How Puerto Rico have Rebuilt a Brand New DMO after a Crisis

The case study explores how Puerto Rico managed a crisis and rebuilt the brand, giving visitors a reason to return.

In 2017, Puerto Rico experienced not only one but two catastrophic natural disasters, and while the island suffered widespread destruction with significant damages to infrastructure and the economy, it did not dampen its vibrant culture or spirit for long.

In 2017, Puerto Rico experienced not only one but two catastrophic natural disasters, and while the island suffered widespread destruction with significant damages to infrastructure and the economy, it did not dampen its vibrant culture or spirit for long. The newly established DMO, Discover Puerto Rico, is responsible for all global sales and marketing for the island for both tourism and business conventions. In addition to this, we learn how Puerto Rico is in the process of rebuilding the brand and giving visitors a reason to visit or return.

About Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico is an island located off the coast of Florida in the heart of the Caribbean basin, and within the tourism industry space can definitely be considered a challenger brand. Over recent years, Puerto Rico has faced multiple challenges and significant changes, culminating in the DMO brand you see today.

The Challenges

In addition to two significant hurricanes in 2017 and an outbreak of the Zika virus in 2016, Puerto Rico was originally a Government-Led Destination. As such, constant administration and bureaucracy changes within the government meant that overall, there was a lack of consistency and traction in terms of the brand identity and messaging.

While the destination initially had a lot against it, the newly established and privatised DMO Discover Puerto Rico, was now in a position for great growth potential with the unique opportunity to reset and relaunch as a brand new destination brand.

The Strategy


The first point of call was to review the brand’s positioning and health, with the ultimate goal to develop a sustainable brand that can grow as well as stand the test of time. First and foremost, Puerto Rico needed to learn what the brand’s present position was within the marketplace and the only way to do this was by undertaking extensive research. Here at the #DTTT, we have seen multiple destinations utilising data insights at the core of their digital strategies.

This involved reviewing data regarding different elements of the journey in potential target markets across the U.S. and two international markets including; brand perception, website usability, VisaVue, (visa cardholder data of people who visited the island) creative messaging, Google and Facebook analytics.

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Discover Puerto Rico started to build an entire strategy based on data insights to successfully communicate the brand to people looking for an experience. The initial data learnings helped to identify Puerto Rico’s position amongst its competitive set, the likes of Mexico, Bermuda, Dominican Republic etc, enabling the destination to understand how it can successfully differentiate itself from the competition.

The general perception of the island in terms of personality and image was neutral, neither good nor bad which is a good thing as this means there is room to grow and shape the new brand.

Puerto Rico’s USP and competitive advantage lies within the authentic cultural product, charm and personality of the island, in addition to the beautiful beaches and natural resources for which it is most well known.


Alongside the focus on brand and data, it is important to note that people are at the heart of this new strategy and form the foundation of its relaunch. Both in terms of the people of the DMO and people of Puerto Rico, who collectively share the same passion and belief in the destination, acting as a powerful force behind its rebirth.

The hand-selected team comprises of around 45 people and almost 80% are from Puerto Rico itself. This was intentional as it was important for the DMO to select a team who shared the same values and love for the island, creating a strong company culture which also enables Discover Puerto Rico to become owners of its brand and channels.

Google Destination Programme

After conducting an audit of its own channels, Discover Puerto Rico learned that the DMO website is just a small part of the conversation, and there are multiple touchpoints that need to be considered when it comes to the customer journey. As a result, Discover Puerto Rico partnered with Google to effectively manage its presence in the Google sphere.

Initial research found that images aggregated across its own assets on Google were largely out of date and misrepresented the true Puerto Rico, post-hurricane. This would, without doubt, reinforce any negative consumer perceptions so it was essential for this to be updated.

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Puerto Rico Before


Together with Google, Discover Puerto Rico started developing new content around the island, in the form of 360° videos and new images. Beyond visual content, they also carried out workshops around the island to educate stakeholders on how they can update their own Google My Business listings to strengthen the destination’s image as a whole.

Here at the #DTTT, we find this very significant as it becomes a joint effort, encouraging the destination as a whole to become involved in promoting and re-establishing itself.

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Puerto Rico after

Since publishing the new content on Google, 542 images have accrued more than 2.5 million views in the first two months.

If you consider your own customer journey when it comes to searching for inspiration or booking a trip, where is your first point of call? Naturally, it is likely to be Google search in the first instance, therefore as a DMO, it is essential that the content and information here is accurate.

The Results So Far

  • The San Juan port resumed operations 2.5 weeks after Hurricane Maria
  • The destination is on the path to hit a record 1.7m passengers during the 2018-2019 season with 119 cruise shore excursions available
  • There are 139 lodging options open and accepting reservations - By mid-2019, total room inventory will reach 15,000 rooms, back to pre-Maria levels. Lodging development since Maria equates to approximately $1.9B investment in new development, which contributes to the local economy and adds approximately 2,900 jobs
  • Two weeks after the hurricane, the Island saw 20 daily flights. Today, there are roughly 110 daily flights via 28 airlines.


As an evolving DMO, it is important to stay up to date with digital trends within the industry and always ensure you are present within this space. Here at the #DTTT, we can see that Discover Puerto Rico has a strong foundation of people, culture and natural resources, together with a unique story and plenty of new growth potential which it has placed at the forefront of the brand and strategy.

The new DMO website is set to launch at the end of February 2019 and we are excited to see what else is in store for Puerto Rico.

Access our worksheet on Discover Puerto Rico 👇

Key Takeaways

Published on:
November 2020
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