IPW and DMO acronym primer for miles and points travelers.

Most of us in the miles and points world have a relationship with the travel industry as consumers. I started Loyalty Traveler in 2006 to share my knowledge of how to use frequent flyer and frequent guest programs to travel better and more affordably. It was several years before I knew what acronyms like DMO and CVB meant. That is the side of the industry familiar to many travel bloggers who work in a different subset of blogging than most miles and points loyalty travelers.

Here is a short primer about the travel industry from the trade side of the business for those of us who are primarily travel consumers for airline tickets and hotel stays.


IPW is the annual trade convention for the U.S. Travel Association, whose purpose is to promote travel in the United States. Today is the third and last day of IPW 2015 Orlando. More than 6,500 attendees and representatives from travel providers including hotel chains, airlines, destination marketing organizations DMOs, Convention and Visitor Bureaus CVBs and government agencies like TSA and Homeland Security are present. The purpose of the IPW convention is an annual opportunity to bring together international buyers and media with U.S. travel providers. This is where billions of dollars are generated for the U.S. economy through travel contacts and deals.

Hilton    Starwood

South Carolina    United Airlines

Hilton Worldwide and  Starwood Hotels have large booths promoting regional properties in the USA and hotel brands. South Carolina destination marketing organization and a small United Airlines booth.

All major hotel chains are represented at IPW and dozens of individual hotels and groups of hotels. The convention center floor space is filled with more than 1,300 booths taken up mostly by Destination Marketing Organizations, which are business entities designed to promote tourism for a city, state or regional destination.

Brand USA is the destination marketing organization for U.S. Travel Association authorized by Congress through 2020. Brand USA promotes the USA as a travel destination through ad campaigns and international trade shows.

U.S. Travel Association lobbies for regulations to improve travel access to the USA and travel conditions like lobbying to allow Canadians with property in the USA to stay longer without violating visa conditions and working to make the visa application process easier for international travelers. Another item on U.S. Travel Association’s agenda is to raise the airline passenger fee on tickets to fund U.S. airport infrastructure development due to the number of airports already operating at capacity.

Brand USA

Travel as a U.S. industry accounts for almost one trillion dollars in spending, providing about 15 million jobs, or 1 in 9 jobs across the USA.

72 million international visitors came to the USA in 2014 spending an average $1,300 per visitor.

DMO Destination Marketing Organization

VisitCalifornia is the destination marketing organization for the state of California. SeeMonterey is the destination marketing organization for the Monterey Peninsula region where I live. The reason why hotel tax is generally significantly higher than the state sales tax is tourist dollars fund the destination marketing organizations who promote travel for the local area.

Statistics from VisitCalifornia reveal that more than 200 million traveler visits in California during 2014 generated over 80 billion dollars in tourism spend.

VisitCalifornia has a #DreamBig ad campaign that has brought an estimated additional 4.3 million visitors to California and generated an additional $8 billion dollars in tourism revenue. A well-organized DMO pays for itself through additional tourism dollars brought to the area.

California had 251 million person trips last year with 192.3 million of those by Americans. California is the top destination for U.S. travelers who spent around $68 billion tourism dollars in 2014.

International tourism in California is led by 7.6 million visits from Mexico who spent $3 billion. Canada is second with 1.6 million visits and $2.3 billion in tourism dollars.

China is the third largest visitor group one million visits. The reason there is so much interest in promoting tourism arrivals from China is this group is among the highest spending per visit. Chinese outspent Canadians in 2014 with $2.6 billion in California tourism dollars despite having 600,000 fewer visits. The high spend in the USA by visitors from China is one of the reasons chain brand hotels focus on development in China. Brand recognition and loyalty in China helps capture those dollars at the Starwood Hotels and  IHG hotels when Chinese travelers visit the USA.

I have used California and Monterey as examples of DMOs. Hundreds of booths at the IPW 2015 Orlando convention were occupied by DMOs from every part of the USA.

Colorado DMO    Louisiana

An interesting story behind the LouisianaTravel.com mural is the images are made entirely out of recycled beads from New Orleans necklaces passed out during Mardi Gras and events.

CVB Convention and Visitors Bureau

CVB is less used these days since it has the connotation of a bureaucratic event planning organization. Most CVBs are destination marketing organizations (DMOs) to attract and assist with conventions and events. Some DMOs represent smaller places and are focused more on leisure travelers than conventions and business events.

DMC Destination Management Company

Many rural areas and small businesses can’t afford staff for destination marketing and this is where an intermediary player assists for a fee. Destination Management Companies provide services to promote an area through press and advertising and assist with marketing tourism for a region.

Where do travel bloggers and writers fit into the travel industry scene?

Most of this information is irrelevant to the common traveler. There is significant relevance of DMOs for travel bloggers who want to know how to get complimentary media trips. If you have a social media reach in terms of unique visitors and good Twitter, Instagram, Google+, Facebook stats, then you can generally get complimentary hotel nights, restaurant meals and activities when you are visiting a destination.

More on that in my next post on Press Trips.

About Ric Garrido

Ric Garrido of Monterey, California started Loyalty Traveler in 2006 for traveler education on hotel and air travel, primarily using frequent flyer and frequent guest loyalty programs for bargain travel. Loyalty Traveler joined BoardingArea.com in 2008.

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  1. I’m always skeptical about the numbers they come up for how much these organizations have added in additional visitors. Probably because I don’t think I’ve ever travelled to a place based on their advertising, but almost always for another reason like visiting family or dance weeks/weekends and then explore the area while I’m there.

    Of course, I have an almost allergic reaction to marketing. I realize some folks are easily influenced by it.

    I also realize that these folks need to be able to sell others on how vital their services are so they can make a nice salary.

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