Disruption is happening all around us. The business models that worked in the past are failing. Just take a quick look at what is happening in retail, transportation, healthcare, and community involvement. These are only a few of the areas experiencing disruptions. A key area of disruption that we are experiencing in McAllen is in the tourism industry and how it is marketed and consumed.
The disruptions in tourism are challenging the old business models we have built. Ask any hotel operator in McAllen about how different the market is today than just five years ago and a person will get a “hearty” agreement about how challenging the market is now.
Disruptors are impacting how we are operating, as well as how we should be operating and adapting to the new opportunities. Here are just some of the key elements of the disruptors: Speed of change and disruptions; increasing isolationism (America’s First Policies); video is the new currency; crowdsourcing is driving what people see, listen to, and where they stay; mobile is the primary channel for visitor engagement; big data and how it enables targeting for bigger and better responses; and expansion of the sharing economy.
There are four key areas our community needs to continue to develop, and if we do so, they will play a role in our success in the coming years. Here are the four key areas of focus:
- Storytelling In the past, the Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB) had positioned itself as a gatekeeper in regards to messaging and channels for messaging. Information is everywhere today and consumers are overwhelmed by what they can find. Content and conversations are driving what people are looking for and the CVB is taking on a greater role in creating meaningful content and storytelling. People are looking for genuine stories and authentic experiences and the CVB is now starting to drive storytelling.
- Big Data We are coming to the realization that we need to invest in analytic capabilities, instead of relying on intuitive feelings. Big data will drive our CVB’s ability to understand who is staying here and key information about their group and profile. This type of analysis is new for the CVB so it will take time and effort to gain “buy-in” from our local hotels and partners, but it is critical for better decision making and marketing.
- Economic Development Tourism adds 10% to our local gross domestic product. Other communities are actively looking to expand tourism as a critical component of their economic development strategies. Growing tourism and number of visitors is a catalyst for economic growth for our community. We need to continue to look at the essential strategic investments that will drive growth in visitors and their experiences.
- Destination Development We recognize we need to play a more active role in destination development and we are launching an exciting five-day event for July 2019 that will bring visitors and locals together to enjoy an authentic and participatory celebration of culture, food, and entertainment. “Placemaking” is critical for McAllen’s long-term success and the CVB is playing a role in helping make things happen.