Kvarken Archipelago, Finland
Kvarken Archipelago, Finland
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Digital Experiences

DMO websites — the good, the bad and the ugly

Marie-Josée Legault
Aug, 2023
5 mins

When it comes to trip planning, travelers are using Tiktok, Youtube, OTAs and blogs more often than official DMO websites. So, what’s the role of the DMO website? How do DMO’s feel about their current sites? And, what are some solutions to make your website THE place that fulfills visitors’ desire to uncover authentic experiences and hidden gems with a splash of local knowledge?

MMGY Global released a Destination Marketing Technology Survey last year that includes input from over 155 destination marketers who provided their insights on the current and future states of marketing technology in the tourism industry.

Below are some of the biggest takeaways from the survey:

1. Not representative

71% of respondents believe that travelers with disabilities are either extremely or slightly underrepresented on their destination website. Additionally, 71% of respondents believe that their website is either extremely or slightly under representative of LGBTQ+ travelers; 62% of respondents believe that their website is either extremely or slightly under representative of Hispanic and Latino travelers; and 56% of respondents believe that their website either extremely or slightly underrepresents Black travelers.

2. Personal data fears 

Confidence in the ability of tourism organizations to conform to consumer data regulations grew, with 33% of DMOs surveyed saying they are somewhat or extremely concerned about their organization’s ability to conform to consumer data regulations.

3. Wish list

The top three technologies that DMOs wish they could adopt if budget and resources would allow were:

  1. Website personalization (42%)
  2. Metaverse/VR (22%)
  3. Voice search/smart speakers (20%)

So, this tells us that DMO’s are aware of the issues and are interested in emerging technologies.

On the goal of a DMO website, we can see the majority of DMO’s feel their site should be focused on inspiration. 

Screenshot of MMGY Global's 2022 Destination Marketing Technology Survey results
MMGY Global
MMGY Global's 2022 Destination Marketing Technology Survey results

In looking at several DMO websites, what we see is that these act like a buffet while visitors want a tasting menu. Many sites are more of a bank of listings and cater to the membership of businesses in their communities, as opposed to truly inspiring their guests. 

Here are some thought starters on improving the DMO website’s relevance and driving that inspiration:

Make clear your why

Travel isn’t simply about “getting away”. Gone are the days of escaping the 9-5 to decompress. Today’s travelers are looking to pack in as much richness and meaning into their experiences as possible.

Be sustainable

Sustainability is top of mind for almost everyone. Whether that means the mode of transportation or the types of experiences at a destination, travelers are looking to align themselves with brands who care about the planet and its inhabitants.

This is an inspiring example from Visit Finland, which provides real, concrete tips on how to  travel sustainably while visiting Finland, as well as ways to support locally-owned businesses.

Screenshot from Visit Finland website, Sustainability page

Make it personal and local

In our hyper-connected world, generic content is irrelevant. Consumers have the ability to search out information tailored to their specific needs. Everyone agrees that personal, local stories are more important than flashy brand content when learning about a place or community.

We love this sample as inspiration where Indigenous leaders share their unique relationships to the land, sea, and wildlife of British Columbia.

Screenshot from Hello BC website, showing featured Indigenous storytellers

Tap into social

Social is becoming increasingly important in the trip planning process. Algorithmic tools like TikTok and Instagram provide more relevant content with every video view and tap of a post. User’s feeds are constantly populated with more and more content based on their tastes.

Personalization is paramount

Trip planning shouldn’t be homework. Website visitors want personalized content and suggestions. Through their use of top digital products like Amazon, Google and Meta, they expect websites to know where they’re from, what they like and what they’re going to want to do next. With endless tips on how to use ChatGPT to plan a vacation, planners have it easier than ever.

Screenshot of Google Generative AI
Google Generative AI
Google Generative AI

Stay tuned for the release of MMGY Global’s 2023 Emerging Technologies in Travel & Tourism Study which is scheduled for release later this year. The study will seek to measure industry leaders’ familiarity with and priorities toward emerging technologies. The report will also reveal how these expectations compare with what travelers know about these technologies today and what they find most appealing and relevant from a travel perspective.