Alex Land, Sales Executive, Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority – LVCVA weighs in on the evolving role of destination management for face-to-face events in our ongoing series titled “Innovation and the Future of Events: An Exploration“.
The Future of Destination Management
By Alex Land
The tradeshow and exhibition industry is a barometer into the overall pulse of the economy. When economic market segments ebb and flow, so do the major events surrounding said segments. As a Destination Management Organization (DMO) we have an increasing responsibility to help our clients grow the peaks and flatten the valleys – after all, shrinking shows mean fewer hotel rooms and less revenue flowing for all of our stakeholders.
A few ways I see the role of the DMO evolving over the next decade:
Prediction #1: Destinations must create (and seek out) better metrics to support their clients.
For example, I was recently presented with an RFP that asked for quite a bit of detail on Las Vegas’ airline lift. It was a rare opportunity to provide something supportive beyond ‘rates and dates’. Not to be sales pitchy, but Las Vegas has decades of data that shows an 8% attendance bump for meetings that rotate into our city averaged across all verticals. That kind of verifiable data is important when my convention center competes in a market saturated with 400,000 sq ft boxes.
As tradeshows and exhibitions fight an increasing amount of competition for marketing dollars, exhibition organizers cannot afford to simply pick a city from a map based on region and a two-day site visit. We, as DMOs must ensure we are supporting our clients with the information they need to make informed decisions on where to hold events.
Prediction #2: Technology currently seen as a premium will become an expected commodity.
Oversaturation of mobile event apps is a perfect example. Imagine, instead, a destination-powered app that is provided for free to ALL visitors regardless of their purpose for visiting. This hypothetical app would provide wayfinding in the destination, ‘best of’ lists parsed from eater/thrillist-type websites, the ability to purchase show tickets or even make restaurant reservations. Users would link themselves to specific events taking place in the city, which would then integrate event-specific content, traditionally provided by event-specific apps, provided by the show organizer.
This hypothetical app is a win/win/win – organizers are given a completely free and easy method to deploy content. Users are given a compelling reason to download an app which will drive adoption far beyond the underwhelming 15%-ish seen now. Finally, (and most important to me) the DMO gains a priceless commodity: data useful for studying economic impact and visitor patterns.
Prediction #3: My big one – Stronger partnerships between DMO and show organizer.
For many years my organization has been operating dedicated campaigns designed to connect show organizers with potential exhibitors and attendees. We regularly bring organizers and marketers together to talk about how we can use the strength of our organization to help grow events through new technology or other areas.
In the near future, I expect this sort of partnership to grow – after all our clients are creating these amazing, world-class platforms to attract visitation. If I can provide a small subset of my resources and branding power to move the attendance needle, why wouldn’t I? (Actual sales pitch: to learn more about how Las Vegas is leading the world in this regard, email me: firstname.lastname@example.org)
In the long-term I see cities considering more of a co-ownership model. Say a convention center traditionally has a 2-week gap in mid-April. Why not provide a promising launch show a rental discount in exchange for a decade’s worth of destination exclusivity? Why not host your top 10 organizers in a room to brainstorm new show ideas to support an underserved market? Why not incentivize organizers in other destinations to co-locate with current shows in your city? Las Vegas hosts world-class “prosumer” shows – sexy, ostensibly B2B events that attract as many passionate fans as they do journalists and traditional buyers. What if we extended these major events’ footprints in the city by helping facilitate consumer-focused spin-offs?
A nimble, startup mentality in the DMO space will revolutionize the way cities partner with their clients.
Prediction #4: Someone will find a way to utilize the blank spaces in convention centers left over from pay-phone banks. Fax me if you have any ideas!
More to explore in this series: