Marketing 3.0StrategyStrategy planning & executionTourism marketing

7 Components of a Great Integrated Marketing Program

What is integrated marketing & why does it matter?

Integrated Marketing is a strategy that reinforces your company’s ultimate message and is consistent across all communication platforms. It is important because consumers are present online as well as offline. In the tourism industry, in order to be competitive, you need to be where the traveler is and create relevant content that travelers trust. Unifying all channels of communication is key to having an effective marketing plan.

Here are 7 key components of a great marketing program:

+ Brand Analysis – Prior to implementing a campaign, it is necessary to carry out a brand analysis containing actionable recommendations to improve your look and focus your message. Our in-house design team can also help you update or refresh your current brand and logo.

+ Marketing Strategy – After a thorough analysis, an integrated marketing strategy is developed and will serve as a roadmap for the implementation of the integrated marketing program, which is tailored to the needs of a specific consumer. The strategy will integrate current and targeted use of all channels: social media, search engine optimization, blogging, content, public relations and trade relations.

+ Website and Content Development – Once a consumer finds your website, the goal is to make it so captivating that they want to stay on the site, engage in your content and share it with others. Developing a content calendar and assigning content generation responsibilities will help you decide the type of content to post, where you will post it and how frequently. Finally, try to engage your team, so that everyone participates in the content generation process.

+ Social Media Strategy and Blogging – Social media gives you a place to talk to your consumers before they travel, while they’re on their trip and after they have returned. Social media strategy encompasses social networks, blogs, micro-blogging sites and third party sites. You should determine the best channels to use for your target markets, and what content to post.

+ Creative Campaigns – With all pieces of your marketing foundation in place, it is convenient implement a series of creative campaigns and sweepstakes designed to draw visitors to both your site and social media platforms while synchronizing your marketing message and brand value for maximum effectiveness.

+ PR/Media Outreach Strategy – In this point you should employ simple but effective monitoring tools and indicators to allow you to identify influencers in your market. Then you can “listen” to the conversations taking place online, join ongoing conversations, build trust, and demonstrate expertise. You should also develop a database of contacts and design effective outreach campaigns to reach local and international media, relevant bloggers, guidebooks and sales intermediaries

+ Trade Distribution Strategy – If you work with business to business sales, you should try to take your relationships online by developing a dynamic database that tracks all communication with trade partners; from the initial email/call, to in-person meetings at trade shows, and shares on social media sites by each partner.

A great example of an Integrated Marketing project is the Namibia Online Campaign. The goal of this campaign was to ensure the necessary tools and capacity to combine online marketing activities with their current overall marketing strategy.

This article is re-posted with permission from www.solimarinternational.com/resources-page/blog/itemlist/tag/Integrated%20Marketing%20Program

Culture changeMarketing 3.0StrategyStrategy planning & execution

The Tipping Point’s theory for expanding destinations 3.0 (IV)

Beyond the key ideas of the Tipping point’s theory exposed in the previous articles, there are some case studies that showcase how this theory comes into practice in the real world.

The diffusion model is an academic model of looking at how a contagious idea or innovation moves through a population. For instance, when the hybrid seed was launched to the market, the group of farmers who started trying it at first were the Innovators. The slightly larger group who were convinced by them were “the early adopters”. They were the opinion leaders in the community, a group of respected and thoughtful people who watched and analyzed what those Innovators were doing and eventually decided to follow. After them came the Early Majority and the Late Majority, the deliberate and the skeptical mass, who would never try anything until the most respected ones had tried it first. Finally there came the Laggards, the most conservative of all, who see no urgent reason to change. Plotting that progression on a graph, it forms a perfect epidemic curve –starting slowly, tipping just as the Early Adopters start using the seed, then rising sharply as the Majority catches on.

But many times the contagious spread of a new idea is actually quite tricky. There is a substantial difference between the people who originate trends and ideas, and the people in the Majority group who eventually adopt them. These two groups may be next to each other on the word-of-mouth continuum. But they don’t communicate particularly well. The first two groups –the Innovators and Early Adopters- are visionaries. They want revolutionary change, something that sets them apart qualitatively from their competitors. They are the people who buy brand-new technology, before it’s been perfected or even proved, or before the price has gone down. They usually have small companies and are just starting out, willing to take enormous risks.

The Early Majority, instead, are big companies. They have to worry about any change fitting into their complex business structure. If the goal of visionaries is to make a quantum leap forward, the goal of pragmatists is to make a incremental improvement, some measurable and predictable progress. The word risk is negative in their vocabulary.

Innovations don’t just slide effortlessly from one group to the next. There is a huge gap between them. Actually, all kinds of high-tech products fail, never making it beyond the Early Adopters, because the companies that make them are not always able to scale them to the mainstream market, just because it’s not appealing enough to the Early Majority.

Connectors, Mavens and Salesmen are those who make it possible for innovations to bridge over the gap between both groups. They translate ideas and information from the highly specialized world of the innovators into a mainstream language that everybody can understand. What they do is to highlight the aspects that most matter to the audience, exemplifying through storytelling how the idea could change their lives, dropping the unnecessary information and technical details that could only lead to confusion.

The Innovators fit a different personality type. They feel different. If you ask people what worries them the most, the trendsetters pick up on bigger-picture things, whereas the mainstream people think about being overweight, or how well they are doing at work. They are passionate activists to some extent.

Conclusion

When trying to use the Tipping Point theory to craft a strategy to create some kind of social epidemics, like engaging and gaining stakeholder support to the destination business model, is that efforts have to be concentrated in three groups of people: Connectors, Mavens, and Salesmen, so long as they are responsible for starting word-of-mouth epidemics.

We then have to prepare a message that sticks, which can actually be a story, no matter how short we make it. The learning outcomes of the storytelling technique from previous articles and Whitepapers are essential to understand how the human psychology works in order to create emotional connections with our target audience and move them to take action in the direction we want.

We finally have to understand the power of context, that regardless of our thinking about ourselves as autonomous and inner-directed, we are actually strongly influenced by our social and physical environment, and so all the environment factors matter when preparing for the tipping point to happen.

It’s particularly interesting to take into account the rule of 150 when choosing the target audience, so long as it can be split into blocks in accordance with this parameter, to ensure its receptivity to the message. Working thoughtfully on these points we can shape the course of social epidemics. In the end, Tipping Points are no more than a reaffirmation of the potential for change and the power of intelligent action.

If you are interested in further insights about this topic, I strongly recommend you to read Malcolm Gladwell’s “The Tipping Point”, where you will also find many case studies that illustrate all the concepts and theories among other interesting content.

Marketing 3.0StrategyTourism marketing

Fifteen Common Place Branding Pitfalls and How to Avoid Them

This article is written by Bill Baker, Chief Strategist at Total Destination Marketing, author, speaker, and blogger at “Small City Branding around the world”

Adopting a city brand offers tremendous rewards if done correctly. However, sometimes these well-meaning efforts introduce levels of complexity and pitfalls which could easily have been avoided if leaders had understood the nuances of brand planning for cities.

Many city branding projects get off to a great start with a lot of publicity and energy, only to soon run out of steam. Their momentum starts to lag, fresh ideas are not as frequent, designs start to miss their mark, and suddenly the brand has faded, it is confused, and becomes very fuzzy to customers and stakeholders. Here are some of the fifteen common pitfalls that can contribute to these situations are:

  1. Insufficient Understanding Of Branding
  2. Lack of Stakeholder Buy-in
  3. Failure to Grasp the Scope of Branding
  4. Focusing On Short-Term Results
  5. Forgetting The Customer’s View
  6. Disagreeing What is Being Branded
  7. Insufficient or Irrelevant Research
  8. The Weak Positioning Trap
  9. Not Following the Strategy
  10. The Lure of “Bright Shiny Objects”
  11. Forgetting to Deliver What You Promise
  12. Unhelpful Mindsets
  13. Brand Fatigue
  14. Going It Alone as a DIY Project
  15. Not Engaging Specialist Skills

This article has been re-posted with permission from http://citybranding.typepad.com/city-branding/page/2/

Culture changeStrategyStrategy planning & execution

The Tipping Point’s theory for expanding destinations 3.0 (III)

Following with the second article presenting the Tipping point theory, where the “Stickiness factor” was explained, this third article explains the third key success factors to reach a Tipping point: the power of context.

The power of context

Social epidemics are very sensitive to the environment and the circumstances of the times in which they occur. The key idea of the power of context is that people are more than just sensitive to changes in context. And the kinds of contextual changes capable of tipping an epidemic are very different than we might ordinarily suspect.

For instance, Wilson and Kelling argued that crime is an inevitable result of disorder. If a window is broken and left unrepaired, people walking by will think that no one cares. Soon, more windows are likely to be broken, and the sense of anarchy spreads out from the building to the whole street, and further to the rest of the district, sending a message that anything goes.

The Tipping Point in this epidemic it’s something physical like graffiti. The motivation to engage in a certain kind of behavior is not necessarily coming from a certain kind of person but also from a feature of the environment. The essence of the Power of context is that our inner states are the result of our outer circumstances.

Thinking about “How much influence does immediate environment have on the way people behave?”, Philip Zimbardo –from Stanford University- concluded that there are certain times, places and conditions when our inherent predispositions can be swept away, and that there are circumstances where you can take normal people from good schools and happy families and good neighborhoods and powerfully affect their behavior just by changing the immediate details of their situation.

What this study suggests is that the convictions of our heart and our thoughts are eventually less important in guiding our actions than the immediate context of our behavior. Environmental Tipping Points are things that can be changed: we can fix broken windows and clean up graffiti and change the signals that first invite to vandalism or other kind of undesirable behavior.

Judith Harris has convincingly argued that peer influence and community influence are more important than family influence in determining how children behave. Their behavior is powerfully shaped by the environment out of their family, and the features of their immediate social and physical world –the streets they walk down, the people they encounter –play a huge role in shaping who they are and how they act.

More specifically, hereby we analyze the critical role that groups play in social epidemics. Psychologists say that when people are asked to make decisions in a group, they come to very different resolutions than when they are asked the same by themselves. When we’re part of a group, we’re all susceptible to peer pressure and social norms and other kinds of influence that play a critical role in sweeping us up in the beginnings of an epidemic.

The spread of any new and contagious idea also has a lot to do with the skillful use of group power. It’s easier to remember and appreciate something if you discuss it for two hours with your friends. Then it becomes a social experience and an object of conversation. On the other hand, peer pressure is much more powerful than a concept of a boss. People want to live up to what is expected from them. When each person has a group-acknowledged responsibility for particular tasks and facts, greater efficiency is inevitable.

The rule of 150 is an interesting example of the strange and incredible ways in which context affects the course of social epidemics. There is a concept in cognitive psychology called the channel capacity, referring to the amount of space in our brain for specific kinds of information. We have a channel capacity for feelings, and there is also what could be called social channel capacity. So what does correlate with brain size? According British anthropologist Robin Dunbar social group size is what correlates with the size of our brain. If you look at any species of primate the larger their neocortex is, the larger the average size of the groups they live with.

Dunbar’s argument is that brains evolve, they get bigger, in order to handle the complexities of larger social groups. If you belong to a group of five people, then you have to keep track of ten separate relationships: your relationships with the four others in your circle and the six other two-way relationships between the others. That’s what it takes to know everyone in the social circle.

Humans socialize in the largest groups of all primates because we are the only animals with brains large enough to handle the complexities of that social arrangement. Keeping things under 150 has proved to be the most efficient and effective way to manage a group of people. When the group gets larger than that, people become strangers to one another. They’re knit together, which is very important if you want to be effective and successful at community life. If you get too large, you don’t have enough things in common, and then you start to become strangers to one another and that close-knit fellowship starts to get lost. Above the 150 Tipping Point, there begin to be structural impediments to the ability of the group to agree and act with one voice.

If you are interested in further insights about this topic, I strongly recommend you to read Malcolm Gladwell’s “The Tipping Point”, where you will also find many case studies that illustrate all the concepts and theories among other interesting content.

Environmental sustainabilityMarketing 3.0SustainabilityThird sector and social sustainability

The Importance of Measuring Tourism Impacts

Measuring tourism impacts is often perceived as a tedious and complicated task by some tourism professionals. Since tourism is integrated across numerous sectors, there are many aspects to consider when analyzing the results of tourism development. At the broadest level, tourism affects the economy through employment and investment. It also impacts the environment as many tourism destinations are in conservation areas, traveling requires creating carbon dioxide, and too many visitors can degrade natural wonders.

why tourism matters

For these and many other reasons, measuring tourism impacts is actually one of most important practices in achieving successful sustainable tourism development. Here are some of the reasons behind its significance:

1. Helps in Conservation

Determining the economic, socio-cultural, and environmental impacts of tourism development will help in conservation because it can show the positive and negative effects. Is tourism development helping in the protection and growth of wildlife? Is tourism development promoting the culture of indigenous peoples? Or is tourism development negatively exploiting the natural resources and cultures of the local population?

Measuring tourism impacts on our environment will help decision-makers in creating strategies that will support rather than harm conservation. Decision-makers can use the Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria (GSTC) to evaluate the impact of tourism on the local community, cultural heritage, and the environment. From this evaluation, they can then establish if they should implement stronger controls, support other initiatives, or correct harmful practices.

The GSTC Partnership was initiated by the Rainforest Alliance, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the United Nations Foundation, and the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) to promote and implement universal sustainable tourism principles around the world.

2. Spurs Investment

Sustainable tourism development often begins with investment from the government and private sector. To rationalize these investments, the government and the private sector need numbers from the tourism sector.

How many jobs is tourism creating, both directly and indirectly? How much of the gross domestic product (GDP) is from tourism? What is the potential of tourism in creating more jobs and in increasing the country’s GDP?

By measuring these important tourism metrics, investors will get the information and encouragement that they need to continue supporting sustainable tourism development.

The UNWTO, in partnership with the International Labor Organization (ILO) recently released a report on the best practices of measuring the impact of tourism on employment. This could be a helpful resource for those who want to increase employment on their communities.

3. Educates Tourists

Last year, at least one billion tourists traveled across the globe. That means one billion opportunities to teach about how tourism affects the world and how people can have more positive impacts on communities and the environment. How much of a tourist’s expenditure go to the local economy? How can tourists reduce negative economic impacts, especially on protected areas and heritage sites? How are tourists getting involved with preservation after visiting a destination?

By measuring tourism impacts and sharing results with tourists, we can help them support sustainable tourism development. Measuring tourism impacts is therefore crucial for sustainable tourism development. Having the numbers and the research results with us is a powerful tool for our industry.

This blog post is from www.solimarinternational.com/resources-page/blog/itemlist/tag/Measuring%20Tourism%20Impacts

Culture changeStrategyStrategy planning & execution

The Tipping Point’s theory for expanding destinations 3.0 (II)

Following with the first article where the Tipping point theory was introduced, and the first point “The law of the few” was explained, this second article explains the second key success factor to reach a Tipping point: the stickiness factor.

The stickiness factor

Whereas the law of the few focuses on the nature of the messenger, the stickiness factor puts the focus on the content of the message and its capacity to become compelling, practical and personal. Only then it becomes memorable. As I explained in the Whitepaper “Marketing destinations through storytelling”, where the secret of successful stories was revealed, crafting a compelling story is an art, attainable only for especially talented individuals. This applies to the messages too, to make them stick.

To figure out how to create sticky messages, we should further deep into the storytelling technique. First of all, why do we like stories? We like them because they provide answers to our lives and a mechanism to shape our identity by connecting with the story characters. We connect emotionally with the story characters as long as they have similar challenges and values, and thus we regard them as a representation of ourselves. Stories not only help us building our identity but also work like social glue, as they help us in connecting with others and building relationships. Stories are the most effective way to create an emotional connection between brands and consumers.

Further, humans process information more efficiently when this is delivered through a story, and therefore this information is more likely to be remembered in the form of a story.

Stories can change our way of thinking and influence our feelings. They can drive an organizational culture change by opening people’s minds and building capacity of mutual understanding to enhance cooperation. They also have the power to make people envision a better future and how to overcome all the obstacles. Stories are pull strategy, as they allow people to decide by themselves, which is a key success factor of effective influence.

The art of persuasion consists on uniting ideas with emotions, and emotions are best conveyed through the form of a compelling story. Arousing the audience’s emotions spurs energy in them and moves them to take action. This is the power of storytelling.

Compelling stories are those that not only move people to share and take action but also engage the audience in a way that they are willing to follow up with the story with more chapters. Such kinds of stories are like the marketing diamond all marketers dream of, because they not only boost conversions, but also virality and customer loyalty.

To sum it up, as Aristoteles said, compelling stories need to have ethical appeal, emotional appeal and logical appeal to connect with the mind, heart and human spirit of the audience. Beyond the story itself, skilled storytellers have the ability to connect with the audience and convey the emotions embedded in the story. How the message is delivered is as much important as the content of the message itself. By telling the story with passion, enthusiasm and expression, the audience is more likely to get engaged. Besides, great storytellers have the ability to turn “me” into a “we”, by telling stories that shine the light on a concern that both the teller and the audience share. This connection creates empathy and opens people’s hearts, hence appealing to their human spirit and enhancing commitment in taking action.

There is no magic formula to reach the Tipping point to trigger the social epidemic, but there are many factors, strategies and tactics that increase the chances to make it happen, according to those who have studied the marketing contents that go viral. The main key success factors are:

Promise of practical value inspires people to share knowledge that may be useful to others. Either it is a matter of generosity or a matter of a will to be perceived as smart and helpful, inherent practical value works as a social currency that fosters relationships among people. For some people, it makes them feel like insiders having privileged information.

Specific topics related to the dreams, aspirations and challenges of specific audience segments, inspiring them and spurring discussion among their community. These may encompass warnings, inspirational stories, advise, special deals and opportunities.

Inspiring strong emotions of laugher, amusement, anger, surprise, inspiring solidarity or uniting people for a common cause are powerful drivers of virality.

According to a survey carried out by The New York Times, the top motivators for sharing were:

  • 75% said that sharing helped them better understand news they were interested in
  • 85% said that the comments they got from sharing provided them more thought
  • 94% considered how helpful a link would be to another user
  • 68% shared as an advertisement for themselves, to give others a sense of who they are
  • 73% said it helped them find people with common interests

Based on these factors and other considerations, there are three strategy recommendations:

Design your content to provoke an emotional reaction. Arousing a sense of amusement, surprise, anger, solidarity or affection is likely to foster sharing among the audience.

Create content that provides real value. As aforementioned, stories may address some of the audience’s needs, challenges or aspirations, providing know how and inspiration for their personal lives.

Embed features that facilitate virality. Incorporating interactive features in the content is likely to foster more engagement, and this leads to virality.

Finally, there are some common mistakes you should avoid if you want to boost engagement and virality: being offensive, asking for likes, talking about yourself and being too obscure.

You may find further information on this topic in the Whitepaper “Marketing destinations through storytelling”, freely downloadable in www.envisioningtourism.com

Marketing 3.0StrategyStrategy planning & executionTourism marketing

Brand Planning Should be the CEO’s Baby

This article is written by Bill Baker, Chief Strategist at Total Destination Marketing, author, speaker, and blogger at “Small City Branding around the world”.

At the conclusion of a presentation on place branding, I was approached by the CEO of a mid-west Chamber of Commerce who lamented that their brand planning had resulted in a bland and uncompetitive outcome. To my surprise, the CEO went on to take the blame himself by saying, “I made the mistake of delegating the project to our marketing manager and not taking responsibility to drive the process myself.” I’m sure that he hasn’t made the admission within his community or to his Board, but it’s commendable that he recognized this as being a major factor in the brand’s mediocre result.

The president, executive director, or CEO of the organization leading the effort on behalf of the community must be actively engaged in every aspect of the brand planning and development, and breathe vitality into the assignment. We have found that the only way for the brand to take off is having a leader who “gets it” and has the passion, authority, skills and vision to make it work. If he or she takes a passive role, the brand will almost certainly fail.

Understandably, there may be many legitimate distractions that consume the CEO’s time. However, the brand is at the heart of every activity directed toward the way the place will present itself for years to come, so it is worth every minute that he or she can devote to it. While the CEO may want to delegate aspects of the day-to-day management of the process to others, he must remain intimately involved in crafting and managing the strategy.

This article is re-posted with permission from http://citybranding.typepad.com/city-branding/page/2/

Culture changeStrategyStrategy planning & execution

The Tipping Point’s theory for expanding destinations 3.0 (I)

As it has been explained in previous articles as well as in the Whitepapers, the success of destinations 3.0 is based on growing and expanding a network of varied stakeholders who contribute in different ways to the destination’s business model development, as innovators, content creators, brand ambassadors, etc.

Creating and developing such a network is probably the most daunting of all the challenges in the destination 3.0 journey. Malcolm Gladwell’s Tipping Point explains a theory on how social epidemics and trends work, through the power of influence of three types of characters: Mavens, Connectors, and Salesmen, disregarding the support of the technological means. This theory may serve as a basis for understanding how this stakeholder network development can be achieved, so long as it is possible to craft a strategy to make it happen.

The theory states that social epidemics take place following three common characteristics: contagiousness, little facts causing big effects, and the existence of a turning point in the expansion of the epidemics, also called “the tipping point”. Besides, it identifies three key rules in spreading social epidemics or trends: the law of the few, the stickiness factor, and the power of context.

“The law of the few” says that a group of people with exceptional skills are the ones who create the trend and spread it throughout their community; “the stickiness factor” says that there are some ways to make a message compelling and contagious to create an outstanding impact; and “the power of context” explains how the environment turns to be a key factor to determine human behavior. These three rules can provide us with guidance on how to reach a tipping point in spreading social epidemics.

The law of the few

Understanding why some ideas or messages turn viral and others don’t starts by understanding how people are connected to each other, and findings show that there are different types of people, who connect in different ways and bring different types of value to their community.

Connectors are individuals with an extraordinary knack of making friends and acquaintances. This type of people is important not only for the number of people they know, but also for the many kinds of people they know. They are gifted with an instinct that helps them relate to the people they meet. Therefore, when looking for a job, new information, or new ideas, acquaintances turn to be more useful than friends, because these acquaintances are more likely to live in a different social or professional environment than yours, hence more likely to know many things that neither you nor your friends know.

The closer you are to a Connector, the more powerful, wealthier or the more opportunities you are likely to get. The closer an idea or a product comes to a Connector, the more chances to succeed it has as well.

The Maven, instead, is someone who accumulates knowledge. In recent years, economists have been studying Mavens, so long as if marketplaces depend on information, the people with the most information are among the most important to research on. They are who keep the marketplace honest. They are not just information collectors, once they figure out how to get that deal, they want to tell you about it too, initiating discussions with consumers and responding to requests, becoming helpers in the marketplace. Mavens are teachers, but also students. They are information brokers who share knowledge and create the message to be spread out by Connectors.

Finally, the Salesmen are those especially skilled to persuade the community members on to their way of thinking, to adhere to the new idea or trend and join the social epidemic. What sets them apart from average people is the number and the quality of the answers they have to the objections commonly raised to what they preach.  These persuasive skills relate more to the non-verbal than to the verbal communication, and consist of the ability to express emotions and to be emotionally contagious. People with this ability are also called “senders”.

The rest of the Tipping Point theory is to be explained split in three upcoming articles.

Environmental sustainabilityMarketing 3.0SustainabilityThird sector and social sustainability

How Tourism, Conservation, and Local Economies Can Work Together

I’m not a biologist, but my basic understanding of an ecosystem is an interconnected system of organisms that rely on one another to maintain their existence as they continuously transfer energy from one organism to another. It’s nature’s way of sustaining life.

But what does this have to do with tourism? Aside from our focus on developing tourism in a way that protects and promotes the delicate ecosystems within a destination, there is also an interesting comparison between an ecosystem and all the moving parts of a destination. We believe that tourism, conservation and local economies can be and should be approached in a similar holistic, ecosystem way. Rather than focus on only one aspect of a destination, we need to look at the entire ecosystem – how tourism, conservation and local economies interact, what needs they have, and how they can support one another to benefit the entire destination.

Just as energy and nutrients drive the biological ecosystem, money and experiences drive the destination ecosystem. Money helps fund peoples desire to travel and money is transferred from a visitor to a tourism business in exchange for a unique travel experience. Conservation areas and local economies receive money from travelers and travel businesses (gate fees, hotel stays, guided tours, etc.) and use it to sustain their conservation activities and livelihood. This, in turn, helps protect and enhance the destination so that travelers continue to be inspired to travel to it, maintaining the flow of money to support the destination.

Just like the biological ecosystem after which it is modeled, the destination ecosystem is a delicately balanced system relying on each component to work together to sustain the destination. If done well, tourism, conservation and local economies can sustain themselves; but when done poorly, the system collapses. Biologists realized this long ago and take an ecosystem approach to the areas they study and manage. However, for a destination, such an approach is often lacking, which results in damage to the destination as well as the organizations and people within them.

For example, if park managers decided that they wanted more antelope in their park and supported the growth of the population without looking at the entire ecosystem, they would soon find that their large antelope population had eaten all the grass and the ecosystem would deteriorate. The same is true for a destination, if the focus is purely on one aspect of a destination like growing the local economy, attracting as many visitors as possible, or conserving the destination, without consideration for anything else, the system will crash and the destination will suffer. Rather than looking at a tourism business or a park or the communities around it in isolation, an integrated approach to destinations and the tourism, conservation and local economic activities within them is vital for long-term sustainability.

Integrated planning, implementation, and monitoring of activities within a destination helps to ensure that the balance between all the key players is maintained and that each one can leverage the other for its own benefit and the benefit of the destination. It is only when this integrated ecosystem works together in balance that a destination truly thrives.

For examples of how this kind of approach was used in our work in Uganda, download our case studies on destination development and community tourism enterprise development.

This article is reposted with permission from www.solimarinternational.com/resources-page/blog/itemlist/tag/Integrated%20Marketing%20Program

Culture changeStrategy

Fostering engagement and high performance

Apart from innovation and collaboration, a third key ingredient to make the organizations thrive is engagement, not only within the employees but also within the whole stakeholder system. Engagement comes naturally from motivation, which has to be sustained by leaders through trust, fair rewards, mission alignment and empowerment to develop new ideas and initiatives. All together creates not only loyalty and commitment, but also engagement, so long as the organization members have or develop a certain passion for what they do. These ingredients combined are the key elements of a high-performance culture. Performance-based cultures unify employees in a way that their relationships overcome hierarchical or geographical distance, making them feel and behave like within a family.

Commitment makes employees behave more like business owners, showing accountability and taking personal responsibility for the overall performance and not just their area. A high-performance culture has to be aligned with strategy. Such cultures usually share two features:

  • Behaviors related to high engagement. Employees are committed to their work and purpose of the organization, focused on ambitious results regardless of the effort needed.
  • Behaviors that align with the organization’s strategy. The way work gets done promotes the organization’s mission, goals and the strategy designed to realize them.

One of the key ingredients to boost engagement and high performance is passion for the work and for the organization. There are many ways to build passion within the organization:

Spotting Passion from the outset. Identifying enthusiastic professionals, right in the recruitment process is a first step to nurture the organization with the necessary passion. These may be spotted through their initiatives in getting a position within the organization, the way they talk about their job and their vision on their future job, the questions they ask, etc.

Leaders inspiring passion. So long as the leaders’ behavior shapes most of the employees’ behaviors, senior executives should be the first ones who convey passion to their younger peers. A good way to help them in creating an emotional connection between the brand and the team members is by telling stories about how the brand promise can be delivered.

Workspace that inspires passion. Despite the need for individual work spaces, it is also convenient to have open spaces that favor collaboration and let employees help each other with brainstorming and getting past problems even if everyone is working on different projects. All rooms should be bright and colorful with natural or ambient lighting.

Passion for the company. The organization can inspire passion in its members mainly through its mission. As in the case of destinations 3.0, triple bottomed business models, focusing not only on financial goals, but also on social and environmental ones are likely to engage and inspire passion in their employees, so long as they address their concerns.

Beyond high performance, one of the key benefits of employee engagement is turning them into brand ambassadors. Strong brands are not only created by marketing departments. They need the cooperation of the organization’s employees to deliver the brand promise effectively, and employees are those who hold the highest public trust, above Public Relations department or company leaders. Therefore, employees are like the first clients to be convinced, and the best way to gain their buy-in is to care about their concerns, right in the mission definition: not only their personal growth, but also the social and environmental challenges of the community.

Transforming employees into brand ambassadors may be achieved through these three steps:

  1. Promote Self Discovery & Personal Branding. When the employees can be the best version of themselves at work, productivity and retention increase. When they realize that the organization cares about their personal growth and well-being, they are likely to regard it like their second family and engage further in the mission. Helping them discover their strengths and integrate them into their work is essential to your team’s success.
  2. Make Brand awareness a priority. Leaders have to educate their teams on the brand values and live the brand by walking their talk, so they can learn from your example. It is convenient to create stories that illustrate how the brand promise is delivered, not only for the clients but also within the organization. Stories are the best conveyors of values, so long as they help the audience identify with the characters that represent the brand values.
  3. Connect the personal and the corporate. Successful firms help employees develop their personal brands, integrating their individual features with the corporate goals. It’s called applied personal branding. When employees know what makes them unique, and understand the corporate brand goals, they can apply their unique skills to achieve these goals. Each individual needs to determine how he can deliver the corporate brand promise. A strong brand requires employee engagement, which is driven by integrating the personal brands of your people.

This blogpost is from the Whitepaper “Building a culture of collaboration and innovation”, freely downloadable in this weblog. You may check the Whitepaper’s references to know the sources used for its elaboration.