PDM Course Descriptions

The PDM certificate program is comprehensive educational program of seven core courses – two conducted in a classroom setting and five available online.

In Person Courses

The Fundamentals of Destination Organizations

The Fundamentals is an interactive educational course focusing on evolving trends in the travel and tourism industry and marketplace and how destination organizations successfully align with these changes. Key to this success are the operations of the destination organizations and its place within the travel and tourism industry. Some of the key topics covered include:

  • The destination organization's evolving role and value to the destination.
  • The destination organization’s operating environment and structure.
  • Marketing and Management
  • Strategic Planning
  • Research/Data Analysis
  • Technology
  • Leisure & Convention Sales
  • Engaging tourism stakeholders in destination place-making
  • Super trends for destination organizations
  • DMAP Accreditation and CDME Credential

The Fundamentals of Sales

Beyond marketing, sales is a vital activity for most destination organizations. It’s not enough to simply do marketing. Destinations need to differentiate the role of both marketing and sales, as well as understand how they work together, this course will go beyond an introductory sales discussion to look at what these differences are and why sales are essential. For those with some experience or for those new to destination organization or CVB sales (0 to 3 years of experience). this is the perfect course to get you what you need to know to start selling. Some of the key topics covered include:

  • Hotel Sales vs. Destination/CVB Sales
  • Understanding Your Product
  • Sales 101: Prospecting
  • RFPs and Responding to RFPs
  • Get to Know Third Party Planners and the Independent Planner
  • Planning FAMs/Destination Previews
  • Site Inspections
  • Working the Tradeshow Floor

Online Courses

Destination Marketing and Research

How does your destination compete? Destination marketing is often key task of a most destination organizations. Marketing allows destinations to showcase the destination’s strengths and create emotional connections with the brand. When this is effectively accomplished, the destination benefits from visitor and convention/event conversion, longer lengths of stay, higher spend levels along with additional economic and community benefits. The marketing of the destination organization can also translate into benefits for the greater business and economic development community. This course presents a consolidated approach to tourism destination marketing. Key elements that destination organizations should incorporate in their marketing programs and highlights current marketing tools like branding and theme development, electronic marketing and events.

In addition to an overview of key terminology, upon completion of this course participants should be able to:

  • Understand the fundamentals of destination marketing
  • Identify a destination’s target markets and key marketing tactics
  • Identify key market research topics and where to acquire data
  • Build and sustain quality branding, positioning and theme development
  • Review digital marketing techniques including trends in social media and viral marketing
  • Develop, implement and monitor the effectiveness of a marketing plan for their destination
  • Utilize events and partnerships to increase the effectiveness of their marketing efforts.
  • Understand and enhance visitor experience as a key marketing tactic

Destination Development and Management

Destination organizations are the architects of the destination, representing both the voices of current and future visitors. Successful destination organization leaders strive to effectively balance marketing the destination with managing the destination. The role of the destination organization continues to evolve. Traditional marketing activities are now just a part of the larger responsibility that destination organizations have to visitors, their industry partners and the larger community. Decisions of what and how to develop the destination involves destination product development (DPD) which should be a major part of any destination organization's overall strategic planning. The DPD process assists the destination organization to build and deliver genuine and authentic destination experiences.

In addition to an overview of key terminology, upon completion of this course participants should be able to:

  • Conduct a Futures Study
  • Understand the tourism product life cycle and where the products in your destination are in the cycle
  • Evaluate the principles of the Triple Bottom Line and how to evaluate products using the TBL
  • Examine good practices in destination product development and what makes a good tourism “product”
  • Explore the concepts of placemaking and the larger role the destination organization plays in destination development
  • Create a vision for strategic development of the destination

Governance and Finance

There has likely been no time in the history of destination organizations where quality governance and finance have been as important as with the contemporary destination organization. With governmental funding often in flux, and financial models changing, successful destination organizations must adhere to quality business practices, including implementing sound governance structures and adaptive, sound financial models. Without a solid institutional and financial base, other aspects of the destination organization will likely fail. Building and sustaining a credible destination organization depends largely on the structures in place to select and manage a board as well as industry partners and external stakeholders. destination organization leaders that understand how and when to engage with their various stakeholders are able to enhance the reach of the destination organization through these partnerships.

Finance goes hand in hand with sound governance. Often considered a “non-revenue” generating activity, much like a skeleton, financial policies and practices are the main support structure of the destination organization body. Both financial and non-finance destination organization staff need to understand how budgets are created, how audits are conducted and a general overview of each organization’s practices in order to understand the decision-making process in each division.

This course will help the participant understand both governance as and finance as essential aspects of destination organization management.

In addition to an overview of key terminology, upon completion of this course participants should be able to:

  • Review the need for establishing a sound governance structure and financial practice and review practices in these areas
  • Review Codes of Ethics and Conflict of Interest Policies to determine what your DO requires
  • Learn to incorporate governance and finance into the organizations strategic planning process
  • Understand good board relationship management
  • Discuss stakeholder management and industry partnerships
  • Support the establishment of financial policies and procedures
  • Discuss financial policies and procedures and the audit process
  • Understand the annual budgeting process and how this ties back to the strategic plan
  • Review revenue collection issues, insurance, contingency funding, capital equipment replacement policies and special issues

Destination Organization Operations: Technology and Human Resources

The greatest asset of any destination organization is the people who work there and the systems that support their work. As human resources and technology are two of the largest expenses of a destination organization, so are they two of the most vital elements.

Destination marketing is a customer relationship oriented profession; thus, making Human Resources absolutely a critical and essential element of its success. Recruiting, hiring and maintaining the right people in the right jobs helps to ensure the success of a destination organization. It is imperative that those people are hired the right way for the right reasons, provided with the necessary tools and authority to carry out their jobs, compensated appropriately, continually trained, constantly motivated, and provided the most conducive environment to successfully carry out their well-defined responsibilities. This course will review these elements to provide participants with the tools they need to understand this essential area of destination organization management.

In addition to a good workforce, a destination organization needs good technology. When used to its fullest potential, technology can support a destination organization’s day to day operations, sales, customer service and research, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, in any language, anywhere in the world. This course will review the role of technology and how to incorporate it into the destination organization's strategic planning and quality control processes, as well as manage its continual process improvement.

In addition to an overview of key terminology, upon completion of this course participants should be able to:

  • Review best practices in human resource management including support in recruiting and maintaining employees
  • Review of relevant labor and employment laws, employee compensation and benefit structures and internal communication techniques
  • Support of leadership training
  • Explore the critical aspects of capacity building and role in staff retention and improvement
  • Understand current uses of technology in the destination organization
  • Review how technology systems are integrated to maximize efficiency and output
  • Evaluate technology and its use in each functional area of the destination organization including sales, marketing, capacity building, customer service and finance
  • Comprehend why its important and how to develop policies and protocols controlling technology use including issues around security, access, privacy and related areas.
  • Review the latest trends and future technological advances for destination organizations

Membership and Communications

Given the number of destination organizations “clients” or “partners” a destination organization’s has, including employees, partners/vendors journalists, members, visitors, potential visitors, elected officials, industry partners, local business leaders and local residents, communications is one of the most essential aspects of destination organization leadership. Good communication strategy not only serves to put out fires but more importantly, highlight and expand the attractiveness of a destination, and its positioning within the larger community. Destination organizations are also evolving to take on stronger roles in advocacy, crisis management, and placemaking, all requiring different and everchanging communication strategies. At the same time, changes in technology, social media, media relations and crisis management all require that destination organizations stay on the communications "cutting edge."

Many destination organizations rely on membership dues as a major source of income. These members not only need different and more sophisticated message from the destination organization, the role of the destination organization and its membership is evolving.

Technology has had a large impact on how destinations support their members but also how they can serve the visitors, for example, online restaurant reservations have now taken a role that might have been held by the destination organizations in the past. Destination organizations must continue to demonstrate the value they bring to their members and the destination.

In addition to an overview of key terminology, upon completion of this course participants should be able to:

  • Discuss the essential role of communications in the functioning of the destination organizations
  • Understand the key elements of a communications strategy
  • Review how to work with elected officials and other community partners
  • Explore the internal versus external communication processes including how to engage with stakeholders
  • Review common membership or partnership relationship structures including what do they do, why are they relevant and how are they defined
  • Discuss the difference between member and non-member destination organizations 
  • Explore strategies to stay keep the destination organizations relevant and provide a value added to the destination
  • Understand various membership committee types, fee structures, employee support, benefits collections and evaluation of the partnerships.