This Time, Let’s Not Party Like It’s 1999

article-Peacock This Time Let's Not Party Like It's 1999


David Peacock, Senior Advisor, Future Tourism Group, Simpleview Inc.


I’ve never met Elke Dens, but I wish I had. Last week she wrote a piece for the Long Thinker Panel, Never Waste A Crisis, Make Destination Marketing Meaningful and frankly, I couldn’t agree more. We have had almost two decades of lessons on what the future of tourism needs to be and now is the time to take heed.

In Canada, in 2003, in the Province of Ontario, a respiratory epidemic SARS decimated the tourism industry. Opinions vary, but the recovery took between 4 to 9 years depending on who you ask. As anticipated domestic markets recovered first with International markets taking much longer.

Around the world in 2020, in the shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic, much like in the case of SARS 2003, governments will inevitably open up stimulus channels to “revive” tourism and “restore” this essential economy. And by all means that is a good, noble and desirable thing.


Aye, but there’s the rub, much like 2003, in the rush to get resources into the recovery trough as quickly as possible, a large portion of that funding will be earmarked with one nebulous word “marketing.”


It is 2020, you do not watch or consume TV anything like you did a decade-and-a-half ago. The industry that pressed the vinyl or burned the CDs for your music collection no longer exists, but we are about to “market” like it was 1999. Big media, big buys, big productions. It’s fast, it’s easy and it’s fun!


A simple warning, “DON’T!”


Again, it is 2020. We all know deep down that stakeholder engagement, shared community values, digital excellence and sustainability are key to successful destinations and that those are the levers that we will have to pull as destination organizations, sooner or later, or risk irrelevance.


Digital excellence and sustainability are key to successful destinations.


Building intentional networks beyond traditional players, aligning with citizen and civic priorities, increasing the digital skill and sophistication of all stakeholders across the destination and improving the digital footprint as a whole, all of these are priorities and all of these warrant significant consideration as we look at how we intend to dedicate our scarce recovery resources.


As the saying goes, the future is here, it’s just not evenly distributed.


So… spend wisely and build legacy value; spend on resources that strengthen and reflect the destination, its values and its people. Spend on understanding the intersection between your audience and locals and target wisely and specifically. Build networks and partners that will endure. It’s time to set the table for the future of tourism.




Since 2001, Simpleview has empowered more than 900 destination marketing organizations (DMOs) with customized tools, knowledge and creativity to help tell these destinations’ unique stories. We believe the world’s top cities and smallest towns each have a role to play in promoting travel and tourism, and we’re here to provide solutions that are built for the way your destination marketing works.