by Lisa A. Grimaldi | February 01, 2015
What should destination marketing organizations be worrying about in the coming years? And what new developments should they be embracing? Such questions are central to Destination Marketing Association International's latest initiative: DestinationNEXT, a two-part study that looks ahead to determine trends and influences that will help DMOs navigate the fast-changing world of business, group and leisure travel.

For the first part of DestinationNEXT, the following key DMO trends (and more) were identified by two different panels of industry experts convened by DMAI, which then sent a list of same to 327 organizations across 36 countries, asking recipients to rate the trends in order of importance. (Note: The second part of the study will be released this summer.)

The order of items under each subhead corresponds to how prevalent the trend was cited by survey respondents; the top 20 trends from the entire list are identified with two bullets (••) instead of one.

•• Social media (e.g., Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Weibo) is becoming the main way to reach the travel market.

•• Mobile platforms and apps are becoming the primary engagement platform for travelers.

•• Smart technology (e.g., phones, bag tags and cards) is creating new opportunities for innovative new services and processes.

•• Technology is improving customers' ability to make fast decisions.

•• Big Data has arrived in the tourism industry: Every airline reservation, every hotel stay, every rental car reservation creates data that suppliers can use to customize marketing and travel experiences.

• Smart technology (smartcards and baggage tags) is simplifying the processing of international passengers.

• Advances in technology and social media are offering greater collaboration opportunities for competitors to work together (e.g., destination sites that list all hotels in a city or region that allow travelers to book their property •directly).

• Wearable technology will enable destination marketers to personalize their services.

• Personal ecosystems -- where travelers use their smart phones and gadgets to help them in their daily lives -- are connecting with destinations' digital ecosystems. For example, an airline may create a virtual travel agent app that recommends the perfect destination for an individual, based on traveler's preference.

What Travelers Want
•• Customers increasingly are seeking a personalized travel experience.

•• Travelers are demanding more and more information, control, interaction and personalization.

•• More travelers are looking to experience a local resident's way of life.

•• Consumers are increasingly comfortable with online purchasing.

•• Short-stay trips and mini vacations are becoming increasingly popular.

•• Peer-to-peer websites (such as  TripAdvisor) are driving more customer purchases.

•• Customers increasingly are go•ing directly to suppliers for goods and •services.

• Combined business and family travel as well as multigenerational travel are becoming more popular

• Individuals seeking to be engaged in discussions with cyber communities are proliferating.

• Conscious travel (environmental sustainability, social justice and cultural rejuvenation) is rising in importance.

• The market is moving toward a shared economy with assets either being rented or bartered (e.g., Airbnb and Uber) outside of traditional commercial arrangements.

Planner Considerations
• Meeting planners are choosing destinations based on financial outcomes over destination appeal.

• Associations are diminishing in size due to generational shifts.

• The increased growth in the number of associations is leading to more meetings with fewer attendees.

• New online teaching platforms are resulting in the decline of attendance at educational meetings and •conventions.

• Reforms in the energy, financial, and health sectors are impacting the competitive environment in tourism and conventions.