Customer retention within DMOs – the example of Iceland

Is it possible to apply customer retention within the destination management industry?  How can a DMO track all of the visitors and create destination loyalty by generating re-visits?

In marketing terms, customer retention is about retaining already established customers, by making a division between former and current clients and analyzing the likelihood of those who are demonstrating signs of ending the relationship. Therefore, based on that information, further investments could be undertaken to retain the potential departing customers (Peleen, 2013).

Throughout the blog, the definition of destination marketing organizations by the Destination Marketing Association International (DMAI) will be used. DMOs are organizations “charged with representing a specific destination and helping the long‐term development of communities through a travel and tourism strategy”.

Due to the increasing destinations competition and travelers’ desire to visit different destinations, generating re-visitors could be a difficult task to achieve but will be definitely beneficial for the destination. Destination loyalty, can be tracked by measuring repeat visitation with the use of a DMO’s visitor monitor programme (Pike, 2005). In 2011 the DMAI published a handbook for DMOs to provide benchmarks for evaluating and communicating the organizations’ performance to stakeholders. The ultimate measure of the DMOs’ marketing productivity is the number of individuals whose visit to the destination was clearly generated by the DMO’s marketing efforts. In order to gain an overview of all visitors generated, DMAI recommends that DMOs conduct custom advertising effectiveness research studies (Standard DMO Performance Reporting, 2011).

Generating re-visits could be possible depending on the efforts of the DMOs to interact and communicate with its visitors in order to create a valuable connection. The marketing campaigns and promotional techniques used, both offline and online, should be entirely focused on interacting with the DMO’s followers and aim at building a relationship with them. Following the development of communication media and experimenting with innovative campaigns through different social media channels is the way forward; encouraging travelers to become regular visitors.

A great example for customer retention is the campaign created in Iceland after the volcanic eruption in 2010. It was designed by the DMO of Iceland, supported by the government and other tourism-related organizations. The number of visitors to the country significantly dropped after the volcano erupted and drove negative emotions. A quick response to the event was needed to improve the image of the country, attract positive associations and tourist visits again. ‘Inspired by Iceland’ was a huge commercial social movement in which Icelanders and tourists were used as advocates to promote the country of Iceland. People from around the world posted stories and shared their memories on Facebook, Twitter and Vimeo (“Case Study: Inspired by Iceland « Best Marketing,” n.d.). The campaign had a global impact and resulted in increased number of visits and also generated re-visits stimulated by bringing back memories and emotions of previous travels.


Case Study: What Do People Actually Think of Travel-Based Virtual Reality? (2016, March 16). Retrieved from

Peelen, R. Beltman (2013) Customer Relationship Management. Pearson Education Limited.

Pike, S. (2005). Tourism destination branding complexity. Journal of Product &Brand Management. 14(4): 258-9.

Shirazi, F. M. (2013). Relationship marketing and destination loyalty: evidence from Penang, Malaysia.

Standard DMO Performance Reporting, A Handbook for Destination Marketing Organizations (DMOs). (2011). Destination Marketing Association International.

4 thoughts on “Customer retention within DMOs – the example of Iceland”

  1. The key to succes in destination marketing is not the height of the marketing budget, but how well a DMO is able to interact and connect with visitors and fans, in other words to “engage”. Therefor it is essential to transform as professional DMO organisation from transaction focused to interaction and relationship.
    Meaning you have to move forward from pushing messages to actively start community building using all the channels and devices available. A great example how to do this effectively is Iceland.


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