The most valuable DMO services per DMOs and hotels
By Linchi Kwok , Associate Professor at The Collins College of Hospitality Management
- Membership management
- Training and education
- Data and research
- MICE (meetings, incentives, conventions, and exhibitions) business creation
There is relatively little research, however, that has reported the specific services provided by DMOs to hotels. Additionally, as suggested in the stakeholder theory, hoteliers and DMO operators, who represent two key stakeholders of a tourist market, might perceive different values regarding the same services available.
I then worked with Tiziana Oggionni, a recent graduate of the master's program in the Collins College of Hospitality Management at Cal Poly Pomona, on a qualitative study. The results were published in Journal of Destination Marketing & Management, answering the following research questions:
3 research questions
- What DMO services do hotels use?
- How valuable and helpful do hotels perceive the services provided by DMOs?
- What are the desirable new services that DMOs could provide to hotels?
Data collection and data analysis
We designed a qualitative approach, where 14 semi-structured interviews were conducted in two phases for data collection. The first phase began with in-depth interviews with five (5) DMO representatives working in a national, state/regional, or local level about the DMO services provided to hotels, using the interview protocol developed from a review of literature. The data collected in the first phase were then analyzed and used to advance an improved protocol for the next phase of the study.
During the second phase, we further interviewed nine (9) hotel informants using the improved protocol. These nine hotel informants managed properties in a wide range of market segments (from economy to luxury hotels). The focus of this phase was to assess hoteliers' evaluations of the DMO services received, as well as their suggestions on the areas that may need improvement.
In terms of data analysis, we firstly analyzed each dataset collected in two different phases separately, both with the content analysis methods. Afterwards, we further triangulated the results from two datasets before reporting the final findings.
Our triangulation analysis revealed some intriguing insights. We were able to identify at least seven (7) instead of five (5) services provided by DMOs for all stakeholders of a tourist destination (nothing really specific to hotels). Furthermore, there were also some discrepancies regarding the perceived values on those services among DMOs and hotels. For example,
- Membership management: DMO informants wanted to ensure their hotel partners to fully appreciate the benefits coming with the membership, but this service was not reported as relevant or highly valued by hoteliers.
- Training and education: DMO informants valued this service, and hoteliers also recognized its value even though they did not perceive it as the most valuable service received.
- Data and research: DMO informants wanted to further strengthen this service, and hotel informants also valued it as a somewhat important service.
- Lead generation: this is a new term emerged from the data (as a replacement of the old term of "MICE business creation"). In general, both sides valued this service to some degree, but some hoteliers showed concerns of duplicated leads.
- Publications: DMO informants have recognized the trend of publishing relevant information online. Some hoteliers agreed to DMO informants' assessment, but others felt travelers were not ready to surrender paper yet.
- Networking opportunities: Several DMO informants emphasized this service in the interviews even though it was not reported in our literature review. Mixed feelings were found among hoteliers.
- Cost sharing: DMO informants often mentioned cost sharing at trade shows as an available service, which was also highly valued by hoteliers.
- Other existing DMO services: The services mentioned by one or two informants but not by most include online exposure, advertising, promotional service, transportation services, and financial incentives for groups.
- New desired services: It seemed in general hoteliers were happy with the current services provided by DMOs.
Theoretically, our in-depth analysis revealed two emerging services that were not often discussed in previously literature --- networking opportunities and cost sharing. The triangulation analysis also helped us advance the two-dimensional classification of DMO services by DOMs' and hotels' perceptions. Practically, we would like to make the following recommendations to DMOs:
- As far as membership management is concerned, DMOs should maintain open, constant, and two-way communications about all services offered.
- Increase the awareness of the value about educational programs and consider alternative content delivery methods.
- Boost the perceived value regarding the service of data and research by sharing something unique and not-available in other sources.
- Enhance the value of lead generation but at the same time, reduce the risk of duplicated leads by focusing on the markets that hotels cannot easily reach.
- Allocate some effort from printed materials to publishing more information on digital media.
- Be mindful of the scarce time availability of the hotel partners when planning the networking events.
- Maintain the benefits deriving from the cost sharing activities and keep offering such opportunities to hotel partners.
Do you use any services provided by DMOs? How do you value those services? Additionally, what new services do you want see from DMOs?