Tourism destinations need to “move forward and do things differently,” including relying on the so-called “sharing economy” as a key driver of doing business, Meet Puerto Rico President Milton Segarra said Wednesday, during the Destination Marketing Organization’s (DMO) annual meeting.
In his presentation to tourism industry executives, he stressed the importance of new business models such as Enterprise, Uber and Airbnb, as cornerstones of future growth, and signs “of a world that is changing around us.”
“We need to change our destination marketing model because the world is changing around us. Come January 2017, we will have not only a new government but a fiscal board governing the island. We cannot continue doing the things as we have always done them,” he said.
During the event held at the Puerto Rico Museum of Art, Segarra laid out the goals and strategies for Fiscal 2017, which include jump-starting demand for group meetings, increasing awareness of Puerto Rico as a destination for meetings and conventions, counterbalancing negative perception in key markets and assigning more resources to international markets.
The plan includes a combination of media buys, strategic implementation of selected social media tactics, and innovative ways to reach a global audience with a digital driven media plan, he explained.
An aggressive sales and business model will focus on increasing citywide and convention center bookings, sales team expansion into international markets, increased participation in trade shows, sports shows, client events and sales missions as well as sales promotions.
Meanwhile, Meet Puerto Rico Chairman Peter Hopgood said “our vision remains to position Puerto Rico as one of the preferred group and convention destinations of the Americas.”
“Our board has supported Meet Puerto Rico’s strategic plan to be the leading DMO, promoting our unique group and convention experiences, through branding, selling and partnerships,” he said.
The goal is to generate $150 million in economic benefits associated with meetings and conventions for Puerto Rico in Fiscal 2017, with a 30 percent market share, Segarra said.
With that objective in mind, Meet Puerto Rico would surpass its Fiscal 2016 results, which were affected by Puerto Rico’s fiscal crisis and the Zika virus emergency that prompted the cancellation of 35 group events between March and May 2016. The DMO closed the year with some $120 million in business — or 88 percent of its initial target.
“Despite the fact that 35 groups were canceled, 57 new groups were booked,” Segarra said, noting Meet Puerto Rico closed the year with 136,716 hotel room nights, representing a return on investment of more than 2,123 percent.
The groups and conventions segment brings a higher direct economic impact per room night than any other segment in the tourism industry, he said.