Stop Planning, Start Doing - What I learned at Annual Convention


By: Douglas Ralston, True Omni

I have been working in technology for over 20 years now. I have had the opportunity to apply its capabilities to many industries. Still, when I started focusing on Travel and Hospitality I had no idea of the journey I would be going on. Every industry has its
challenges, but especially travel over the last 5 years has had more coming at it than ever, as the world changes and as natural resources are strained. The balance is delicate and I firmly believe that empowering our employees, workers, visitors and our
organization with tools that allow us to address and overcome these challenges is our way through.
As leaders and with all that comes at us, we must be conscious of so many things. Our biggest words of the day: Stewardship, Inclusion, Sustainability, and Strategic Vision. All the while working within the confines of old perceptions, and sometimes slow to change organizations and obstacles beyond just the rules of business.
So allow me to provide a perspective and what I see as a beginning place for one of the key initiatives for every organization around the world, sustainability, and stewardship.
Number 1. Start moving. Yes, there are studies and yes you can do more research, but DMOs must think like businesses these days. They must show strength in direction, and in revenue creation. It’s not difficult to see areas where we can make progress so start by doing something that can provide some impact.
Number 2. Do a SWOT analysis or simply sit down and lay out your key challenges, complaints from the community, or areas that you know as a citizen of your city and state which solutions would make an impact. Break it down into a top 3 and think
through what might help that person, visitor, or local build a more sustainable practice or engagement.
Number 3. The topic I spoke about during Destinations International’s Flashes of Brilliance: Allow technology to help you accomplish these tasks. Why? Because this is how your visitor wants to engage. This will connect your campaigns and direction, and this is how you get your message out to the masses. There is more to this of course, but let's start with a few common denominators that will let us start moving, solving, and showing our constituents we are taking action, not just building a plan based on a few buzzwords.
If you caught my session, I connected the below challenges and options directly with Hawaii’s action plan. Hawaii built a plan during the pandemic to help solve some very pressing issues surrounding sustainability and local sentiment. In this plan, they had several initiatives which could clearly be initiated easily and quickly by using technology.
Here is what they did and what you can do to start making an impact.

Turn Challenges into Opportunities:

  • Deliver visitors transportation options and parking information throughout the visitor journey.
  • Educate visitors on environmental, social, and cultural responsibility.
  • Provide real-time information on unique travel options, events, and activities.
  • Reduce paper-based flyers and marketing materials.
  • Strengthen the local economy by partnering with local businesses.

Technology solutions that can help meet these demands:

  • Find your digital vehicle, in-destination mobile, kiosk, and signage (note: mobile is not necessarily native apps, progressive web apps are far superior, and not just a mirror of your existing website.
  • Transportation is a key element in helping solve local issues and reduce traveler’s carbon footprint:
    • Educate visitors pre-visit on options for getting around, especially in high-impact areas, parks, attractions, hiking, or monuments.
  • Technology to consider to garner mobile and tech engagement:
    • Maps and recommendations for trails, trolleys, and buses.
    • Easy access to booking and real-time tracking of reservations.
    • Provide ways to save money or time, and incentivize the visitor to use digital tools to engage.
    • Appeal to their sense of sustainable ownership and if not their sense of convenience.
    • Timely notifications as they enter locations reminding them, sending out alerts or information to let them know about closures, etc…
  • Kiosk, digital signage, video, and social integrations:
    • Utilize kiosks or interactive experiences inside visitor centers or near high-traffic areas to help visitors find information and tools which allow them to easily share information that will make their experience better to their mobile devices and email.
    • Provide at-point of origin mapping, and transportation directions highlighting areas and local businesses.
    • Contribute educational and dispersion messaging across the destination market in key areas of town and educate them on the best times to visit heavy traffic areas.
    • Create experiences full of exploration and education with trails and merit systems that reward engagement which plays to the uniqueness of your destination.
  • Key technology features to consider:
    • Ticketing and reservation systems.
    • Trails, historic, and cultural push notifications and alerts.
    • Itinerary building and planning.
    • Advertising and brand awareness via signage in airports and key hot spots.
I hope this helps start your curiosity and journey, below are some case studies and examples. We are dedicated to helping our customers move the needle. If you want to learn more or see what might be possible, please connect with us. Setup a discussion or learn more by clicking here.
True Omni case studies references: