Skift Take

When DMOs are performing consistently at the optimal level it adds a significant amount that no one other body is able to provide. A great overview and recommendations on what should be done in post-covid era.

The UK government has a habit of coming out with these big reviews of sectors once in a while and tourism is certainly one of those sectors. Since March 2021, its Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport, under which tourism in UK and England falls, has been conducting a review since March 2021, what it calls an independent review to examine and assess the role, structure and performance of destination management organisations (DMOs) across England.

It has come out with an 80-page report — called The de Bois Review — which has a great overview of the role of DMOs in the modern economy of a country, what needs to be done to simplify the structure of it and what role should the government play in the sector. The review was led by Nick de Bois, Chair of the VisitEngland Advisory Board.

The conclusions of the report are valid on a broader level across all DMOs, and we thought it is worth extracting a condensed version of those findings. The full report for download is here.

The key questions answered in the report: what does a high-performing DMO deliver, under what conditions does that arise and what is the role of the government in creating and maintaining those conditions?

From the report, a high performing DMO should do the following. It:

  • Is actively involved in destination management, not just marketing.
  • Is built around the consumer rather than administrative boundaries set by the Government (although it is helpful when these align).
  • Covers a geographic area with a tourism offer that comes together as a compelling and competitive brand.
  • Has a clear strategic, long-term vision for how to develop the destination in line with its key strengths, so it remains competitive and sustainable.
  • Acts as the ‘broker’ and/or ‘convener’ for the tourism sector in the area covered. DMOs should be true partnerships between public, private and community organisations.
  • Is a strong and trusted advocate for the tourism sector, bringing relevant stakeholders with them, with a seat at the table when it comes to major decisions about transport, inward investment and so forth, and able to marshal evidence to illustrate the situation on the ground and the impact of visitor spending.
  • Should be well integrated with the country’s overall tourism strategy, and have the capacity to deliver grant-funding projects on behalf of central Government if required;
  • Should be outcome-focused and financially sustainable, not continually fighting for survival or serving as a vehicle to boost individual egos.
  • Undertakes activities that match the development needs of their destination, ensuring it remains sustainable and competitive. This will vary from DMO to DMO and, yes, it almost always involves marketing but that is not the be all and end all. Getting visitors to a destination is just one aspect of developing a competitive and sustainable visitor economy.

When DMOs are performing consistently at this level it adds a significant amount that no one other body is able to provide. Consumers will know the destination exists, that it presents a compelling and cohesive offer and they will be more likely to have a great experience when they visit. If they don’t, the destination will be able to collect evidence to know about it and implement a fix. Tourism businesses will have skilled staff capable of serving consumer needs and will have up to date evidence on how they need to innovate and adapt to ensure the destination remains competitive. Investors will be more inclined to look at the destination as an opportunity and the local community will embrace the opportunities presented by the visitor pound. More visitors come, they will be incentivised to stay longer and spend more, more jobs are created and prosperity flows.

This list of recommendations to DMOs, though England specific, is also worth considering:

The full report has a lot more findings, and worth any tours,-related professional to look through.


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Tags: DMO

Photo credit: The gains of the UK's successful vaccination program could be wasted if the country does not relax its strict restrictions, tourism and airline groups say. Giuseppe Milo / Flickr

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