Category: Collaborative culture

Fostering culture of collaboration: practices, benefits and case studies

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

This blog post is from www.solimarinternational.com/resources-page/blog/itemlist/tag/Destination%20Management?start=10

Collaborative business modelsCollaborative cultureMarketing 3.0Strategy

For Smart Cities, to collaborate is the smartest thing to do

According to a United Nations report, 70% of the world’s population is expected to be living in cities by 2050. This is why overcoming many of today’s humankind challenges in areas such energy, water, food, climate change, health, etc.  will depend mainly on the success of the so called Smart Cities strategies. But as urgent we consider the implementation of smarter cities, making it really happen still remains a challenge several years after the concept was first coined.

As in many other cases, we think too collaboration should be a key factor implementing a truly transformative Smart City strategy. Considering the broad and diverse kind of stakeholders, expertise, knowledge, technologies, etc. needed for an average Smart City project, it is difficult to imagine any that does not require the commitment and dedication of a collective team.

The idea of a Smart City promises to improve municipal operations and the health and safety of citizens. New models of cooperation and engagement will make a tangible difference for this promise to move to a reality. These are just few of the many possible…

Organizational changes in local administrations

City managers are main actors on the potential gains of properly implementing Smart City initiatives. But many of the challenges they confront in order to achieve efficient outcomes of such initiatives still lie on the way city government is structured. As it happens in many other organizations, many departments and units in city councils are operated in isolation without any or little consideration of other departments. Add to that, an extra layer of red tape and special sensibility about the immutability of roles and positions that sadly are still typical of public government organizations.

But despite these cultural and organizational barriers, when projects need to address such variety of issues as, for instance, transportation systems, law enforcement, community services, water supply networks or waste management, some Smart City projects have become the driver for cultural changes and shifting attitudes that seemed impossible so far.

Sharing experiences and knowledge

“Lessons learned” are an important asset in competitive markets in which proprietary Know How can be easily turned into a competitive advantage. But it does not make much sense for cities to compete with other cities to be smarter, especially in the case of cities at the same continent and in projects funded by the same supranational organization.

Knowledge exchange and transfer is a crucial element of many of the projects funded by the European Union. The GrowSmarter project is one of the most important bets of the European Commission for the smart development of urban areas, and represents one of the only three projects that the Commission has financed under the umbrella of the “Lighthouse”. GrowSmarter brings together cities and industry to integrate and demonstrate ‘12 smart city solutions’ in energy, infrastructure and transport.

Key for the project is the concept of “Lighthouse Cities”, as the 12 smart solutions are being rolled out in designated sites in three cities: Stockholm, Cologne and Barcelona – including industrial areas, suburban and downtown districts, ensuring a sample base representative of many European cities. The idea is for these three “Lighthouses Cities” to show how ‘smart’ can work in practice documenting their journey with regular news updates. This way, the project specifically aims to provide other cities with valuable insights on how the smart solutions work in practice and the opportunities for replication, creating a butterfly effect.

GrowSmarter even considers the existence of five “follower cities” (Cork, Graz, Malta, Porto and Suceava) which role is to work closely with those “Lighthouses Cities” to learn from their experiences.  The three Lighthouse Cities will each host a number of study visits and European workshops, providing opportunities to see first-hand technological application of the smart solutions.

Sharing Standards

The performance of a city is intimately linked to its physical and communications infrastructures and the delivery of resources through these infrastructures. At present, the delivery of city services tend to operate in isolation from each other, in silos of activities, governance and information. But new digital infrastructures offer the potential of increased service integration that could ultimately result in services provision cost reduction, natural resource savings and efficiency gains for cities and their inhabitants.

Standards are required in order to accommodate such integration of data. But smart city implementations tend to focus on specific cities or services rather than multiple locations and services. This individual focus in the main cause of the lack of standards across the market. Many organizations and analyst, including the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), advocate the development and generalization of international standards for smart cities.

In UK, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills commissioned the British Standards Institution to develop a standards strategy for Smart Cities in the county. The strategy identifies the role of standards in accelerating the implementation of Smart Cities. As part of this strategy the Cities Standards Institute is a joint initiative of the British Standards Institution and the Future Cities Catapult bringing together cities and key industry leaders and innovators to work together in identifying the challenges facing cities, providing solutions to common problems and defining the future of smart city standards.

By developing a coherent set of standards that addresses key market barriers, smart city products and services become easier to be widely accepted. Promoters of the consortium consider than an easier acceptance of these products and services ultimately accelerates the growth of the future cities market, first in the UK and then globally. The Cities Standards Institute is also leading a set of programs to help cities, companies and SMEs to implement standards-based solutions and strategies, and to ensure the uptake of smart city standards regionally and internationally.

This blog post is from www.co-society.com

Collaborative business modelsCollaborative cultureCulture changeMarketing 3.0Tourism marketing

It Takes a Culture of Collaboration to Deliver a Place Brand

We recently conducted a Tourism Assessment Review for a small city that discovered that its tourism performance was declining. This was an attractive small city with an historic downtown that had successfully established a state-wide reputation as a destination for antique shoppers. However, our research soon revealed that in addition to facing increased competition from online antique stores, the city’s antique stores were falling short of the “antiques capital” reputation.

It didn’t take long to realize that antique store owners were disconnected and totally focused on their own businesses, making little or no effort for cooperation and collaboration with other businesses or civic organizations. In fact, most store owners did not speak to each other and simply regarded the others as competitors. It seems that over time stores were sold and new owners came in and rested on their laurels in the belief that the city’s reputation as a favored antiques destination would sustain itself without any effort on their behalf. They didn’t realize that the reputation was created by the totality of antiques-related experiences in downtown.

This assignment carried several lessons for the city’s tourism performance. Firstly, the Internet can be a positive and a negative force for some destinations.  Secondly, sustaining a city’s brand identity, whether it has been formalized in a documented strategy or not, requires a concerted effort to collaborate, innovate and manage the promised visitor experience by everyone associated with the downtown.

Even though a downtown may have attractive architecture and well stocked stores, it’s the attitudes of residents and business owners that determine whether a place has a special sense of place and can elicit a sense of loyalty from visitors.  And once the culture of collaboration is successfully established, there must be a conscious effort to “pass the baton” to the next generation of merchants. As for being competitors, the merchants need look no further than a food court or freeway interchange to see fierce competitors working together to create a bigger “pie” so that they can all get larger slices.

This post is from http://citybranding.typepad.com/

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/

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 modelsCollaborative culture

Collaborative tourism: is it an original business model?

When we talk about collaborative tourism or tourism peer to peer, we refer to a new trend in the way of traveling based upon sharing basic resources such as accommodation, transport means or personal experiences with other travelers through platforms where the host publishes his/her offer and the tourist makes the booking.

Theoretically, this phenomenon comes from the collaborative economy model, where consumers may also become suppliers by sharing their means with other consumers, also operating on a global scope, prioritizing human relationship above competition and selfishness. The presentation results in being attractive to more and more tourists, who do not really know the business model completely.

Due to the constant transformation of the virtual economy, the task of identifying and describing virtual business models has turned to be quite hard. However, since this P2P platform business model usually determines it’s success, it is no longer unknown: platforms meet the needs of both supplier and buyer, and take a commission from the booked services price.

Checking the four main collaborative platforms operating in Spain for the four types of services available (eating, accommodation, transport and experiences), we find that their revenue sources are not so different from the traditional tourism intermediation models:

  • AirBnB: charges a commission between 6 to 12%, plus 3% of the conversion rate.
  • BlaBlaCar: depending on the amount of the transaction, it charges 1,60€ for transactions from 1 to 8€ or a commission of 20% for transactions of more than 8€.
  • EatWith: it takes a commission of 15% of the transaction.
  • Trip4Real: it takes 25% of the transaction.

A similar procedure is used for any other tourism intermediary, such as a travel agency, a tour-operator, broker, etc. The difference remains in that these intermediaries comply with the regulations in terms of safety, health and taxes, whereas most of the accommodation and transport means offered in the collaborative platforms do not comply with them.

Therefore, the consumer of collaborative platforms pays a lower price due to the non-compliance with the aforementioned regulations, and takes the risk of suffering any kind of accident without the safety prevention means. Furthermore, despite the social sharing philosophy upon which the platform is created, many suppliers operate for profit rather than for the aim of sharing cost or experiences. However, this is difficult to prove and control.

The hospitality sector’s opinion. The outburst of the tourism collaborative platforms has transformed many housing apartments into competitors for the hotels and regulated tourist apartments, and so it has turned into an important issue for the Public Administration.

According to the Spanish Confederation of Hotels and Tourist Apartments, there are only two possible solutions to this conflict: the total banning of the platform operations –as has happened in many major cities-, or the obligation for the apartments to comply with the same regulations as the current regulated tourist apartments.

It is necessary to take into account that the tourism sector in Spain is hyper-regulated. There are around 250 regulations at the European level referring to intellectual property, consume, safety and payment means, plus those from the local administration. All in all it entails a great deal of costs that do not apply to the collaborative platform operators, including the VAT, the police files, fiscal and sanitary costs. This is clearly a case of unfair competition. In this regard, there are many points to consider:

  • The regulations applying to these tourist housing apartments are different for every region in Spain, for it is necessary for the destination regulators to study them all in detail.
  • It is necessary to consider the product separately from the platform, taking into account that the platform operation is similar to the traditional channels such as the travel agencies, and so the same regulations should apply.
  • The evolution of the global society is likely to propel this paradigm beyond the current conditions, demanding solutions in terms of adapting the new regulation and policies.

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