Category: Strategy

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

Marketing 3.0StrategyTourism marketing

The power of persuasion: how travel influencers can become a DMO’s new best friend

Energetic, dynamic, imaginative and flexible. Increasing numbers of travel brands are discovering the value of building long-term relationships with travel influencers, and tapping into their problem-solving abilities too.

Getting paid to travel, discover the best of every destination and tell the world about it sounds like the ultimate job, doesn’t it? Until recently it wasn’t considered a job so much as a passion indulged by nomadic creatives with a gift for photography and the ability to run an attractive blog. Today that’s changing rapidly as the best travel influencers take on a professional status in the world of destination marketing and carry out a job that’s worth paying for.

However, as destination marketing organizations are increasingly required, for a variety of reasons, to shift their focus to destination management we believe that there’s a role for travel influencers can help in that process. We also know that the best travel influencers can be instrumental in helpful for them – as travel industry professionals- to get a better understanding of where they fit in the picture. To bring both groups together and chart the way ahead, TOPOSOPHY was recently invited to run the Think Tank at the Social Travel Summit (STS) 2016.

For two days in September the event brought an exclusive gathering of tourism professionals, leading travel bloggers and online influencers from around the world to the picturesque city of Inverness. I’ve got to admit that I’ve always been jealous of what travel influencers do (and you probably are too), but it became very clear during the event that these people really do care about the destinations that they work with, and when it comes to digital content creation and distribution, they really know their stuff. It’s surprising that more DMOs and travel brands of all sizes haven’t yet fully understood their value.

It also struck me how many genuine friendships had built up between the travel influencers and DMOs who attended, and how, when this relationship works well, the destination and its local businesses seem to genuinely benefit. However it has got to be said that with changing politics, shifting priorities and trimmed budgets, DMOs can sometimes take the role of a friend in need of a helping hand. One of the reasons TOPOSOPHY was invited to host the Think Tank at STS Inverness is that we’ve understand the challenges that DMOs face, and we wanted to help both sides work out how they can best support each other in the future.

Firstly, one of the biggest hurdles that DMOs face is allocating resources to working with travel influencers in the first place. Management and political decision makers can be skeptical about both the reach of the influencer’s content and the ethics of being writer, editor, and marketer all-in-one. While analytics software becomes increasingly sophisticated and great steps are being taken to professionalize the world of travel influencers (e.g. through the Code of Standards and Ethics for Professional Travel Bloggers), there is still much work to be done on articulating the value of travel influencers beyond the statistics. This is where those at the Think Tank underlined the importance of building long-term relationships rather than ‘one-night stands’. It’s only after working for a period of time with a particular destination that a travel influencer can really tap into its soul and relay this artfully to their audience. It also keeps readers engaged as they see that the influencer is a real specialist in the destination. Long-term relationships also build up goodwill, which can help a lot when DMOs need a hand with spare photos, videos and content sharing months after a particular campaign or fam trip. Just as you would with your own best friends, it means choosing the right travel influencer to begin with.

Secondly, as DMOs work more with local businesses – involving them in major decisions, providing training courses or working as part of a business cluster, travel influencers have a useful role to play. I noticed how many travel influencers complained about how they produce attractive and highly shareable content (the kind of thing which would cost an individual business a lot of time and money to produce), but local businesses don’t share it or weren’t aware the influencer was in town in the first place. By preparing well, and including time to meet and greet local business owners, the DMO can help this key stakeholder group to understand better what they’re doing, get more involved in the project, and maybe pick up some social media tips along the way!

Finally, as we recently identified, challenges like ‘overtourism’ are really putting the strain on many destinations, especially in Europe. While the causes and solutions to this problem are very complex, we believe that travel influencers can play a very important role in raising awareness of alternative destinations and attractions and giving practical info on how to get there. It’s something we explained in more detail in last month’s blog post. Running fam trips off-season, including attractive daytrips and giving the travel influencer more time to explore freely (rather than make them stick to a rigid itinerary) can all help too.

Working with travel influencers: quick tips

If you’re looking for good advice on how to get the most from working with travel influencers, check out our list of seven top tips from our own Blogger Outreach Expert Kash Bhattacharya. 

Tailor made advice, just for you

As one of our selection of high-quality keynotes and workshops, Kash can provide tailor-made advice to suit your destination and local partners in a full or half-day format. We can also assist you on a longer-term basis with our blogger outreach services to source and select the right travel influencers for your brand, and provide training to help you and your partners to get the most out of the relationship.

Social Travel Summit Think Tank – Full Report

The full Think Tank report will be launched at WTM London in a special session Digital and Influencer Marketing Developments and Trends at 2:45pm on Wednesday 9th November (location: WTM Inspire Theatre EU475). It will be freely available online shortly after.

 This blogpost is from    http://www.toposophy.com/insights/insight/?bid=434

Collaborative business modelsCollaborative cultureEnvironmental sustainabilitySustainabilityThird sector and social sustainability

Voluntourism, beyond responsible tourism

Responsible tourism, Voluntourism, Sustainable tourism…are different concepts with a common idea: the tourism activity in which the visitor brings positive impacts to the destination, either to alleviate poverty, to help in the development of the local economy, rebuilding areas affected by natural catastrophe, etc.

With regards to the kind of people interested in these types of tourism activities, they are not all moved by the same motivations and goals. The visitor travels either passively (holiday trip + sightseeing), actively (holiday trip + volunteering) or as a volunteer (volunteering trip).

Nowadays, Latin America and Asia are the continents offering most of these programs. There are both outbound and incoming travel agencies specialized in this type of tourism, and some tour operators have developed business units based on responsible tourism, whereas in Africa volunteering holiday programs are more popular than responsible tourism programs.

Also in Eastern Europe some countries are discovering in this type of tourism a new source of revenue for its poorest regions. Other Western countries such as the USA, Germany, France, Spain or Italy have also included strategies for the development of volunteering tourism products in their tourism development plans.

These type of holiday programs let the visitor truly discover the local culture, staying in local homes or accommodation facilities managed by locals, visiting the destination and cooperating in different social projects. Some examples may be:

  • Helping in building homes for refugees or in the poorest areas of the destination
  • Working as a teacher in primary schools or supporting in sport camps for children
  • Cooperating with an NGO dealing with the victims of a natural catastrophe
  • Participating in an ecotourism program where to work in the preservation of the environment

Some portals like Xmigrations.com work as a search engine for activities and accommodation where you may find nature, sport and spiritual activities in places where you can work in exchange for a free stay.

http://www.visionesdelturismo.es/turismo-solidario-y-volunturismo/

Business model innovationCollaborative business modelsCollaborative cultureInnovationTourism trends

Dinner at my home? It’s 30 Euros

What is a SMART destination? These may be defined in many ways. They are destinations that think and advance strategically, improving competitiveness and searching positioning through effectiveness. Becoming a SMART is no more than a strategy to enhance the destination value by leveraging both the cultural and natural heritage, developing innovative resources, improving the efficiency in the production processes and the distribution, which finally propels the sustainable development. This transformation generates positive effects in all sub-sectors such as energy, health services, security, culture, etc. thanks to the cross-destination impact of the tourism activity.

The key concepts that set SMART destinations apart from conventional ones are accessibility, innovation, technology and sustainability. Among these concepts, new technologies are the ones which are more likely to be perceived by the tourist, namely mobile applications, augmented reality and everything related to data smart management.

There are 4 key concepts upon which Smart destinations are developed:

  • Technology/Big Data
    • Innovation
    • Sustainability: social, economic, cultural and environmental
    • Accessibility

The development of the SMART concept in destinations consists mainly in working to attain a higher profitability in the daily exploitation of the resources. This is to be achieved by engaging both the local community and the tourists in order to enhance interaction between them. There are already some examples of Smart destinations, such as El Hierro island in the Canary Archipelago. Some of its main achievements are the energetic self-sufficiency and the pollution reduction, which have been achieved through actions such as:

  • Waste converted into energy
  • Environment camouflage of telecom and energy facilities and equipment (solar panels, antenna, etc.) within the landscape.
  • Reduction of the visual impact in the buildings and facilities construction, by using local volcanic stone instead of bricks.
  • It has gained awareness and branding by sharing and marketing its experiences in the social networks.

Other actions carried out in SMART destinations encompass:

  • Mobile Applications
  • Tourism Intelligence System, including data transportation and information Smart management, which altogether turn the destination into a SMART destination.
  • Smart office; a common working place where to unify processes which produces a work synergy and allows sense and common methodology guidelines in the transformation towards an intelligent city.
  • Beaches with free wifi

It is important to mention Singapore Smart City, which is on the way to become the first SMART nation worldwide. The country is working on its Master Plan for the next 10 years, which will be focused on the development of smart communities propelled by integration and innovation.

This blogpost is based on http://www.visionesdelturismo.es/smart-destinations/

Business model innovationCollaborative business modelsInnovationTourism trends

Guides that are not guides

As has happened with the accommodation business, namely with Airbnb, the collaborative platform business model is also developing in the tourist guides business. I have personally experienced one of these platform’s services in the city of Prague.

Thanks to these platforms it is no longer strange that the tourists are offered free guided tours in great urban destinations, without any trick. In my case, I used the services of Sandeman’s New Europe, which is already present in 18 cities. At the beginning of the tour, the guide explained that his income comes from tips, and so it was not mandatory to pay even 1 Euro.

The tour lasted more than 3 hours and it was really entertaining, with good quality content. The guide was brilliant and received quite a lot of tips. But, attracted by the quality of this Guided tour, the day after I did another one, but paying. This business works actually like a freemium model.  In fact, there are many more businesses offering free guided tours in Prague. And they have their rivalry moves, like guerrilla marketing actions, competing for the best locations, etc.

But this new fashion not only takes place in the large cities. The Greeters movement is emerging also in smaller cities, like Bilbao. The first company operating this business model in Bilbao is actually called Bilbao Greeters, and is part of the international network Global Greeters Network. The Greeters are locals offering guided tours with the authenticity of a local resident’s knowledge and perspective, who knows the traditions, habits and secrets beyond the usual tourist information available. In the Basque Country the Tourist Guides are not regulated, and so there cannot be any conflict in this case. Unlike in the previous case of “New Europe”, the Greeters are not professional guides and do not accept tips.  However, to make a booking you need to be registered as partner, which costs 12€ per year.

Finally, there are many online platforms allowing people to offer their tourist services worldwide. Besides platforms such as Vayable, Viator or Isango, marketing all kind of experiences –from guided tours to cooking lessons-, there are many others offering guided visits by the destination’s residents.

Local Guiding is a platform oriented to “changing the way people travel, experiencing the local life as it is, not like the conventional tourism agencies pretend it to be”. They are already offering guided tours in more than 20 Spanish destinations.

Tours by locals are the veterans in this sector, as they have been operating since 2008 from their headquarters in Vancouver. They nowadays offer guided tours in many countries worldwide.

Like a local is the concept developed through a mobile application. Destination residents contribute to editing the local guide with recommendations, advice, routes, etc. and obtain revenue from the application’s management firm.

Finally, there is the Spanish portal called Ciceroner , promising to offer “unique and personal experiences, the only ones that can be really different and memorable”. It is still in Beta development phase, but it already offers a considerable amount of products in many destinations. It gives the option to gift the guided tours just like Smartbox and many others, but promising a superior experiential value.

As we can see, it is an emergent business model, with many suppliers and intermediaries operating in the market. However, this new fashion business model arouses many questions:

  • Is it just a fashion or a new reality?
  • Are these services for specific segments or for all types of visitors?
  • Is it necessary to further regulate this type of businesses to ensure a fair competition with the traditional models, or should they be given free regin instead?
  • Are these new models going to operate in urban destinations only, or they are likely to operate in beach destinations traditionally dominated by tour-operators?
  • Do these business models affect somehow the destinations’ image? Should the DMOs do something to get some profit from it or to manage it for branding purposes?

I invite you to reflect upon these questions, and encourage you to give your opinion

This blogpost is from http://www.visionesdelturismo.es/guias-que-no-son-guias/

Business trendsEnvironmental sustainabilityInnovationIntelligenceIntelligence methods

Smart destinations

What is a SMART destination? These may be defined in many ways. They are destinations that think and advance strategically, improving competitiveness and searching positioning through effectiveness. Becoming a SMART is no more than a strategy to enhance the destination value by leveraging both the cultural and natural heritage, developing innovative resources, improving the efficiency in the production processes and the distribution, which finally propels the sustainable development. This transformation generates positive effects in all sub-sectors such as energy, health services, security, culture, etc. thanks to the cross-destination impact of the tourism activity.

The key concepts that set SMART destinations apart from conventional ones are accessibility, innovation, technology and sustainability. Among these concepts, new technologies are the ones which are more likely to be perceived by the tourist, namely mobile applications, augmented reality and everything related to data smart management.

There are 4 key concepts upon which Smart destinations are developed:

-Technology/Big Data
-Innovation
-Sustainability: social, economic, cultural and environmental
-Accessibility

The development of the SMART concept in destinations consists mainly in working to attain a higher profitability in the daily exploitation of the resources. This is to be achieved by engaging both the local community and the tourists in order to enhance interaction between them. There are already some examples of Smart destinations, such as El Hierro island in the Canary Archipelago. Some of its main achievements are the energetic self-sufficiency and the pollution reduction, which have been achieved through actions such as:

  • Waste converted into energy
  • Environment camouflage of telecom and energy facilities and equipment (solar panels, antenna, etc.) within the landscape.
  • Reduction of the visual impact in the buildings and facilities construction, by using local volcanic stone instead of bricks.
  • It has gained awareness and branding by sharing and marketing its experiences in the social networks.

Other actions carried out in SMART destinations encompass:

  • Mobile Applications
  • Tourism Intelligence System, including data transportation and information Smart management, which altogether turn the destination into a SMART destination.
  • Smart office; a common working place where to unify processes which produces a work synergy and allows sense and common methodology guidelines in the transformation towards an intelligent city.
  • Beaches with free wifi

It is important to mention Singapore Smart City, which is on the way to become the first SMART nation worldwide. The country is working on its Master Plan for the next 10 years, which will be focused on the development of smart communities propelled by integration and innovation.

This blogpost is based on http://www.visionesdelturismo.es/smart-destinations/

Business model innovationCollaborative business modelsInnovationMarketing 3.0Strategy

The innovation challenge in destinations

Research and innovation will have a fundamental role in the competitive improvement of destinations. Any policy for the destination development has to include a vision and an innovative orientation that brings some sort of competitive advantage.

In the Spanish economy, the tourism industry has proved to be one of the most dynamic sectors, which generates multiplying effects in the local economies in all sub-sectors directly and indirectly related to tourism. This multiplying effect together with the sector’s evolution worldwide has contributed decisively to increase competition, which in turn makes the industry develop strategies oriented towards the improvement of its competitiveness.

The new market after the changes in the offer and demand, requires tailored services and activities, with high quality standards, which makes attaining customer satisfaction more difficult than ever before. In this regard, tourism offer has to be organized according to the targeted market segments requirements in order to be successful. Unlike in past times, market penetration, promotion, price setting, product quality and quantity are variables defined by the demand and not by the offer, for it is necessary that the service and activity production in the tourism sector takes into consideration this new scenario, and so new destination models restructuring the links and relationships between stakeholders are being developed.

In any case, research and innovation will have a fundamental role in the destination’s competitiveness improvement. Any action for the successful development of the destination has to include a vision and an innovative orientation that can generate some kind of competitive advantage. The main challenges to foster competitiveness in destinations are the following:

Innovate in mechanisms and cooperation formulas and strategic partnerships. It is basic to develop mechanisms that work both from the public and the private scope, to boost new cooperation models between businesses and public-private partnership, as a way to gain profitability, dimension and commitment in the development of the tourist sector.

Innovate to improve the sector’s competitiveness. There should be techniques and strategies to improve the business and the destination’s competitiveness. This includes the development of Innovation Plans for the improvement of business models, management models, service processes and the destination’s business marketing.

Innovate for the introduction of new tourism products and consolidating the profitability of the current ones. It will be necessary to foster the creation of unique tourism products based on new business models, build upon the capacities and unique resources of the destination, with a high experiential value, using the ICT and being socially and environmentally friendly.

Leverage the resources and hidden heritage. It is crucial to develop new formulas for leveraging tourism resources that are complementary to the traditional ones, unknown or unexploited, so as to achieve the profitable consolidation so long as they create an outstanding experience and expand the revenue streams.

Innovate in destination’s promotion and communication formulas. There is nowadays a communicational saturation, which makes it necessary to face the future with promotion innovative mechanisms which allow optimization of the destination’s visibility.

Innovate in tourism product marketing. There will have to be developed new methods and tools to market tourism products, in order to favor the sector’s competitive improvement and control the dependence on external channels, in a way that guarantees some influence power. In this context, it is fundamental to develop strategies to improve the intelligence and the knowledge of the products and its results, and the client and its consuming habits.

Innovate in client relationship formulas. The strategy will have to develop new client management formulas. Starting up innovative mechanisms to do CRM is vitally important not only to retain clients, but also to achieve a more effective marketing.

This blogpost is from http://www.visionesdelturismo.es/innovacion-de-los-destinos-turisticos/

Business model innovationCollaborative business modelsCollaborative culture

Collaborative tourism: is it an original business model?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Business trendsInnovationMarketing 3.0StrategyTourism marketing

Digital transformation in Tourism

The tourism industry is facing changes affecting the whole value chain, in both public and private sectors and to the whole system (demand, offer, markets and territory). In the coming ten years, the tourism industry is likely to generate new economic, social and environmental impacts through the digital transformation. More precisely, digitalization is impacting intensively and rapidly, forcing businesses to adapt to this environment of permanent transformation.

Digital transformation trends in tourism. There are four main technologies leading the digital transformation in the tourism industry:

  • Cloud: data collection, management and processing.
  • Mobile: platforms, services and applications for smartphones and tablets.
  • Internet of things: devices and objects connected to the internet.
  • Social: social networks through which the users participate, share and exchange contents and services.

And according to the report from the Orange Foundation about the digital transformation of the tourism sector in Spain, the main trends of the upcoming years are likely to be the following:

  1. New intermediation models. New agents have contributed to redesign the value chain, like the collaborative platforms (airbnb, uber, etc.)
  2. Technological platforms based upon cloud computing. Managing and processing Big data and Data Lake.
  3. The mobile. New tourism products and services to be consumed through the mobile devices.
  4. Internet of things. Wearable devices, Smart straps, beacons and chatbots are the main technology elements.
  5. Smart destinations. Appliance of advanced technologies under the denomination of Smart tourism destinations, Smart cities or Smart islands.
  6. Social networks. Also used as marketing tools.
  7. OTA’S and intermediation, search and comparison platforms, and e-commerce.
  8. Collaborative economy. Activity ecosystems where reputation becomes a fundamental business asset.
  9. Other technologies starting to gain protagonism in the tourism industry are geo-localization, virtual reality and augmented reality.
  10. Big data: The chances offered by many of the new technologies to generate and capture data.

In the digital transformation cross-sector process, tourism businesses have four main challenges to tackle:

  • People: new ways of working with human resources regarding communication and the need for skill development to adapt to the new realities, multiculturality, remote working, virtual teamworking, etc.
  • Infrastructures: incorporation of new digital tools.
  • Processes: new ways of using these new tools and working.
  • Systems: availability of environments which are adaptable in a way that allow businesses to design processes more rapidly.

Nowadays, most tourism organizations adopt the most sophisticated digital technology carrying out large investments in renewing their methods and tools, and there are also new collaborative models. However, the success will stay in being capable of having profiles with digital competences.

This blogpost is from  http://www.visionesdelturismo.es/transformacion-digital-en-turismo/

Business trendsEnvironmental sustainabilityStrategySustainabilityThird sector and social sustainability

Tourism business trends for 2017: Social responsibility is profitable

The UN Global Compact was born as an international Project created in 1999 whose mission was to initiate a global movement to create awareness among the sustainable businesses about the impacts created by their activities, so as to mitigate their negative consequences.

The key points of the initiative are developed upon some clearly defined goals:

  • Doing business responsibly, aligning strategies to the ten universally accepted principles to promote CSR in the areas of environment, labor rules, corruption prosecution, and human rights.
  • Make strategic decisions to develop UN Sustainable Development Goals, emphasizing on innovation and collaboration.

There are more than 13.000 supporting organizations in more than 145 countries, being the largest business social responsibility voluntary initiative worldwide.

One of the usual questions is whether CSR is profitable or not. According to the World Business Council for the Sustainable Development (WBCSD) there are five sources of profitability within SCR:

1. Operational efficiency: reducing waste, selling recyclable products, etc.
2. Risk reduction: taking care of the environment, developing anti-corruption practices, etc.
3. Human resources recruitment and retention: increasing productivity by attracting honest, committed and participative talents, and reducing their turnover.
4. Long term protection of raw materials’ sources: development of suppliers and improvement of the price and payment conditions.
5.  Demand growth: customer attraction and loyalty, and compliance with the large buyers’ requirements.

Far from considering Social Responsibility as a fashion trend or a mere philanthropic action, it is considered as a series of practices applied by firms, and that are part of their corporate strategy, as their goal is to minimize the business impacts and aims to create internal benefits for all the stakeholders.

Socially responsible businesses generate profits by improving their reputation. According to Adela Cortina –Director of the ETNOR Foundation about business ethics-, “social responsibility should be assumed as a management tool, a measure of prudence and an exigence of fairness”. However, there are not clear rules and universal criteria on how to apply Social Responsibility within the Corporate Strategy, letting its development be up to the business owner criteria.

Some of the tourism companies which adhere to the UN Global Compact for Responsible tourism are:

  • Ilunion Hotels.
  • Segittur – Turismo e Innovación.
  • Viajes El Corte Inglés.
  • The Ostelea School of Tourism and Hospitality

This blogpost is from   http://www.visionesdelturismo.es/tendencias-de-las-empresas-turisticas-en-el-2017-aplicar-la-responsabilidad-social-es-rentable/

Co-creationCollaborative business modelsCollaborative cultureInnovative cultureMarketing 3.0

Making collaboration efficient when face to face is not possible

As it has been explained in many posts, content and product co-creation is in the core of Marketing 3.0, though to leverage a significant share of the stakeholders’ creativity potential it is necessary to think of virtual co-creation methods, to complement co-creation workshops and other face to face activities. However, beyond the technological tools such as video-conference, it is necessary to know how to manage virtual co-creation. This article provides many clues to do so successfully.

Started as a simple experiment in social media, in 2010 composer and conductor Eric Whitacre called out to his online fans to record themselves singing “Sleep” by the British choir Polyphony and upload the result. Impressed by the result, he decided to push the concept to the next level by recording himself conducting ‘Lux Aurumque’, then asking fans to sing along to that. This way, the first Virtual Choir was created. The results of that experiment quickly became viral. Now with more than fifteen million views, the Virtual Choir phenomenon has reached all corners of the world, inspiring more and more singers to join each year.

Beyond its beauty and emotional impact, Virtual Choir also fascinated because its implications regarding the potential new uses for new communication technologies and as one of the first virtual experiences turned into something real. The Virtual Choir can also be considered as an important remainder for how businesses might overcome the challenges of virtuality to benefit from innovative and more efficient business processes, customer relationships or forms of production, from co-innovation and co-production to crowdsourcing, crowdfunding or open source.

Not even leaving the limits of a corporation or a company, working remotely can offer operational flexibility, happier employees and lower costs, but to team up virtually with colleagues and coworkers can also pose important challenges. As we know, truly efficient collaboration presents no few difficulties. Virtual collaboration raises even more added complications that require even more care. But as the concept of the extended enterprise becomes more common and most professionals can do their jobs from anywhere, the more critical becomes to get virtual teams right. But how?

Getting right four pillars for virtual collaboration

The answer is not easy. Different studies carried out during the last decade seem to conclude that most of virtual groups fail to satisfy the expectations of companies and their clients. In another study conducted by Deloitte some years ago most of CEO’s and other managers interviewed still considered face-to-face interaction much more productive that virtual communication, and nearly half of them admitted ignorance and confusion about collaboration technologies and their potential.

But some other experts consider is all about how these teams are managed. An Aon Consulting report found that dispersed teams, when run accordingly to this condition, could outperform those sharing the same office space (recording up to 43% higher efficiency). A study of 80 global software teams conducted by BCG and WHU-Otto Beisheim School of Management concluded that virtual teams can improve employee productivity when they are properly managed.

But, what do they mean by “properly managed” or “run accordingly to its virtual condition”? According to Keith Ferrazzi and based on his research and experience helping all sort of organizations as customers of his consulting firm, there are four critical elements to get right: right teams, right leadership, right technology and right touch points.

Size is important (the smaller, the better)

We have recently wrote in this blog about how important is to consider people mindset and attitude for working collaboratively beyond their professional knowledge and other skills. Ferrazzi agrees people should first of all be specially suited to work in virtual teams, backing for instance profiles with good communication skills or high emotional intelligence. But it is also equally important to put them into groups of the right size and implementing and clearly establishing and communicating the right roles for each one.

As we know, smaller groups facilitate collaboration. In the case of virtual teams, size should be even smaller than when face to face interaction is the norm (some studies suggest teams of 5-6 people and no more than 10 in any case). Team members reduce effort when they feel less responsible for output, but this fact can equally be applied to non-virtual teams. Collaboration between people not sharing a physical space should pay special attention to ensure inclusive communication, a quality harder to achieve the bigger the virtual group is.

Good leadership amplified

Managers can maximize the productivity of virtual teams also by developing the right leadership. Again, this is a quality to apply to every teamwork, no matter if virtual or not. But right leadership must be amplified in virtual ones. A study of different engineering groups concluded that the virtual teams that performed best were those with managers with previous experience in leading such work groups.

Encouraging open dialogue, for instance, is particularly important in these cases. Leaders of dispersed groups in particular must push members to be frank with one another as the problems associated with lack of affinity are more common and severe for virtual teams. For similar reasons, virtual collaboration requires an extra effort fostering trust among co-workers. Ferrazzi mentions the case of a fully virtual organization that encourage new hires to offer video tours of their work spaces, allowing colleagues to mentally picturing their surroundings in later communications. Managers also push their team members to share personal news as a way to compensate the lack of the common chat about their lives that usually takes place sooner or later when a physical office is shared.

Special care is also recommended about clarifying goals and guidelines and establishing a common purpose or vision (explaining and repeating often the reason of working together and the benefits that will result of that). Particularly vital in the case of virtual teams are guidelines about interaction between members. For instance, multitasking on conference calls should be banned, as full attention is needed when using communication technologies that are not able to fully replace the subtle signals of personal interaction beyond a voice.

Not leaving it all to virtuality

Fostering touch points is also critical. Virtual teams should come together as often as possible. To do so, some specific stages of the working process are more important than others. Kickoff should be one of these for sure, using a first face to face meeting to star working in some of the key points mentioned (clarifying team goals or encouraging trust, for instance). If any proper project management establishes milestones, when dealing with virtual team leaders can leverage them to get people together for celebrating achievement of short-term goals or cracking problems.

And last but not least, efficient virtual collaboration also depends on using the right technology. According to Ferrazzi, even top-notch virtual teams can fail due to poor technology. In this case, recommendations are not so much about detailed features as about fulfilling general needs especially critical in the case virtual interactions. For instance, facilitating automatic transcriptions or records with a simple click, making easy to search for this content in a database or, while using the right tool for each mission, favor technologies that better help to reproduce face to face interaction (videoconferencing instead of a phone call, for example).

This post is from http://www.co-society.com/making-collaboration-efficient-face-face-possible/