Category: Collaborative culture

Fostering culture of collaboration: practices, benefits and case studies

Collaborative business modelsCollaborative cultureEnvironmental sustainabilityMarketing 3.0Sustainability

Great opportunity to boost Tourism 3.0: Video game industry is trying to leverage its potential for fighting against climate change

Tourism 3.0 holds many advantages over conventional tourism models. One of them is its capacity to leverage the potential of all businesses integrating marketing 3.0 strategies into their business model to boost tourism flows towards destinations 3.0. The latest example of this is the trend in the video game industry – embraced by all its major players – to develop games related to the struggle against climate change, in which players are entitled to address many environmental issues in a virtual world resembling the real one.

Furthermore, the video game industry firms intend to use these environmental challenge games as a strategy to encourage players to take action in the real world, thus following their video game challenge with a real world challenge.

For instance, Strange Loop Games already has environmental issues at the heart of its game Eco. Players work to build a civilization and deal with its impacts on the environment. If they cut down too many trees, for example, they might kill off an animal species. “For us, it’s less about telling the player about being green or avoiding climate change than letting them have that experience, letting them face that challenge themselves,” said CEO John Krajewski. “And then they can bring that to the real world.”

Other major industry firms such as WildWorks, the company that makes the popular kids’ game Animal Jam, plans to help children learn about the importance of forests in the game, and will plant a tree for every new Animal Jam player. Ubisoft also plans to use “green themes” in its games, while Microsoft plans to make 825,000 carbon-neutral Xbox consoles, meaning that the way they are made will not increase the amount of carbon dioxide in the air.

The next step towards fighting climate change would be to organize real world environmental challenges inviting all engaged game players to live their video game challenge as a real world challenge – this would also be a life-changing educational experience. Tourism destinations could take this kind of challenge as an opportunity to organize “Environmental voluntourism events”, where participants would be organized in teams and together address some environmental challenge in the shape of a competition game such as the video games they would already be engaged in.

Beyond the positive environmental impact in the destination, this would work as a massive marketing campaign for the video game firm and the destination, also welcoming other like-minded sponsors to financially support the event and thus make it more affordable for the players to participate. Needless to say, as in any competition of this kind, there should be many winners and prizes to reward participants for their contribution. The White Paper “Marketing destinations through storytelling” explains some approaches which can harness this excellent opportunity brought by the video game industry.

Business trendsCollaborative business modelsCollaborative cultureEnvironmental sustainabilityMarketing 3.0

Destinations with a soul (I)

Most of us have experienced working with – as an employee, supplier or client – companies or visiting destinations with a soul, as well as working with companies or visiting destinations without one. The difference is not easily visible, but it can be perceived by sensing the spirit behind the people’s behaviour.

 When human relationships are only based on rights and obligations, often without a win-win approach, people work because they have to, rather than because they want to. They are demotivated and are unlikely to bring in any value beyond what they are paid for. In these types of firms and places, financial KPIs are the only metrics taken into account to measure the health of the organisation, and social problems more or less related to its operations are most likely disregarded or overlooked. These types of places have no soul.

Sometimes there are organisations created with a purpose beyond the financial success thanks to a visionary leader who thought that caring about the common good was key to business profitability, but also because it was appealing to him/her and many other stakeholders, and so this vision is a powerful inner source of motivation.

However, many of these organisations born with a noble soul have lost it over time: sometimes they have been bought by a larger corporation without the same sense of purpose; have new shareholders that do not share the same values, or because the founder has been replaced by a leader with a different vision. And when this happens, all stakeholders notice it to some extent as the passion, generosity and purpose that used to drive the organisation disappears, and the relationships turn out to be colder, rather short-term oriented and calculative, and decisions are based on financial KPIs only.

Instead, in organisations with a soul, people work moved by their human spirit, knowing that what they do is not only to get income at the end of the month, but also to make a positive change in their community at a smaller or larger scale, and becoming change makers for the sake of the environment and the disadvantaged layers of society. In such a kind of organisation, sustained commitments are more likely to take place and its soul can be sensed beyond the marketing campaigns, in the daily routine. It is good to know that more and more talented professionals nowadays feel attracted to work in organisations with a soul, with a special sense of purpose beyond the financial profits.

When an organisation is based on authenticity in human relations – respect, empathy and self-exigency – when customer and mission centricity are deeply rooted in the people’s mindset, and when leading means serving the common good with humility and passion, then we can be sure that there is a soul. And it is reflected in the organisational culture not only in the speeches but also in the daily behaviour and the critical decisions, where the mission and the values prevail over the short-term financial profit, because long-term financial profit is superior when the organisation is loyal to these values and mission.

 

Co-creationCollaborative cultureEnvironmental sustainabilityInnovationInnovative culture

Decorated Street Festival in Gracia, a living example of Tourism 3.0

Since the late years of the 19th century, the Gracia district of Barcelona celebrates every year its Themed Decoration Street Festival during one week in the middle of August. The many different streets of the area compete against each other in decorating the most beautiful, the most original or the most sustainable street. The residents of each street come together to take on the challenge and build a special decoration based on a specific theme, such as Harry Potter, the Silk Road, Japan, emotions or whatever they jointly imagine and decide. As a visitor, it is an immersive, enjoyable experience to see the differently decorated streets.

When this tradition originally started, decorations used to be created using natural elements such as flowers or tree branches, together with more conventional elements such as coloured paper. Little by little, the decorations became more sophisticated, and during these last years, the quality level is in many cases really outstanding.

There are many interesting aspects of this tradition, which closely relate to the principles of Tourism 3.0: culture of collaboration and innovation, co-creation, human spirit-related mission, community involvement, etc.

Every street has an association of neighbours, consisting of residents of that particular street, and this association is responsible for choosing the annual decoration theme to develop. Once the decoration theme is decided through an open participatory process,  all the neighbours participate in accordance with their time availability, and work together over several months to produce the street decorations. It is really a great example of co-creation, cooperation, innovation and community involvement!

Moreover, there two interesting elements related to the human spirit mission and raising awareness about sustainability: most of the materials used to produce the decorations are recycled materials such as plastic bottles, bottle caps, carton boxes, egg boxes, industrial cork, light bulbs, cans, etc., which makes the creativity challenge especially interesting.

In recent years, beyond themes related to films, cultures and imaginary worlds, there has been a growing focus on decorations linked to sustainability issues, such as the protection of biodiversity or the pollution in the oceans, which aim to raise visitors’ awareness on these topics, aligning with human spirit related mission as in the Vision of Tourism 3.0.

You can see some further information and pictures in the following link

Business trendsCo-creationCollaborative cultureEnvironmental sustainabilityInnovation

Envisioning Alternate Reality Games for marketing destinations

Unlike Augmented Reality Games, Alternate Reality Games (ARG) are not mobile based but transmedia based and much cheaper to create. ARG cannot be explicitly a marketing product, but rather a marketing strategy, which turns into an experience itself and could be indirectly considered as a marketing product, so long as they are usually free although sometimes they end up involving some business too. They stand out by offering best practices in collaborative learning and problem solving, having been object of attention by scholars, private and public organizations for that reason. ARG design requires many different skills, and there are actually several profiles matching that role, such as storytellers, web designers, and puzzle creators, to shortlist the main ones.

ARG deny the difference between the real and the game world. Actually, the game takes place for those who discover that something is going on in the real world beyond the obvious, by identifying some codified information and decodifying it to figure the clues to start playing. Another unique feature of ARG is that there is no other marketing than word of mouth from players, who look for other players to help them in tackling the game’s challenges. These games rely on knowledge sharing among players to solve the challenges and use the internet as a platform for sharing knowledge, although the game uses all types of media to provide the information to the players. The game works like an interactive networked narrative using the real world as the game board and many different media channels to deliver clues and the story that is eventually co-created by the organizers and the players.

The games are driven by a story that takes place in real time and is developed through the contribution and reaction of the players. The story characters are controlled by the game designers –unlike computer games, where characters are controlled by artificial intelligence- and interact with players, solving plot-based challenges and puzzles through collaboration by analyzing the story and coordinating real-life and online activities. Players discover the story researching just as archeologists would, as the story is split into pieces throughout the media channels to challenge players in connecting those story pieces to make a coherent narrative. The game uses players’ real live as the platform, players not being required to build a character other than themselves. The game designers control most of the story but leave some room for contribution to the players, who end up being co-creators of the story to some extent. Furthermore, so long as the game evolves demanding more complex challenges, players need to recruit new co-players with specific skills or expertise. ARG have become a genre of gaming themselves, not just a one-time occurrence, as it appeared to be at first.

ARG are usually free to play, using various kinds of revenue sources such as supporting products or marketing deals with existing products. In the case of tourism, the price to pay would be that associated to visiting the destination, without discarding other sources such as marketing deals with brands that want to be associated with the destination brand to target players as potential customers. Actually, after the first successful ARG had appeared, many corporations started regarding such games as a potential marketing strategy to promote their business as an innovative and fan-friendly strategy. So far, the major trends regarding the funding strategy for large-scale ARGs are the development of game-branded products and also fees for participation in the game.

Curiously, beyond the games created for fun only purposes, the so called “Serious ARG” have also emerged, consisting of the same structure and functioning way but with a real-world problem as a driving challenge instead of a fictional one. The first one –World Without Oil– was centered about the vision of a world with shortage of oil, and others such as Tomorrow Calling tackle many environmental issues. This type of ARG approaches the idea –ingrained in the Vision of Tourism 3.0- of open innovation for tackling the social and environmental challenges, so long as ARGs are focused on collaborative problem solving, leveraging the collective intelligence, knowledge and imagination to design innovative solutions. The “Serious ARG” approach works as a marketing strategy to attract and engage contributors through the shape of a game.

So far, the ARG phenomenon has already reached millions of players in more than 177 countries, who participate both online and in live events in the streets. There is even an award at IndieCade for games that have a social message, shift the social perception of games as a medium, represent a new play paradigm, expand the audience or influence culture.

Moreover, there have been organized some ARG directly related to the tourism industry. In 2008, the American Art Museum organised an ARG called Ghosts of a Chance encouraging players to find new ways to engage with their art collection, attracting more than 6000 participants over six weeks. At the same year, McDonald’s and the International Olympic Committee launched an ARG to promote the Summer Olympics of Beijing, facilitating the participation of players from different countries running the game in 6 languages, and encouraging players to share information and interact with fellow co-players overseas. They used a sport celebrity as Game Master to promote the game and promised to donate US$ 100,000 to charity at the end of the game on behalf of players.

Prototypes such as those presented for Augmented Reality Games could be useful for Alternate Reality Games, namely the “Worldwide ARG tournament calendar”, the “Film story or local legend based game”, and mostly the “Collaborative challenge based game”, without discarding other options. Rather, inspiration should come from the “Serious ARGs” focused on tackling real-world challenges.

The ARG can therefore become a good strategy to find and engage new targets, neutralize tourism demand seasonality and also create long lasting positive impacts both for the visitors –through the life-changing experience provided by the game itself- and for the destination, so long as the game challenge is related to some of the social or environmental concerns of the destination stakeholders.

Collaborative cultureEnvironmental sustainabilityMarketing 3.0Storytelling training & case studiesSustainability

The ‘Trashtag Challenge’, the new viral challenge that is cleaning beaches all over the world

We have talked many times in this blog about how tourism activity can address the social and environmental challenges of the destinations leveraging the power of storytelling and social media for the greater good. Among all the “Trash contents and challenges” that can be found nowadays in the internet, it is also fair to highlight such a remarkable initiative, also to remind us of the motivational power of good doing and the spiritual fulfillment that it brings.

The hashtag #trashtag intends to shake the environmental consciousness of people all over the planet by challenging them to show a picture of a natural site full of trash followed by a picture of the same site when all the trash has been removed. The challenge has gone viral and so it is possible to see hundreds of examples where it has moved people to take action.

This is a perfect example to showcase how social media can be an excellent platform to connect with the target audiences to engage them in a social or environmental mission, and how it can encourage positive mass behavior by becoming viral in the social networks. The lessons to be learned through this case to create similar challenges are mainly the simplicity of the challenge and the power of the visual impact showing the results achieved. Simplicity helps people taking action without need to think over about the where, when and mostly how to do it. The visual impact is what creates the desire of the audience to take action and the will to see and show the final result. To learn more about mass phenomena, I suggest you to read over the previous articles on the “Tipping Point Theory”, where these are explained in detail.

You can also find further information about the Trashtag challenge in the following link

Collaborative business modelsCollaborative cultureCulture changeMarketing 3.0

How collaborative leaders manage to build a collaborative culture

Following with the previous article on the same issue, a key success factor for building a culture of collaboration is to have collaborative leaders. These leaders ask for the others’ opinions, make them feel empowered, encourage contribution, are capable of managing egos, care about keeping high trust levels, and share credit with all contributors. These leaders also have strong skills in many areas:

  • Mission & goal orientation: defining and communicating the mission and common goals aligns all stakeholders in the right direction, reducing friction between functional teams.
  • Connectors: connecting the core group of stakeholders to other outsider agents expands the network of potential collaborators and opens their mind to new ideas and opportunities.
  • Information sharing: leaders should share their knowledge to guide their peers in taking leadership roles by teaching and mentoring them into the collaborative leadership culture.
  • Fostering understanding: so long as collaborative success depends on trust, leaders have to show understanding of their partners’ goals in order to bring their goals into alignment.
  • Talent attraction: recruiting and mixing people from diverse backgrounds and origins has been proved to generate great results in terms of innovation, so long as they are well led.
  • Collaborative role modelling: walking their talk and setting the right indicators and incentives, top leaders are those who ultimately create the corporate culture.
  • Empower other leaders: leaders should feel comfortable with letting others take their role when appropriate, so as to let them take ownership and thus increase their commitment.
  • Strong hand: showing a strong hand to set direction and leap forward when progression is stuck in the search for consensus or lack of prioritization.
  • Enterprise perspective: having a sound understanding of the overall corporate strategy and how the joint work they are leading aligns with that strategy.
  • Cross-functional perspective: understanding the needs, goals, indicators and incentives of the different areas, so as to align competing priorities within the operating model.
  • Customer perspective: beyond knowing the customers’ needs and motivations, managing to keep the team focused in enhancing the overall customer experience.
  • Self-management: being patient and exhibiting self-control when challenged, without taking disagreements personally.
  • Good listeners: managing to listen objectively and respectfully to many opinions, and empathizing with peers with different perspective.
  • Matrix influence: communicating effectively with different stakeholders and gaining their support on collaborative projects.

When looking for collaborative leaders, organizations should evaluate the following capabilities:

  • Attaining results by influencing rather than directing
  • Sharing ownership of the achievements, sharing also credit and rewards
  • Delegating roles and letting others deliver results
  • Motivating groups whose members do not share the same viewpoints
  • Making and implementing decisions in a collaborative way
  • Getting results without having direct control over people or resources

This article is from the Whitepaper “Building a culture of collaboration and innovation” written by Jordi Pera, Founder and CEO at Envisioning Tourism 3.0 Ltd. You may download for free the full Whitepaper at www.envisioningtourism.com/whitepapers

Collaborative business modelsCollaborative cultureCulture changeMarketing 3.0

Building a culture of collaboration: key success factors

In the case of destinations willing to embrace the principles of Tourism 3.0, the main behaviors to foster within the culture change effort are collaboration, innovation, and engagement.

Recent research in psychology, sociology, and experimental economics suggests that people behave far more cooperatively than it is usually assumed. During experiments on cooperative behavior, only 30% behave selfishly, whereas 50% systematically and predictably behave cooperatively. Some of them cooperate conditionally, treating others in the same manner as they are treated, but there is never a majority of people consistently behaving selfishly.

Further, Neuroscience also shows that a reward circuit is triggered in our brains when we cooperate with one another, and that provides a scientific basis for saying that at least some people want to cooperate, given a choice, because it feels good.

These findings suggest that instead of controlling and setting individual achievement based incentives to motivate people, companies should use systems that rely on engagement and a sense of common purpose. Several levers can help executives build cooperative systems: encouraging communication, ensuring authentic framing, fostering empathy and solidarity, guaranteeing fairness and morality, using rewards and punishments that appeal to intrinsic motivations, relying on reputation and reciprocity, and ensuring flexibility.

The majority of human beings are more willing to be cooperative, trustworthy, and generous than the dominant model has permitted us to assume. If we recognize that, we can build efficient systems by relying on our better selves rather than optimizing for our worst.

Based upon these assumptions, destinations 3.0 can easily build a culture of collaboration by:

  • Inspiring them with a vision of change that is beyond their individual capacity to bring about
  • Convincing them that the other collaborators are necessary to overcome the challenge
  • Preventing any participant from benefiting unfairly from others’ efforts, balancing the rewards
  • Cultivating good relationships among participants through informal gatherings and activities

The success of a collaborative community requires four organizational efforts:

  • Defining and building a shared purpose articulates how the group sets itself apart from competitors and the value it intends to bring to its customers and the society. This should be agreed upon consultation of members to ensure that they all feel involved in it.
  • Cultivating an ethic of contribution is about fostering a set of values that rewards people who prioritize the advance towards the common purpose over their own.
  • Developing processes that enable people to work together in flexible but disciplined projects. Protocols should be written and revised with the contribution of people involved in the task.
  • Creating an infrastructure in which collaboration is valued and rewarded, a platform that centralizes all generated knowledge applicable to various projects, where it is possible to assess everybody’s contribution, working as reputation scorecard to reward contributors.

These organizational efforts into results, it is essential to provide a framework for collaboration allowing the connection between people based on what they know and in the context of the innovation challenges at hand. This also means giving employees tools to rapidly identify subject matter experts.

According to Harvard, there are 7 key factors to create a successful cooperative system:

  • Communication is an essential component for collaboration, so the system should facilitate communication among participants by all possible means.
  • Framing and authenticity. Framing a collaborative practice will help in engaging the participants at the beginning, but it will require authenticity to keep them committed.
  • Empathy and solidarity. As long as we feel socially linked to our community, we are more likely to cooperate sacrificing our interest for the group’s benefit.
  • Fairness and morality. People want to engage in what is morally correct, for which the main set of values should be defined.
  • Rewards and penalties. Incentive systems should be aligned with the inner motivations of participants rather than material rewards only. It should be social, rewarding and fun.
  • Reputation and reciprocity. A very powerful motivator is the expectation for reciprocity, which however may lead to corruption. Reputation is the best tool to avoid corruption.
  • Diversity. Cooperative systems need to consider motivation drivers other than money. So long as innovators have various motivations, incentive systems should integrate such variety.

The key factors for success in building a culture of collaboration are to be further developed in another upcoming blogpost, based on collaborative leadership.

This article is from the Whitepaper “Building a culture of collaboration and innovation” written by Jordi Pera, Founder and CEO at Envisioning Tourism 3.0 Ltd. You may download for free the full Whitepaper at www.envisioningtourism.com/whitepapers

Collaborative cultureCulture changeInnovative cultureMarketing 3.0

Why is it convenient to develop a new culture?

Developing destinations 3.0 entails leveraging stakeholders’ creativity, connections and workforce, as a key competitive advantage over standard destinations. This leveraging can only be achieved through the development of a new culture based on collaboration and innovation. Building a new business model as well as an open innovation system can only be done successfully ingraining new behaviors in the stakeholder system: trust, cooperation, openness to new approaches and search for new ideas are key behaviors to develop.

Creating this new culture will require a previous diagnosis on which cultural inhibitors are rooted in their mindsets, to open their minds and change their attitudes towards a new approach. Then, the success in building a culture of collaboration and innovation will need the appropriate leadership and a supporting system that rewards contributors according to the new cultural values.

Other key success factors in the culture change are the enthusiasm and trust in the vision and mission statements as a result of the community members’ participation and effective communication, as well as the local culture itself, considering its level of trust, cooperation and openness to new ideas. On this point, it is interesting to remark that mission driven purposes are those that naturally motivate the most contribution and cooperation among humankind.

Before going ahead, it is convenient to define what culture is. Among the many definitions, there are two which define it quite accurately:

  • Group norms of behavior and underlying shared values that help keep those norms in place.
  • Values and characteristic set of behaviors that define how things get done in an organization.

It is also necessary to be aware that, beyond our efforts in building a better culture according to our mission, there are many reasons or forces that can make it degrade over time as a result of major restructuring, mergers and acquisitions, and frequent changes in leadership at the corporate level. The most typical cases are the three following:

1) Growth dilutes the initial culture. As the business experiences growth and so the organization expands, the culture that made the business begin successfully and grow faces the risk of being diluted by the new hires, especially those who work away from the leadership team, for instance in far-away geographical locations. That said it is also possible that the new executives bring in a positive change and innovative ideas, but in any case it is convenient to take measures to preserve the corporate culture core essence that allowed the business to succeed up to the present stage.

2) Continuous growth & transformation burns people out. Non-stop growth and the tension derived from it are a serious threat to employees’ sustained engagement and commitment, and therefore put their performance at risk. To avoid burning out the workforce it is necessary to understand business growth as a marathon run instead of a sprint. That means that there have to be rest cycles in between the periods of fastest growth in order to recharge energy, celebrate the achieved successes and consolidate the new achievements to ensure that they are to be long-lasting.

3) Complacency. This is one of the most dangerous enemies of culture. As a result of achieving good results and the desired level of well-being, it is usual for many people to relax and over-rely on their capacities and chances for sustained success. So long as the business environment keeps on changing over time, the business has to keep on adapting to these changes and therefore has little or no time to relax on the competition. Only those businesses that continue to adapt to evolutionary changes in their environment will thrive.

Beyond the causes of culture degradation, it is convenient to know how to identify the need for organizational culture change. There are five key questions that may orient us in this regard:

  • Is there a growing sentiment that your culture is an obstacle for achieving your goals?
  • Has there been a change in strategy? Is your current culture aligned with your strategy?
  • Are you considering or involved in a merger? Are the two organisational cultures aligned?
  • Are you engaged in a transformation? Are the behaviors required to deliver results in place?
  • Are you struggling to drive higher levels of productivity?

Organizations are quite unlikely to sustain a good performance without the right culture according to the strategy that is being implemented, and the right culture does not develop unless the context or system encourages the desired behaviors that define this culture. Culture change is a necessary and key factor for business success in the aforementioned cases.

In the case of Destinations 3.0 the need for a leap forward in increasing competitiveness inevitably demands a shift towards a culture collaboration and innovation, which eventually should deliver many payoffs. First, this is what nurtures the model’s competitive advantage, its capacity to continually reinvent itself, and develop life-changing experiences and compelling stories that engage stakeholders to pursue the mission. Empowering and stimulating participation from different kinds of stakeholders brings new insights to obtain a holistic vision of the model ecosystem which makes it possible to revamp the model with less iterations, hence shortening the change periods and smoothing the innovation process.

Secondly, the values-driven culture itself attracts like-minded and talented stakeholders, who ultimately are the greatest asset of the destination model, as long as they engage with the mission and become active innovators and brand ambassadors. Models defending their values and their mission over the short term profits gain admiration from these like-minded stakeholders, managing to engage them with full commitment. Such engagement is what makes them deliver authentic experiences according to the brand stories.

Finally, as a consequence of the first two, such culture leads –at least in the long term- the model to outperform its competitors who have not developed such powerful culture. So long as human spirit driven motivations spur most of everyone’s creativity and engagement, this is what ultimately maximizes the outcome in terms of mission accomplishment and value provided to the tourists.

Among the stakeholders, the model should pay special attention to its employees, by building a values-driven culture that guides them to live up to the brand mission, providing them with the same value-driven experience they are to provide to the final customers, turning them into brand ambassadors and life-transforming agents to the customers, delivering value in accordance with the stories. This requires the maximum integrity and good leadership from the platform’s executives, demonstrating these values through everyday behavior.

To involve all stakeholders, it is necessary to make them feel empowered, supported and eventually rewarded to take the lead in any initiative aligned with the mission. In the first stage, the local stakeholders have to be empowered to participate in the mission definition. This is critical to get them engaged. Then, the collaborative platform is likely to attract many other stakeholders identified with the mission who are also willing to show their capacity to make a difference, joining efforts to move the business towards the mission accomplishment.

This blog post 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.

Business trendsCollaborative business modelsCollaborative cultureEnvironmental sustainabilityMarketing 3.0

Why Do We Need Public–Private Partnerships in Sustainable Tourism?

What is a Public Private Partnership and Why Is It Important?

In sustainable tourism development projects, there are inherently multiple goals in which an array of parties maintains interest. From tour operators to local governments and communities, these stakeholders all have expected outcomes for tourism development. In order to properly represent these interests and create mutually beneficial outcomes, public–private partnerships are essential to a great tourism strategy. The most important piece of this puzzle is maintaining strong relationships and a clear understanding of divergent yet symbiotic objectives.

It is convenient to maintain strong relationships with a wide range of actors in the tourism sector, which is vital to the negotiation of these partnerships. These partnerships leverage financial and technical expertise and promotional benefits from private and government partners in exchange for improvement in stakeholder relations, marketing, and improved product and service delivery. Increased sales revenue and jobs, improved visitor experiences, alternative incomes for local communities, decreased levels of conservation threats in areas of high biodiversity, diversified production and increased production for small farms, and overall improvement of sustainability of destinations have all been marked results of these arrangements.

Public–Private Partnerships in Geotourism Programs

At the onset of each program, a destination Geotourism Stewardship Council is organized, made up of a variety of stakeholders, including communities, non profits, businesses, and governments representing the interests of the natural, cultural, scenic, and historic features of the destination. This group then works with the consultants to develop the regional tourism strategy, defining the vision, goals, timeline, and objectives of the project. The Stewardship Council also plays a key role in implementing the strategy by meeting regularly to generate local nominations, review the information and materials created, and utilize the products established to sustain and promote the destination.

Public–Private Partnerships in Conservation

Another area of tourism that benefits from strategic public–private partnerships is conservation. In areas of high and rare biodiversity, there can be built partnerships between a number of public and private stakeholders, including protected area authorities, government bodies, conservation NGOs, the local tourism private sector, and communities living around the area. Generally categorized as Protected Area Alliances, these groups, similar to the Geotourism Stewardship Councils, play a key role in the development of the tourism strategy as well as its implementation. The alliances continue after the initial implementation of the program, allowing the community to continue supporting and sustaining the protected area. Through these partnerships, multiple goals and interests can be achieved, such as increased protection for the environment, increased revenue for the tourism sector, and increased economic opportunities for the local governments and communities.

Public–private partnerships are essential to sustainable tourism development, as they allow stakeholders across the globe to participate in the development of tourism strategy, communicate and achieve their goals and interests, and successfully implement tourism programs, all while collaborating to achieve a common goal.

This blog post is from www.solimarinternational.com/resources-page/blog/itemlist/tag/Geotourism%20Program%20with%20National%20Geographic

Co-creationCollaborative business modelsCollaborative cultureMarketing 3.0Tourism marketing

How to Involve Locals in Destination Management & Marketing

In today’s tourism marketing world, all buzz is around discovering a destination like a local. If you search for “travel like a local,” you will find countless articles and websites trying to help travelers discover destinations through a different perspective. As an avid traveler that loves to escape tourist traps, I appreciate destination marketing organizations trying to help me connect with recommendations from people who live in the destinations I want to visit.

I think this is why Airbnb.com and the sharing economy are taking off, not just because it provides a different type of accommodation, but because it connects visitors with locals. One of the benefits of staying at an Airbnb.com property is the ability to meet a local to give you recommendations for what to do, where to eat, and how to experience the destination away from the hop-on, hop-off tour buses. Who doesn’t want this type of local knowledge when planning a trip to an unknown destination?

The challenge for destination marketing organizations is how do you get locals involved and willing to share their recommendations with visitors? Destinations like Philadelphia, are launching programs called “Philly like a local” – Experience Philadelphia as its residents know and love it,” which recruits locals to take over the DMO’s social media accounts. But taking that approach to scale and getting hundreds or thousands of locals involved in a program to answer the question “What is so special about my place?” is not an easy task……unless you have the National Geographic Society on your side.

We have been very fortunate to work alongside National Geographic for the last 7 years helping destinations apply an approach to sustainable tourism development called Geotourism. A concept created by Jonathan Tourtellot, geotourism encourages destinations to develop and market tourism products that sustain and enhance the geographical character of a place—its environment, culture, geology, aesthetics, heritage, and the well-being of its residents.

The Geotourism approach is unique among tourism development solutions due to its focus on the establishment and empowerment of a private-public partnership that serves as a forum for dialogue, collaboration, and planning among local businesses, non-profit organizations, residents and tourism authorities. The goal is to better manage challenges through cooperation while also identifying, sustaining, enhancing, and promoting the destination’s unique assets.

As a tourism development and marketing professional working in the field for more than a decade, I can tell you that bringing stakeholders together to participate in a tourism development and marketing program is hard work. Every one of our projects involves some type of stakeholder engagement process to plan and implement destination and marketing programs, but getting government, businesses, and residents to come together for a meeting or complete a task is extremely difficult.

This all changes when National Geographic is part of the program. The power of that yellow logo is incredible. People all over the world admire the brand immensely and jump at the opportunity to collaborate with such an respected organization. With the mission of inspiring people to care about the planet, they are extremely effective at getting locals engaged in caring for their destinations.

James Dion leader of the Geotourism program, kicks off every project with a public launch announcing the program. This brings together businesses, politicians, residents, and media to learn about the program and how they can be involved. After the public launch event, local residents are encouraged to visit a National Geographic co-branded website to nominate a business, place, attraction, or event that is an authentically local experience. This event and program generates incredible media attention at a local level, helping further distribute the call for participation from locals.

We are currently in production of a U.S. Gulf States Geotourism program supported by national, state, and local partners to raise awareness of the unique cultural and environmental experiences in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and the panhandle of Florida. We are working to rebuild the area’s allure following the 2010 Gulf of Mexico Deepwater Horizon oil spill that caused a devastating economic impact on the region.

Through local events and media outreach led by our local consultants, the program is generating incredible media coverage, which in turn has inspired over 1,000 nominations (and counting!) from locals for the Geotourism MapGuide. Once the nomination period closes, National Geographic’s team of cartographers, editors, fact checkers, and designers will work with the local public-private partnerships created at the beginning of the program to finalize the MapGuide and prepare for a public roll-out.

In summary, getting locals involved in destination marketing and management is not only a wise approach to ensuring a destination maintains it’s sense of place, but it also is a great way to help visitors discover the hidden gems of your destination. Here is some of the most recent media attention generated from the U.S. Gulf States Geotourism program. It’s just one great example of how the program effectively brings people together and generates immediate excitement.

Alabama to be part of National Geographic geotourism project – Your Town Alabama

Residents encouraged to nominate areas for geotourism – The Selma Times-Journal

What’s special about Columbus? Nominate your pick for National Geographic map – The Dispatch

National Geographic launching locally built travel guides in BP oil spill states – The Time Picayune

Louisiana selected as part of National Geographic’s Geotourism interactive map – WAFB News

Let National Geographic help you – Natchez Democrat

Your authentic Florida location belongs in Nat Geo’s geotourism guide – Visit Florida

Alabama Gulf Coast site nominations sought for Geotourism MapGuide – AL.com

Massive geotourism project underway in U.S. Gulf Coast States – Destination Stewardship Center

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