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Efficient Destination Management Practices

5.0 Efficient Destination Management Practices

The concept of a destination management organization (DMO) emerged in the late 1980s and early 1990s as tourism planning and marketing became more complex. DMOs play a crucial role in developing and executing tourism strategies for destinations. They collaborate with government agencies, private sector entities, and community organizations to promote the destination and attract tourists. While the original DMOs were established in North America and Europe, they have now proliferated across the globe.

In recent years, there has been a growing trend of public-private partnerships in DMO governance, recognizing the importance of collaboration between the government and the private sector in driving tourism. DMOs are vital for the tourism industry as they ensure effective promotion of tourist destinations, facilitate positive visitor experiences, and promote sustainable tourism practices. As the tourism sector continues to expand, the role and significance of DMOs are expected to further increase.

This objective is centered around optimizing the management and governance of Svaneti as a tourist destination, particularly through capacity-building for the region’s DMO, ShanLand. Effective destination management relies on multi stakeholder coordination, bringing together major and smaller players from various sectors. Countries with federative or decentralized governance employ decentralized DMO systems, allowing tailored approaches to destination management. Centralized countries like France utilize national laws and strong private sector involvement. Regardless of the approach, cooperation among stakeholders is pivotal to success.


By implementing streamlined processes, leveraging best practices from benchmarking regions, and fostering collaboration between public and private stakeholders, Svaneti aims to enhance its operational efficiency, strengthen its brand positioning at national and international levels, and ensure the sustainable growth and development of the destination. With a focus on data-driven decision-making and effective coordination, Svaneti strives to introduce an integrated and proactive approach to destination management, ultimately creating a thriving and well-managed tourism destination that meets the needs and expectations of visitors, while preserving the unique cultural and natural heritage of the region.


ShanLand - Svaneti

As a destination management organization, ShanLand is responsible for the coordinated and thoughtful planning of all elements of the tourism product or offerings that make up the tourism destination, including visitor services, and it is in charge of promoting the assets of the destination and creating brand awareness in order to attract visitors who will spend money and therefore enhance the economy. All DMOs should be concerned with destination stewardship and sustainable management practices with the goal to preserve environmental, social, and cultural assets.

They also must be an organization that engages its local community to ensure that tourism development is mutually beneficial for both tourism stakeholders (including visitors) and its local residents. Facilitating this conversation amongst both public and private stakeholders is a crucial aspect of this strategic plan. It involves actively involving and considering the perspectives, interests, and concerns of various stakeholders, including local communities, residents, tourists, businesses, government bodies, and environmental organizations. Engaging stakeholders ensures that their voices are heard, and their inputs are considered in the decision-making process, fostering a sense of ownership and support for the destination development strategy.

With the exception of Strategic Objective 1 in which public services and development of infrastructure lies more under the purview of the government offices, the Svaneti DMO could manage the initiatives or facilitate the public-private partnerships needed for the remaining four strategic objectives. This means that the capacity and resources of the DMO need to be bolstered and supported to take on this full responsibility. Svaneti DMO's task is to identify a suitable DMO model within Georgia's legal framework. Consulting legal experts and engaging in thorough discussions is crucial. Once the model is clarified, the next steps involve creating a roadmap for implementation, considering organizational structure, governance, funding, and operational guidelines.


Under the continued effectiveness of strong public-private partnerships led by the Svaneti DMO, the region will continue to garner international accolades recognizing its commitment to protecting its unique history, landscapes, and heritage. Svaneti’s tourism development will have a massive impact on local communities: creating job opportunities, preserving living heritage, and protecting the natural environment.

"A DMO is like a conductor in an orchestra. It brings together all the different players in the tourism industry and helps them to work together to create a better experience for visitors." - Tourism New Zealand


5.1 Enhance the professional capacities of the DMO Staff

By investing in the professional growth of DMO staff, the organization can effectively fulfill its role in destination development and management. Enrolling DMO staff in professional training programs can ensure that employees have access to the latest industry knowledge, trends, and best practices. These programs offer specialized training in areas such as tourism marketing, destination branding, sustainable tourism practices, digital marketing, and customer service. The knowledge gained through such programs enables the staff to perform their duties more effectively, make informed decisions, and adapt to the changing needs of the destination and its visitors.

Participation in international conferences is an excellent way to stay up-to-date with the latest industry trends, innovations, and research. These conferences provide a platform for networking with industry experts, sharing experiences, and learning from successful destination management case studies from around the world. Attending such conferences can broaden the perspectives of the DMO staff, inspire new ideas, and facilitate the exchange of knowledge, ultimately leading to enhanced professional capacities. Additionally, bringing in an international DMO professional as a volunteer mentor provides a valuable opportunity for the local staff to learn from someone with extensive experience and expertise in destination management, offering insights and providing guidance on overcoming challenges.


5.2 Collect Visitor and Service Provider Data and Visualize it in GIS Format for Analysis

One of the vital functions of a DMO is to collect, sort, and analyze statistical data to enhance the management of the destination sites and facilitate the development of local strategies. This data also helps attract both local and external investments. GNTA is responsible for providing statistical reports at the national level, but these reports primarily rely on statistics from the Georgian Statistics Office and border policy, focusing on foreign visitors. This information does not provide statistics at the municipal levels, except for destinations with ticketing services. Therefore, the proposed approach involves training DMO staff to collaborate with a technological company that can provide tailored outsourcing data collection services for the needs of Svaneti. For the outsourcing services, it is necessary to prepare a detailed Terms of Reference (TOR) document that outlines the scope, objectives, deliverables, timeline, and roles and responsibilities for the development and implementation of the GIS system. This will ensure effective project management and guidance.


To address the issue of weak statistical data in Georgia's tourism industry, it is recommended to establish a centralized server-based GIS for data collection and updating in local DMOs. This solution will enable the collection and real-time updating of information regarding infrastructure, facilities, and tourism attractions in specific cities or municipalities. Consequently, it will facilitate better decision-making and planning for local businesses and stakeholders. By implementing such a system, local DMOs can play a key role in collecting, managing, and updating tourism-related data, providing invaluable information for decision-makers, businesses, and tourists. Additionally, the use of open-source technologies ensures cost-effectiveness and long-term sustainability.


5.3 Increase operational efficiency of DMO Svaneti

Svaneti DMO is an emerging organization in the early stages of development. To optimize growth and drive tourism development in Svaneti, the DMO should set clear goals, develop an action plan, recruit professionals, expand presence, and foster partnerships. By implementing these steps, the DMO will contribute to the sustainable growth of Svaneti's tourism sector.

1. Establish Clear Goals and Action Plan: The DMO's advisory board should set general goals for short, medium, and long-term perspectives. To ensure a comprehensive approach, it is advisable to create a 4-year action plan. This plan should include detailed information about expected major activities, budgets, a calendar of events, major goals to be achieved, and potential challenges with corresponding solutions. Consult legal experts and align the management and governance structure with international best practices for effective decision-making and transparent operations.


2. Define Quarterly or Biannual Goals: Based on the adopted 4-year action plan, the DMO needs to prepare a list of goals, activities, and resource requirements on a quarterly or biannual basis.


3. Recruit Motivated and Professional Personnel: Identifying the right professionals is crucial for the success of the DMO. Considering the identified needs, the DMO should create additional job positions and draft relevant job descriptions. These positions should then be announced for recruitment.


4. Expand Presence Beyond the Municipal Center: To ensure a broader engagement with the region, the DMO should consider establishing a presence in remote valleys and villages. This can be achieved by opening small offices or appointing representatives in these areas.


5. Foster Partnerships and Utilize Tourism Products: Once the tourism products in remote areas are identified, the DMO should actively facilitate partnerships between stakeholders to utilize these products for business purposes. This could involve creating opportunities for service providers or supporting the development of actual products.


5.4 Define the destination brand and its positioning at national and international level

Ensure consistent use of the brand and visuals across all communication channels, following the existing brand book. This creates a unified brand experience, strengthening recognition and impact. Align the Svaneti DMO brand with top-quality services and experiences by collaborating with local businesses. Curate partnerships with providers that share brand values and offer exceptional hospitality, activities, and products.

To effectively target its market, the Svaneti DMO must take crucial steps to identify the right market and attract visitors to the region. In line with the Georgia National Tourism Administration (GNTA) 2020-2025 strategy, the following actions should be taken:

1. Identify the Target Market: Carefully identify a market accessible and reachable for the DMO's promotional efforts. Focus on markets that align with the region's offerings and offer sustainable growth opportunities, considering limited resources.

2. Align with GNTA's Priority Market: Collaboration with GNTA in targeting shared markets maximizes the impact and results. Combined marketing and promotional efforts lead to increased visibility and stronger promotion of Svaneti's tourism potential.

3. Consider Capacity Constraints: Due to limited hotel capacity in Svaneti, mass tourism is not viable. Instead, target markets with above-average pay ability and cater to their needs. Provide high-quality tourism services, offering a unique and exclusive experience that aligns with the region's capacity limitations.

4. Consult GNTA Representatives: Seek guidance from GNTA representatives before finalizing target markets. Their expertise provides valuable guidance in selecting suitable markets and aligning efforts with national tourism strategies. Collaboration ensures a coordinated approach and integration into Georgia's broader tourism landscape.

5. Incorporate Target Markets into the Action Plan: Reflect the identified target markets in the 4-year action plan to allocate resources, develop tailored marketing strategies, and monitor progress. Integration into the action plan streamlines efforts and allows for specific objectives.

Conclusion: By implementing these steps, the Svaneti DMO can effectively identify and target the right market segments, attract visitors with higher pay ability, and promote the region as an exclusive and desirable destination. Collaboration with GNTA and incorporating target markets into the action plan enhances the DMO's strategic focus, contributing to sustainable tourism growth in Svaneti.


5.5 Destination management network and partnership between public and private actors

To effectively manage stakeholder relationships, the Svaneti DMO should consider the following steps:

1. Assess Human and Financial Capacity: Conduct a thorough evaluation of the DMO's human and financial resources to understand its capabilities and limitations. This assessment will determine the extent of the DMO's engagement and role within the tourism sector, considering its HR capacity.


2. Build a Networking Web: Initiate networking efforts by connecting entrepreneurs, farmers, businesses, enterprises, NGOs, and the public sector. Create a web of stakeholders from various socio-economic spheres to foster collaboration within the tourism industry.


3. Identify Major and Minor Tourism Players: Compile a comprehensive list of major and minor tourism players in the region, including businesses, organizations, and individuals involved in tourism-related activities. Mapping out the tourism landscape provides an overview of stakeholders and their roles, facilitating effective engagement.


4. Determine Crucial Needs of Stakeholders: Actively identify the most crucial needs of tourism sector stakeholders through surveys, interviews, or workshops. Understand their challenges to tailor the DMO's efforts and address these needs effectively.


5. Facilitate Problem-Solving through Collaboration: Utilize the DMO's position as a mediator and coordinator to facilitate problem-solving within the tourism sector. Bring relevant parties together, encourage collaboration, and leverage stakeholders' capabilities to find solutions. This approach strengthens the DMO's role and value within the industry.


6. Enhance Value as Mediator and Coordinator: Actively fulfill the role of a mediator and coordinator between stakeholders to enhance the DMO's value and influence. Foster partnerships, organize knowledge exchange forums, coordinate joint initiatives, and facilitate cooperation. This collaborative approach drives collective growth and development.

Conclusion: By adopting these strategies, the Svaneti DMO can effectively manage stakeholder relationships, serving as a networking hub, problem-solver, and coordinator within the tourism sector. Connecting stakeholders, identifying needs, and fostering collaboration contribute to the overall development of Svaneti's tourism industry.

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