How DMO Social Media Drives Travel Decisions

The Challenge

In 2018, The Destination Marketing Association of the West Education and Research Foundation (DMA West Foundation) partnered with Destination Analysts to conduct a comprehensive Social Media Follower Profile & Conversion Study. The goal was to measure visitor conversion and economic impact from social media investment and to deepen understanding of DMO social media followers and their content preferences.

Our Solution

Destination Analysts knows the value of understanding a DMO’s social media follower profile in order to craft effective, targeted messaging and in turn maximize the DMO’s social media ROI. Therefore, Destination Analysts designed a research study for DMA West to:

  • Determine the Economic Impact that DMO social media generates for their local communities by estimating the total amount of direct visitor spending in-market that was generated by and attributable to the DMO social media content and marketing program
  • Develop a comprehensive social media follower profile by analyzing demographic, psychographic, attitudinal and behavioral profiles of DMO social media followers

The methodology Destination Analysts employed was a base survey questionnaire that addressed the core objectives of this research. This questionnaire was then adapted for each participating DMO. Custom questions related to their destination or organization’s informational needs were also included, providing a rich data set. In total, nineteen (19) DMOs participated in this year-long research study. As an added-value component of the research project, all participating DMOs had the option of integrating ADARA Impact, ADARA’s platform which allows DMOs to measure the effectiveness of digital marketing efforts by connecting media campaigns and website activity with real travel search and booking activity.

Social media ROI was estimated by categorizing two visitor types:

  • Visitors on incremental trips: DMO’s official social media marketing influenced their destination decision
  • Visitors who extended their stay: DMO’s official social media marketing did not influence their destination decision, so spending impact estimations for this group only include spending during reported additional days in-market

The survey questionnaire was specifically designed to identify the information needed to estimate the incidence of these two types of travelers in the population of the DMO’s social media audiences, as well as their spending in-market. Data collected in the survey was then applied to each social media (Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter) audience size in order to develop the ROI estimates.


The findings from our research provided each DMO with a comprehensive analysis of the city’s social media ROI and social media follower profile. The data emphasized the undeniable importance of DMO social media presence; it is estimated that $71,686,288 in economic impact was generated for the respective destinations from Facebook and $22,864,449 from Instagram. Additionally, approximately three-quarters of Facebook followers (72.4%) and Instagram followers (75.5%) who live outside the destination did indeed visit after following the DMO on social media. Furthermore, taking an in-depth look at the segments of travelers who utilize DMO social media platforms allowed the DMOs to refine their messages to each respective audience. Now, the DMOs continue to expand on these insights to market even more effectively to key audiences, thereby increasing their social media ROI.

Client Testimonial

Thanks to Destination Analysts, we have a more complete marketing “tool box” to help us as we continually push to have a stronger online presence. We now have invaluable insights about our web and social audiences that allow us to be smarter about our content. This can ultimately lead to better engagement and conversion.