The Next Generation of DMOs, with Cassandra Harrington

Episode 114:

Cassandra Harrington has served as the director of Destination Marketing Corporation for Otsego County for over a year. Prior to that, she was the director of the Cayuga Lake Wine Trail and she started her marketing career as the membership development manager at the Seneca County Chamber of Commerce.

In her own words she is “learning the inner workings of the group travel industry as well as the intricacies of New York state matching funds, and who’s who in the igloo of the county, regional, and state tourism efforts.”

On this episode of Destination on the Left, I talk with Cassandra Harrington of the Otsego County Tourism board about sharing the tourism love beyond America’s pastime at Cooperstown. How is the role of DMOs changing? How best can you help visitors and locals alike embrace those changes and reap the benefits of visiting or living in a given region? That’s the conversation we’re having, join in!

What You Will Learn in this Episode:

  • How local, regional and state DMOs can coordinate efforts and all win
  • How to encourage group tours to your region that are more than “party busses”
  • Using shoulder seasons to encourage savings on people’s travel budget
  • Ways to highlight both a “big draw” attraction as well as the “hidden treasures” in your region
  • How to encourage locals to embrace the economic engine of travel and tourism
  • Helping communities see the benefits of non-traditional lodging like AirBnB


Cassandra is part of a growing trend of people who are coming into Destination Marketing Organizations from the attraction side of the travel industry. These newcomers have noticed the trend themselves and jokingly refer to the hashtag #NextGenDMO as they collaborate and experience their new roles together.

It’s safe to say the passion and sense of innovation they bring to their roles is welcome. As technology and the ways visitors experience a region change – for instance, not necessarily from a hotel room removed from town, but right in town, in your neighbor’s short term rental property – DMOs are challenged with drawing in these visitors and finding ways to extend their stay and make it as memorable as possible.

Attracting the Visitors and Engaging the Locals

Another trend we’re seeing is how DMOs are more and more filling the role, not just of attracting visitors, but getting locals excited about the economic opportunity and vitality that tourism brings to their home region.

This is happening in Otsego County, home of the Baseball Hall of Fame and many more hidden gems that visitors have come to love and locals have treasured for years. The rise in popularity of short term rentals means that visitors are living side-by-side with locals during their stay. Highlighting the long-term benefits in infrastructure improvements and other ways occupancy taxes of those visitors help the local economy has become part of the DMOs job description.


Episode Transcript

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