COMMENTARY by Bill Geist 21 April, 2010
Destination Marketers are storytellers. Whether we are in sales, marketing, services, administration or management, our job is to tell a story.
Sales and services people tell the story of meetings and events that thrived in their destination. Marketers tell a story of how enriching a visit to the destination will be. The CEO tells the story of why the investment into destination marketing is so crucial for the economy and Quality of Life of a region.
People love stories. It’s why we watch videos, listen to music and go to conventions. To hear cool stories.
Sometimes the stories are believable. Sometimes they’re not...even when they are true. Which often happens when we try to tell the story of the importance of Destination Marketing and Tourism.
But, we’re getting better at it. My friend Barry White (of the Augusta CVB) tells one of my favorite stories...and it doesn’t rely on research that can often be disputed. He simply takes the number of hotel rooms in his destination...and asks the person to whom he is talking to imagine 50% occupancy. That means, he says, there are at least 2500 people in town tonight that don’t live here...and they have to eat and sleep somewhere. Imagine the number of restaurants we love in our town that would close if those 2500 weren’t here...every night.
From a study recently commissioned by the Greater Phoenix CVB, Steve Moore can now showcase how tourism impacts property tax collections. So now, it’s not just Sales Tax and Room Taxes that depend upon the work of Destination Marketing Organizations...it’s the big money. After all, the property tax valuation of a business is based on the profitability of the business. An increase in occupancy and ADR will likely increase property taxes back to government. If government stops investing in its DMO, it risks a loss in property taxes.
Irving’s Maura Gast suggests that many governments are in the business of selling water. Fewer visitors means less water consumption...and, again, that’s less revenue to government.
And now, comes the next great storyteller: Shelly Green, the new CEO of the Durham CVB. In a 4-part series for the Durham News Service, she connects even more dots than ever before, going well beyond simply visitor spending, jobs supported and tax impacts. Because the Tourism Industry purchases goods and services from non-tourism businesses, that’s broken out. Because some hospitality workers commute into Durham, they are broken out as well...but just the money they spend while in Durham (not their total salary...as much of that gets spent in their hometown).
She even discounts over $50 million in visitor spending (and hospitality industry spending) that leaks into other communities. And, that is a refreshing admission that should reassure people that the DMO is not trying to claim every dollar that walks into town...nor claim that every product that tourism businesses buy is from town.
Congratulations to Shelly (and, to Reyn, whom I’m sure played a role in the thought process before he retired) for making our story even more compelling. And, you can find a link to download the document here on this page of our website.
You know, we may just nail this story one of these days in the not to distant future.
'Til next time,
PS. As you probably noticed, the look of the Z-News continues to evolve as we test new looks and styles. Tell us what you think!