Stockholm. “Now, two years ago we decided to bring DMAI outside of America,” reports Michael D. Gehrisch at the CEO Forum Europe of the DMAI (Destination Marketing Association International). The President and CEO explains: “The first step is Europe, second is Asia, third Latin America”. Founded in 1914 as the IACVB, 93 years later the DMAI has opened its first office in Brussels, followed by Singapore next year. 1,500 professionals from 625 destination marketing organisations (DMO) in 25 countries make the DMAI the largest CVB association. 81 members come from Europe.
How serious the US-Americans take their expansion plans is demonstrated by their presence at the Forum from 16 to 18 October 2008. Although only 31 participants attend, Gehrisch accompanies his Senior Vice Presidents for Professional Development Doug Price and Business Development and Membership Sandi Talley. The triumvirate is completely dedicated to their mission. “We want to share our knowledge,” says President Gehrisch and proudly presents the “Future Study 2008”. It will provide DMOs with a strategic framework to plan for the future.
Three global issues are emphasised in the study: Relevance, the value proposition, and visibility. Eight “Super Trends” such as “The Battle for Attention” are derived from them.
Attention is increasingly won by destinations with branding. How this is achieved is demonstrated in their case study “Putting Stockholm on the World Map“ by Julian Stubbs, Head of Global Branding Gyro International, and Peter Lindqvist. “We wanted one message, one brand for everyone – not only for visitors but also for business,” explains the Director Meetings & Conventions from Congress Stockholm. This has been achieved. Whoever lands at Stockholm’s Arlanda Airport is warmly welcomed by “Stockholm – Capital of Scandinavia”. That the slogan irritates is completely intended.
It is decisive that all the stakeholders pull in the same direction – from the city and economic development offices to the airport, CVB, conference centres and hotels as well as inhabitants. “You need to get the leaders on board,” says Scott Taylor. DMOs are turning more and more into economic advocators. Just like the Swedes the CEO of Glasgow City Marketing Bureau likes the irritation set off by his “Glasgow – Scotland with style”. As does Christian Mutschlechner. The Director of the Vienna Convention Bureau pricks up his ears, as this process is imminent for him.
This honest exchange between CEOs in an intimate classroom atmosphere is exactly what goes down well. “The DMAI CEO Forum Europe is well worth attending. It goes beyond an educational to a far-reaching discussion of strategic issues by CEOs for CEOs,” sums up Scott Taylor the two days spent together. “This meeting is about information sharing and discussing when the buck stops, what happens.” This motivates David Hornby, Chair of European Advisory Council of DMAI.
“We at DMAI have great knowledge and great tools that we want to share,” emphasises the Commercial Director of Visit London. But he also knows: “It is a global world. We have to become global.” President Michael Gehrisch underlines: “We bring this message to our US board to fund access to the European market for the next five years.”