Category: Strategy

Strategy planning, strategy execution and business model design focused on collaborative modelling

Culture changeMarketing 3.0Strategy

Developing internal leadership talent

So long as destinations 3.0 intend to expand by leveraging the human potential of the local community, developing leadership talent is an essential success factor. The development of the future leaders should begin at present. As a part of the vision and duty of Creative leaders, the development of young leaders is a must have requirement to ensure the models’ sustainability and adaptation to the environment’s changes.

Organizations have to change their leadership talent sourcing strategy, by focusing their efforts on developing talent within the organization rather than head hunting in the market.  This can be done through the deployment of leadership development programs, which have proved to bring in many advantages:

Boost of the employee engagement. According to 90% of leaders, employee engagement has a positive influence on business success, but 75% of the organizations have no engagement plan or strategy. Development programs provide the employees the opportunity to leap forward to a better version of themselves and find a more meaningful and fulfilling professional life. Make sure to appropriately define the program goals.

Increase of the employee performance. As it happens with all professional development programs, they prepare employees to bring more value to the organization and therefore increase their performance. Investing in the human resources development is also very likely to favor their retention, so long as they feel that they are in an organization where they can grow professionally and develop their potential.

Ensure the business sustainability. Developing internal talent is not only more profitable than sourcing it outside, but it also ensures that only those professionals that share the organization values will be its future leaders. Further, the availability of many prepared leaders facilitates a natural selection for the best leaders to thrive and take the top leadership positions. Therefore, it is not only an investment to boost profitability, but also to reduce risk.

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

Business trendsIntelligenceMarketing 3.0StrategyTourism marketing

Key Takeaways from #SoMeT13US, the Social Media Tourism Symposium

When I moved to Huntsville, Alabama, as a surly teenager in the mid-90s, I never thought I’d be returning 17 years later to attend a professional conference on social media and tourism. Mainly because there was no such thing as social media then and I was largely consumed by door slamming, journal writing, and comic books. And, to be honest, I thought Huntsville was a drag.

Things have changed. Huntsville’s CVB proved that Rocket City USA has legitimate tourism cred and serious social media chops.

The Social Media Tourism Symposium, referred to as #SoMeT in both Twitter and spoken parlance (soh-mee-tee), is an annual conference hosted by Think! Social Media that brings together the best and brightest tourism marketers. Each year, the conference’s location is crowd sourced online. The perspective attendees vote in a bracket-style competition for which destination is best suited to host the pack of social media nerds and tourism geeks. Huntsville triumphed over much larger and more convention-y places like Indianapolis, Cleveland, and St. Pete’s.

Huntsville’s process to win #SoMeT13US became a case study used throughout #SoMeT13US to highlight new trends at the intersection of social media and tourism. It was really inspiring. Here are a couple themes that emerged from #SoMeT13US and Huntsville’s selection as host that were especially relevant.

1. The DMO is dead. All hail the DMO.

Destination marketing alone is not enough. Comprehensive destination management is what’s needed. Hey this sounds familiar! (I’m looking at you DMAI).

As Fred Ranger of Tourisme Montreal put it, “destination marketing has been about brand expression. Destination management is focused on the brand experience.” The visitor’s online experience during their dreaming and planning phase is just as important as their offline experience when they arrive – and the DMO/CVB has a critical role to play. In Huntsville’s quest to land #SoMeT13US they blasted their social networks with calls-to-action. But it was their offline work that pushed them over the finish line: they deployed street teams to educate and engage locals and visitors and posted signs in highly-trafficked areas. The campaign might have been born on Facebook and Twitter, but it lived and thrived with real-life people-to-people contact. This took work and planning and investment and it wasn’t easy, but it was successful.

2. Less Volume, Better Engagement

We’ve come to a beautiful time as social media marketers where we can focus on quality not quantity.

I presented a case study of our work in Namibia where we realized very quickly that our destination was highly specialized and creating a huge online community was not in the cards. And that was okay. Because, the people that are attracted to Namibia are the super-enthusiastic people that are social media dreams. The online community growth has started to slow, but the level of engagement continues to get deeper and deeper. We’re able to get to know our community and give them the kind of content that they’re looking for – the kind of content they want to own and share with their networks. We also know that these folks are the ones who return time and time again to Namibia and try to get their friends to come along. We can use our social platforms to communicate directly to the dune hikers, the rhino lovers, the extreme photographers. We’re not trying to create campaigns for Johnny McCarnivalCruise or Sarah O’AllInclusive. We want to speak directly to Namibia’s biggest fans and give them every possible reason to book a trip.

Mack Collier thinks you should probably be more like Taylor Swift. Or Johnny Cash. Or Lady Gaga. Basically, any kind of “rock star” – because they understand the importance of developing real connection with their fans. Incentives for the “superfans” doubles down on engagement and creates newsworthy opportunities to re-connect with casual participants.

Fred Ranger also spoke about how typical ROI should be replaced with RQE – return on the quality of engagement. Reporting on the number of Facebook fans, Twitter followers, are good… but are you actually creating brand interest and  attracting visitors to your destination? Measuring this is easier said then done, but it’s getting better. And if social media wants to start justifying the same kind of cash that traditional tourism marketing is pulling – then we need to think about conversions.

3. If Content is King, then… this Metaphor is Hard. Be Smart with Your Content.

So, how dow we create conversions? My delicate vocabulary sensibilities were assaulted when Tom Martin threw “propinquity” at me all willy-nilly. If you consult your SAT vocabulary flash cards, you’ll be reminded that propinquity means proximity and similarity. As tourism marketers, we can get lost in inspiration. The idea is that your main content piece – be it a video or blog post – should be complimented with actionable, related content. Someone is really digging a post on your new bike trails? Give them a call-to-action to book a bike tour.

This idea isn’t new: think the popup boxes on YouTube or Amazon’s “You Might Also Like” feature. This inbound marketing strategy is an important component of successful tourism websites and new flexible website designs means there’s no excuse to turn your destination site into an opportunity for sales.

Inbound marketing is content driven. Many of us create content calendars that include hundreds of individual posts – all with an active shelf life of a couple of days. We come up with ideas and then distribute them. Tom waves his finger at us. Tsk Tsk.  “Every content piece should be re-purposed at least three times.” Invert your content creation strategy: think first about all the places the content live (affinity blogs, media placements, newsletters) and then build your content from the ground up. Once the main piece has been create, disassemble and distribute.

4. This isn’t Easy.

Peppered throughout the successes, were plenty of stories of failures. Sometimes ideas that are hammered out in a conference room, that seem perfectly logical, fall flat. Social media is people driven and people – jeez – they can be fickle. Platforms can change on a dime (I’m looking at you Foursquare badges), what you ask your community to do can be two clicks too onerous, and sometimes – something more shiny pops up somewhere else. Playing it safe doesn’t work – it’s important to take risks and try something new.

As two novice spacemen from MMGY remind us, “Proceed and Be Bold.”

Check this video in Youtube    https://youtu.be/K9ZPHrnoBXc

Article reposted with permission from www.solimarinternational.com/resources-page/blog/itemlist/tag/Social%20Media%20Marketing

Marketing 3.0Strategy

Welcome to the Experience Economy

The digital world is all about experiences. Combining web content with video and mobile applications (and even large screen and interactive print), organizations have to provide an experience with their brand and content that is compelling enough for users. Although an organization may be selling a product or service, they are first selling an experience with their brand through content (text, images, video, games). The cost of that experience? Attention.

People only have so much attention (just like money in the bank). So they try to spend it wisely and feel cheated when the experience doesn’t live up to the cost.

But when the experience is worth the cost? People get something in return: a relationship. The experience transcends just the screen. It strikes at the heart of who we are and our need to connect. Which is why people gravitate towards experiences that are personalized, dynamic, relevant, and contextual. They want an experience that seems like it was built for them…or will shape to whom they are the more they interact with it.

Ultimately, this is why relationships are the currency of the experience economy. Businesses who can develop, cultivate, and stockpile relationships through engaging and interactive digital experiences will have a larger pool from which to draw repeat (and new) customers while everyone else is trying their hardest to get consumers to spend their attention.

You Can’t Have a Relationship With a Number…or a System.

As marketing has embraced digital (or maybe it’s as consumers have embraced digital and marketers have reacted to it) technology has becoming increasingly important. In many cases, marketers are caught up in the systems they use to generate the leads that drive the business. But that is just as dehumanizing as referring to people as leads or prospects in the first place. Which, of course, jeopardizes developing the relationships that are needed to succeed in the experience economy. Because with that focus on graphs and analytics, marketers stop thinking about the people to whom they are delivering their content. They only think of leads and growth and pipeline.

They ignore that most fundamental aspect of developing a relationship: engagement.

Is It Really That Bad?

Some marketers would say that it’s not. Their job, they would say, is to drive business growth. I would argue that they are no more than robots if that’s the case. Connecting with people through an organization’s brand is the greatest opportunity afforded to marketers by digital. For the first time they can really form one-to-one relationships with existing customers and people who are interested in becoming customers. It’s a global version of the corner store or the water cooler. People expose information about themselves in digital forums that they would never speak about face-to-face. And yet little is done to cultivate that.

Developing relationships with people can be an uncomfortable business. Marketers need to get uncomfortable.

Why Are Relationships So Important?

In a world full of noise, marketers must do something to separate themselves and their brand. Sometimes that may be a catchy marketing gimmick. Sometimes that may be an accidental campaign gone viral. But for the most part it will be something that fundamentally touches the core of what makes us human: connection. As humans we want to be a part of something. A neighborhood. A political party. A family. And that is no less in the digital world. In fact, digital exacerbates it by making connectivity easier. In all that noise and clutter that is becoming online, to whom will people turn when they are looking to make a purchase or subscribe to a service? To the marketer with the catchy jingle? Or to the marketer that is connecting and engaging with them through Facebook, blogs, email, and more?

In the experience economy, relationships are the new currency. At the heart of relationships is engagement. Engagement is personal.

The First Step to Humanizing Marketing

I admit this is a bit of a fluffy post. But it’s been weighing on me. Marketers have this great opportunity to actually talk with people through their digital marketing and yet, instead, they focus on programs and campaigns and a lot of that “broadcast marketing” mentality.

So the first step to humanizing marketing? Stop thinking about leads and pipeline and acquisition and start thinking about engagement. Talk with people through posts and tweets. Send personalized email. Develop trust and credibility by providing content that is helpful (not product focused). This is why persona-based marketing is so important. When you see your targets not as targets but as people (which is possible when you “put yourself in their shoes”) you have a much greater appreciation of

A New Way to Measure?

There have been a lot of services hitting the marketing industry offering to help manage social engagement. Of course, social is only one way to engage with people. But they bring with them the beginnings of a new paradigm: measuring engagement. Of course, the beginning is just that. And the offerings are shallow. What marketers need is a way to quantify the value of a relationship:

  • how deep is the person’s network?
  • how often do they talk about my brand to their network?
  • through what content do they engage with me most?
  • what was my last engagement with them?
  • what kind of conversations do they want to have?

When the marketing industry can develop software to help quantify the value of a relationship, we can take the second step towards humanizing marketing.

The Second Step to Humanizing Marketing

Where the first step is pretty easy (if not time-consuming), the second step is hard. We have to convince a global economy that relationships with people are the best long-term strategy for continued growth and success. That’s right. It’s not short-term pipeline that will make the company succeed. It’s the trust, credibility, and customization provided by a humanized approach to marketing that will build the business of the future. It’s people.

Doing this will require educating executives that short-term leads are counter-productive to long-term growth. The pipeline will fill. The leads will generate. But it has to be done naturally, through establishing a relationship, or it comes off as just a clinical activity involving systems and spreadsheets.

The Middle Ground?

Okay, so I would be remiss if I didn’t admit that there is a place for lead-generation marketing activity. Let’s face it, some people don’t want a relationship. They just want to get in and get out. Marketing, then, should be about building a layered approach. For those that just need the facts, that just want the information so they can decide themselves, that just want to buy, treat them like they want to be treated. Like a number. One could argue that by giving them what they want marketers are actually establishing a relationship with them as well (albeit utilitarian).

But this approach can’t be the dominate layer. Again, long-term business success in the experience economy is all about establishing relationships and connecting with people so that you become the place where they spend their attention. But a combination of tactics actually enables marketers to satisfy existing business requirements (i.e., lead generation, conversion, and pipeline growth) while practicing the humanization of their craft…and demonstrating how deep, intimate relationships with online users can actually generate much more success than focusing just on the numbers.

Go Forth…and Humanize!

Okay, in addition to being a little fluffy, this post (and my position) is a bit Utopian. But successful marketers are already changing. Just look at the trend towards storytelling (the foundation of any good experience).

Marketing is going to change. Do marketers all need to get around a campfire and sing Kumbaya? No. But if marketers fail to understand that they must treat their audience as people who want to have some kind of relationship (and not be considered just a number) they will get lost in the noise.

This blog post is from  http://www.rethinkeverythingblog.com/2017/10/22/humanizing-marketing/

Marketing 3.0StrategyStrategy planning & executionTourism marketing

Creating a Baseline to Measure Your New Marketing Results

Tourism marketing is an exciting activity. We also know that marketing can be a stressful activity, especially when asked to prove the worth of marketing activities or to justify the budget & spending by the CEO. More so, someone anonymous has famously said, “You cannot manage what you cannot measure”. So do not worry; we’ve got you covered.

In the simplest definition, marketing is concerned with conveying the value of a product or a service offered by a firm through a variety of activities to a potential customer. This in turn, generates a demand, ending in a sale for that product or service. In a nutshell, marketing triggers demand, and demand triggers sales. Marketing, just like other business activities should be planned, and a planning cycle usually follows these following four stages:

Esquema marketing

The first stage is concerned with the current situation, and the second stage is concerned with the desired positioning for the firm or its products. The strategy emerges out of the gap between the first two stages and informs a strategic direction. The third stage, “How do we get there?”, simplifies the strategy into attainable goals, and sets objectives and targets to measure marketing activities to reach the desired positioning. The fourth stage, “Are we getting there?”, measures the marketing activities in relation to the goals and analyzes if the planned activities are helping accomplish the strategic vision. This analysis helps create the new “current situation”, and the planning cycle repeats itself.

It is crucial to continuously pursue marketing activities in this planning framework as it helps a firm to be innovative and remain competitive in the marketplace. The importance of planning for marketing is indisputable. However, it is equally crucial that the baseline created to measure your new marketing results is suitable for your firm or it’s offerings due to the uniqueness of each entity. The three steps to measuring your success are: a) Define success: KPIs, b) Track your performance, and c) Measure your performance against the KPIs. They are discussed more in detail below:

  1. Define success: the key performance indicators

Since the marketing strategy and activities will vary from business to business, it is essential for a business to define what “success” means to them in practical terms and how it will be measured. This means, that a firm should design key performance indicators and set relevant targets for each. A key performance indicator (KPI) evaluates success of a particular activity. Therefore, depending upon your Marketing initiatives, key performance indicators should be designed tailored to your needs.

To design a KPI, one should ask two questions: what is our strategic or operational objective by pursuing this activity, and how do we know that we are meeting that objective. For example: If the operational objective of a business is to reach 25-30 year old market for sales to a theatre dinner via Facebook ad, the KPIs will be “The number of 25-30 year old consumers reached via Facebook ad”, and “the number of tickets sold to consumers in the age category of 25-30”.

  1. Track your performance

Upon defining success, one should ensure that proper metrics are in place to track your performance overtime. Once again, the metrics will vary activity by activity, and they will need to be customized in accordance to your KPIs. For example, your sales system can generate a report on the 25-30 year old market to see how you performed and Facebook metrics can inform how vast your reach was. Another example is an excel spreadsheet to track your social media reach. See example below:

Quadre sobre marketing

However, depending on the KPIs, new tools and methods of data collection will be required to track your performance.

  1. Measure your performance against the KPIs

Once you input the data into the tracking system, you can compare it against your KPIs to see the progress and/or if the marketing efforts have materialized. This step is the moment of truth as it informs the new “current situation”, and takes you back to the stage 1 of the continuous planning cycle. This step allows you to understand which activities worked and which ones did not, you can uncover trends & patterns, see if the strategy you set out to achieve is feasible and working, or if the firm needs to rethink the targets or the key performance indicators. The results from the analysis inform new choices for the firm, which are vital for maintaining competitiveness in the market.

In summary, a firm needs to define “success”, design KPIs, track their performance as needed, and measure it to see the impact of the marketing efforts.

This blog post is from http://www.solimarinternational.com/resources-page/blog/itemlist/tag/Marketing%20Training

Marketing 3.0StrategyTourism marketing

Is Your Tourism Marketing Tapping into Visitor Feelings?

This article is written by Bill Baker, Chief Strategist at Total Destination Marketing, author, speaker, and blogger at “Small City Branding around the world”

Along my career as Marketing Consultant I have observed how successful places focus on delivering emotional and social benefits. They are concerned by how they will make people feel, rather than relying on boring lists, facts and details. I recently came across similar comments by brand strategist Megan Kent where she said, “Marketers haven’t been using all the tools available to them because they assume that consumers make decisions rationally. While the rational, or ‘thinking’ part of the brain does play a role, it’s most often there to simply validate, or put into words a decision that our subconscious mind has already made for us.” Exactly!

Megan goes on to explain, “In order to reach the neo-cortex, i.e. the ‘thinking’ brain, our messages need to first pass muster with the older parts of our brain, the parts that are far more primal and emotionally oriented.”

We see this at work when visitors make decisions and purchases. Yet, it’s amazing how many places still try to promote themselves by using uninteresting lists of local attractions, businesses and services. While this information does have a role later in their decision-making, it is rarely important at an early stage when prospects are forming their initial awareness and preference for a place.  Lists alone don’t make emotional connections. Prospective visitors first need to be convinced of what is appealing and special about the place, and how it’s going to make them feel.

“Science now tells us that the data stored in our subconscious minds (our feelings, memories, emotions) are the primary drivers in 90% of the decisions that we make. So it turns out that ‘going with our gut’ isn’t just a once-in-a while phenomenon. The truth is we actually ‘go with our gut’ almost all of the time. As Nobel Prize winning psychologist Daniel Kahneman puts it, ‘we think much less than we think we think,’” Megan added.

Megan was one of the architects for Brand USA, America’s first global tourism campaign. “We knew that if we used a rational approach to selling the USA, we’d come up against foreigner cynicism, especially regarding U.S. foreign policy and immigration restrictions. But by using a completely non-verbal, emotional approach, the campaign has surpassed target goals.”

Are your marketing communications aimed at the “thinking” or the “feeling” parts of your customers’ brains?

Article reposted with permission from http://citybranding.typepad.com/city-branding/page/2/

Collaborative business modelsMarketing 3.0StrategyTourism trends

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 blog post is from  http://www.visionesdelturismo.es/turismo-colaborativo/

 

Business trendsCollaborative business modelsCollaborative cultureEnvironmental sustainabilityMarketing 3.0

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

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

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

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

Public–Private Partnerships in Geotourism Programs

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

Public–Private Partnerships in Conservation

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

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

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

Co-creationCollaborative business modelsCollaborative cultureMarketing 3.0Tourism marketing

How to Involve Locals in Destination Management & Marketing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let National Geographic help you – Natchez Democrat

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

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

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

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Marketing 3.0StrategyStrategy planning & executionSustainabilityTourism trends

The Evolution of Destination Management

In the 1950s, before affordable jetliners helped to launch the modern-day tourism explosion, the world experienced 25 million international tourism arrivals a year. Today, as the world population has grown significantly and people, on the whole, have more disposable income, that number has jumped over 1 billion. Before the advent of the Internet, destinations tended to focus mainly on promotion to maximize visitation. In an era when trip choices were more limited, promotion was often all that was needed to capture the visitor dollar. Now, however, travel options have increased exponentially, and the impact of technology has dramatically altered the provision of visitor information, both prior to and after arriving at a destination.

Tourism destinations have begun to appreciate the need to better manage the whole visitor experience as they realize that success can translate into repeat visits, longer stays, increased spending and positive word of mouth. The Internet has brought much more information to the traveler’s fingertips, making destination management even more important. Destinations must be better organized and promote themselves more effectively and more often to stay ahead of the curve.

According to the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), the role of governance in tourism is undergoing a shift from a traditional public sector model that promotes government policy to a more corporate model that emphasizes efficiency, return on investments, the role of the market, and partnership between public and private sectors. Regarding the last of these, there has been a greater emphasis on public/private partnerships in recent years as destinations learn that both parties must be equally involved.

In response, destination management organizations (DMOs) have begun to form comprised of both public and private sector stakeholders. DMOs are often the only true advocates for a holistic tourism industry in a place, and in this role, they ensure the mitigation of tourism’s negative impacts to the environment and local communities as well as the sharing of opportunities for a vibrant exchange of people. In fact, a DMO may best serve to facilitate dialogue among the private sector, public sector, and other stakeholders that may otherwise never collaborate or understand how their decisions reverberate down a destination’s long tourism value chain.

So what have we as tourism development professionals learned in the past 50 years? How have we evolved into better destination managers? Better organization, equal inclusion of the private and public sectors, and building local capacity all contribute to making tourism more sustainable. Here are some basic lessons we’ve learned:

Communication counts. Residents need to understand why the historic site or natural landscape they see every day represents a potentially important economic benefit for them. Managers need to understand locals’ needs and concerns. Tourists need to learn the significance of what they see, why and how they can help preserve it. It is best when locals help with this interpretation, as the process increases their ownership of the story. And finally, the rest of the world needs to understand the value of the place. No better messengers exist than those enthusiastic home comers with travel stories to tell.

Planning counts. Without planning and public education, the incentive to protect can easily degenerate into mere exploitation. There is a need to see the whole picture from the beginning and focus on long-term goals throughout the process.

Management counts. Just letting tourism happen likely leads to trouble, especially when visitation soars. Dispersing tourists and timing their access can mitigate crowding. Encouraging tourists to stay overnight instead of making quick day trips can increase local economic benefits. High-quality tourism rather than high-volume tourism conserves rather than exploits.

Individuals count. Behind institutional reports and government memos hides a key reality: individuals make huge differences. Success or failure easily depends on a dedicated local person working tirelessly to inspire others, organize them, and keep the process moving.

Communities count. People who live in gateways hold the key to create a “virtuous circle,” whereby tourism’s contribution to the economy generates incentives to conserve the resources that keep tourists coming. It may be necessary to have some kind of forum, such as a sustainable tourism stewardship council. Top-down schemes imposed from the outside don’t work well, if at all. Locals must own part of the process.

It is uplifting to watch destinations and industry practitioners begin to understand how best to harness the power of tourism and use it for better, not worse.

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Environmental sustainabilityStrategyStrategy planning & executionSustainabilityThird sector and social sustainability

Destination Management Planning Initiative for the Colonial City of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

Tourism contributes significantly to the inflow of people and to the infrastructure development at cultural heritages. It is both a duty and an act of self-interest for the tourism industry to be invested in the conservation of these heritage sites. This cannot be handled by an external force; rather, the local stakeholders need to embrace the concept of sustainable tourism management using a “destination approach”.

Local destination management organizations (DMO) are usually in the best position to advocate holistic tourism development. They work to facilitate communication between different types of stakeholders, as well as to present commercial and community demands to policy-makers. For cultural heritage sites, without economic investment it can be difficult to maintain conservation of the site from internal and external pressures. For that same reason, destination management cannot effectively be carried out without the involvement of the local community. To do so, consultants are usually hired, by carrying out a Destination Management Plan. In their work, they focus their efforts on the following goals:

  1. Enhanced understanding of the operational structure and understanding of the potential of a DMO by local managers and other stakeholders.
  2. Active use by local asset managers and guides of the tools for development and implementation of a Sustainable Tourism Strategy.
  3. Increased knowledge of local managers on structuring tourism management using a “destination” approach.
  4. Integration of all the parties involved in the planning, development and management of sustainable tourism, using a destination approach for the conservation and empowerment of local communities.
  5. Implementation of the proposed governance structure for the DMO, achieving interagency agreements and work commitments.
  6. Design and implementation of mechanisms for the operation of the proposed governance structure.
  7. Development of an Action Plan as a basis for the strategic implementation of the Sustainable Tourism Strategy and Strategy for the Development of a DMO.

These goals will be achieved in part by hosting some workshops in order to:

  • Conduct a thorough analysis of the current situation based on an analytical framework for sustainable tourism;
  • Create a shared, strategic vision, mission, and priorities for a DMO for the Colonial City; and
  • Develop a comprehensive strategy for the management of sustainable tourism that unites all Colonial City stakeholders around a common vision.

To achieve the Colonial City’s conservation, economic and social objectives there first needs to be a shared vision. The Colonial City, the place where native, European and African cultures had their first encounter and left their combined marks, has suffered from natural disasters and most importantly, human impact. Land conversion, the development of underground transport, visitation facilities and tourism itself are taking a toll on the old city.

A successful strategy is one that was developed by the people who will be implementing it. Upon completion of the analysis of the current situation and after achieving consensus on the vision for the Colonial City and the DMO, the Sustainable Tourism Strategy and Strategy for the Development of a DMO will be drafted. The strategies will emphasize the promotion and protection of cultural assets in the destination management practices, as they are crucial in attracting higher-spending tourist segments and maximizing tourist contribution.

The destination management planning development and implementation aims to minimize the possible negative impacts of tourism, improve economic and social development, and preserve cultural heritage sites so that they can share their tales for many more years to come.

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