The success of the open innovation system is based essentially on the talent of its contributors, and so there has to be a strategy to identify and attract the most appropriate professionals.

Identifying potential contributors. With regards to the target contributors, there are many different kinds of candidates, depending on the type of the input you are looking for:

  • Business model innovation: participation is limited to qualified stakeholders, and also includes crowdsourcing initiatives opened to networks of external experts. Training on business model innovation methodologies should be considered to set a common framework for facilitating discussion.
  • Technological innovations: in many operational areas of the business there are likely to be challenges solved through technological innovations, as explained previously. These would be accessible only to qualified professionals, who would have to submit their professional credentials to participate in this type of innovation challenges.
  • Co-creation of experiences (product development): opened to all stakeholders, this section should feature vibrant discussions where local entrepreneurs and enthusiast tourists exchange and pre-test ideas on life-changing experiences to be developed in the destination. There could be contests to foster participation of the majority of stakeholders.
  • Story creation (marketing content): open to all stakeholders. Participation of bloggers, journalists, writers, YouTubers and other influencers should be encouraged especially during the initial stages of the destination’s development with the organization of “press/influencer trips”. Later on, contribution should be stimulated through the celebration of contests. 
  • Marketing designs: participation in this section is stimulated through creation contests or crowdsourcing to professional designers. For the image bank, key influencers such as the “Instagramers” could be invited to the destination as well as bloggers and journalists.

Professional contributors such as experts may be researched through social media such as LinkedIn, professional associations, universities, etc. also considering partners, suppliers, or customers. Non-professional contributors such as tourists, students, or other local residents could be researched through the mainstream communication channels or local partners.

Marketing the value proposition. The open innovation platform should market its value proposition not only to the whole industry stakeholders in the region, but also to all potential contributors in and outside the industry. The process starts by identifying a pool of champions willing to showcase the benefits of open innovation for both potential solvers and seekers.

By identifying a group of visionaries in both sides of the platform, the conditions are set to face the first challenges, the ones which have to showcase how open innovation works, and how it may contribute to improving the competitiveness of the whole industry. As soon as a few of these innovation challenges show successful results and satisfaction on both sides of the innovation process, a greater group of early adopters is likely to become eager to participate.

As stated before, beyond rewards, the great motivators to take into account are the will for contribution to the community’s progress and well-being, and the will for recognition and prestige among industry peers. Such motivators suggest two main strategies to attract talent:

  • Promote innovation challenges for non-profit purposes.
  • Organization of events to award best contributors and give them public recognition.

Such or other strategies should be supported by marketing the open innovation platform to potential contributors in their communities and favourite media channels, which would entail social media, magazines, journals, public presentations, etc. Furthermore, bear in mind that the value of the innovation platform stays in the amount of challenges and opportunities offered, in order to attract skilled contributors, and so it should be open to many businesses and institutions to publish their innovation challenges.

This article is from the White Paper “Envisioning Open Innovation in Destinations”, available for download in

Posted by Jordi Pera

Jordi Pera is an economist passionate about tourism, strategy, marketing, sustainability, business modelling and open innovation. He has international experience in marketing, intelligence research, strategy planning, business model innovation and lecturing, having developed most of his career in the tourism industry. Jordi is keen on tackling innovation and strategy challenges that require imagination, entail thoughtful analysis and are to be solved with creative solutions.

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