Hotel development has a huge impact on DMO marketing efforts, and Fort Lauderdale, Florida, is a brilliant example of that. Beginning in 2007 when a St. Regis (now a Ritz-Carlton) was erected in the city, many new, high-end hotels have come on board—including W Fort Lauderdale, the all-suite Hilton Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort, a Melia property opening soon, a Conrad in 2017 and a Four Seasons in 2018. This added infrastructure has been “transformative” for the city, says Christine Roberts-Tascione, CMP, vice president of convention sales and services for the CVB, as it’s allowed them to target more affluent travelers and convention markets.
The business of sports events is bigger than ever. DMO professionals on-site frequently cited large-scale sporting events as major moneymakers; furthermore, they talked about the tremendous marketing opportunity those events provide. “You’re on the grand stage,” says Mark Vaughan, executive vice president and chief sales and marketing officer at Atlanta CVB, of events like the College Football Playoff National Championship (coming to Atlanta in 2018), Super Bowl LIII (2019) and the NCAA Men’s Final Four (2020). Likewise, the 35th America’s Cup, not taking place until summer 2017, has already been a huge boon for Bermuda, giving it credibility as a destination for other sports events, say Jamel Hardtman and Karin A. Darrell with Bermuda Tourism Authority.
Smaller destinations sometimes face an uphill battle with hotel revenue managers, especially in highly seasonal regions, explains Mark Crabb, chief sales officer with California’s Sonoma County Tourism. “We’re competing with the transient industry,” says Crabb. “Business is being turned down for groups because they’d rather sell it to a visitor coming into town last-minute on a higher ADR.” Contributing to the higher room rates that often turn groups off was minimal building during the last recession, notes Crabb, which has led to hotel supply falling short of demand in Sonoma County.