Some great marketing campaigns have come out of tourist boards and destination marketing organisations in recent years.
Queensland's 'Best Job in the World' immediately springs to mind but there have been others such as CapeTown's Facebook campaign, the @Sweden Twitter initiative and MySwitzerland efforts.
These are not only remembered for the related bookings, inquiries or publicity but also for the quirkiness of the campaign, the engagement and the general buzz created around a destination.
It will come as no surprise then that social media is seen as top current trend by destination marketing organisations in a survey carried out by the Destination Marketing Association International.
In fact, of 20 top trends in the sector, the importance of social media in engaging the market ranked first followed by mobile platforms and applications, opportunities created by smart technologies and personalised travel experiences.
In addition, the majority of the trends revolve around the impact of social media, the adoption of smart technology and the resulting expectations and needs from consumers.
The survey was carried out as part of DestinationNEXT, a DMAI initiative designed to help DMOs assess where they currently are and identify practical strategies for the future.
The results are compiled into a DestinationNEXT report which also looks at scenarios for DMOs to benchmark themselves against from Destination trailblazer and Gearing up to Spinning wheels and Risky business.
The ultimate goal is to reach trailblazer status.
Trends are also considered by DMO respondents to the survey in terms of whether they'll having a positive or negative impact on the organisation and destination and the degree to which the DMO can influence the trend.
Interesting to note that social media, mobile and technology enabling faster decision making come under the controllable and to be exploited banner while harder factors such as budget pressure, local taxes and economic uncertainty are less within the sphere of influence.
DMOs were also asked to choose response strategies that could be implemented as a result of the above trends with how technology will alter the organisations coming first in the top 20 followed by engagement via two-way conversations with customers.
A refocus on marketing to millenials comes in at seven in the response strategy list and digital engagement using mobile platforms comes in at 10.
From the research and input of sector professionals, the report draws out three 'transformational' opportunities for DMOs going forward - dealing with the new marketplace, building/protecting the destination brand and evolving the DMO business model.
A phase two for DestinationNEXT has already been devised with a plan to highlight best practice and provide organisations with a toolkit to help DMOs assess where they are in the journey. Workshops will also take place as well as further research into trends.
327 DMOs in 36 countries responded to the survey as well as 34 non-DMOs.
NB: Travelling friends image via Shutterstock,