DMOs setting up new challenges at European Cities Marketing’s meeting to tackle their future

Destination Marketing Organisations (DMOs) are facing new challenges. During the last European Cities Marketing’s meeting in Gdansk, attendees were asked to determine and overcome 32 challenges for DMOs in a short period of time! A challenge in itself!

To reach this objective, ECM joined forces with the Digital Tourism Think Tank (DTTT), the world’s leading platform promoting thought leadership in digital and DMO transformation. Connecting hundreds of destinations throughout Europe, the Middle East and Africa, the DTTT creates platforms for knowledge transfer, exchange of best practice and expert leadership in destination marketing.

During the last European Cities Marketing’s meeting in Gdansk, Nicholas Hall & Emil Spangenberg pushed ECM members to the wall to redefine their biggest challenges but also to indentify solutions by asking themselves the right questions. This DTTT Workshop follows the conclusions of a joint report on Destination transformation and disruptions in digital which identified priorities: Leadership and Digital First as well as Content and Creativity.

“How DMOs respond to their challenges is another thing entirely. From my experience in working in the DMO field, there seems to be two speeds of DMO; those that challenge themselves and those that are left to be challenged. ECM’s meeting showed us a great line-up of those who challenge themselves, who don’t just wait for change to kill them, but actively redefine themselves to ensure their relevance is clear, not only internally but far and wide.” said Nicholas Hall, CEO and Founder of the DTTT.

The big idea behind the workshop was to show CEOs and ECM members that a design-thinking approach can lead and get results when you get them involved with a specific topic. Design-thinking approach is a new methodology that DTTT uses more and more.

Attendees were divided into 8 teams (of 15 people each) separated in 2 rooms. Each team got a topic related to either Leadership or Creativity. The 8 challenges coming from the report on Destination Transformation are the 8 clearly emerging challenges identified by the surveyed members.

Here is what was found out for each challenge:


  • Mindset & Attitude > The attitude to digital at the moment in most organisations is for staff to say it’s not their responsibilities.
  • Budget & Resources > DMOs struggle to keep up with the budget and resources needed (hiring people, getting performing digital tools) to put digital first and as a result it’s all becoming more and more fragmented.
  • People & Teams > Encourage DMOs to be more creative and to become the storyteller in their destination. Encourage them to have that team in-house who manages “the story” is an increasing concern.
  • Workflow & Processes > About the tools that people use, how they communicate together. DTTT encourages a shift from traditional emails to tools that allow people to share ideas and communicate horizontally in a digital environment. DTTT also recommends a shift from a vertical hierarchy to an horizontal one, specifically in the way we communicate.


  • Omni-Channel Storytelling > How DMOs are struggling to work with more and more channels and do it more effectively.
  • 365 Content Team > Do it all year round and not just on specific campaign, sporadically.
  • Always-on & Real-Time > Be relevant, engaged. The DMOs need to be ready to be “live”.
  • Creative Freedom > The DMOs have reached their organisation limit (because of their structure): they struggle to give creative freedom to allow people to flourish.

“I need say little more other than DMOs hold the key to their own destiny. Their challenges are no different to that of other industries, perhaps a little more cumbersome in places and a little too much government interference, however in the ultra short workshop held with 170 participants, I wanted to demonstrate to DMOs that not only are they able to define their biggest challenges but they can also identify the solutions by asking the right questions.” continued Nicholas Hall.

This workshop demonstrated the importance of having both creative and productive skillset within DMOs. Currently, DMOs are more focused traditionally on productive skillset but they need to understand that creative skillset is as important to embrace. There is a good balance to achieve and need to create the right environment for creative talent to develop.

“This workshop was an ambitious task given the short time frame that was given to participants. What attendees took away from the workshop is how impressive it is and how effective this short period of time can be when people come together to share thoughts and overcome challenges. It’s also impressive to see they could solve problems that they are not responsible for on daily basis and come up with really good recommendations. It really helped them realise that the best consultants are themselves. It ultimately encourages and leads us, the DMOs, on the right path to work out the solutions ourselves.” concluded Ignasi de Delàs, ECM President.

See all the results of the workshop at


* European Cities Marketing is a non-profit organisation improving the competitiveness and performance of leading cities of Europe by providing a platform for convention, leisure and city marketing professionals to exchange knowledge, best practice and widen their network to build new business. European Cities Marketing is promoting and linking the interests of members from more than 100 major cities in 36 countries.

Contact information
Flavie Baudot,, +33 380 56 02 00