is 1.7.  Are they visiting your destination?
  4. The Center for Cultural Intelligence and Project Implicit by Harvard University are great resources to learn more about cultural intelligence and implicit and unconscious bias.
  5. What does LGBTQIA stand for? Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, and asexual.  A great resource to look at for the definitions of these words and more is provided by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation.
  6. To put it simply, understanding gender pronouns is not cut and dry.  In fact, the English language has no gender neutral pronouns.  The easiest and best way to find out what pronouns someone prefers is to just ask.  People will be open to disusing how they want to be identified so don’t just assume.
  7. Diversity and inclusion efforts are not about quick fixes.  D&I is about long-term efforts and strategy, and a true commitment to increase the consumer/visitor/guest experience for all.  D&I is also about being proactive, not reactive.
  8. Two books that were suggested by the speakers are the “Cosmopolitan Canopy” by Elijah Andersen and “Kiss, Bow or Shake Hands” by Terri Morrison and Wayne A. Conaway.

There is so much that our speakers were unable to cover in this program and there is so much that they talked about during the program that I did not cover here, because D&I is so expansive, as I mentioned earlier.  I encourage everyone to check out a similar program by them to learn more about the people in their communities and in communities around the world.  You never know what incredible ideas can be brought to the table and created by- and and in-collaboration with people from all walks of life!

All my best and Happy Pride Month!

AlexandraMottershead.com

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Introducing: What I’ve Learned Wednesdays | #WILW

I’ve decided to started a new blog category that gets the designation of…

#WILW

“What I’ve Learned Wednesday”

Despite having already graduated, I am still dedicated to my own educational advancement; and this journey is something I’ve decided to share with all of you!  Thus, I’ve created this new series that will obviously come out from time to time on Wednesdays and will highlight facts that I’ve learned from courses, programs, and through my own research pursuits.

I’d love to hear what topics you’re learning about yourself and what topics you think I could look into to further my professional growth.  I’d love for these posts to become places where people can share information and find new passions to follow.

So stay tuned for my adventures to come!

All my best,

AlexandraMottershead.com

 

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