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Bronwyn White of reflects on the Travel and Tourism Research Association Annual International Conference that concluded in Vail, Colorado last week

Bronwyn White

What three insights were your key takeaways from the conference?

  1. The digital landscape means there is no excuse for DMOs (Destination Marketing Organisations) marketing blindly without an evidence base.
  2. Many problems and opportunities we face as an industry are similar in each country. I found this particularly with the Visitor / Welcome Centers stream.
  3. I am going to listen more to some of our younger tourism professionals. I think sometimes those who have been in the industry are guilty of stunting their creativity.

Many of the attendees were DMOs from within USA. Are they happy campers at the moment?
Yes. They are in the wonderful position of being funded to the extent that they can inform decisions via market research. Many DMOs work closely with their local universities. This is something that should happen more in Asia Pacific.

What discussion topics kept coming up outside the program sessions?
ROI, ROI, ROI. Risk and disaster management was also a big topic, considering the prevalence of natural disasters.

Was lack of DMO budget a big subject?
No, because in the US there is a bed tax that directly links tourist expenditure to DMO budgets.

What were the causes for enthusiasm or optimism among DMOs you talked with?
Technology and the digital marketing space. Measurable metrics, reviews and social media sharing have all allowed destination marketers to be more flexible and adapt to changing external environments.

Are DMOs up to speed on how Google’s algorithms are changing travel search results?
Yes. Most of them use progressive digital agencies whose job it is to keep on top of these things. The Vienna Tourist Board showed clear evidence of being up to speed with their amazing rebranding campaign. The Utah Office of Tourism is also doing great things in the digital marketing space.

Which sessions were you really impressed with?
I was really impressed with the Clemens Koltiringer of the Vienna Tourist Board and its use of open innovation in shaping Vienna’s 2020 Tourism strategy. Also, Kara Gau for the University of Montana did a great little study on the significance of visitor spending on locally produced goods and services. 

Were there any that were as dry as old bones?
I am really happy to say no!  It is the first travel and tourism conference I have been to where I have learnt lots. Too many conferences now are sales pitches, which personally I find insulting. I am there to learn and I learnt all through the TTRA conference. I would highly recommend it to others.

As a result of the conference which subjects do you intend to address more in your work?
We found some amazing students doing highly innovative research. We plan to help publicize their work through blogs and webinars. We aim to bring new and innovative travel researchers to our members and readers.

About is a market research and marketing firm specializing in the travel, tourism and aviation industries. Its specialty is providing insights that are actionable.

Founded by principals with lifetime careers in travel, tourism and aviation, exists to build the visitor economy and successful tourism businesses. It does this by putting the voice of the customer and best practice business thinking into an easy to implement, hands-on approach via an innovative membership model. can help.

* National Tourism Organizations (NTOs) meet the expectations of their industry by acting as an extension of their research and marketing resources
* Businesses make more informed decisions. (It is like having your own research and/or marketing team)

Contact: Ann Sriwongsa / (+66) [0] 2160 2644

Contact: Ken Scott / (+44) [0] 7949 077959

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