Episode 208: The ‘Why’ of Destination Marketing, with David Holder

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Nicole Mahoney: 00:17 This is Nicole Mahoney, host of destination on the left. Welcome to this week’s episode with another smart and passionate tourism industry advocate, David Holder, co-founder of clarity of place in this episode, David and I talk about the importance of learning, how to communicate with your community, how connecting with community priorities and aligning your tourism programs with those priorities will set you up for success. We also discussed the difference between focusing on the why you do what you do versus the, what you do or how you do it. And we wrap up our discussion by exploring transformational metrics and how to make better connections to economic development. This conversation is packed with great ideas and new lenses to look through. But before we dive in a little more about David as a tourism professional for over 25 years, David Holder co founded clarity of place with a hands on understanding of what destination leaders need to be successful.

Nicole Mahoney: 01:21 David leads, stakeholder engagement efforts and crafts, tactical plans to ensure destinations are equipped with the data and industry insights to react to changing environments, but still it’s Kane their vision and leading a variety of destinations. David proved himself to be an industry innovator, taking new perspectives on what it means to destinations, to be competitive and specializing in setting and meeting measurable marketing sales and product development results, a versatile and effective communicator. David honed his destination management skills by collaborating with industry partners through service on the board of directors for destinations international, the destination marketing accreditation program and the us travel association destinations council. Just to name a few, I know you will gain a lot from this conversation, but before we start the interview, I want to share this important information with you, David, thank you so much for coming back on our show. I know a lot has happened since the last time I talked to you and I’m really looking forward to learning from you and, and hearing what you’ve been up to. But before we get started with these questions, can you share your story in your own words with our listeners? I find it gives so much more context to the conversation.

David Holder: 02:41 Absolutely. Nicole, thanks for having me back. It feels like a, that was a long time ago, uh, at this point, but, uh, I am grateful for everything you’re doing to keep, uh, our industry and all these great professionals that we have, uh, up to speed on what’s going on out there. Um, in terms of, of my story, my story is definitely connected to, uh, are, are the challenges that so many people have been, uh, having through COVID, uh, working with a great company JLL. Uh, we were doing a lot of destination plans, uh, COVID came along and disrupted all of that. So there were a few of us, um, myself and, uh, actually my business partner now, Tina Val to kindness, uh, we found ourselves on the outside looking in, um, and we said, there’s gotta be a different way to think about destinations, destination needs, destination planning.

David Holder: 03:40 Um, so we started, um, commiserating together. We started thinking strategically together creatively, uh, innovating about ways to service these destinations and find different answers and solutions to different problems that were out there. Uh, and we were able to develop a company that we’ve called clarity of place, and we think we’ve got some really interesting things to put out in the environment. Um, the it’s one of many, many stories related to, uh, this, uh, pandemic that, uh, just kind of brings out, uh, the, the creativity in people, getting them to think through things in a different way.

Nicole Mahoney: 04:23 Yeah. And, um, I know you did a little bit of a fast-forward there on your career, but of course you and I, uh, really got to know each other when you were at visit Syracuse as the DMO there. Uh, and then of course moved down to JLL and, and now to your own company. So I know you’ve got just such a, a breadth of perspective, um, from your career in terms of what destinations and what the tourism industry can be doing to, to navigate through this, uh, through COVID. And so what I, what I’d love to have you do is talk a little bit more about clarity of place and, and kind of, um, how you’re thinking about, uh, helping or how you are helping destinations think about data, the community, how they relate to the community and all, and all of that, because I think it’s really a different perspective than most of our listeners might be used to.

David Holder: 05:19 Um, yeah, so we, in clarity, a place we realized there’s an opportunity for, um, and a need a really big need for destinations to really understand, uh, and communicate more effectively across their communities. We do it, we do a great job as destinations, you know, I’ve had, as you’ve mentioned, uh, I’ve had, uh, the opportunity to work in destinations in Texas and Syracuse and Corning and the finger lakes, and, um, in Fredericksburg, Virginia, um, over the course of a fairly lengthy career, uh, we’ve done the gelada really cool things with marketing. A lot of really cool things with branding, some very innovative approaches to sales. Um, those are the things that destination marketing organizations do really well. It’s kind of in the, in the, the bandwidth, uh, where we sometimes lose track is, uh, of, of how to communicate with our communities. A lot of those kinds of things really don’t matter too much to our communities.

David Holder: 06:23 Um, you know, they matter in terms of the taxes that are generated. They matter in terms of the jobs and the employments that that’s created, but in many cases, you know, we start talking and room nights, um, and room nights, book and, uh, convention nights sold and, uh, sports nights created it’s, it kinda falls on deaf ears. So what Tina and I have done with clarity of place is take a step back and look at ways to really reassess how that communication goes from the destination organization, into the community, thinking about things like priorities, what are, what are the community’s priorities? Are there connections we can make with our own programs as destination organizations to help those communities understand why we’re trying to do this stuff? Um, it’s really, really going back to that, that Y and not necessarily the what or the how, uh, but really talking about the Y.

David Holder: 07:24 So we, we’ve done a lot with understanding priorities, um, assessing what those priorities are across the community, connecting those priorities to programming. So we look at how, um, a convention booked let’s say is not necessarily generating just room nights. Who are those, uh, individuals coming in for that convention? Do they, do they connect with local, uh, corporations? Do they connect with local, uh, organizations that we have in our community? Is there a way to use that, to expand what our community’s trying to pull together, uh, expand some of the things that we’re doing within economic development, expand some of the things that are really top of mind across multiple organizations in the community, not just simply a, an overnight in a hotel, we’re doing some things looking at transformational metrics. Uh, so are there, are there efforts that the destination has done, uh, that really transform the quality of place and the, and the livelihoods of people across the community?

David Holder: 08:29 So it’s not necessarily looking at just those employed by tourism. We’re looking at how we’ve enhanced the, the livability of that community. So we, and we really think these priority based and transformational based metrics are going to be an element of our future. It’s going to be a better connection to economic development and to community direction. And that we really feel like is an untapped territory. We feel like the, the landscape for this was, uh, really put out by some of the, the thought leadership of destinations international through the work that, that Jack Johnson has done, uh, in introducing this concept of shared community values, um, where we seen a need within that is how do we define it? How do we make that real for not just the destination organization, but for the community itself?

Nicole Mahoney: 09:24 Yeah. You just gave us a lot. I can’t even, I can’t even write fast enough, David, for everything that you just shared the best. No, it’s awesome. And I’m really excited to actually dive in on some of these things with you.

David Holder: 09:37 Yeah. I get a little excited about this stuff, Nicole.

Nicole Mahoney: 09:41 Uh, well, I’m glad because, you know, we need that excitement for sure. And, you know, this is really the kind of conversation that we want to be having right now is we’re rounding the corner on 2020, and really looking into the future, you know, what are those tools that we’re going to need, uh, to strengthen, uh, you know, our, the, our places, our destinations, the places where we live and work. So I think it’s awesome. And the first thing I keyed in, in, on, um, which I want to talk a little bit more about why, and you kind of brought it around towards the end here is where you talked about connecting those community priorities, uh, to programs. And then you mentioned, you know, really seeing the opportunity and helping destinations do this, um, through the platform that destinations international has put out there and their thought leadership about this whole idea of shared community values.

Nicole Mahoney: 10:32 And what I really wanted to talk a little bit more about is this idea of programs because you have Johnson does talk about, it’s not marketing. We don’t, we don’t want to talk about marketing. We don’t want to talk about how we’re branding our destination. We want to talk more in terms of programs, that’s more meaningful. And I’m wondering, you know, you gave us one example of how you might connect a program of convention sales to a local business, to economic development. Are there other examples of programs that you’re seeing that, you know, can be connected to community priorities? Can you give us a few more examples for our listeners?

David Holder: 11:10 Absolutely. Uh, and when we first started rolling out this concept, uh, Tina and I, we, we, we sat down with a few of the thought leaders out there including yourself and kind of say, we’ve got a weird idea. We want to toss us around a little bit. Um, and one of the conversations we had was with a dear friend, very respected, uh, a mind out there in Mara gas, uh, in Irving, Texas. And we started going through, uh, all of these different thoughts on w you know, we’ve got to take a little different perspective on this. And we touched on the, the new programs that a lot of destinations have put in place, uh, as a response to, uh, COVID-19 um, you know, the, whether it’s the, the, the hyper local outreach, really focusing on, um, local restaurants, local retail, uh, connecting, making certain that, that, that, those aspects of those entrepreneurs and businesses aren’t lost within their community, that despite the, um, the great down downturn in tourism business.

David Holder: 12:18 Um, so there’s that element. There’s an element, uh, associated with a lot of content development going on. Um, you know, we’ve seen some great examples. Uh, you you’ve mentioned earlier, uh, uh, Ontario County in a conversation that you and I were having. Uh, I’ve mentioned some things that long Island’s been doing this, there’s been some great content developed around, um, a response to COVID. What’s going to come out of that and Maura’s thoughts on, alright, what does this go? We’re going to continue to do those things as destination organizations, this, this hyper-local, uh, response is not going to go away. Some of those needs to, to connect with not just the businesses of our communities, but those individuals that are employed in those communities, doesn’t go away in that. Um, you know, in that future where we are past all of this pandemic piece into whatever that future holds, and we still have to figure out a way to measure that and assess what it means to the community, assess what it means to our organization, make that as important to our board of directors in the long range, as it is, you know, as, as those other programs, those traditional programs around sales, marketing, uh, PR uh, this has gotta be an element of that.

David Holder: 13:42 So we, we’re seeing a kind of a reshaping of organizations to, to address that another area that we’re seeing, uh, is in the development side, uh, thinking about communities saw so much effort going in pre pandemic around sports facilities, uh, you know, convention, expanse, convention, center expansion, some of those community venues, the elements of pandemic that have, have changed. Some of that. It’s not necessarily lowered that, uh, necessity, but it has put it into a different context. And so where we’ve got to go with some of this is really assessing how do we better connect to the needs of those facilities, the needs of the revenue that’s necessary for those facilities and how they really communicate more to the resident needs. Um, and one of the, one of the interesting partnerships that we’ve done is with, uh, uh, Longwood’s, we’ve done some really cool things, looking at, uh, taking residents, sentiments studies that Longwood’s has done, and really taking them in and making them part of some of our stakeholder engagements so that we can really start to see where their connections and where there are disconnections between what the residents are saying and what the tourism, the traditional tourism stakeholders are saying, how do we start better aligning those different conversations?

David Holder: 15:11 Um, because in the end, they’re all part of the same community. Yeah,

Nicole Mahoney: 15:15 Yeah. That’s, uh, that’s so true. And, um, I think you make such an awesome point, that one thing that the, the pandemic has done and where deemos have really stepped up is protecting, I don’t remember if you said it this way, but I wrote it down this way, protecting those local businesses that are so integral to the fabric of what we sell for tourism, but at the same time are so valued by locals, right? We don’t want to lose those, those locally owned restaurants and bars and those small retail shops in the coffee shop. We love to go to and all of that. And, um, I seen it in, and I know you’ve seen it too, where GMOs have really been the ones to help with that outreach and to not only help advertise and get locals to go out and, and participate in the local economy, but also to bring some attention to the needs of these businesses and what they do need to survive.

Nicole Mahoney: 16:16 Yeah. So I think that, um, it’s such an incredible opportunity that we have is as we think about that. Um, and the other thing that came to mind as you were talking, uh, was on the economic development side. I, you know, you mentioned Ontario County and her economic development department actually came to her as the DMO and said, what should we be doing to support these local businesses, um, and really looked to the DMO for advice on that, and then ended up funding a program for the DMO to be able to provide, uh, some services that, that were needed in the community, which I thought was really,

David Holder: 16:55 Yeah, that’s, that’s fantastic. We’ve heard a lot of examples out there, you know, where in the past there may not have been that connection. Um, you know, we’ve always talked about, you got to have a seat at the table, um, now that the tables have turned, uh, I guess pun intended. Um, and, and it’s, it’s, we’re, we’re seeing a lot of destinations that are realizing, wait a minute, we’ve had these regional economic development plans. Uh, we’re not a part of that. Um, and, and they realize that, that this pandemic has really been a catalyst to make certain that they get embedded into those conversations, but they can’t go in with it of, you know, with just the same story of, yeah, we’re gonna, we’re going to put out some marketing messages and we’re going to get people interested in, uh, the image of our community.

David Holder: 17:47 It’s gotta be one step beyond. It’s got to be much more connected to, uh, the same corporate, um, glimpse of what our communities are all about. If we’re seeing that a community is, you know, really heavy in a certain type of technology, how are we as destination organizations supporting that? How are we looking at different industries that are our destinations have, and thinking about the programs we have beyond just convention development, this has gotten to kind of looking at it from, um, a very high altitude looking at it in terms of how do we really make certain art strategies as a destination are in tune with the rest of the community.

Nicole Mahoney: 18:28 Yeah, exactly. And I think, um, that leads to the second thing that I wanted to dive in, uh, with you on, in that is you, you talked about, you know, the need to figure out how do we communicate with our communities. And then you talked about communicating specifically the why, and not just the, what or the how. And so I’m wondering if you can talk a little bit more about that. Like what should we be thinking about when we’re communicating with our communities and the Y um, versus that, what, and how, and what does that look like?

David Holder: 19:03 So, so we think the first part of that, um, that challenge is, is really listening and it, and it sounds so obvious to say that, uh, but it’s seldom done. Um, we, we often find ourselves, in fact, Novatech can go in, look into definitely clients that we’ve worked with in the past. It’s so easy to start listening to just the own, your own vertical, um, you know, this, this tourism vertical or listening to the hotels are listening and their voices are very important. We’re listening to the attractions and their voices are very important. We’re listening to our elected officials that may have, uh, uh, you know, really, really loud voice on the, on the budget that we have to work with. Um, so we’re listening to ourselves, essentially, we’re listening to that one, um, insulated environment. The, the need though, is to expand that listening into the, across the entire community.

David Holder: 20:05 Um, if we’re thinking about, um, the way that the destination impacts, uh, the livelihood and the quality of place of, of a community, we’ve got to make certain that the, the voices that influence that our community voices, um, regardless of who those voices are, regardless of, if they are directly employed or directly inserted into the tourism industry, we need to listen to it. So that’s, that’s the biggest piece of this is just understand. It’s one reason we talk about priorities to understand what those priorities are. We’ve got to hear them straight from the mouths of, uh, of the individuals in the community. It’s one reason that those residents sentiments are so important to gather. It’s one reason that we’ve got to go one more step beyond that and really hear what that’s, what that looks like, and, and look for applications. I think the second piece we’ve got to understand, and this is kind of a back and forth conversation with the community is what else is going on out there?

David Holder: 21:09 Um, one of the challenges that we’re going to have over the next few years, uh, thanks to the pandemic is we’ve gotten so isolated as, as individuals and as businesses and as communities where we’re, you know, the, our, our way out of this right now is through isolation, but isolation doesn’t work well for long-term. Um, isolation is not a way to, um, to operate effectively. So once we come out of this, we’ve got to continue to look at what other communities are doing, uh, learn from those other communities. You know, I really have loved what you’ve done with, um, some of your webinars and, uh, the different online conferences you’ve hosted and certainly this podcast, but a lot of organizations have really gotten involved in, uh, webinars to keep people connected. It’s been crucial, but we’ve got to make certain that we’re constantly benchmarking out there and learning from one another learning from one community to another, it’s the only way we’re going to do this. So we, we actually pair both of those and make certain that the outcome of that connects back to the community itself so they can hear what’s going on internally, but they can also hear what’s going on externally.

Nicole Mahoney: 22:27 Yeah, I think that’s such a great point. So think about things internally and externally. And I, I think that you made, um, a really good point when you talked about, you know, it’s so easy to just listen to our own vertical or, you know, to me, it’s like, we’re S sometimes we get stuck in a silo and we can only think about, you know, what’s right in front of us. And so that idea of expanding, um, your, your reach and your listening beyond your own vertical, your own silo is so important. Um, and you, and you mentioned these residents sentiment, uh, studies that, that Longwoods international does, is, is that the primary mechanism for listening, or do you have other recommendations on ways that, you know, tourism offices can, uh, reach beyond their silos?

David Holder: 23:14 There are definitely ways that you can, you don’t have to use a standardized resident sentiments survey like that, and, you know, we’ve had experience with them and Amir’s close friends, so I can boost him up a little bit. I’m more than happy to do it. Uh, but beyond that, uh, the, the, there are so many different ways to connect with the community. And, and, you know, again, there’s, this is one of those great things about, um, one of the few great things about the pandemic is it’s allowed us to this hyperlocal reach. It’s, it’s definitely allowed, um, organizations to, uh, connect in a different fashion with their, their localities. Um, sometimes, uh, in fact, uh, uh, Berkeley, young, you and I were talking a number of years ago, and he said, you know, one of the best things that a destination leader can do is get out of your office, go, go have coffee and just sit, and you can do some work there, but go sit and just watch things in the coffee shop or in the diner and the local restaurant. And talk to folks that you see combined, just listen to what they’re saying. And, you know, the same way that we would listen to our customers. Well, our businesses and our residents are our customers. So we’ve got to think about ways to connect with them. You can listen and all sorts of fashions. You just have to keep your ears open and, and not necessarily make it about you. That doesn’t have to always be about the, uh, the organization that’s doing the work. Sometimes it’s about the outcomes coming out of that work.

Nicole Mahoney: 24:46 Absolutely. I think that’s, um, that’s a really, really great point and, uh, just simply getting out of your office and next time you go get that coffee, maybe, you know, hang out a little while, except that now when you’re allowed to hang out right now, we’re not allowed to, but, um, but you’re right. There are so many other places that you can just be, uh, and listen and talk and learn. I think that’s, it’s really fantastic.

David Holder: 25:12 It, it, it never fails when we start an engagement with an organization or this a destination somewhere. And, and we will do typically focus groups, but right now we’re doing some virtually, we’re doing, we’ve done some live, uh, it’s a little odd, uh, but that’s about what is an odd right now. Um, but it’s amazing what happens when you just take that time to ask, you know, in a very structured fashion, you start asking folks what their thoughts are. You know, what’s, what’s driving this and you do hear ways and opportunities that, um, would not necessarily be noticeable. In other fashions. You, you start interpret, you’ve got to interpret this a little bit, but if you, if you interpret what our residents, our community leaders are saying, there’s a way to always maneuver that into opportunities, into strategy, into ways that, that help them understand more effectively what that destination organizations doing. Um, but it definitely starts with listening.

Nicole Mahoney: 26:23 Absolutely. So there’s, uh, another thing that you had mentioned in the opening of our conversation that I wrote down, I wanted to make sure we dove into this a little bit more, and that is the idea of transformational metrics. And, um, I wrote that down because I know there’s so much conversation about, you know, data, big data, data that you have available to you. How do you, um, you know, how do you interpret that? What do you do with that? And so I’m curious about transformational metrics and what those might look like. If you could talk a little bit more about that.

David Holder: 26:58 Sure. Um, with, with anything, with anything metrics, you got to start with the, the, where are we now, um, that, that initial benchmark having that as the, the building blocks for where we go, um, and, and economic development does a really good job of talking about transformational metrics. You never, you never hear economic development offices talk about, you know, the, this, the, the standardized SIM simple metrics they’re talking about, you know, large scale investment in the community change coming into that community. If we start looking at that, we start thinking about, um, and I’m, I’m going back a number of months, but we start thinking about, it’s not necessarily a new hotel coming on board. It’s what does that new hotel bring along with it? Uh, what does, what are the, uh, the trailer components of that amenity being added that come along with it?

David Holder: 27:56 The same thing is true from a sports facility. What comes along with that? What are the guests that we are bringing in? How are they impacting our community in a transformative way? Um, so we start looking at, at really an investment into our destinations in an, in another more meaningful manner. And that’s the transformation that we’re talking about. Have we enabled a portion of our community to be more sustained because of the business that we’ve brought there because of the, uh, exposure we’ve created for the community. And I think what, one of the best examples out there are our university cities, and there are so many, uh, in the, you know, working out there, um, university cities have this incredible opportunity to, to take that university relationship and really develop some change around the community, some growth and improvement around the community. It’s establishing those connections that really gets started. So when we started talking about transformative metrics, we’re looking at ways that we’ve reshaped the face of our community, the outcomes of our community, the development of our community, uh, the sustainability of our community. It talks about the change.

Nicole Mahoney: 29:18 Yeah, I think that’s, uh, that’s great as you’re talking though, I’m wondering some of my listeners might be thinking, this sounds an awful lot, like economic development. Uh, that’s not really my role. How would you, you know, answer that like, um, in terms of talking about, you know, the hotel project. Okay. Absolutely. A DMO or S you would say, yeah, I would be involved in that project. I would be supporting it. I’d be working with economic development. It seems very straightforward. But then if you start to think a little bit about outside the box, which is, which is the path that just took us down, you know, you have these untapped resources in the universities that are within your city. How do you tap into that? And, um, you know, as a DMO, I might think, well, that’s what my economic development, you know, um, organization is doing in our community. How do you not step on toes? Or how do you find the right partnership or the right role, um, to really maximize those?

David Holder: 30:18 Yeah, I think, I think the, um, uh, one of the, one of the ways that you have captured that is if, if we’re allowing ourselves to only focus on the quote unquote tourism industry, we have, um, uh, essentially essentially abdicated a major part of what our community needs to others to provide. And it’s not necessarily tourism that is going to grow a community, but the community needs tourism to grow. And it has to fit into the overall portfolio where, where, where, what constantly amazes me is when we start seeing economic development strategy, that has no touch point with tourism, particularly in, in destinations that are, that have incredible tourism assets. Um, and, and in those cases, we’ve, we’ve got to work that angle and make certain that tourism is seen as a feeder for that. Uh, in other cases, tourism might be that core economic development strategy, but our, our role as destination organizations moving forward has to be connected with, with community growth, community change, uh, community sustainability.

David Holder: 31:36 If it’s not, we’re going to see the tourism industry either be devalued or, uh, placed into a different type of conversation. And I’ll go back to pre pre COVID. You know, this is, again, one of those changes that we’ve seen within the pandemic, um, the number of conversations that different communities were having about, uh, tourism in a negative manner. So all of a sudden, you know, there was, there was, uh, too much tourism. It was really seen as overpopulating and causing negative impacts. Well, part of that happens because we haven’t made that correlation. We haven’t connected our visitor community to our residential community. Um, we’ve actually done some work in, in a few locations to help them understand this all has to fit together. Uh, I remember working in a coastal destination. They said, well, we only 50,000 residents here. And I went, wait a minute.

David Holder: 32:43 I keep hearing that in different conversations that I’m having, but you’ve got more than 50,000 residents. And they said, no, we only have 50,000 residents. I said, you have daily residents that are staying in your hotels and in your vacation rentals. And if you’re not thinking of them as being part of your community, then chances are, they’re not coming back. They’re not going to hear those restaurants that you have. They’re not supporting those businesses that would not be in this community because you only have 50,000 people there in this community because you have 200,000 people. And that’s, that’s a different perspective that we’ve got to, uh, to really awaken our community leaders to. And so if we’re only working in the tourism vertical, we don’t bring that perspective.

Nicole Mahoney: 33:30 Yeah, I think that’s, um, that, that actually is the perfect way to frame it is that perspective that you bring, um, of the tourism aspect of it and how that does feed. I think that was a great example about those businesses and to think about that, those transient residents, if you, if you will, right. Those people who are living in those hotels, in those vacation rentals, they are important.

David Holder: 33:57 And that, and that’s part of the perspective we try to bring to the table. Nicole, we try to really understand, we have all we’ve got to a community is made up of all the different people that reside there, whether they’re residing there temporarily, whether they’re residing there, you know, as part of a, a college situation or retirement situation, or even a visitor situation. Um, we’ve got to think about how these are all connected.

Nicole Mahoney: 34:25 Yeah, absolutely. Well, and I, and I, I love that point because, um, as you, as you know, you, and I’ve talked about this before, but, um, I, I believe that collaboration is such a huge part of what makes our industry, um, move and successful. I also think that collaboration is going to be one of the ways that we’re going to get ourselves out of this pandemic and back into a very successful, you know, economic climate, um, and the idea of, um, having that broader viewpoint of what I call the tourism ecosystem. You know, that’s broader than just collaborating, let’s say within your industry, thinking beyond that, I think is really what’s gonna be needed as, as we get out of this pandemic.

David Holder: 35:21 Absolutely. You know, th the, the, it never fails that one of the things that causes collaboration to break down perfectly internally within the community and in that, that odd relationship that sometimes destination organizations with economic development organizations and vice versa is that whole, uh, jealousy or protective environment on funding. Um, and it’s amazing what happens when, when, when organizations are able to put that aside for a few minutes and start talking about what, what are the needs, and when you start reassessing, what the needs are that ability to fund those needs really starts to change a little bit. So we start seeing organizations let down some of their shields and, uh, barriers that, that are funding related. You know, I’ve got to protect what’s mine. Uh, they’re coming after my funding. They’re coming after a room tax now, um, I’m not necessarily saying that we have to let that happen, but I think we can take a more community minded approach to how we’re assembling those strategic investments. And all of a sudden it changes the dynamic immensely. Um, when we start letting down some of those barriers, it’s not easy though. It, none of this is easy, but it definitely starts with collaborative conversations thinking about where do we have connective opportunities? Where do we have connected goals? Uh, how are your objectives connected to mine?

Nicole Mahoney: 37:02 Yeah, I think, uh, that just makes so much sense, so much sense. And, um, what a great point in terms of the roadblocks, right. And when it comes to money, money does seem to get in the way a lot, right. We end up very narrowly focused because of that. And, um, one of the things that I’ve been talking a lot about since the pandemic started, especially in our industry and is, uh, the difference between having a finite mindset, one that operates out of fear, right? Fear for not having funds or, or whatever it might be, uh, to an infinite mindset or a growth mindset. And it really is, as soon as you change your mindset, the conversation can change.

David Holder: 37:48 Yeah, absolutely. There’s plenty of, to be fearful about right now and over the last few months, um, if we simply allow fear to, uh, fear, fear is not a strategy for years of reaction. Um, we’ve got to make certain that we have strategies that overcome anyone’s fears. Uh, but we’ve got to know what those fears are. We’ve got to know what those concerns are. One of the things that, that Tina and I have done through clarity of place is recognize that, that, uh, to understand, uh, strategic reaction to fears, we’ve got to really understand what the fears are, but we’ve got to translate those into opportunities. Um, and it’s, it’s interesting as, as we start asking questions through some of that, that local engagement, um, those, those collaborative conversations, it’s so easy to turn challenges that the community’s facing into opportunity statements. And it’s one way that we can start building collaborations. It’s one way that we can start building, uh, that, that community approach and thinking about transformation. If we’ve, if we’ve solved a problem, we’ve transformed something. So it’s an important, uh, outcome for the community.

Nicole Mahoney: 39:07 Yeah, it’s fantastic. David, I love talking to you and we could just talk for ever, I think, copy back and forth. There’s so much to learn, and we both have very similar passions about this industry. Um, but I, I want to be considerate of your time and our listeners time, of course, as well. Um, so my, uh, my last question is going to be, uh, and I hope I don’t throw you off with this one because, uh, as my guests know, I have a certain cadence of questions that I follow. And with this particular conversation, I’ve thrown that out the window. Um, but that’s because there’s, I mean, this has just been such a great conversation. I didn’t really need that. Um, the, the, the one thing I think that’s coming out loud and clear, and I’d like to get just a, uh, a clear kind of perspective from you on this is that the app, like the evolution of destination marketing, that it started way before the pandemic, right? This thought leadership we talked about with destination international and this idea of community shared value and in all of that started long before the pandemic. Um, but I think that the pandemic has really accelerated, um, the need for this evolution. And I’m curious if you can just kind of leave us with your thoughts on where you see, um, you know, deemos going, uh, coming out of this pandemic and just sort of whether or not you agree with me is this accelerated, you know, the need for change.

David Holder: 40:43 Um, I, I definitely agree with you and I, and my, my feeling, um, don’t go off track here for a second, but my, my feeling towards what your, what you’ve done with this podcast and really trying to help the industry you’re you’re right. We definitely share passions, and I always love my, uh, my Nicole conversations there. They’re awesome. Um, what the pandemic has done to drive change and force change. Um, unfortunately there’s, there’s irreparable damage that’s been caused from that both to people’s lives, but also to their livelihoods. Um, where, where destinations have been responsive is really thinking about what this looks like going forward and recognizing that the community has to be larger than just what we’re producing in terms of overnight business. We’ve got to look for different ways to connect. Um, prior to the pandemic, we were having some really interesting conversations and I’d go back to a conversation we had with the state of Indiana. Uh, we were talking to Elaine beetle, who’s there. Um, uh, she’s the secretary of the Indiana destination development corporation. We’re going through a conversation and about two hours into this planning session, she goes, let’s stop. She goes, why do we keep using this word tourism? And all of us around the table kind of went what, and she goes, yeah, we just keep using this word tourism. This is really not about tourism. And we’re like, you’re a tourism organization. She goes, no, we are an attraction organization. Our job is to attract individuals for whatever reason

Nicole Mahoney: 42:28 To Indiana.

David Holder: 42:30 And it really, it, it stopped me almost in my tracks because I had to think through she’s exactly right. This is about attraction. It is about thinking about the outcomes, not just in terms of a visitor produced, but who is that visitor? What are they doing for our community? How are they impacting, uh, various lives that are out there? And it becomes more human in that capacity. So I, I think if we stop and, and really take a second look at what our destinations are doing and what they’re all about, we start seeing a really different opportunity for us to grow, um, not just the tourism industry, but the communities that housed these various visitor assets.

Nicole Mahoney: 43:20 That’s awesome. What a fantastic way to end. Uh, I love that reframing even the word tourism into attraction and that, and that really is what all of us do is we want to attract, uh, individuals and, and I love that, that analogy and how that makes it a lot more human, because it puts a, puts it in perspective, right? These are people that we’re impacting every day. Um, yeah, I think that’s fantastic. Well, David, thank you so much for joining us. And, um, as we say goodbye, if you could share with our listeners where they might find you and clarity of place, should they want to connect?

David Holder: 43:59 Uh, you can always reach us@clarityofplace.com. Um, look for Tina and myself, the Nicole, this is the first time that Tina and I have not been on an interview together. It feels really weird to not have, uh, um, my, my, my support cast or the cast that I support, uh, in the, uh, in the mix here. Uh, I miss her voice being a part of this conversation.

Nicole Mahoney: 44:25 Absolutely well, I’m, uh, I’m sure you did a fine job her, and maybe we’ll just have to have her on the show on her own at some point as well, and, and, uh, pick her dream for a little while. So, absolutely. Yeah. So thank you so much, David, for joining us and we’ll look forward to catching up with you again, you are awesome, Nicole, thank you for everything you’re doing and your, your team is just out there trying to make some incredible things happen. So we are really appreciative of the work you’re doing. Thank you for listening all the way to the end of this week’s episode. This gives me a chance to ask you for a favor. We have a goal to reach 100 ratings and reviews on our podcast. By the end of 2020, we are already well on our way to meeting this goal, but need your help. I love sharing my interviews with you, and if you enjoy them too, I would greatly appreciate you giving us a rating and review click the iTunes or Stitcher link on destination on the left.com or leave one right in your favorite app where you listen most often, it only takes a minute and your support means a lot.

Speaker 4: 45:33 It’s time to hit the road again, visit destination on the left.com during your travels for more podcasts, show notes and fresh ideas.