What Does a Destination Organization Do?


By: Andreas Weissenborn, Destinations International

Answering the first of three questions, set out by our need to have a Destination Promotion Community Measurement. 

This blog continues the work we outlined in our earlier blog, where we make the case for why we as a sector need to create a Destination Promotion measurement that can be easily understood by the communities we stand for. We wanted to help address the first of three questions for how such a measurement would work: what does a destination organization do? While big in nature, this question can be quantified in a means that gets to our work without needing a glossary to go with it. Examples of how this question works can be taken from other common goods.  

If you were asked how the town electric power station worked, you could easily answer that it generates power used by our community, and without needing to get into specifics of the process (nuclear, wind, fossil fuel), you would be able to understand what the power station does by knowing the output it generates. Simply, the amount of electricity the power station generated, and thus understanding if the amount of electricity produced goes up, then correlating back to the power station running proficiently at its core directive, generating power.  

Albeit, I will admit a power station does have a cool lexicon by sharing their work is measured in mega or gigawatts! We should strive for a similar analogy, where our community doesn't need to know the specifics of how we work, just simply what our work produces and when we produce more of it.  

Continuing with the power station analogy, we also easily understand when this community asset is failing at its core function. Again, without needing an electrical engineering degree, we understand when we experience black or brown outs, are told to conserve energy during peak hours, or are told to lower or raise our thermostat to offset demand, we can draw the connection that this measurement of this asset is not meeting the needs of the community and should be addressed.  

From megawatt to marketing, we should outline some ways of answering what we do. Knowing every destination organization might be slightly different in scope, structure, and funding, we all have the same purpose and existence. Luckily found within our cornerstone is a starting point: 

“Every community must compete with every other community for their share of the world’s attention, customers, and investment. To compete, people need to be aware of a community, have a positive impression, and want to visit to experience the community and meet its people. 

This is achieved through clearly developing, articulating and managing the community’s brand. Efforts must be made to promote, market, sell, and engage potential visitors. And all of this must be reinforced again and again.  Destination organizations are uniquely positioned to do this. 

Addressing this need for destination promotion is for the benefit and well-being of every person in a community. It is a common good. It is an essential investment to develop opportunities and build quality of life to benefit all the residents of a community.” 

When we steward a brand, whether generating from scratch or managing an existing one, we take our community’s resources (hotels, attractions, restaurants, parks, meeting and event planners, influencers etc.) and produce new brand impressions that are felt by our residents and visitors alike. Not too dissimilar from when a power plant splits atoms to fission or wind to generate turbines to produce electricity.  

Our community can also be acutely aware of when we are not doing what we are supposed to do. All through the pandemic, when our access to materials became limited as restaurants closed, travel slowed, and our ability to access people became difficult from social distancing, our communities suffered. The inverse can also be true: when we are operating proficiently, the lights never flicker, and people want to experience us. Albeit not as visual as a light switch, when we excel at our work, it radiates throughout our neighborhoods, downtowns, and stakeholders. 

After explaining what we do, the next step will be showing how well the destination organization performed. Keep an eye out for how in the next blog! Thank you for reading and following along with this work at both our upcoming Annual Convention as well as Advocacy Summit.