Category: Collaborative business models

Case studies and visions on how to shape collaborative models and partnerships, envisioning its benefits

Collaborative business modelsCollaborative cultureMarketing 3.0Strategy

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

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

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

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

Organizational changes in local administrations

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

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

Sharing experiences and knowledge

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

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

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

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

Sharing Standards

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

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

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

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

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

Collaborative business modelsIntelligenceStrategyTourism trends

The pressure is on for destinations to make the sharing economy work fairly for all

UBER and Airbnb were recently announced as the two most valuable travel startups in the world, recently valued at $40 billion and $20 billion respectively. Last year Airbnb processed nearly 1 million bookings per month, while UBER drivers took passengers on 1 million rides per day!

It’s not hard to see why hoteliers and taxi drivers around the globe are stepping up the pressure on legislators to clamp down on what may label as the ‘black economy’. In San Fransisco, the debate about the success of law enforcement and potential legislation revisions has already begun just one month after the short-term rental ordinance took effect, with both lawmakers and hosts expressing concerns about limited staff resources and complex registration procedures. In the meantime, Uber and Starwood have recently launched their own partnership, blurring the lines between traditional and contemporary providers of travel services by allowing travelers to accumulate Starpoints while riding with Uber drivers.

Legislation on short term accommodation rentals and local taxi transport is usually down to politicians at municipal or regional level to solve, and many have found themselves in legal deep water as they have struggled to meet the demands of hoteliers and taxi drivers, while being reluctant to shut off the flow of visitors who use and enjoy the flexibility and unique experiences that short term renting brings.

The above concerns and many more where echoed at ITB. Over the course of various seminars, directors of Europe’s top DMOs, hotel groups, limo firms, lawyers and representatives of the top sharing economy platforms got their chance to air their views on the sharing economy. CEO of VisitBerlin Bernard Kieker made his views clear: “We do not want Berlin to become an Airbnb city where local residents are priced out of their apartments” while acknowledging the additional streams of visitors that were coming to the city precisely because this option is currently available (though perhaps not on such a large scale for much longer).

CONTROVERSIAL, BUT ALSO SMART

Pierre-Dimitri Gore-Coty, General Manager for Western Europe of Uber explained his firm’s position in a different way: “Our main competitor is not the taxi driver, it is the very concept of car ownership”. With 1 billion cars on the planet only being used 4% of the time, Uber’s target customer is the customer who given up his or her own car in favor of shared rides. This raises the broader question of how sharing economy platforms can be used to help solve some destinations’ biggest problems, not least traffic congestion or hotel capacity during conference season.

While politicians argue over the subject (or try to look the other way), local residents continue to offer their accommodation to visitors and visitors get hooked on the practical benefits of using shared resources such as apartments, cars, bikes, boats and much else.

This blog post is from   http://www.toposophy.com/insights/insight/?bid=398

Collaborative business modelsTourism trends

Sharing economy and tourism: seeing the elefant in the room

With the aim of monitoring the growth and influence of sharing economy in the wider field of travel services, many institutions such as the Institute for Tourism Planning and Development from Portugal in their ‘Tourism Trends Review‘ have highlighted the impact and evolution of this phenomena:
As a new style of peer-to-peer (P2P) commerce, sharing economy does not merely involve an unusually large number of options for transport, accommodation, and recreation activities. It has also provoked a shift in role of service user and provider. In this environment, contemporary consumers can openly express their individual interpretations of tourism product uniqueness and authenticity as well as indulge themselves in an imaginative manner while moving around well-known and emerging destinations.

This issue was also discussed in 2015 during the 1st Semi-Annual Meeting of the European Travel Agents’ and Tour Operators’ Association with ECTAA and HOTREC representatives and Ms. Elżbieta Bieńkowska, European Commissioner for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs of the European Commission.

In the European Cities Marketing Annual meeting of CEOs of Capital and Major Cities 2015, was an occasion to examine latest destination trends at an influential policy level and focus on the respective impact of sharing economy stakeholders. In two sessions, brainstorming between ECM members and a vivid debate with Airbnb also shed light on what it takes for destination authorities and P2P platforms to work together and deal with issues of common interest over the provision and consumption of travel services. Particular emphasis was also given in exchanging views with representatives from Barcelona and Amsterdam, two cities which have already developed approaches to sharing economy and monitor their results.
It is a fact, however, that both these influential events were only the tip of the iceberg during a busy 2015 including relevant speaker engagements in countries such as Israel, Montenegro, Belgium, Estonia, Croatia, Greece, Portugal, Latvia, and the UK. In all these cases there were moments of great empirical value, especially when we were given the opportunity:

– To realize how market dynamics together with latest statements of UNWTO/EC officials put sharing economy on the spot in this year’s World Travel Market, while only on the sidelines last year.

– To take a look at the actual results of Tel Aviv’s recent partnership with Airbnb to promote the city in joint manner and exchange views with representatives from Barcelona and Amsterdam, two cities which have already developed approaches to sharing economy and monitor their results.

– To learn under what conditions sharing-economy friendly legislation has been in place for decades in Croatia and how hotels team up with BnB apartments and offer them concierge services.

To concentrate for the purpose of this blog post on HOTREC project, the key objectives of the policy paper were to understand the various issues that arise due to the fast growth Short-Term Private Accommodation Rentals (STR) and contribute to the development of a suitable regulatory environment to level the playing field.

When traveling for business or leisure, booking a private house or apartment to stay in via a P2P platform is seen as a trendy and affordable choice: booking, arriving, collecting the key and making oneself, quite literally ‘at home’. More importantly, a simple fact is already common knowledge.

Although the Global Economic Crisis reinforced an interest towards the more effective use of existing resources and the development of new sources of income, advances in technology such as social media and mobile devices accounted for the strongest driver of the sharing and trading of private assets particularly in the case of travel and tourism services.

To examine how the STR have evolved in recent years and transformed the ‘playing field’ for all those involved in offering visitor accommodation, HOTREC policy paper takes into account the following perspectives and international trends.

Business growth: From 2010 to 2015 venture capital firms have invested billions in the “sharing” economy start-ups, with the sectors of transportation and accommodation receiving the biggest shares of funds. Major companies such as Facebook and Amazon are also included lately among potential entrants to the “sharing” economy through the development of peer-to-peer services and partnership-building with existing start-ups.

Consumption patterns: Younger generations (Millennials are commonly identified as those born between 1980 and 1999, and who entered their teenage years as from the year 2000, putting them currently in the 18-35 age group) appreciate a lot customization in customer service at a global level as enabled by technological advancements. P2P Platforms have been effective in using global tools to enhance interaction between service providers and users at local level as well as in providing affordable options for value-seeking Millennials.

–  Entrepreneurial mobility: P2P platforms are  also providing a range of products and services for a new type of footloose global entrepreneur, often freelancing or part of a SME (of which there are now many more, in the wake of technological developments and the global economic crisis). “The way we think about long-term residents versus an emergent and more globalized and mobile population” is actually changing due to the growing appeal of P2P services in transportation, accommodation, and all sectors defining the business travel experience.

–  Forms of employment: P2P platforms provide alternative sources of income to individual service providers, who opt to work as micro-entrepreneurs of the freelance economy. A gradual transition from contractor to employee relationships is however less likely to happen in the accommodation sector, where properties are managed by their owners or tenants. The issue lies in that the sum of individual and commercial activity undercuts hotels on price. When there is also a negative effect on hotel revenues and jobs, it might be another case where technological progress has not yet proved to be a driver for jobs creation.

–  High-level policy making: The activity of the “sharing” economy start-ups has also drawn the attention of national governments and supra-national agencies. Elements of innovation are not rejected in principle, yet political parties in countries such the UK and Canada already participate in a vivid exchange of both positive and negative views on the “sharing” economy.

As these perspectives frame the discussion of various issues including terminology and scales of activity together with suggestions for legislative work, you can a have a look at the HOTREC Policy Paper if you’d like up-to-date knowledge on the agenda of Short-Term Private Accommodation Rentals or even share your thoughts with us.

This blogpost is from  http://www.toposophy.com/insights/insight/?bid=418

Collaborative business modelsCollaborative cultureCulture changeMarketing 3.0Tourism marketing

It Takes a Culture of Collaboration to Deliver a Place Brand

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

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

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

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

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

Business model innovationCollaborative business modelsCollaborative cultureInnovationTourism trends

Serving up a storm

What the sharing economy has done to accommodation and transport, it is now doing to food and fine dining.

Peru has been top of my wish-list for many years, and while the country’s stunning landscapes and rich Inca heritage were an obvious attraction, my main motivation to fly for nearly 13 hours from London to Lima was the country’s food.

The country may be seem quite remote for those of us in Europe or North America, but its cuisine has been undergoing a steady rise in popularity in big cities around the world. With a heavy emphasis on fresh produce, unique flavors and local ingredients, Peruvian food (and drink) really does stand out as one of the world’s finest.

By designing my trip around opportunities to try as many different foods in as many different settings as possible, I joined the many millions of travelers globally who are putting food at the center of their travel plans. This megatrend has certainly caught on around the world, to the extent that in its 2016 Megatrends report, Skift declared food as ‘the leading hook in travel’.

Increasing numbers of destinations and travel businesses are responding to this demand by using food to transform their brand image: just think of Copenhagen’s promotion of Danish cuisine on the back of the top-rated restaurant Noma, or the many airlines that are upgrading the food and drink they offer on board, flying dedicated chefs between continents to keep their customers happy and well-fed. Brand transformations and new food-tourism concepts are springing up on a daily basis, all fueled by mobile devices, P2P platforms and social media. Events that bring new places to eat and drink to the fore, such Dine Athens Restaurant Week by Diners Club bring locals and visitors together to share new food concepts every day. With so much going on, it can be hard to keep track of it all!

It’s time to come to terms with the fact that, just as with accommodation and transport, more and more individuals are starting to offer services and experiences directly to visitors, bypassing traditional tourism businesses such as bars and restaurants. Examples include meal-sharing platforms such as Withlocals or Eatwith, but there are many other platforms offering other concepts that connect travelers with food and drink. Just as we’ve seen with accommodation, the rapidly-growing numbers of travelers who go to strangers’ houses for dinner do it not for the novelty, but because they see it as part of their way of life. Consumers are also increasingly interested in their own diet, fitness and where their food comes from. These provide just a few reasons why this phenomenon is here to stay.
If increasing numbers of travelers are buying experiences directly from local people, and discovering the destination through the eyes of a local, then doesn’t it make sense for destination management and marketing authorities to get involved? Local people are rapidly becoming part of the destination’s brand and are taking on the promotion themselves.
While we believe that this is definitely something to be celebrated, it does raise some difficult questions over the role of local authorities in formally involving these local people in their destination marketing and management, as well as how they can ensure quality and safety for visitors. We understand that these are big questions to handle for DMOs that are short on time and resources, especially since the world of P2P platforms, their listings and partnerships grow and change so quickly.

To help answer these questions, last month Toposophy in partnership with European Cities Marketing produced a free, practical guide for DMOs on how to successfully integrate sharing economy services into what they do, and use it as a tool for improving how they manage destinations. It also gives tips on how to form partnerships with existing platforms, something which can potentially cause conflict with ‘traditional’ tourism service providers if not handled properly.

With this in mind, here’s a summary of the presentation to the CityFair audience in London:

  • Get involved: The sharing economy is here to stay, and consumers are rapidly converting to using the many services on offer. It’s in your interest and theirs to join the conversation.
  • Do an audit: Do a deep analysis of P2P platforms to understand how your destination is being promoted by local people, and how this fits (or not) with what you’re already doing
  • Set your policy goals: Thinking beyond tourism, what are your organization’s policy goals for local people, and how can you use P2P platforms to help support these through providing tourism services?
  • See the sharing economy as a useful management tool: Check out our detailed infographic to discover how the sharing economy can boost the visitor experience, as well as improving city management and local social cohesion.
  • Build partnerships based on your goals: Work with platforms and partners that are aligned with the policy goals (note: they’re not always directly linked to tourism experiences) that your organization wants to achieve. It’s fundamental to put local people first.
  • See tech as a way of putting your local cuisine on the world stage: Whether through events such as the Restaurant Week we ran in Athens or working with tour-guide apps to bring people to specific places, tech is providing a window for something that’s unique to your destination: the food, drink and the people who create it.

This blog post is from     www.toposophy.com/insights/insight/?bid=428

Collaborative business modelsIntelligenceTourism trends

How Airbnb has given local restaurants a boost

The AirBnB phenomenon was not a completely ground breaking concept. The concept of staying at a guesthouse and kipping in a spare room has been around for for centuries. The Pubs and Inns of the 1600’s often had a room for weary (and drunk) passers by to rest their tired souls in exchange for a shilling or two.

What AirBnB has done so well is use technology to make it easier for this to happen in advance of a stay and allow those who have not thought about renting out a spare room or making a little extra cash, to do so.

The slogan they use of “ Live Like a Local” is something that I really like and something that I certainly did when I backpacked through south east Asia. I stayed in a lot of guesthouses which not only made me feel at home, but also gave me an authentic experience that i talk about to this day.

If you look at my home city London, there are over 20000 beds available to rent on AirBnB and although it is a threat in many ways to the hotel and hostel sector in regards increased stock, I think it has led to a new positive shift for other hospitality businesses.

For me living like a local doesn’t mean just your accommodation…
It means the full experience. For me this starts with food (I am a food lover after all). Back in 2003, in the first guesthouse I stayed in , in Hanoi, the first thing I did was sit with the mother of the household, and have a cup of tea and a bowl of freshly cooked Pho. Amazing… and experience I still talk about to this day.

Fast forward to 2016, and you look at the boom in street food, food markets and pop-up restaurants in London and you can see the shift in food culture which in turn creates a new form of tourism where people want to eat, drink and sleep like a local! The full “Living like a local” experience.

I found an awesome BBQ joint when on a business trip to De Moines, Iowa (Called Jethrows in case your interested, 8 types of BBQ sauce, amazing Ribs & featured on Man Vs Food!) by going on Facebook and using the “Near Me” functionality and could see great ratings by people who I didn’t know but were probably “locals” . I in theory asked the local crowd where was good to go and that answer was delivered to me.

Those restaurants and food outlets that are aware of the shift in travelers demands, and are active in their restaurant marketing , must be finding a new wave of different tourists (not always from abroad!) that find their local venue through the web, word of mouth, social media or food bloggers insights. Restaurants and other foodie places offering unique and authentic experiences, alongside quality service and food, will be a success in my opinion.

I think there is an opportunity for more strategic thinking between the likes of AirBnB and gastronomic outlets in regards encouraging the “eat like a local opportunities” to their customers rather than traveler being lured into the big branded places.

I think the opportunity is there for smaller restaurant operators to really fly, as long as they make themselves accessible through simple marketing and provide consistently authentic experiences to their customers to make them feel like a local, whether they are or not.

This blog post is from  www.toposophy.com/insights/insight/?bid=433

Business model innovationCollaborative business modelsMarketing 3.0StrategyTourism trends

It’s time for DMOs to take the leap on the sharing economy

The sharing economy is booming, but until now most European DMOs have largely stayed out of the conversation, seeing this new economic model as a cluster of problems, rather than as a useful tool to meet their policy goals. It’s time to turn the tables and get involved.

For many European destination marketing & management organizations, the sharing economy is regarded variously as a source of conflict, a fascinating (if frenetic) economic model, a shadowy way for some to make money, or just a plain headache. This is quite understandable, given the near-weekly emergence of new products and platforms, the anger expressed by many of those running traditional tourism businesses, and the uncertainty around rules and regulations. Activities such as short-term apartment rentals don’t just concern the city tourism board: housing, planning and taxation departments also have good reasons to be interested in what’s going on.

While the challenges can at times seem overwhelming, it is still a fact that the sharing economy is really just becoming the new rental economy or, in some respects the collaboration economy. Consumers love it, and the types of people who are getting involved are becoming more and more diverse. Private tours, home-cooked meals, apartments and other tailored experiences for travelers are becoming more exclusive every day! The main thing however, it that it just works. Barriers to becoming a ‘user’ or a ‘provider’ in the sharing economy are low, and the platforms are generally attractive and user-friendly. As a movement, the ‘collaboration economy’ is enabling citizens to cooperate, meet, solve problems and share local resources like never before.

This month’s Annual General Meeting of European Cities Marketing in Madeira took the theme ‘Dare To Share’ reflecting the desire of ECM members to engage with the sharing economy. With DMOs facing so much pressure from all sides to do more with less, engaging in a serious way with the whole concept of the sharing economy can sometimes seem too daunting for a simple city DMO to take on. At the same time, it’s perfectly clear that it isn’t going to go away, and that consumers are using it as a normal part of their daily life at home, and while traveling.

It’s time for DMOs to turn the powerful aspects of the collaboration economy to their advantage and take the leap. After all, many DMOs are under pressure from reduced budgets and higher expectations to participate in local economic development. They’re also increasingly expected to manage the destination, rather than concentrate purely on marketing. As we illustrate in the infographic below, the sharing economy can, in fact, provide a very useful tool for managing cities in a smart way, while improving social cohesion and enhancing the visitor experience.

While we believe that the sharing economy can offer real opportunities for city tourism authorities, it is however vital not to ignore one group of people: local residents. Local people provide the secret ingredient to great, authentic product development and marketing. At the same time, it is essential to ensure that sharing economy activities don’t impact negatively on their quality life or cost of living for the wider population. P2P platforms can open up the destination to new types of travelers and provide a valuable source of income for local people, however there is a darker side to this activity. Many are used by unscrupulous companies and individuals to evade safety rules and taxation, and platforms are accused of unfairly hoarding data when it could help in enforcing compliance with local laws.

Therefore, working closely with other government departments, DMOs have to ensure that when building partnerships with platforms, or even building their own, that they put their local people and policy goals first. To help DMOs understand how to ‘take the leap’ in a responsible, informed way, we’ve set out a seven-step guide.

This blog post is from    www.toposophy.com/insights/insight/?bid=427

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/