Sedona Destination Marketing – Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is a Destination Marketing Organization (DMO)? A destination marketing organization (DMO) is an organization which promotes a location as an attractive travel destination. DMOs are called Tourist Bureaus, Tourism Boards or, in large cities, Convention and Visitors Bureau. They primarily exist to provide information to leisure travelers. Depending upon staffing, they can also engage event organizers to choose their location for meetings or conferences.  A DMO is tied to the local government infrastructure, often with supporting funds being generated by specific taxes, such as hotel (bed) taxes and/or membership fees.
  2. What governs DMOs in Arizona?  The Arizona Office of Tourism (AOT) sets the public policy for DMOs in Arizona.  A single DMO can be organized to serve a municipality (city/town) or county.  According to AOT, it is the responsibility of the municipality (city/town) or county to designate either themselves or another organization if they intend to participate in AOT’s programs.  For many years, the Sedona Chamber was designated by the City of Sedona to serve as the official DMO for the City of Sedona.
  3. Can the City of Sedona serve as a DMO?  Yes, the City of Sedona can serve as the official DMO for the businesses within Sedona providing all of the services they desire to promote tourism – projecting the Sedona brand to those that wish to visit the community and do business with all of our local businesses.
  4. Was there a conflict of interest with the Sedona Chamber operating as the DMO for Sedona?  Since 2014 the City of Sedona contracted with the Sedona Chamber to serve as the DMO for the City, and to represent all of the businesses in our community.  It could be considered a conflict since the funds provided by the City of Sedona also benefited other members of the Sedona Chamber that are located outside of the City limits.  Now that the City of Sedona will be operating as the DMO, they can specifically support all businesses within the City and remove that conflict of interest.
  5. Why did the city act so quickly to declare themselves as the DMO?  The City had to declare themselves as the DMO to qualify for benefits from AOT. The AOT offers many free marketing and branding programs for single cities. In addition, AOT has co-op programs that are very effective for Cities and Towns. The AOT resource center provides free research and data-driven performance-based data along with free marketing tools such as a library of images for use. These services will be critical to an effective “Tourism Bureau”.
  6. Can the Sedona Chamber declare themselves as a DMO without a contract with the City?  No. It is the responsibility of the municipality (city) or county to designate either themselves or another organization as the DMO.  So the Chamber has to have a contract with the City if they were to operate as the Sedona DMO.
  7. Can the Sedona Chamber become a DMO for another city? Yes, theoretically they could get a contract with another city.  They currently have Chamber members throughout the Verde Valley. They may pursue that opportunity and encourage Cottonwood to establish a bed-tax for funding.
  8. What was the result of the work that Bob Pifke and Ann Kelley did to get alignment between the City and the Chamber of Commerce on the Goals for Tourism Management?  Bob and Ann meet with City Council members to define the City’s Tourism Management Strategy – Vision, Goals and Guiding Principles.  When they had a rough draft of that document, they met with the Sedona Chamber to obtain their view on the proposed Tourism Management Strategy.  The goal was to get agreement so that programs developed by the Chamber would be consistent with the desired objectives of the City.  This exercise revealed significant disagreement on two goals, with the details of those differences presented in the report:
    1. Working to limit/manage peak tourism
    2. Serving all of the tourism businesses in Sedona.  
  9. How will the City effectively serve the Sedona tourism businesses?  The City will have to establish a Tourism Team and a City Tourism Website that markets tourism for the City’s designation.  They will then decide whether to provide staff services inhouse versus operating as a “Fee for Services” that would outsource items to experts in the field:
    1. Consultants
    2. Marketing personnel at Trade Shows
    3. Graphic Arts & Media Services
    4. Website developers 
    5. Research, Data Collection experts
    6. Visitors services 
  10. How will businesses and residents influence tourism management?  The City has talked about establishing a Tourism Advisory Committee (TAC) composed of local tourism business members, residents and City Council members.  The TAC will provide guidance and strategic direction to the Tourism Team.  They could be asked to review proposed policies, review data and performance, and report findings/recommendations to the City Council. 
  11. How did the Chamber verify what tasks they performed and how much effort was expended? The Chamber and the City of Sedona established an overall budget each year with specific budgets allocated to different work activities.  The Chamber provided a status and the amount of money that had been spent. However, the Chamber did not record actual labor hours or line item expenses in support of these different activities.  In the consultant world, detailed charges are typically provided along with billings to ensure that the budgeted work is performed as agreed to.
  12. The Chamber complained that the resident’s desire to manage tourism is unreasonable. Are the residents unreasonable in this desire? This article by shows that Sedona residents are not alone. Skift strongly encourages those managing tourism to build a strong relationship with the residents and work to make tourism contribute to the resident’s quality of life. Excellent article! –
  13. Won’t the Chamber now be unleashed to do as much destination marketing as they want? According to the Sedona Chamber’s 2020 tax return, 89% of the Chamber’s revenue came from the City of Sedona. The Chamber membership dues are around $300k. Their current payroll cost is around $1 million. So it appears that they are not in a financial position to spend money on advertising, unless they can get members to donate or they find another source of income. They recently solicited donations from their members, asking for $225k and, to date, have only raised $130k. This information is available on
  14. I hear that hotels are suffering financially. They have fewer customers and have had to lower their charge for an overnight stay. Doesn’t that show that we need more visitors? Regretably traditional lodging has been significantly impacted by the proliferation of short-term rentals (STRs). There are more than 1100 properties in the city limits that are now “hotels”. That is over 2,500 “hotel rooms”. The result is that there are more “hotel rooms” in our neighborhoods than in the traditional hotels. So is it fewer visitors to Sedona or are they just choosing to stay in STRs versus traditional lodging?
  15. When are we going to hear directly from the City Council? NOW! Here is a link to a letter from the Sedona City Council Tourism Work Group – Kathy Kincella, Holli Ploog and Brian Fultz.


Customer – Service Provider Alignment Assessment Between the City of Sedona and Sedona Chamber 

Arizona Office of Tourism

Alignment assessment of City vs. Chamber