Why Destinations International Uses Integrated Public Affairs Software

August 24, 2018

Challenge: Monitoring Dialogue on Tourism and the Visitor Economy

For Destinations International, a global trade association representing destination marketing professionals, legislative decisions at the international, federal, state, and local levels can all have an impact on the ability of member organizations to succeed. But with so many moving parts in legislative bodies across the US and around the world, Destinations International didn’t have a way to keep tabs on all the relevant stakeholders.

“One of the most pressing problems with our members is a variety of local legislative issues or political issues that just kind of pop up,” said Jack Johnson, Destination’s International’s Chief Advocacy Officer.

Before Quorum, identifying the issues that “pop-up” was fairly ad-hoc—when an individual destination identified a problem, it would notify Johnson’s team who would turn to Google to search for other areas where this issue could potentially appear. Unfortunately, even if the association identified localities where the issues could arise, it didn’t have a clean database of elected officials to see where they stood on the issue.

“We didn’t have the ability to go out and identify who all the elected officials were, especially at the local and county level which is where a lot of our members are based,” Johnson said. “Instant access to that body, their social media handles, and their newsletters was [critical].”

Solution: Never Miss a Mention of Elected Officials at All Levels

Quorum provided an opportunity for Destinations International to monitor the moving parts at each level of government, all in one place.

Early Warning System

With Quorum, Destinations International is alerted any time a key issue it tracks is mentioned at any level of government.

“We wanted to try and find a way that went beyond just tracking legislation but actually could track what politicians are talking about,” Johnson said. “Then we could identify keywords and phrases that were being used over and over again on that particular issue so we could try and predict or at least get ahead of the game where a problem might be bubbling up before it became a full-fledged emergency.”

Comprehensive dialogue tracking allows Destinations International to alert member organizations before legislation is introduced. This became critical when issues were popping up in multiple destinations across the country. For example, an organization backing a proposal to cut funding for tourism in Florida sparked the need to be proactive in the rest of the country.

“Watching that type of attack all of a sudden start popping up elsewhere, sometimes it is at the local sometimes it's at the state level and then you end up having those conversations at the federal level,” Johnson said. “The ability to track it all in one suite and then break out what level we need to tap into most is incredibly helpful.”

Building an Advocacy Vocabulary

Destinations International uses Quorum to create a lexicon to use when communicating with elected officials about the value of the visitor economy. The idea sprung out of the Florida proposal to cut funding for tourism— Destinations International noted that elected officials who supported the cuts were all using the same buzzwords, like “picking winners and losers”.

The association knew it needed to counter this message with phrases that focused on support for tourism, so it used Quorum’s word cloud technology to identify what keywords elected officials used to describe positive things broadly— like how they talked about firefighters, education, and public safety.

“We looked at the word clouds that were popping up and words that were being used over and over. That's where we started seeing the trends, and we were able to identify words that were used by elected officials to talk positively about something,” Johnson said. "We built a political lexicon saying you need to make this emotional, value-based argument and these are the words you use...it's actually been quite revolutionary."

Measuring Impact

Quorum’s ability to track social media dialogue of local officials empowered Destinations International to measure which elected officials are mentioning the organization or the issues it cares about.

For example, the association met with its member organizations in Michigan and provided profiles of each local official in that organization’s region. Then, it showed each official’s discussion—or lack thereof— of the association’s issue areas. If an elected official hadn’t mentioned any of the issues Destinations International and its member organizations care about, then the member organizations hadn’t done a good enough job in breaking through with those officials.

“We’re able to look at every local official and point to our members how they were not interacting enough with them because they weren’t pushing out social media that was positive about our industry,” Johnson said. “We were able to point one or two rockstars and use them as an example of exactly how they were tweeting positively about their destination, positive things about the visitor economy, and use that as a prototype for all the other members in the room, saying this is what you need to replicate.”

Impact: One Platform for Offense and Defense

With Quorum, having an early warning system, building an advocacy vocabulary, and measuring your impact—can happen all in one place. Not only can Destinations International use the platform in diverse ways, but across all levels of government. While their original subscription included only a subset of products, the association felt it was important to fill out the full suite “to view the whole footprint”.

From Congress to Brussels to state capitals to city councils, Destinations International is listening for mentions of its issues and learning how best to communicate with elected officials. Integrating Quorum Stakeholder and Quorum Grassroots, on top of Quorum’s legislative monitoring tools, allows the association to efficiently communicate with its member organizations on issues and initiatives it cares about, and at a moment’s notice, mobilize its members to write, call, or tweet at elected officials. And it all happens in one place.

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