The fine art of destination management 4.0

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Competitiveness, destination development, sustainability, stakeholder management

The management of tourist destinations is constantly changing. Although the definition of destinations and the central tasks and effects of destination management organizations (DMOs) are constantly being called into question, destinations have consolidated. They have become more and more concentrated along the guest experience space. DMOs have become important reference points in the fluid tourism sector. As network organizations, they coordinate, support, position and market the attractions and service providers in this experience area, offer guests a point of contact and take into account the concerns of the local population. However, they can only meet the complex expectations of the numerous stakeholders to a limited extent and with great skill, because they have a lot of responsibility but only a few competencies and tend to have to act in a consensus-oriented manner.

The aim of this publication is to outline the current situation surrounding destination management, to illustrate the diversity of destinations and DMO models using individual case studies and to derive an updated model of Destination Management 4.0 as an orientation grid in a complex and dynamic environment. In addition, proposals for strategic orientation, governance, task portfolios, role sharing and financing are presented for discussion.

The DMO in destination management 4.0

  • sees itself primarily as a network organization, coordinates and represents the diverse interests of tourism and moderates project-related processes,
  • focuses on the development of offers and destinations,
  • is geared towards political circumstances, but broadens its perspective to include the entire experience of the important guest groups,
  • clarifies the scope and quality of tasks in performance mandates,
  • includes the quality of life of the population wherever the experience and living spaces overlap and
  • places a strong emphasis on stakeholder management.

Destination management 4.0 requires skillful interaction between all stakeholders: managing destination development sustainably is a fine art.

The publication is primarily aimed at board members and management of DMOs and other tourism organizations, authorities dealing with tourism and tourism service providers. It is not a broad-based field study. Nor is it the authors’ intention to present ’Destination Management 4.0’ as an instruction manual or practical guide, but rather to provide food for thought on how existing destination management could be further developed. This is based on the findings from a large number of investigations and studies, discussions and workshops, as well as the personal experience gained from the two authors’ many years of involvement on the boards of directors and management boards of various DMOs.

The publication consists of six parts:

  • Parts 1 and 2 with a theoretical overview and eight case studies,
  • Part 3 with the two newly developed models for Destination Management 4.0,
  • Parts 4 and 5 with the tasks of a DMO and the governance of a destination and
  • Part 6 with ten recommendations for the further development of a DMO.

The publication can be downloaded free of charge as a PDF at the following address:


Jürg Stettler, Prof. Dr., Head of the Institute for Tourism and Mobility ITM, Lucerne School of Business Hansruedi Müller, Prof. em. Dr., former Head of the Research Institute for Leisure and Tourism FIF, University of Bern


100 pages, 30 illustrations

Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts, Lucerne 2024