Category: Tourism trends

Trends shaping the present and future of the tourism industry and case studies

Business model innovationCo-creationInnovationMarketing 3.0Open innovation

Story innovation concepts: story platform

A key idea to understanding the aforementioned prototypes is that of the story platform. In this concept there is one principal author who drafts the main guidelines of the story, like the location, the value proposition, a basic plot, and some of the main characters. This could also be called the story backbone or the story constraints.

 Taking this platform story as a starting point, the free contributors –working individually or in groups- may create their version of the story by filling all the gaps that the backbone leaves to develop the contributors’ imagination, adding new characters and sub-stories that shape its uniqueness. As a result, there end up being many different stories with a common purpose related to the mission for which tourism is being developed in the destination. This is the case of prototype 2.

In the case of prototypes 3 and 4, there would also be a platform story with constraints and pre-determined ingredients. But the difference is that they are game driven experiences applicable to many kinds of missions that are created to draw flows of contributors, volunteers or tourists in taking real action in benefit of the mission purpose.

 Further, in these cases the roles of the participants are all pre-determined and every individual decides what type of role he or she wants to play in the story, with freedom to develop the role with his or her skills, ideas and knowledge.

Do you envision other types of story platform to develop story based experiences?

Marketing 3.0StrategyTourism marketingTourism trends

Key tourism industry players

There are 3 groups of players: first level suppliers, service operators and marketing operators:

1st level suppliers. Human resources, land owners, infrastructure operators, utility operators, government as license supplier and the construction sector are the basic suppliers for the tourism industry operators. As we have seen in the five forces model, they play a key role in defining the industry’s profitability when tourism is not so developed in a territory or we are analyzing the attractiveness of a tourism sector that would require the construction of new facilities and services. We may take into account Governments as active players in the industry whenever they are in charge of marketing the destinations.

Service operators. Food & beverage, accommodation, transport and activities providers are the key operators of the industry, as service providers. Whenever we analyze the attractiveness of tourism business that would be based on existing services and facilities, we will consider them as suppliers, except for the activities’ operators, which could be considered as incumbents in this case.

Marketing operators. Here lies the complexity of the tourism industry, where we define several kinds of operators, which may be either competitors or partners.

  • Booking centers & portals: online and/or telephone based commercial platforms managing bookings for one or more kinds of services operators –mostly focused on accommodation and also activities-, usually gathering the tourism services offered within a local or regional territory. They usually get their profits by keeping a percentage of the business they bring to their local service suppliers. In this concept we can also include new business models like Airbnb, whose service suppliers are local householders marketing their spare rooms.
  • Incoming agencies: operators located in the destination in charge of creating packages including accommodation, transportation and activities. These are the most genuine marketing operators, as they are in charge of product development, combining services and experiences available in the destination for the satisfaction of every target. They may sell their packages to tour operators, travel agencies or directly to the final customer. In many cases, they are also the activity providers.
  • Tour operators: operators located in the outbound market in charge of creating packages, usually marketing several destinations and several kinds of products. However they may be tour operators specialized in one destination and more often in one kind of product (golf, ski, sun & beach, cultural touring, incentive trips, etc.). These may deal directly with the service operators or with the incoming agencies, and then sell their packages to the travel agencies or directly to the final customer. They usually buy service capacity long in advance to the service operators or incoming agencies at a lower price ensuring them business, and then have to sell this capacity to the outbound markets.
  • Travel agencies: service retailers usually located near to the customer, selling either incoming agencies’ or tour operator’s packages, or directly booking to the services’ operators. Many travel agencies sell through the internet. Their value is based on the confidence of the customer, offering packages from different operators and sometimes specialization in certain products.
  • Travel social media sites: even if they are not included in the previous scheme as business players, sites like Tripadvisor and many similar models are key influencers in the decision making process of both the chosen destination and mostly the chosen operators within, therefore they deserve a relevant mention as key players in the tourism industry.

In this table are summarized the main features that define each of the marketing operators:

Marketing operators conceptual features


Product development

Dealing with final customer

Marketing focus

Booking center




One destination. One or many products
Incoming agency




One destination. One or many products
Tour operator

Outbound market



Many destinations.  One or many products
Travel agency

Outbound market



Many destinations.  One or many products
Travel social site




All destinations.

All services


Being that this conceptual outline is representative for most of the industry operators’ models, we should also note that many operators have developed business models integrating several concepts and functions altogether, in most cases as a result of a forward integration process.

Would you consider other key players when analyzing the tourism industry structure?

Business model innovationCo-creationCollaborative business modelsInnovationMarketing 3.0

Destination story based experience prototypes

Needless to say that many more possibilities for each variable may be envisioned, but these are just some examples to help the reader understand the innovation method. Based on these ideas, we have drafted four story driven prototype experiences to illustrate the type of result that the innovation method may produce.

  1. Personal awareness & Spiritual development journey, in line with pilgrimages and similar experiences. This is usually a journey that is carried out alone as of a process of self-reflection and discovery. The role of the protagonist is that of a tourist, so long as he or she is the only beneficiary of the experience, and may encompass both walking routes and static setting stays. In this case, the tourist is to write the story at the end of the experience, ideally with the support of a training workshop, but the protagonist should work on drafting the story from the beginning of the experience. The goals of writing the story are completing the self-awareness and discovery experience, and to inspire others in living their own transformational experience.
  1. Story driven development of a theme route, as in the cases where some novels or films have inspired the development of tourism routes for the fans of the story. This would consist of a story contest launched by the destination management organization (DMO) based on some constraints or even a story backbone. In any case, the story has to be developed based on the destination as the story platform. The contest should be open to both individual creations and group co-creations. At this point, many formulas could be envisioned to encourage the contribution of as many people as possible. The value proposition of the story driven experience should be in line with the tourism 3.0 principles, which means that it should have at least an educational or cultural transformation goal, without disregarding the fun or entertaining value.
  1. Crowd gaming ongoing experience consists of an ongoing story driven experience that takes place in a certain setting without a time limit. This experience takes the form of a mission driven game or challenge, and so the mission accomplishment is what keeps on driving the development of the story game. There is no foreseen end, as long as the mission is not fully accomplished. Such story would work like an MMO game where everybody is entitled to participate both in the virtual and the real world platform in the destination. The location could be any type of destination and the protagonists could either play the role of tourists, volunteers or contributors, depending on the type of challenge: educational fun for tourists, environmental protection challenge for volunteers, and creativity & cooperation challenge for contributors. In this story driven experience, the story plays the role of drawing tourists, volunteers or contributors to the story making and to visit the destination to participate in the real world experience.
  1. Crowd gaming event consists of a crowd sourced game driven story that is played like an MMO game with some real world experience along the story, but especially at the end of it. The events could take place in almost any type of location, including cities, nature settings, cultural destinations or theme parks –for instance- depending on the ultimate purpose and nature of the real-world experience. Such purpose could be for an environment protection challenge, creativity & cooperation challenge, or an educational fun experience. As in the case of the Crowd gaming ongoing event, the role of the protagonist is related to the purpose of the experience, and so could be a volunteer, contributor or tourist. In this type of story-driven experience, the story also plays the role of drawing attention, participation and contribution of individuals in the co-creation of the story, the contribution related to the purpose and in visiting the destination when the event takes place.

Out of the innovation parameters explained in the previous post, do you envision other story based experiences?

Marketing 3.0Tourism trends

The power of storytelling

Why do we like stories? We like them because they provide answers to our lives and a mechanism to shape our identity by connecting with the story characters. We connect emotionally with the story characters as long as they have similar challenges and values, and thus we regard them as a representation of ourselves.

They respond to the human need to find idols and role models with whom we can identify ourselves. Stories not only help us in building our identity but also work like social glue, as they help us in connecting with others and building relationships. Stories are the most effective way to create an emotional connection between brands and consumers.

When assessing brands, consumers evaluate first the brands with which they have some emotional connection. Then, depending on the importance of the purchase, they search for more or less information to support the final decision. Furthermore, humans process information more efficiently when this is delivered through a story, and therefore this information is more likely to be remembered in the form of a story.

 The travel industry is not an exception to this consumer behavior; rather, the emotions play a more important role than in many other industries. In fact, destinations developing marketing 3.0 hold one of their main competitive advantages in appealing not only to the consumers’ emotions but also to their human spirit, outshining other destinations that have incorporated storytelling in their marketing strategy.

What stories about travel experiences do you remember that were really memorable?

Marketing 3.0StrategyStrategy planning & executionTourism marketingTourism trends

The Marketing Plan 3.0 infrastructure: online platforms and database

In relation to all the new strategies to deploy Destination marketing 3.0, there are their corresponding infrastructures and tactics to implement the strategic guidelines. As explained for every strategy, the existing tools and activities are to keep on functioning as long as they are profitable enough. Actually, one of the roles of the Open Innovation System is to keep on streamlining the marketing operations. When drafting this Operational Plan it necessary to explain for every infrastructure or tactic: its goals, its constituents, budget, priority level, person(s) responsible for its implementation and key success factors.

The new infrastructure consists of website, web-based platforms:

  • Corporate website is the main communication hub for all stakeholders. This is the hub where most of the “Call to action” featured in the content have to redirect, and so there has to be landing pages for every call to action. Furthermore, it is also the hub where contents are posted and linked to the social media channels for every target audience. It may include a blog, a forum, and the landing pages. It also contains the Booking platform, the Open Innovation platform and the Online Store.
  • Open innovation platform is the hub where innovators are called to be registered and to sign up for related events. In the case of non-professional contributors it is the place to submit their content or their ideas, whereas in the case of professional contributors this becomes an essential tool, as the innovation challenges for professionals are fully managed through this platform and entail more complex procedures than the non-professional ones.
  • Booking platform is one of the key infrastructures for the new marketing system as the intention is for it to become the main sales channel for tourism products. Through the delivered content, there is an increasing publicity of the booking platform –within the website-, thus increasing the target audience awareness of the new online channel and the overall sales through it. The goal is to make it the central sales channel as it is the most profitable for the destination and its businesses.
  • Online store is another new sales channel but for the merchandise products. Based also on the website platform it is to become the main distribution channel for the new merchandise products. Through advertising content in the social media and the expected popularity of the destination branded designs, this is to become an important source of revenue streams. It is also a way to collect data about the destination followers when they submit their order.
  • Network database. This is a crucial infrastructure, as important as it is to know our network members. As long as the followers, clients, contributors and other engaged individuals establish relationship with the destination it is convenient to register their data and add information on how they engage with the destination activities and contents. The better we know them the better we can optimize the marketing strategies to engage them.

Do you think of any other necessary marketing infrastructure?

Co-creationMarketing 3.0StrategyStrategy planning & executionTourism marketing

The Marketing Plan 3.0 Product strategy: developing life-changing experiences

The life-changing experiences are what sets the destination apart from others and somehow the main reason why the destination is to become popular through the stories. Along with the marketing contents, the life-changing experiences are developed through co-creation between local suppliers and creative stakeholders within the open innovation system.

Taking the value proposition and mission statement as the inspirational mantras, along with some reference benchmarks, the product innovation challenge is about leveraging the stakeholder imagination by stimulating contribution permanently, through creative reviews right after the experience and also through product development contests and co-creation workshops.

There has to be a Product Manager in charge of organizing these events and supervising the developed ideas to assess their feasibility and adequacy, and eventually to put them into practice.

Out of the aforementioned events, innovation is constantly encouraged by rewarding well elaborated ideas and customer reviews bringing in ideas on how the experiences could be improved. Furthermore, the proposed experiences are flexible and customizable for every client, hence generating a wider variety of stories and ideas for product development.

Would you consider other strategies to develop life-changing experiences?

Marketing 3.0StrategyStrategy planning & executionTourism marketingTourism trends

The Marketing Plan 3.0 Product strategy: developing special interest experiences

One of the main innovations of Destination marketing 3.0 is the development of new product lines which require specific strategies for its creation and sale. The Special Interest experiences have to be developed in cooperation with expert consultants and the Special interest Travel Agents who are to become our Channel Partners at the outset.

They are to target the Special Interest travelers, one of the key targets identified within the profile of Tourists 3.0, characterized by a high educational level and income, high interest and respect for the destination’s culture and environment, as well as a will for contribution to the greater good in many cases. The experiences themselves consist of tourism activities dedicated to specific motivations, such as sports, cultural & educational activities, specific leisure, discovery or adventure activities, etc.

The strategy to decide which experiences to develop in the destination is based on the Mckinsey matrix, to be explained in detail in the Whitepaper “Business Portfolio Strategy”. To explain it briefly, the method consists of the following steps:

  • Assess segments & niche attractiveness: demand seasonality, tourist expense, associated marketing costs, necessary investment, etc. (see the complete list in the “External Audit section”) weighing all the factors to elaborate a synthetic index for each segment.
  • Assess destination competitiveness for each segment: assess destination compliance with the segment key success factors, evaluate cost and capability of solving competitiveness gaps, and elaborate a synthetic index out of the assessed factors.
  • Prioritize segments: draft the McKinsey matrix indicating competitiveness in one axis and attractiveness in the other axis, as a bi-dimensional diagram where the zero point is the minimum value for both. Then place every segment within the diagram according to the values of their synthetic indexes to visualize the segments where the destination may compete successfully and those that are most profitable. Finally, prioritize accordingly.

Would you consider other methods? If so, what method, and why?

Business model innovationCollaborative business modelsInnovationStrategySustainability

Destination Models 3.0: Comparative performance between different destination models

To better realize how destination models 3.0 outperform other models in creating value, reducing efforts and marketing efficiently, hereby are compared three destination models:

Cultural destinations: based on cultural or natural resources with several business owners operating independently. In some cases these cooperate in partnership with the government for marketing the destination.

Resort destinations: based usually on natural resources with one owner operating or controlling all business units providing service in the destination, being also responsible for the marketing. All business units are therefore integrated within the resort.

Destinations 3.0: based on either cultural or natural resources with business units belonging to many owners, and operators cooperating with different levels of integration on the management and marketing of the destination.


Experiences Typically local cultural experiences

Based upon cultural & natural resources, and locals creativity

Standardized experiences

Based on standard products, natural and artificial resources

Life-changing, personalized and imaginative experiences

Based on stakeholders co-creation

Feelings Cultural character and authenticity with heritage protection and hospitality programs Lack of character and authenticity (replicated facility style)


Enhanced authenticity through urban aesthetic harmony and locals’ inclusiveness as experience suppliers
Service quality control Some service suppliers have Quality certifications

Ratings for restaurants and accommodations

Comprehensive service quality control

Ratings for accommodation service

Comprehensive and incentivized service quality control
Discomforts Dependent upon every service supplier and local service standards Fully specified comfort standards, adapted to the needs of tourists Only discomforts associated to cultural environment
Insecurities & risks Dependent upon government regulations and control Full information and safety controls on critical issues Full information.

Safety dependent upon government regulations

Needs satisfied Functional and emotional Mostly functional, but also emotional Functional, emotional and spiritual
Target tourists All kinds of tourists Limited segments All kinds of tourists, but primarily tourists 3.0
Marketing guidelines Differentiation Differentiation or price Mission, vision & values
Tourist relationships Sales transactions and satisfaction monitoring Sales transactions and satisfaction monitoring Experience co-creation, storytelling through communities
Marketing channels TTOO, TTAA and direct sales TTOO, TTAA and direct sales Mission driven agents, communities
COMMUNITY IMPACT Economic prosperity concentrated in local business owners Economic prosperity concentrated in the resort owners Poverty alleviation, socio-cultural change, environment protection
MAIN CHALLENGES Harmonize experience system and quality standards Develop unique experiences to compete upon differentiation Integrate and associate stakeholders

Foster culture change

Would you consider other destination models to compare performance? And other relevant points to be compared?

Co-creationCollaborative business modelsIntelligenceIntelligence methodsMarketing 3.0

Destination Marketing 3.0: Mobile Apps 3.0

As an essential tool for empowering tourists to contribute and participate in the collaborative marketing system, the Mobile Apps 3.0 would enable tourists to write reviews and rate immediately after the experience, vote and participate in content creation contests, make bookings and search for information about the destination.

The Mobile App 3.0 would not only be a supporting tool for the communication between the tourist and the destination, but also a tool to encourage tourists to become co-creators of the destination experience and to engage them in the mission accomplishment. Other functions of the Mobile App could be augmented reality features, geo-localization, video & photo uploading, map download, nearby deal pop-up service, etc.

This is to be developed for DMOs only, to take profit of the investment being supported by many stakeholders, and to offer the tourist a comprehensive service.

What kind of obstacles do you envision to make the Mobile Apps 3.0 an effective tool?

Co-creationCollaborative cultureInnovative cultureMarketing 3.0Open innovation

Destination Marketing 3.0: Co-creation workshops

Beyond the content creation contests to be carried out in the virtual collaborative platform, co-creation should be also facilitated and explained through educational workshops, especially for the enthusiast stakeholders. In co-creation workshops, attendants would learn how to cooperate in creating marketing designs for merchandising products, and tourism products based on life-changing experiences.

The marketing design co-creation workshops would be carried out by expert designers who would provide training on the design techniques to facilitate the development of artistic skills among the interested stakeholders. They would also be trained in team working to facilitate cooperation.

The product co-creation workshops would be organized by the Product Managers, who would explain the development process and key success factors for creating life-changing tourist experiences according to the mission of the destination, as explained in the Product development strategy section. This would be mandatory for local service suppliers, who should be mixed with other stakeholders to balance the co-creation process with a similar amount of inside developers and outside developers.

Co-creation workshops should be organized by DMO as a way of promoting product development throughout the destination, with the participation of local DMC. However, this idea could also be developed by DMCs themselves, even individually as long as they can gather enough contributors.

Do you envision other possible contributors or other possible outputs out of the co-creation workshops?