Virtual reality within DMOs

Virtual reality is exploding as a way to market and promote traveling to a certain destination. It offers immersive, 3-D experiences via videos and images with 360-degree perspectives. Furthermore, recently the possibility to watch VR videos online with a 360-degree view is presented in the online video channels like YouTube making it accessible to everyone. Unfortunately, it does not have the same engaging the mind effect because the surroundings still have an influence on person’s senses (“Travel Marketers Embrace Virtual Reality as the Next Big Thing | Notey,” 2015).

In order to reduce the perceived risks and possible obstacles, travelers are using various sources and channels to receive as much information about the destination as possible. The success and popularity of the VR reality is based on the effect they have on travelers’ minds. By experiencing the virtual reality, the potential visitor is getting the closest impression of a country before the actual trip (Hyun, 2009). In other words, this new method could be seen as a powerful decision making tool and will help DMOs to promote more extensively their destination by creating a memorable image in the visitors’ minds.  Most of the people cannot afford to travel very often and choosing the right destination for their next holiday is very important, thus virtual reality could ensure that they are making the right choice (“Frequently Asked Questions About Virtual Reality—DMO Edition,” 2016).

The advantages of the VR reality were realized by the DMOs and in the past several years, they have started to utilize it as a compelling marketing asset. VR experiences empower travel marketers to transport potential guests to the destination, and they can experience activities, sceneries and get a taste for what it might be like to visit in person. Furthermore, VR experiences and 360-degree videos have a higher engagement rate when compared to traditional videos.

In 2015, Greenlight VR together with Touchstone Research evaluated the interest in this new technology. They found that 80 percent of the people who took the survey were familiar with the VR reality, giving the thumbs up to travel and destination marketers considering using a VR campaign. (“Case Study: What Do People Actually Think of Travel-Based Virtual Reality?,” 2016)

A great example for destination using the virtual reality for attracting and engaging potential visitor is Las Vegas.  The Las Vegas CVA unveiled its 360-degree video and virtual reality app earlier this year. The DMO focused on highlighting interesting and provocative experiences to increase the interest around Las Vegas and drive more tourists. The Las Vegas Virtual Reality App, which is available for free in the app stores, takes viewers throughout Sin City, making it possible for everyone to get a feeling of the city’s spirit. Cathy Tull, the senior vice president for marketing at Las Vegas CVA, called virtual reality “the future of vacation planning”, and also said she believes VR inspires potential visitors to book trips (“6 VR-Forward Brands DMOs Can Learn From,” 2016).

Following the ongoing trends and investing in unique and innovative marketing campaigns is essential for a DMO in order to be seen as a source influencing people’s travel decisions. Virtual reality is the new marketing method used to engage potential visitors with the destination by creating awareness and affecting traveler’s intentions to book an actual trip. Furthermore, it will help the DMOs to better market their presence in the tourism industry, attract more visitors and generate future revisits.


6 VR-Forward Brands DMOs Can Learn From. (2016, July 16). Retrieved from

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

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Hyun, M. (2009). Mobile-mediated virtual experience in tourism: Concept, typology and applications (15). Journal of Vacation Marketing.

Peelen, E., & Beltman, R. (2013). Consumer relationship management. United Kingdom: Pearson Education Limited.

Travel Marketers Embrace Virtual Reality as the Next Big Thing | Notey. (2015, December 17). Retrieved from


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.

The importance of Customer Journey Mapping within DMOs

Destination management organizations have a different approach in engaging with customers compared to the airline, hotel and tour operator industry.  DMOs have the responsibility to market the destination by promoting and selling its must see places and attractions. According to Pike (2004), market orientation is about outward-inward thinking. In other words, DMOs should firstly anticipate the travelers’ needs, and then start developing products and services to meet these needs. A DMO must promote the destination image in a way that offers the benefits that travelers are seeking. The tourism industry is becoming more and more competitive every year, and a country’s positioning in the sector has an important role in enhancing the attractiveness of a destination. Using the right marketing strategies and techniques is essential in order to evoke images of the destination in the traveler’s mind, and provoke his/her senses in order to create a desire to visit the country.

The goal of an effective marketing strategy is to enable the DMOs to differentiate the destination from its competitors. Implementing customer journey mapping is an innovative marketing technique that if used correctly will result in gaining competitive advantage within the tourism industry. Its aim is to enable the organizations to achieve greater customer insight and improve the customer’s experience during the different stages of their interaction with the destination (Awuor, 2015).

Customer journey maps are used to outline experiences from the customer’s perspective by offering a framework of reactions to multiple situations and interactions to the organization. The tool helps ensuring that every interaction or touchpoint between the organization and its customers is relevant, meaningful, appropriate, and enduring (“Mapping customer experiences: An examination of touch points and opportunities for enhancement,” n.d.). The benefits from using this approach within DMOs are having an insight of the visitor’s needs at the different stages of the decision process. This can show the gaps between the traveler’s desired experience and the actual one, allowing DMOs to concentrate its efforts on maximizing the aspects that matter most to the visitors (“What is Customer Journey Mapping & Why is it Important? – Salesforce UK Blog,” n.d.).

The process of implementing the customer journey mapping within DMOs marks the process of managing visitors’ experiences in the destination. The DMOs should focus on exploring the touchpoints between the organization and the travelers and how these touchpoints influence the traveler’s thoughts, feelings and behavior. Analyzing these interactions will give the organization an insight framework of the experiences’ meaning to the visitors. This way they will be able to construct and deliver the ultimate experience that responds to the traveler’s expectations and connect them with the destination in a more personal and memorable way (“Mapping customer experiences: An examination of touch points and opportunities for enhancement,” n.d.).


Awuor, I. (2015). The influence of strategies adopted by destination marketing organizations on international tourists arrivals in Kenya.

Dent, J. (n.d.). Customer Journey Mapping: A walk in customers’ shoes. Ascend.

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Pike, S. (2004). Destination Marketing Organizations, Advances in Tourism Research, Elsevier.

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DMOs – combining offensive strategy with the 5 principles of CEM

Marketing knowledge and the use of the right marketing techniques for attracting and retaining customers is important for every industry. At the end of the day, every single customer matters and has the power to decide the brand’s future. The fast pace of world’s developing corresponds to the fast changes in consumer’s mindset. It is not a secret that exactly these changes represent the biggest challenge for marketers everywhere. The destination management organizations are competing with each other on different levels to provide the best high quality experience for visitors.

According to an UNWTO report (2007) the DMOs today “should not only lead on marketing, but must also be strategic leaders in destination development”. Engaging customers is all about intriguing them with innovative ideas, which sometimes could be risky, however being successful is associated with confronting the challenges on the way. Therefore, it is interesting to know how exactly can a DMO use different approach to drive tourism traffic.

The destination management industry is quite competitive and using offensive strategies will result in more pro-active and ambitious way to concur bigger market share of visitors. However, combining the offensive strategy with the 5 principles of customer engagement management could be seen as a different and innovative approach. The essence of it is to put the potential visitor at the center of the DMO’s marketing and promotional efforts.

Recently, an article advising DMOs to use experience-driven marketing was published in It suggests that DMOs should use several guidelines to strengthen up their customers’ experience and engage them with the destination. However, reading through them a useful transition could be made to the 5 principles of engagement management, which are aimed at connecting with people: as individuals, based on what they do, continuously over time, directed towards an outcome, and everywhere they are.

Adopting both of these methods will result in more proactive market acquisition while also focusing on the travelers as individuals. The DMOs should realize the destination’s natural advantages and aggressively promote them by creating interest and enhancing the positive image of country. This will drive visitors traffic to the must see places in order to experience the uniqueness offered.

However, this can only be possible if an information about traveler’s needs and wishes for desired experience in the destination, is available. Using insight from different social networking platforms or by engaging travelers into an open discussion, DMO’s will have better understanding of peoples’ needs and wishes. Expansion of the DMO’s network is also needed, people are promoting destinations without even realizing it on social media. Bloggers, vloggers and Instagram stars are a key towards the right execution of the offensive strategy.


A Practical Guide to Tourism Destination Management. (2007). World Tourism Organization.

How DMOs should be using experience-driven marketing. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Peelen, E., & Beltman, R. (2013). Consumer relationship management. United Kingdom: Pearson Education Limited.

Marketo.(2014). 5 principle of engagement marketing