by Lisa A. Grimaldi | February 01, 2016

With more pressure than ever for cities to stand out from the rest, destination marketing organizations are finding creative new ways to lure visitors and groups. The latest efforts include storytelling, viral pranks, spectacular HD videos, virtual-reality tours and more. Following, M&C profiles the attention-getting campaigns of four DMOs.

Orlando's new storytellers
Orlando is a destination that inspires deep emotional connections in visitors of all ages and demographics. (Who can forget the first thrilling time they met Mickey and Minnie?) Rather than downplaying those memories and emotions -- elements many destinations deliberately sidestep when promoting business travel and meetings -- Orlando has made a pointed decision to embrace and celebrate its ties to fun times when marketing to all of its varied segments, including meeting-goers.

"We want to remind them of those happy memories and consider making them again," says George Aguel, president and CEO of Visit Orlando.

For its latest campaign, launched last August, the DMO hopes to mine potential customers' personal memories and share them with the world, via its website,, and associated social media channels.

In addition to the usual "what's new" story, says Aguel, this time there's a fresh focus on people. "We want visitors, including meeting and incentive attendees, to share their stories and selfies of their time here."

Aguel feels the campaign will influence planners, too. Today, he says, "planners need to look where attendees want to go, rather than choose a destination and expect people to follow out of loyalty. If you select places attendees love to visit and have great feelings about, it's natural they'll attend."

Since the campaign was launched, Visit Orlando has seen spike in social media and plans to keep collecting stories throughout 2016.

L.A. gets hyper-local
At 472 square miles, Los Angeles is a large city. Its vast expanse, incorporating 10 regions and dozens of neighborhoods, can be intimidating to out-of-towners, a fact not lost on Darren K. Green, senior vice president of sales for the Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board.

When he joined the DMO in 2014, Green was determined to make the city more accessible for planners, in a manner befitting its glittering image. Ultimately that meant creating a new, innovative meetings website.

At the outset, Green was impressed with the LATCB's existing consumer site, (launched in 2012), which he felt did a great job of showcasing L.A. The site offers breathtaking panoramic videos of the city and its diverse neighborhoods, along with insider tips curated by local celebrities such as Mario Lopez, Magic Johnson and Rob Lowe.

"Many of the same things that drive consumers to a destination -- experiences, authenticism -- are what drive meeting attendees," notes Green.

Last fall, the new site debuted, incorporating the look and feel of the consumer site, along with features based on input from customers and the local hospitality community.


The many regions of L.A.
(like Santa Monica, above)
are highlighted on

The content-rich, easy-to-navigate site features HD video tours of the different sections of L.A., as well as functionality that allows planners to conduct venue and supplier searches and download fact sheets, according to regions. Highlighted areas include Beach Cities/Los Angeles International Airport, Santa Monica, Westside, Beverly Hills, West Hollywood, Hollywood, the Valley, Downtown and Pasadena. The site also offers lists of unique event spaces, green venues and 10 unusual group dining spots.

The site continues to evolve. This past November saw the addition of a section with video testimonials from pleased planners who have held events in L.A. This feature has quickly become such a critical component, says Green, that the DMO recently hired a content manager to curate the planners' stories.

Since its launch, the website has seen a tenfold increase in the number of users, while the time planners spend on the site has jumped by 20 percent.

Planners can expect more enhancements to the site going forward."It's a living, breathing tool that we have to constantly update," says Green.