Digital marketing platform Sojern has launched the State of Destination Marketing 2024 report for destination marketing organisations (DMOs). It is said to be the first-of-its-kind, produced through a partnership between Sojern and Digital Tourism Think Tank (DTTT), and supported by Brand USA, Destination Canada, and the European Travel Commission.
The new report sheds light on the latest industry trends and challenges, particularly related to the future of destination marketing, drawing insights from nearly 300 DMOs, government departments and affiliated tourism entities worldwide.
Sojern commissioned the report to ensure its global destination clients have access to the most comprehensive marketing insights.
The report found that economic uncertainty, inflation, and the cost of living are all having a significant impact on strategies, with more than 50 per cent of respondents considering these to be areas that require careful planning.
“As the travel industry undergoes rapid transformation, we remain committed to empowering destinations to navigate these changes effectively,” said Noreen Henry, chief revenue officer, Sojern.
“The insights uncovered in our report highlight destination marketers’ strategic priorities and overall approach to digital marketing, while also highlighting the significance of promoting sustainable and diverse tourism and meeting consumers’ increasing desire for unique experiences. Working with strategic technology-powered partners like Sojern ensures success in an increasingly dynamic and competitive environment.”
Some interesting observations made in the report include growing adoption of AI and the impact that has on destination marketing. According to the findings, DMOs anticipate that AI’s impact will be most pronounced in content creation, with nearly half (49%) foreseeing significant impact. A growing number of AI tools are transforming creative processes, from long-form content to social media posts.
In addition, 40% of DMOs see significant potential in AI for predictive analysis and forecasting, 38% for data analysis and interpretation, and 37% for marketing content personalisation. However, 71% are currently less confident and see little potential impact in AI’s ability to shape their teams’ web, app and platform creation, and 63% in conversational marketing.
The report also determined greater priority on digital paid media. Ninety-six per cent of DMOs are making significant investments in paid media as an essential component in achieving their marketing objectives. Notably, 58% take an always-on approach, investing year round, while 38% invest seasonally and only 21% invest when specific opportunities arise. Social media advertising maintains its prominence, as does Search Engine Marketing (SEM), with 96% and 95% of DMOs rating them as having a high or average importance, respectively.
Data use and privacy are also top of mind among respondents, with 54% saying that data provides the most value in marketing planning. Demographic data (88%) is used most frequently to guide decisions, followed by behavioural data (79%). However, increased reliance on data also brings its challenges – lack of data integration across channels (52%), the high cost of acquiring data (46%), and limited access to quality data (42%).
With Google’s deprecation of third-party cookies scheduled for mid-2024, 37% reported a significant impact, while 15% of respondents said that these changes have a small impact on their current strategies. DMOs are taking actions to mitigate the effects of these data privacy changes, with 60% planning to focus on social content and 58% prioritising obtaining more first-party data.
More findings and full survey methodology can be found in the full report, accessible here.