Skift Take

Executives dreaming of bigger budgets have largely turned to social media and influencer campaigns in an effort to broaden their reach without the resources needed for a market-specific approach.

Editor’s Note: Skift is publishing a series of interviews with CEOs of destination marketing organizations where we discuss the future of their organizations and the evolving strategies for attracting visitors. Read all the interviews as they come out here.


This continues our series of CEO interviews that began with online travel CEOs in Future of Travel Booking (now an e-book), and continued with hotel CEOs in the Future of the Guest Experience series (which is also an e-book).

Funding is a perpetual problem for most destination marketing organizations located around the world. Many are wholly or partially funded by the government and restricted to budgets that limit the scope of markets they can advertise in and the investments that can be made for creative, diverse destination content.

As part of our ongoing interview series, we asked the leaders of destination marketing organizations around the globe what they would if their funding was multiplied by ten overnight and found many similarities. Executives would reach out to more defined visitor bases, share their story in more markets, and refine their brand in others.

Below are the responses from nine leaders of destination marketing organizations around the world:

Los Angeles Tourism Board CEO Ernie Wooden Jr.

I have such a long list of wishes. I would accelerate infrastructure issues that I think we struggle to find the right funding for, I’d make it easier for people to see the Hollywood sign and to enjoy Venice Beach.

Most of the work we do here at the tourism board, about 95 percent, is around the business of bringing people who are outside LA into LA. There’s a real market that we’re missing, which is the 18 million people that live around the city of LA. There’s a real market to grow short-stay vacations from people that live in the valley or Orange County.

If I had more money, I’d be able to exploit the culture of tourism in my own backyard. We have wonderful museums and gems around LA that most Angelenos don’t even know about.

Catalan Tourism CEO Xavier Espasa

If we had more resources, our promotion would probably be finer-tuned to each market, studying exactly what type of product each customer wants and trying to reach these customers with a targeted offering. In short, you have to know your customer and give them what they want.

Destination NSW CEO Sandra Chipchase

Sleep in! I think we’d actually have ten times the amount of work. If we had ten times the budget, we’d be able to do things a lot faster and smarter. Investing in technology and getting the right people can make a huge difference in your output.

We would be doing more work in more markets. We’re currently concentrating on our key inbound markets but we’d love to do some development work in areas where we don’t have a huge presence like South America.

German National Tourism Board CEO Petra Hedorfer

We would love to focus more on B2C campaigns, including multi-channeling and cross-media marketing, really strengthening the Destination Germany brand in the eye of the consumer. We would also love to intensify our marketing activities in emerging destinations, such as Southeast Asia and South America.

Choose Chicago CEO Don Welsh

We’d probably spend a lot more in the national and international markets from marketing, advertising and social standpoints. We would do a little more on the convention side to showcase Chicago as a great meetings destination — for mega-conventions and five-person corporate meetings.

We’d have no problem putting a together a very solid strategic plan justifying how and why we’d spend it. The days of these organizations getting money without being held accountable are over.

Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau CEO William Talbert 

Do we need more dollars? Absolutely. It’s about frequency and reach. I’d have more offices covering more countries and do more digital marketing.

Lionel Yeo, CEO of Singapore Tourism Board

It would allow me, from a marketing point of view, to cover more markets than we already do. There are some markets that we would love to explore a little bit more. There are secondary or even third-tier cities that we could go into in our primary markets like Indonesia and China. In a region like Europe, for example, there are Scandinavian countries that I think offer interesting emerging markets for Singapore.

We’d also invest more in industry capabilities. We see it as very much our role to make sure that the private sector in Singapore continues to innovate, continues to develop capabilities that allow them to be more productive, more efficient, and more creative in terms of the experience that they can create for visitors.


VisitDenmark CEO Jan Olsen

We would use that on branding Denmark abroad and increasing knowledge and visitor preference for Denmark. Then there is the whole business events sector, which is big business for our destination as well, and where we are world-leading in developing and using strategic meeting design concepts and sustainable meetings management.

I would definitely boost that part of business, especially toward our main markets in the U.S., Europe and Russia, but that’s entirely a separate story in itself.

VisitBritain CEO Sally Balcombe

We would certainly invest more in emerging markets; they are the real future. It takes quite a lot of money to get through China, it’s an enormous market. To get them to understand what Britain is, where it is and what we offer, takes a huge amount of money.

We would also want to re-energize some markets. One of the points that I made earlier is that we want to reposition ourselves in some markets where we’re well-known. The challenge for all destination marketing organizations is to create the urgency to travel now. There’s a sense in many countries that “I’d like to go there one day” so we would spend more money on creating urgency. It would be very, very powerful for us.


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Tags: fodm, funding

Photo credit: Enver Duminy is the CEO of Cape Town Tourism. Cape Town Tourism

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