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?
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?
When designing life-changing experiences, these are to be thought of from the view that their life-changing purpose is what makes them unique and more attractive, not just a matter of social responsibility, because the tourists really want to experience the transformation.
There are many stages to follow when designing the life-changing experiences:
- Define constituents, the receivers who benefit from the activity (women, children/youth, elderly, minorities, BoP, tourists, etc.)
- The life-changing effect that the experience intends to create for the tourists (raising awareness about certain issue, opening mind, etc.)
- Try to include storytelling exercises as a part of the experience, as a strategic part to foster the generation of new stories
- The activity through which the experience is delivered
- The necessary resources and preparation to make it successful
- Carry out the feasibility plan of the product
- Get feedback from creative activists after living the experience, on how to improve it.
- Pay attention to insights and inputs delivered through the open innovation system, in the product co-creation contests and on an ongoing basis –reviews, free contributions, etc.-.
There has to be a Product Manager responsible for controlling the adequacy of the ideas being developed, to help improve & refine them, and to invigorate the open innovation system. The Product Manager would also be in charge of selecting and managing channel partners, benchmarking and customer feedback.
Beyond the tourism programs, the Product Manager should also be responsible for developing volunteer programs in cooperation with NGOs, to reinforce the mission driven positioning of the destination and to add human power to accelerate the mission accomplishment.
The co-creation process is to be carried out in a very different way depending on whether we talk about DMC or DMO, as well as depending on their size and budget. For instance, an open innovation system is likely to be suitable only for regional or nationwide DMOs in cooperation with the destination’s DMCs. For minor DMOs or DMCs, co-creation should be developed through workshops.
What kind of life-changing experiences do you envision?
Co-creation is the new approach to product development. Tourists want to personalize the experience according to their own unique needs and desires. Destinations provide a platform experience as of a generic product, which is somehow customizable by tourists, and by observing how they customize their experiences, the platform eventually develops a portfolio of experiences customized to the needs and motivations of various types of tourists, though still flexible.
Product co-creation is developed mainly through the open innovation system, where stakeholders participate motivated by the will to contribute to the mission accomplishment, and also by the will to showcase their creative skills and gain reputation among the community. Marketing 3.0 intends to leverage these motivators to foster co-creation of experiences and continuous improvement in collaboration with the local service suppliers to keep on enhancing the destination’s offered value.
The co-creation takes place in a collaborative platform as part of the open innovation system where locals may offer their experiences and they receive reviews, ratings and advice from destination product managers on how to make it better. To train stakeholders in the co-creation process, special workshops could be organized, where the key factors to successful product development are explained.
To create life-changing experiences, contributors should start by gaining a deep understanding of the mission statement as a basis for discerning what kind of experiences could be suitable. Further, by listening to stories they can understand what kind of experiences create a life-changing impact on the receivers and thus inspire new experiences by leveraging the contributors’ imagination from the open innovation system. The fact that brand enthusiasts are empowered to participate in the co-creation process spurs their commitment and their will for spreading the stories, as they are also willing to let everybody know about their contributions.
What main challenges do you foresee in the co-creation of tourism experiences?
Destination models 3.0 are complex in nature, and so it is the system of activities that need to be coordinated and managed to sustain its competitive advantage and make the destination model develop to the utmost of its potential.
The open innovation system is the central activity that nurtures and sustains the competitive advantage of the business model, from which many kinds of outcomes are expected:
- Business model innovation: revamping the model through constant brainstorming, reflection and discussion about improvements in either of the building blocks to achieve current goals, or to analyze new approaches to pursue the mission, improve profitability, streamline operations and adapt to the ever changing environment, foreseeing in advance the upcoming challenges and opportunities. The collaborative system should empower new leaders to drive new initiatives with the cooperation and support of the other stakeholders. Participation is limited to qualified stakeholders, also considering crowdsourcing initiatives opened to networks of external experts. Training on business model innovation methodologies should be considered to set a common framework for facilitating discussion.
- Co-creation of experiences: opened to all stakeholders, this section should feature vibrant discussions where mainly local entrepreneurs and enthusiast tourists exchange and pre-test ideas on new life-changing experiences to be developed in the destination. There could be contests to stimulate participation of the largest extent of stakeholders.
- Story creation: also opened to all stakeholders, this section could feature story creation contests in many formats such as videos, podcasts, text, to be developed individually or in groups. Participation of bloggers would be encouraged through the organization of blogger trips, especially during the initial stages of the destination’s development. This section requires particular attention from the platform managers, as it is the “content marketing machine” upon which the destination model relies to attract and engage new stakeholders over time.
- Marketing contents and designs: this section could encompass the development of an image bank or several collections of designs, to be eventually used in merchandising or marketing materials. Participation in this section could be stimulated through creation contests or crowdsourcing to professional photographers and designers. For the image bank, key influencers such as the “Instagramers” could be invited to the destination as with bloggers and journalists.
Beyond the platform managers’ initiatives to invigorate the innovation system, individual initiatives should also be eventually rewarded through a pre-determined incentive system. In this regard, platform leaders should orientate the innovation efforts towards the mission driven goals and identified challenges and opportunities in the business model innovation forum.
Beyond giving empowerment, the platform leaders’ role is to inspire others and provide facilitation and support to develop skills such as story creation and storytelling. Further, they should control that the initiatives are well aligned with the mission, prioritizing its accomplishment over other goals, to preserve the integrity of the brand. Such control, in fact, should be carried out by all stakeholders. Platform leaders should deeply assume that empowering stakeholders consists also in sharing power with them.
Do you envision any other interesting output to be obtained from the open innovation system?
The market intelligence studies provide the necessary information for both operators and Destination Management Organizations (DMO) to design their marketing strategies and actions optimally and efficiently. This can be summarized in a series of specific objectives:
Analyze for each new market and segment:
- Market dimension, evolution and perspectives.
- Public types and characterization of their demand: sociological profile, seasonality, length of the trip, types of services demanded, trip organization, advanced booking, motivations, expenditure and price elasticity.
- Purchasing behavior: information sources, decision key factors, etc.
- Possibility of fostering customer loyalty and multiplying effect/fostering prestige
- Quantitative and qualitative trends of both supply and demand.
- Key players, advisors, opinion leaders and other trendsetters.
- Associations, publications, events, fairs, portals, forums, blogs and social networks.
- Key competitiveness factors and requirements.
- Best practices in management and destination competitiveness improvement, marketing, products, business models and technologies.
- Marketing strategies and actions. Minimum investment recommended.
- Tour operators, travel agents and web portals working with this segment. Positioning and market share of every one, segment concentration, entries and exits. Estimated percentage of FITs.
- Segment attractiveness: analysis of the 5 competitive forces and growth potential.
- Analysis of competitiveness/price, distribution and offer variety compared between destinations. Positioning of each destination.
- Knowledge and assessment of the destination by the tour operators and travel agents.
Analyze for each tour operator:
- Turnover and market share (globally and by segments). Volume of tourists per segment and perspectives. Knowledge and assessment of our destination.
- Brochure portfolio, products and destinations for each product.
- Kinds of target audiences and percentage of loyal customers.
- Positioning of the tour operator in the market.
- Kinds of packages offered (length, accommodation, seasonality, etc.)
- Interest in receiving information, participating in fam trips and receiving commercial proposals.
- Programming calendar and contracting strategy.
- Financial data
Analyze for each tour operator currently programming the destination:
- Activities and visits carried out during the trip.
- Effectiveness and profitability of the current marketing actions. Evolution of demand towards our destination along the last 5 years.
- Client share (% of trips to our destination) per product, actual and potential value of the tour operator.
- Explore strategies and actions to increase sales and customer loyalty
- Other destinations offered by the tour operator and compared analysis: positioning, strengths, weaknesses and strategy of every one.
- Perceived positioning of our destination and suggested positioning.
- Destination assessment: strengths, weaknesses, satisfaction and resignation risk.
Analyze the projected image of the destination and brand awareness:
- In the tourism guides and specialized publications
- Articles and reports in the press and TV
- Social media and related web pages
- Tour-operator brochures
Do you miss any specific goal to be considered?
As aforementioned, with Marketing 3.0 there is a shift from vertical to horizontal control, being that the communities of creative activists are those who do the marketing by supporting brands concerned about making positive impacts in their communities. Therefore, the new marketing has the social networks as the main scenario where most brand marketing activities take place.
The communication strategy embraces collaborative channels as its main conveyors of the value proposition, as these are the most trusted ones by the communities of potential stakeholders. Furthermore, the new communication channels have to enable connectivity and interactivity to empower community members to participate at any time –especially when they are enjoying the destination- and share content with the rest of the community. The new wave technology is what allows community members to express their ideas and opinions in collaboration with the rest of the community.
The destination should accommodate the will of tourists to connect with other tourists who want to share their experience and story. Only by helping tourists connect with each other and deliver the promised brand values will the destination gain the crucial support of the communities.
The main marketing contents to be shared throughout the communities are stories. Stories are to convey the Mission, vision and values of the destination brand embodied in the life-changing experiences in a compelling manner drawing the attention of potential tourists and stakeholders.
Compelling stories are the new advertising, and their success is measured by the extent to which these stories are the focus of conversations in the social networks. These stories create loyalty among stakeholders who end up regarding the brand as an icon. Then, these enthusiast stakeholders become brand ambassadors by spreading the stories throughout the social networks. This is the power of storytelling.
To generate stories and other marketing contents, there has to be design of a content marketing system with a strategy to leverage the already existing stories and also to leverage the creativity of the stakeholders to make up new ones, as well as to spread the stories throughout the social media. The open innovation system is the one that leverages all the knowledge and creativity to nurture the content marketing system, and the existing local communities are where we should search for the existing stories to start-up the content marketing system.
What main challenges do you foresee in developing this communication strategy?
In the international travel market, there is nowadays an increasing fragmentation especially due to the raise of special interest travelers. They are highly educated individuals driven by values and cultural motivations in accordance with the aforementioned life-transforming experiences. Moreover, they are among the tourists accounting for the highest expenditures in the destinations.
As it happens with all new business models and products, they are to take the role of innovators and early adopters, both the adventurous ones who like to try brand new experiences and the opinion leaders who observe the adventurous innovators and decide to follow them once they are convinced about its benefits. They are the visionary consumers who have the capacity to influence the mainstream ones about the benefits of the value proposition, and so the primary strategic target to attract. They are change leaders and the most receptive to new ideas and value propositions.
Even if “Tourists 3.0” are to become not only our most enthusiast customers, but also our main brand ambassadors over time, many destinations may need to attract customer segments other than these “mission driven tourists”, at least during the early stages of their development or to balance the demand seasonality, for it is necessary to describe these other targets with precision in order to develop the appropriate marketing strategies. The tourists’ characterization should describe many variables such as the geographical origin, main motivation(s), length of stay, demand seasonality, sociological profile, expenditure, type of group, etc. The Whitepaper “Envisioning destination intelligence 3.0” explains in detail the customer characterization, among many other issues.
In this section, the model should explain the kind of targets that the destination wants to attract, specifying their strategic importance for the destination from the short to the long term, in terms of expected engagement in the creation and delivery of stories, or in terms of the revenue streams they generate to balance the demand seasonality, or to subsidize mission driven activities or other segments. Customer segments should therefore be classified according to their priority level, synthesizing the value they demand and the value and revenue they bring in.
How do you think it is possible to leverage tourists 3.0’s talent and influential power for the benefit of tourism destinations?
Beyond the targeting criteria according to the kind of tourism activities -nature, culture, sports, etc.-, the primary target destinations 3.0 intend to attract and engage is the so called “Creative society”. Creative people are the most expressive and collaborative consumers, and also those who are most active in the social media, thus connecting and influencing many other consumers and becoming a backbone in the local economies. They are trusted and admired within their community, and through their concern and awareness about the social impact of brands, they are to become our best brand ambassadors.
Because of their aim for self-actualization above other needs, and their desire to create and collaborate, they are the ones who are most likely to become engaged with our value proposition and to participate in co-creating experiences and stories for the destination. They are those searching for spiritual fulfillment on top of other motivations, and this is what unlocks the most of their creativity. Furthermore, they are trendsetters and change leaders within their communities. They are the new wave of consumers who move the society towards a more human centered world. They are Tourists 3.0.
In summary, the prototype of the “Tourist 3.0” could be described as someone who:
- Is driven by the aim for contribution to make the world a better place, and for human spirit fulfillment.
- Belongs to communities and social media networks, which are the main and most trusted source of information, and with whom shares knowledge and stories.
- Likes to co-create and collaborate with other consumers in his favorite brands’ marketing activities.
- Is concerned about the impact of tourism on the environment and the local communities.
- Looks for authentic experiences through which he can develop new skills, learn about new realities, cultures, and ways of life, which open his mind and ultimately change or influence his life.
Have you heard of the Creative Society? Do you regard its related trends as futuristic or current?
In tourism 3.0 it is essential to understand that the new marketing focuses on weaving values and mission within the business culture, which is reflected deeply in the experiences and stories marketing the destination, and ultimately obtains profits through the appreciation of the positive impact that the business has on the society, the environment and the culture. It is through the opportunity given to have this positive impact that destination models 3.0 target the stakeholders’ human spirit. Furthermore, by empowering all stakeholders to participate, they become accountable for the accomplishment of the mission.
Beyond the mission driven value proposition that sets destination models 3.0 apart from other tourism development models, it may be necessary in many cases to target non-mission driven tourists offering non-mission driven experiences to guarantee sufficient revenue streams all year round, or to partially subsidize the mission driven activities. In such cases, the model should prioritize the development of experiences that appeal to the affluent tourists and other segments or niche markets that contribute in balancing the demand seasonality, assessing also whether these tourists generate any additional negative impact either on the natural or social sphere.
In this section, there should be explained not only the competitive advantage(s) that sets it apart from other destinations and the portfolio of experiences it intends to offer to visitors, but also the vision, mission and its related goals, so long as they are the primary reason for which mission driven stakeholders are to get engaged with the destination.
Do you think we should consider anything else when defining the value proposition and the competitive advantage?