This article about Travelocity providing Maryland with a booking engine, shows how things are changing – albeit slowly – in the world of destination marketing. It could have been written in 1999. This is when MySwitzerland.com was launched by the DMO of that country and was one of the first national sites with a fully integrated hotel booking engine. DMO have a responsibility to their customers to offer easy booking of their destination to them whenever and wherever they want it. This just happens today to be on their own websites. Any company can provide them with the booking engine to do so. In this case it happens to be Travelocity, for Bermuda and others it is Expedia.
This is a development that can’t be stopped. Destination websites will become more and more – if they not already are – the starting point for travelers to do their planning and research, after all it is the DMO that stimulate the demand and then direct the interested traveler to their sites. To guarantee that these motivated, potential visitors are served well and are not lost to a competing destination, today requires a booking functionality right when these people are ready to make a decision. It’s the logical progression of the DREAM – LEARN – PLAN – GO stages of travel decision making. Any DMO worth it’s supporter’s money owes it to them and their customers to close the deal. It’s just a market reality.
Oh, and by the way, how many travel agents or tour operators make a living at selling Maryland, Kentucky and Louisiana – or Switzerland, for that matter?