Month: November 2017

Collaborative cultureCulture changeMarketing 3.0

Making collaboration efficient when face to face is not possible

Started as a simple experiment in social media, in 2010 composer and conductor Eric Whitacre called out to his online fans to record themselves singing “Sleep” by the British choir Polyphony and upload the result. Impressed by the result, he decided to push the concept to the next level by recording himself conducting ‘Lux Aurumque’, then asking fans to sing along to that. This way, the first Virtual Choir was created. The results of that experiment quickly became viral. Now with more than fifteen million views, the Virtual Choir phenomenon has reached all corners of the world, inspiring more and more singers to join each year.

Beyond its beauty and emotional impact, Virtual Choir also fascinated because its implications regarding the potential new uses for new communication technologies and as one of the first virtual experiences turned into something real. The Virtual Choir can also be considered as an important remainder for how businesses might overcome the challenges of virtuality to benefit from innovative and more efficient business processes, customer relationships or forms of production, from co-innovation and co-production to crowdsourcing, crowdfunding or open source.

Not even leaving the limits of a corporation or a company, working remotely can offer operational flexibility, happier employees and lower costs, but to team up virtually with colleagues and coworkers can also pose important challenges. As we know, truly efficient collaboration presents no few difficulties. Virtual collaboration raises even more added complications that require even more care. But as the concept of the extended enterprise becomes more common and most professionals can do their jobs from anywhere, the more critical becomes to get virtual teams right. But how?

Getting right four pillars for virtual collaboration

The answer is not easy. Different studies carried out during the last decade seem to conclude that most of virtual groups fail to satisfy the expectations of companies and their clients. In another study conducted by Deloitte some years ago most of CEO’s and other managers interviewed still considered face-to-face interaction much more productive that virtual communication, and nearly half of them admitted ignorance and confusion about collaboration technologies and their potential.

But some other experts consider is all about how these teams are managed. An Aon Consulting report found that dispersed teams, when run accordingly to this condition, could outperform those sharing the same office space (recording up to 43% higher efficiency). A study of 80 global software teams conducted by BCG and WHU-Otto Beisheim School of Management concluded that virtual teams can improve employee productivity when they are properly managed.

But, what do they mean by “properly managed” or “run accordingly to its virtual condition”? According to Keith Ferrazzi and based on his research and experience helping all sort of organizations as customers of his consulting firm, there are four critical elements to get right: right teams, right leadership, right technology and right touchpoints.

Size is important (the smaller, the better)

We have recently wrote in this blog about how important is to consider people mindset and attitude for working collaboratively beyond their professional knowledge and other skills. Ferrazzi agrees people should first of all be specially suited to work in virtual teams, backing for instance profiles with good communication skills or high emotional intelligence. But it is also equally important to put them into groups of the right size and implementing and clearly establishing and communicating the right roles for each one.

As we know, smaller groups facilitate collaboration. In the case of virtual teams, size should be even smaller than when face to face interaction is the norm (some studies suggest teams of 5-6 people and no more than 10 in any case).Team members reduce effort when they feel less responsible for output, but this fact can equally be applied to non-virtual teams. Collaboration between people not sharing a physical space should pay special attention to ensure inclusive communication, a quality harder to achieve the bigger the virtual group is.

Good leadership amplified

Managers can maximize the productivity of virtual teams also by developing the right leadership. Again, this is a quality to apply to every teamwork, no matter if virtual or not. But right leadership must be amplified in virtual ones. A study of different engineering groups concluded that the virtual teams that performed best were those with managers with previous experience in leading such work groups.

Encouraging open dialogue, for instance, is particularly important in these cases. Leaders of dispersed groups in particular must push members to be frank with one another as the problems associated with lack of affinity are more common and severe for virtual teams. For similar reasons, virtual collaboration requires an extra effort fostering trust among co-workers. Ferrazzi mentions the case of a fully virtual organization that encourage new hires to offer video tours of their workspaces, allowing colleagues to mentally picturing their surroundings in later communications. Managers also push their team members to share personal news as a way to compensate the lack of the common chat about their lives that usually takes place sooner or later when a physical office is shared.

Special care is also recommended about clarifying goals and guidelines and establishing a common purpose or vision (explaining and repeating often the reason of working together and the benefits that will result of that). Particularly vital in the case of virtual teams are guidelines about interaction between members. For instance, multitasking on conference calls should be banned, as full attention is needed when using communication technologies that are not able to fully replace the subtle signals of personal interaction beyond a voice.

Not leaving it all to virtuality

Fostering touchpoints is also critical. Virtual teams should come together as often as possible. To do so, some specific stages of the working process are more important than others. Kickoff should be one of these for sure, using a first face to face meeting to star working in some of the key points mentioned (clarifying team goals or encouraging trust, for instance). If any proper project management stablishes milestones, when dealing with virtual team leaders can leverage them to get people together for celebrating achievement of short-term goals or cracking problems.

And last but not least, efficient virtual collaboration also depends on using the right technology. According to Ferrazzi, even top-notch virtual teams can fail due to poor technology. In this case, recommendations are not so much about detailed features as about fulfilling general needs especially critical in the case virtual interactions. For instance, facilitating automatic transcriptions or records with a simple click, making easy to search for this content in a database or, while using the right tool for each mission, favor technologies that better help to reproduce face to face interaction (videoconferencing instead of a phone call, for example).

This post is from http://www.co-society.com/making-collaboration-efficient-face-face-possible/

Marketing 3.0Tourism marketing

Are Emotional Benefits Always in Your Destination and Place Branding?

One of the most overlooked, yet most powerful component in the branding of places is the role of emotional benefits. This was recently the subject of considerable discussion at Strengthening Brand America between Glenn Myatt – Brand Truth, Tom Buncle – The Yellow Railroad, and Bill Baker.

Emotional benefits are the positive feelings that people receive from a place. While the tangible benefits may be enticing and important and help validate a logical decision, they can’t create a deep relationship. Emotional benefits have the ability to connect with people and influence the way they feel and bond with their deepest needs and desires. They should fulfill the state of mind that visitors or customers are seeking, such as enrichment, romance, escape or adventure, etc.

Here is a summary of the comments on Strengthening Brand America:

Bill Baker: “From time to time place marketers tend to overlook the valuable role that emotion plays in the decision making of their prospective customers. This makes no sense and is like the buyers of new cars relying on a vehicle’s Specifications Manual to base their purchase decision. If emotion plays no role, almost all brochures, advertising, photo images and videos could be removed from marketing budgets because all that will be needed are lists of specifications. Emotion is front and center in all of our brand strategies irrespective of the size of the community. Among its many roles is to provide filters for the selection of appropriate images that reflect the brand and better connect with prospective customers.”

Glen Myatt: “Bill’s car analogy is spot on. Deciding on a car or a destination are both high involvement decisions. Typically people use extensive information searching to make their decisions. They will claim they make measured, rational choices because of this. But for cars econometric research has shown that advertising has a far greater impact on actual choice than buyers consciously believe. This lines up with some of the more recent findings in consumer psychology which see that in many situations people will develop an emotional attachment to a choice based on a simple, often irrational factor.”

Tom Buncle: “The only thing I’d add is that, like cars where most people have a limited understanding beyond basic functionality, so too do they when choosing a destination, even if they’ve been before. This is because each holiday is different and the visitors’ experience depends on their relationship with the destination. After a highly rational information search has narrowed the candidate destination set, an unknowable set of expectations is generated about a holiday, thereby creating a gap. Emotion and imagination tend to be quicker to fill this gap than rational analysis – hence the larger role that emotion plays in holiday decision-making compared to most physical products.”

 In all of our brand building work we always advocate that the most powerful, meaningful and appropriate benefits – the emotional rewards – should always be at the forefront. Avoid talking about the city, region or downtown as a series or list of locations, attractions, and things to see and do. Instead, bring it to life as an experience and make customers feel as though they are already there sensing and feeling it whenever they read, see, or hear your communications. Make it easy for people to see themselves in the picture.

This blogpost is from http://citybranding.typepad.com/city-branding/page/3/

Tourism trends

Special interest tourism experiences

One of the segments with greater growth is no doubt the Special interest travel. Since traveling has become more accessible to most layers of the society, and there is plenty of information available about all types of resources worldwide, passion and mission driven people like to meet other like-minded individuals to share their passion with, to discover new resources related to their hobby or passion, or to expand internationally the impact of the mission they work for. It would be possible to draft an almost endless list of special interest tourism products, but hereby we list just a few to illustrate the concept. These are also usually classified in market niches, like the following:

Wildlife tourism niche. From volunteering to just observation and education, wildlife is a very rich source of memorable experiences and emotions. There are many volunteering programs to help in the protection of endangered species in countries especially rich in biodiversity like Madagascar, Galapagos (Ecuador) or Costa Rica. But you can also volunteer in the Panda Protection Center in Chengdu (China), to help the Panda bears’ carers in the maintenance of the bears’ spaces, prepare their food or collaborate with the veterinaries. Another special case is the Gorilla and Chimpanze protection programs in African countries like Cameroon, Guinea, Kenya, Uganda or Sierra Leone, where there are many centers rescuing these primates to take care of them and foster reproduction. The Jane Goodall Institute is one of the best centers, where they look for professional volunteers to work for long periods of time.

In case you only wish to observe and learn, the options are much varied. From birdwatching in some of the best marshland parks or in times of migration, to a photography safari to learn both about the animals’ life and the art of photography, there is a vast offer available in almost all continents. In this section there could be also included the Diving tourism niche, so long as one of its main attractions is to enjoy the submarine wildlife.

Archeology tourism niche. Films like Indiana Jones have aroused interest and passion for archeology, giving it a sense of fascinating adventure. This has resulted in the development of a considerable offer of tourism products related to it. Visiting historic sites guided by an archeologist and/or a historian making you envision the world in which these buildings and monuments were created is somehow like a trip to the old civilizations. Some of the top destinations in this niche market are Egypt, Mexico –both Maya and Azteca civilizations-, Peru –Inca civilization-, Israel, Greece, Italy, Iran, etc.

Music tourism niche. Beyond traveling to attend a concert or a festival, there are many other possible music motivated holiday programs. There are guided tours visiting the houses of famous musicians, others visiting the backstage of famous venues such as La Scala in Milan, and others visiting museums related to music. Italy, Austria and Germany are the top destinations for this niche market, as they were the nations where most classical musicians were born.

Women issues niche. The agency Focus on women organizes tours to learn about the role of different types of women in all types of societies. This concept encompasses tours to talk with Geishas or Sumo fighters in Japan, meeting with women in the Chii society of Iran who strive to develop themselves despite suffering from serious gender discrimination, talking to women who work to prevent arranged marriages among minor girls in Ethiopia, or talking to women from the Hmong group in Vietnam who open trails in the Sapa valleys in the north of the country.

These four are just a short glimpse of the enormous variety of holiday programs dedicated to special interests related to activity holidays, culture and well-being.

Which are the most original special interest tours you have ever known of?

Tourism trends

Spiritual tourism

Nowadays, destinations need to consider the need for extending their product portfolio with new offers for minor segments and niches, many of which experience interesting growth rates and high loyalty rates. This strategy is also called long tail strategy, so long as it focuses on a long group of small dimensioned market niches. Many destinations have seen how small segments such as wellness, adventure or wine tourism have brought important flows of visitors, including the low seasons.

One of these niche markets with a sustained growth in many outbound markets is the so called Spiritual Tourism. There is not yet an official definition for Spiritual tourism and its market characterization, but it could be defined as activities that lead us to the knowledge of ourselves and our well-being. For instance, the Mexican Tourism Board defines Spiritual Tourism as holidays motivated by issues related to religion, like pilgrimages or journeys with a clear orientation associated to an expression of faith.

This definition would probably not be valid for the European market. I would consider spiritual tourism something between religion and wellness, including even some traces of sport and creative tourism. This concept is defined in Mexico as “Reflection Tourism”, encompassing all types of activities oriented to well-doing while offering inner peace, mysticism and quietness in a relaxed environment.

The lack of consensus on this issue makes it difficult to estimate the niche market dimension, for the only reference continues to be religious tourism, which is estimated to account for more than 300 million of pilgrims who travel annually to holy places or on pilgrimage routes.

This blogpost is from   http://www.visionesdelturismo.es/el-turismo-espiritua/

Collaborative business modelsCollaborative cultureEnvironmental sustainabilitySustainabilityThird sector and social sustainability

Voluntourism, beyond responsible tourism

Responsible tourism, Voluntourism, Sustainable tourism…are different concepts with a common idea: the tourism activity in which the visitor brings positive impacts to the destination, either to alleviate poverty, to help in the development of the local economy, rebuilding areas affected by natural catastrophe, etc.

With regards to the kind of people interested in these types of tourism activities, they are not all moved by the same motivations and goals. The visitor travels either passively (holiday trip + sightseeing), actively (holiday trip + volunteering) or as a volunteer (volunteering trip).

Nowadays, Latin America and Asia are the continents offering most of these programs. There are both outbound and incoming travel agencies specialized in this type of tourism, and some tour operators have developed business units based on responsible tourism, whereas in Africa volunteering holiday programs are more popular than responsible tourism programs.

Also in Eastern Europe some countries are discovering in this type of tourism a new source of revenue for its poorest regions. Other Western countries such as the USA, Germany, France, Spain or Italy have also included strategies for the development of volunteering tourism products in their tourism development plans.

These type of holiday programs let the visitor truly discover the local culture, staying in local homes or accommodation facilities managed by locals, visiting the destination and cooperating in different social projects. Some examples may be:

  • Helping in building homes for refugees or in the poorest areas of the destination
  • Working as a teacher in primary schools or supporting in sport camps for children
  • Cooperating with an NGO dealing with the victims of a natural catastrophe
  • Participating in an ecotourism program where to work in the preservation of the environment

Some portals like Xmigrations.com work as a search engine for activities and accommodation where you may find nature, sport and spiritual activities in places where you can work in exchange for a free stay.

http://www.visionesdelturismo.es/turismo-solidario-y-volunturismo/

Co-creationCollaborative cultureCulture changeInnovative cultureOpen innovation

Shared decisions feel better

 “The social networks potential to turn every citizen into an agent for the improvement of the community is huge” says Alfons Cornella –Spanish Innovation leader- in his book “The solution starts by CO”.

During the last few years it has become fashionable that destinations outsource part of their promotion activities to visitors and local community members. In what could be called co-creation processes, many destination management and promotion bodies have decided to celebrate public elections to select their logos and slogans. In this election there is first a period to receive proposals, and at the end of this period the public election takes place.

At first it may sound very open and transparent. So long as both the logo and the slogan are to become key elements of the destination image, it is good that everybody can express their opinion about it. However, this system may entail some risks. Those who vote probably choose their vote according to purely esthetic criteria, without considering aspects related with the value promise of the destination, or its desired positioning, the targets, etc. As a result of these processes there have been some bad experiences.

The main issue is that the chosen logo and/or slogan should be in accordance with the destination strategy, which is usually defined in a Strategy Plan according to the destination leaders’ criteria. It is therefore necessary to introduce a filtering phase either before or after the public election, to discard all those logos and slogans that do not match with the destination strategy.

In Spain there has been mainly one experience of this kind, in the Basque Country, driven by the Bilbao City Council and the Bizkaia Province Government. These two institutions had been collaborating for a long time, up to the point that they shared a stand in the FITUR Tourism Fair under the brand BI2. In this way, they wanted to leverage the power of the Bilbao brand to favor also the rest of the Province, so long as the Bizkaia brand is far behind in terms of awareness, despite the worthy resources it has. Bilbao, in turn, has experienced a transformation thanks to the Guggenheim effect and the public-private collaboration, which has led to a sustained visitors’ growth in the city.

Deepening in this collaboration line, they have launched a contest to select their new common logo and slogan. In this case, they opened a public contest for professionals under a detailed briefing. As a result of this idea contest, they received up to 84 proposals from 7 different countries. They were all exposed to the public, though the first selection process was carried out by a commission of experts to present 10 final proposals to be voted for by the public. To facilitate participation, they have installed 6 voting points to let locals vote for their favourite choice.

However, the citizens’ votes will count for only 20% of the final decision. The rest will be responsibility of the experts committee led by Garry White, President of the European Cities Marketing Association.

What do you thing about letting the locals vote for strategic decisions of high symbolic value?

This blogpost is from  http://www.visionesdelturismo.es/las-decisiones-compartidas-saben-mejor/

Business model innovationCollaborative business modelsCollaborative cultureInnovationTourism trends

Dinner at my home? It’s 30 Euros

What is a SMART destination? These may be defined in many ways. They are destinations that think and advance strategically, improving competitiveness and searching positioning through effectiveness. Becoming a SMART is no more than a strategy to enhance the destination value by leveraging both the cultural and natural heritage, developing innovative resources, improving the efficiency in the production processes and the distribution, which finally propels the sustainable development. This transformation generates positive effects in all sub-sectors such as energy, health services, security, culture, etc. thanks to the cross-destination impact of the tourism activity.

The key concepts that set SMART destinations apart from conventional ones are accessibility, innovation, technology and sustainability. Among these concepts, new technologies are the ones which are more likely to be perceived by the tourist, namely mobile applications, augmented reality and everything related to data smart management.

There are 4 key concepts upon which Smart destinations are developed:

  • Technology/Big Data
    • Innovation
    • Sustainability: social, economic, cultural and environmental
    • Accessibility

The development of the SMART concept in destinations consists mainly in working to attain a higher profitability in the daily exploitation of the resources. This is to be achieved by engaging both the local community and the tourists in order to enhance interaction between them. There are already some examples of Smart destinations, such as El Hierro island in the Canary Archipelago. Some of its main achievements are the energetic self-sufficiency and the pollution reduction, which have been achieved through actions such as:

  • Waste converted into energy
  • Environment camouflage of telecom and energy facilities and equipment (solar panels, antenna, etc.) within the landscape.
  • Reduction of the visual impact in the buildings and facilities construction, by using local volcanic stone instead of bricks.
  • It has gained awareness and branding by sharing and marketing its experiences in the social networks.

Other actions carried out in SMART destinations encompass:

  • Mobile Applications
  • Tourism Intelligence System, including data transportation and information Smart management, which altogether turn the destination into a SMART destination.
  • Smart office; a common working place where to unify processes which produces a work synergy and allows sense and common methodology guidelines in the transformation towards an intelligent city.
  • Beaches with free wifi

It is important to mention Singapore Smart City, which is on the way to become the first SMART nation worldwide. The country is working on its Master Plan for the next 10 years, which will be focused on the development of smart communities propelled by integration and innovation.

This blogpost is based on http://www.visionesdelturismo.es/smart-destinations/

Business model innovationCollaborative business modelsInnovationTourism trends

Guides that are not guides

As has happened with the accommodation business, namely with Airbnb, the collaborative platform business model is also developing in the tourist guides business. I have personally experienced one of these platform’s services in the city of Prague.

Thanks to these platforms it is no longer strange that the tourists are offered free guided tours in great urban destinations, without any trick. In my case, I used the services of Sandeman’s New Europe, which is already present in 18 cities. At the beginning of the tour, the guide explained that his income comes from tips, and so it was not mandatory to pay even 1 Euro.

The tour lasted more than 3 hours and it was really entertaining, with good quality content. The guide was brilliant and received quite a lot of tips. But, attracted by the quality of this Guided tour, the day after I did another one, but paying. This business works actually like a freemium model.  In fact, there are many more businesses offering free guided tours in Prague. And they have their rivalry moves, like guerrilla marketing actions, competing for the best locations, etc.

But this new fashion not only takes place in the large cities. The Greeters movement is emerging also in smaller cities, like Bilbao. The first company operating this business model in Bilbao is actually called Bilbao Greeters, and is part of the international network Global Greeters Network. The Greeters are locals offering guided tours with the authenticity of a local resident’s knowledge and perspective, who knows the traditions, habits and secrets beyond the usual tourist information available. In the Basque Country the Tourist Guides are not regulated, and so there cannot be any conflict in this case. Unlike in the previous case of “New Europe”, the Greeters are not professional guides and do not accept tips.  However, to make a booking you need to be registered as partner, which costs 12€ per year.

Finally, there are many online platforms allowing people to offer their tourist services worldwide. Besides platforms such as Vayable, Viator or Isango, marketing all kind of experiences –from guided tours to cooking lessons-, there are many others offering guided visits by the destination’s residents.

Local Guiding is a platform oriented to “changing the way people travel, experiencing the local life as it is, not like the conventional tourism agencies pretend it to be”. They are already offering guided tours in more than 20 Spanish destinations.

Tours by locals are the veterans in this sector, as they have been operating since 2008 from their headquarters in Vancouver. They nowadays offer guided tours in many countries worldwide.

Like a local is the concept developed through a mobile application. Destination residents contribute to editing the local guide with recommendations, advice, routes, etc. and obtain revenue from the application’s management firm.

Finally, there is the Spanish portal called Ciceroner , promising to offer “unique and personal experiences, the only ones that can be really different and memorable”. It is still in Beta development phase, but it already offers a considerable amount of products in many destinations. It gives the option to gift the guided tours just like Smartbox and many others, but promising a superior experiential value.

As we can see, it is an emergent business model, with many suppliers and intermediaries operating in the market. However, this new fashion business model arouses many questions:

  • Is it just a fashion or a new reality?
  • Are these services for specific segments or for all types of visitors?
  • Is it necessary to further regulate this type of businesses to ensure a fair competition with the traditional models, or should they be given free regin instead?
  • Are these new models going to operate in urban destinations only, or they are likely to operate in beach destinations traditionally dominated by tour-operators?
  • Do these business models affect somehow the destinations’ image? Should the DMOs do something to get some profit from it or to manage it for branding purposes?

I invite you to reflect upon these questions, and encourage you to give your opinion

This blogpost is from http://www.visionesdelturismo.es/guias-que-no-son-guias/

Business trendsEnvironmental sustainabilityInnovationIntelligenceIntelligence methods

Smart destinations

What is a SMART destination? These may be defined in many ways. They are destinations that think and advance strategically, improving competitiveness and searching positioning through effectiveness. Becoming a SMART is no more than a strategy to enhance the destination value by leveraging both the cultural and natural heritage, developing innovative resources, improving the efficiency in the production processes and the distribution, which finally propels the sustainable development. This transformation generates positive effects in all sub-sectors such as energy, health services, security, culture, etc. thanks to the cross-destination impact of the tourism activity.

The key concepts that set SMART destinations apart from conventional ones are accessibility, innovation, technology and sustainability. Among these concepts, new technologies are the ones which are more likely to be perceived by the tourist, namely mobile applications, augmented reality and everything related to data smart management.

There are 4 key concepts upon which Smart destinations are developed:

-Technology/Big Data
-Innovation
-Sustainability: social, economic, cultural and environmental
-Accessibility

The development of the SMART concept in destinations consists mainly in working to attain a higher profitability in the daily exploitation of the resources. This is to be achieved by engaging both the local community and the tourists in order to enhance interaction between them. There are already some examples of Smart destinations, such as El Hierro island in the Canary Archipelago. Some of its main achievements are the energetic self-sufficiency and the pollution reduction, which have been achieved through actions such as:

  • Waste converted into energy
  • Environment camouflage of telecom and energy facilities and equipment (solar panels, antenna, etc.) within the landscape.
  • Reduction of the visual impact in the buildings and facilities construction, by using local volcanic stone instead of bricks.
  • It has gained awareness and branding by sharing and marketing its experiences in the social networks.

Other actions carried out in SMART destinations encompass:

  • Mobile Applications
  • Tourism Intelligence System, including data transportation and information Smart management, which altogether turn the destination into a SMART destination.
  • Smart office; a common working place where to unify processes which produces a work synergy and allows sense and common methodology guidelines in the transformation towards an intelligent city.
  • Beaches with free wifi

It is important to mention Singapore Smart City, which is on the way to become the first SMART nation worldwide. The country is working on its Master Plan for the next 10 years, which will be focused on the development of smart communities propelled by integration and innovation.

This blogpost is based on http://www.visionesdelturismo.es/smart-destinations/