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How DMOs Can Support Local Businesses Throughout COVID-19

Last updated on November 23, 2020
7 minute read
Key Takeaways

  • DMOs are a central place for COVID-19 communications for your location.
  • They can provide strategic help and financial resources.
  • Get in touch with your local DMO to find opportunities for your business.
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Skill Level

Beginner, Intermediate
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The COVID-19 pandemic has brought unexpected challenges to the tourism industry, and the road to recovery is not a straight line. Reopening tour, activity, and attraction businesses safely and continuing to provide exciting experiences for travelers requires adaptability, clear communication, and large-scale coordination efforts for tourism destinations.

As we’ve experienced throughout 2020, lockdowns and restrictions change at a moment’s notice as governments react to the ever-changing circumstances. During these times, your local Destination Marketing Organization is uniquely positioned to engage the local community and the tourism sector in your destination. DMOs have established networks and communication channels that they can leverage to support local operators during COVID-19. This guide will cover how DMOs can support your business particulalry during this challenging time.

Planning & Communications

By working with government officials, industry experts, and their communities, DMOs are able to create actionable steps to help mitigate the impact of the pandemic for tour, activity, and attraction businesses. They provide a central place to communicate the current situation within their specific destination and outline health and safety protocols that both businesses and visitors should adhere to during the pandemic.

DMOs such as Visit Finland, I amsterdam, and Swedish Lapland offer great examples of how DMOs can communicate strategically to those in their communities. Leverage the existing communications from your local DMO by sharing them on your website and social media to keep your customers informed about when and how they can enjoy your tours and activities. 

In addition to keeping visitors and businesses up to date on current protocols and guidelines, DMOs also communicate the value of their destination to help inspire travelers to visit (when it’s safe to do so). Inspiration comes in all forms and includes engaging local audiences to help them to discover new places and activities in their own hometown as well as enticing travelers from around the world to experience what their city has to offer. Visit Sweden expertly highlights the joys of visiting Sweden – when the time is right. 

screenshot of DMO Visit Sweden's homepage

Pro tip: Your local DMO might be looking for partners to help market tourism in your destination. Get in touch and see how you can work together to promote your area. This could provide new ways to drive traffic to your business’ website!

Financial & Strategic Support 

We are starting to see the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel but the near future is still uncertain for many tour and activity businesses – DMOs can provide support to help keep operators afloat through grants, guidance, and other resources.

1. Educational Content

Many DMOs, like Fáilte Ireland and Visit Scotland, offer educational articles and webinars to help businesses survive – including advice on how to reopen after a temporary closure and how to navigate various financial difficulties the pandemic has brought. Right here on Compass we have created a wide variety of COVID-19 resources with marketing, SEO, website, Dashboard, and business tips – if you haven’t checked them out yet, now is the time! 

2. Local Listings

Because DMOs serve as a central location for someone to learn about a specific destination they make it really easy for visitors to find things to do and where they can do them (with you!). For example, The Austrian National Tourist Office has a listing of experiences travelers can enjoy this winter. If your local DMO has similar listings, get in touch about adding your business – it will provide you with another source of traffic and expose you to new customers. 

3. Financial Support

If you’re looking for grants or financial aid for your business, your DMO is a great place to start. They’re likely to have information on any small business loans, stimulus packages, or tax incentives offered by the local government to help businesses that are struggling. If you’re not sure what funding options are available in your area, reach out to your local DMO and ask how they can help you. 

The examples linked in this guide are just a small sampling of what DMOs are doing around the world. As the pandemic continues and travel restrictions shift around the world, DMOs are an important resource for tour, activity, and attraction businesses. You can turn to them to understand how your local government is responding to ever-evolving challenges and to ask for guidance on how your business can adapt. From connecting you to financial aid to helping you adjust your messaging, your local DMO can be an invaluable partner during this time. 

Pro tip: If you have a close relationship with your DMO, get us in touch by submitting this form so we can collaborate on getting you more bookings together. 

For additional tips, take a look at our guide to digital marketing during COVID-19 and our video on the most impactful ways to communicate your health and safety guidelines.

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