Category: Sustainability

Issues related to social, economic and environmental sustainability, including the third sector

Collaborative business modelsCollaborative cultureEnvironmental sustainabilityMarketing 3.0Sustainability

Great opportunity to boost Tourism 3.0: Video game industry is trying to leverage its potential for fighting against climate change

Tourism 3.0 holds many advantages over conventional tourism models. One of them is its capacity to leverage the potential of all businesses integrating marketing 3.0 strategies into their business model to boost tourism flows towards destinations 3.0. The latest example of this is the trend in the video game industry – embraced by all its major players – to develop games related to the struggle against climate change, in which players are entitled to address many environmental issues in a virtual world resembling the real one.

Furthermore, the video game industry firms intend to use these environmental challenge games as a strategy to encourage players to take action in the real world, thus following their video game challenge with a real world challenge.

For instance, Strange Loop Games already has environmental issues at the heart of its game Eco. Players work to build a civilization and deal with its impacts on the environment. If they cut down too many trees, for example, they might kill off an animal species. “For us, it’s less about telling the player about being green or avoiding climate change than letting them have that experience, letting them face that challenge themselves,” said CEO John Krajewski. “And then they can bring that to the real world.”

Other major industry firms such as WildWorks, the company that makes the popular kids’ game Animal Jam, plans to help children learn about the importance of forests in the game, and will plant a tree for every new Animal Jam player. Ubisoft also plans to use “green themes” in its games, while Microsoft plans to make 825,000 carbon-neutral Xbox consoles, meaning that the way they are made will not increase the amount of carbon dioxide in the air.

The next step towards fighting climate change would be to organize real world environmental challenges inviting all engaged game players to live their video game challenge as a real world challenge – this would also be a life-changing educational experience. Tourism destinations could take this kind of challenge as an opportunity to organize “Environmental voluntourism events”, where participants would be organized in teams and together address some environmental challenge in the shape of a competition game such as the video games they would already be engaged in.

Beyond the positive environmental impact in the destination, this would work as a massive marketing campaign for the video game firm and the destination, also welcoming other like-minded sponsors to financially support the event and thus make it more affordable for the players to participate. Needless to say, as in any competition of this kind, there should be many winners and prizes to reward participants for their contribution. The White Paper “Marketing destinations through storytelling” explains some approaches which can harness this excellent opportunity brought by the video game industry.

Business trendsCollaborative business modelsCollaborative cultureEnvironmental sustainabilityMarketing 3.0

Destinations with a soul (I)

Most of us have experienced working with – as an employee, supplier or client – companies or visiting destinations with a soul, as well as working with companies or visiting destinations without one. The difference is not easily visible, but it can be perceived by sensing the spirit behind the people’s behaviour.

 When human relationships are only based on rights and obligations, often without a win-win approach, people work because they have to, rather than because they want to. They are demotivated and are unlikely to bring in any value beyond what they are paid for. In these types of firms and places, financial KPIs are the only metrics taken into account to measure the health of the organisation, and social problems more or less related to its operations are most likely disregarded or overlooked. These types of places have no soul.

Sometimes there are organisations created with a purpose beyond the financial success thanks to a visionary leader who thought that caring about the common good was key to business profitability, but also because it was appealing to him/her and many other stakeholders, and so this vision is a powerful inner source of motivation.

However, many of these organisations born with a noble soul have lost it over time: sometimes they have been bought by a larger corporation without the same sense of purpose; have new shareholders that do not share the same values, or because the founder has been replaced by a leader with a different vision. And when this happens, all stakeholders notice it to some extent as the passion, generosity and purpose that used to drive the organisation disappears, and the relationships turn out to be colder, rather short-term oriented and calculative, and decisions are based on financial KPIs only.

Instead, in organisations with a soul, people work moved by their human spirit, knowing that what they do is not only to get income at the end of the month, but also to make a positive change in their community at a smaller or larger scale, and becoming change makers for the sake of the environment and the disadvantaged layers of society. In such a kind of organisation, sustained commitments are more likely to take place and its soul can be sensed beyond the marketing campaigns, in the daily routine. It is good to know that more and more talented professionals nowadays feel attracted to work in organisations with a soul, with a special sense of purpose beyond the financial profits.

When an organisation is based on authenticity in human relations – respect, empathy and self-exigency – when customer and mission centricity are deeply rooted in the people’s mindset, and when leading means serving the common good with humility and passion, then we can be sure that there is a soul. And it is reflected in the organisational culture not only in the speeches but also in the daily behaviour and the critical decisions, where the mission and the values prevail over the short-term financial profit, because long-term financial profit is superior when the organisation is loyal to these values and mission.

 

Co-creationCollaborative cultureEnvironmental sustainabilityInnovationInnovative culture

Decorated Street Festival in Gracia, a living example of Tourism 3.0

Since the late years of the 19th century, the Gracia district of Barcelona celebrates every year its Themed Decoration Street Festival during one week in the middle of August. The many different streets of the area compete against each other in decorating the most beautiful, the most original or the most sustainable street. The residents of each street come together to take on the challenge and build a special decoration based on a specific theme, such as Harry Potter, the Silk Road, Japan, emotions or whatever they jointly imagine and decide. As a visitor, it is an immersive, enjoyable experience to see the differently decorated streets.

When this tradition originally started, decorations used to be created using natural elements such as flowers or tree branches, together with more conventional elements such as coloured paper. Little by little, the decorations became more sophisticated, and during these last years, the quality level is in many cases really outstanding.

There are many interesting aspects of this tradition, which closely relate to the principles of Tourism 3.0: culture of collaboration and innovation, co-creation, human spirit-related mission, community involvement, etc.

Every street has an association of neighbours, consisting of residents of that particular street, and this association is responsible for choosing the annual decoration theme to develop. Once the decoration theme is decided through an open participatory process,  all the neighbours participate in accordance with their time availability, and work together over several months to produce the street decorations. It is really a great example of co-creation, cooperation, innovation and community involvement!

Moreover, there two interesting elements related to the human spirit mission and raising awareness about sustainability: most of the materials used to produce the decorations are recycled materials such as plastic bottles, bottle caps, carton boxes, egg boxes, industrial cork, light bulbs, cans, etc., which makes the creativity challenge especially interesting.

In recent years, beyond themes related to films, cultures and imaginary worlds, there has been a growing focus on decorations linked to sustainability issues, such as the protection of biodiversity or the pollution in the oceans, which aim to raise visitors’ awareness on these topics, aligning with human spirit related mission as in the Vision of Tourism 3.0.

You can see some further information and pictures in the following link

Business model innovationBusiness trendsEnvironmental sustainabilityMarketing 3.0Strategy

The marketing power of doing good

As it has been explained right from the outset in the presentation of the ¨Vision of Tourism 3.0¨, the essence of this vision is that the tourism business should be focused not only in the financial goals, but also in environmental and social goals, to say it shortly, in doing good. And doing good is not only a matter of responsibility, it is also the smartest way to ensure the sustainability of the development, and to build a good reputation, which is the core essence of the best possible destination marketing.

The ¨Good doing¨ of destinations 3.0 is not only focused on caring about the destinations social and environmental challenges, but also on leading a cultural change, by fostering mission-driven cooperation and innovation throughout the stakeholder system, and improving visitors’ lives through life-changing experiences. It is therefore a holistic approach of Good doing: inwards and outwards. This approach is what makes people fall in love with destination 3.0 brands, and creates an unbeatable virtuous circle of effective and efficient marketing that draws not only tourism flows but also contribution from all stakeholders in addressing the social and environmental challenges stated in the destination model’s mission.

In this TED Talk, Simon Anholt -creator of the Good Country Index, as a sort of Global Nations Reputation Index- explains how country reputation is created, and how important is the perception that people all over the world have about a country on its economic development. Needless to say, these lessons apply also to destinations, and so they should be taken into account when defining the destination model.

Business trendsCo-creationCollaborative cultureEnvironmental sustainabilityInnovation

Envisioning Alternate Reality Games for marketing destinations

Unlike Augmented Reality Games, Alternate Reality Games (ARG) are not mobile based but transmedia based and much cheaper to create. ARG cannot be explicitly a marketing product, but rather a marketing strategy, which turns into an experience itself and could be indirectly considered as a marketing product, so long as they are usually free although sometimes they end up involving some business too. They stand out by offering best practices in collaborative learning and problem solving, having been object of attention by scholars, private and public organizations for that reason. ARG design requires many different skills, and there are actually several profiles matching that role, such as storytellers, web designers, and puzzle creators, to shortlist the main ones.

ARG deny the difference between the real and the game world. Actually, the game takes place for those who discover that something is going on in the real world beyond the obvious, by identifying some codified information and decodifying it to figure the clues to start playing. Another unique feature of ARG is that there is no other marketing than word of mouth from players, who look for other players to help them in tackling the game’s challenges. These games rely on knowledge sharing among players to solve the challenges and use the internet as a platform for sharing knowledge, although the game uses all types of media to provide the information to the players. The game works like an interactive networked narrative using the real world as the game board and many different media channels to deliver clues and the story that is eventually co-created by the organizers and the players.

The games are driven by a story that takes place in real time and is developed through the contribution and reaction of the players. The story characters are controlled by the game designers –unlike computer games, where characters are controlled by artificial intelligence- and interact with players, solving plot-based challenges and puzzles through collaboration by analyzing the story and coordinating real-life and online activities. Players discover the story researching just as archeologists would, as the story is split into pieces throughout the media channels to challenge players in connecting those story pieces to make a coherent narrative. The game uses players’ real live as the platform, players not being required to build a character other than themselves. The game designers control most of the story but leave some room for contribution to the players, who end up being co-creators of the story to some extent. Furthermore, so long as the game evolves demanding more complex challenges, players need to recruit new co-players with specific skills or expertise. ARG have become a genre of gaming themselves, not just a one-time occurrence, as it appeared to be at first.

ARG are usually free to play, using various kinds of revenue sources such as supporting products or marketing deals with existing products. In the case of tourism, the price to pay would be that associated to visiting the destination, without discarding other sources such as marketing deals with brands that want to be associated with the destination brand to target players as potential customers. Actually, after the first successful ARG had appeared, many corporations started regarding such games as a potential marketing strategy to promote their business as an innovative and fan-friendly strategy. So far, the major trends regarding the funding strategy for large-scale ARGs are the development of game-branded products and also fees for participation in the game.

Curiously, beyond the games created for fun only purposes, the so called “Serious ARG” have also emerged, consisting of the same structure and functioning way but with a real-world problem as a driving challenge instead of a fictional one. The first one –World Without Oil– was centered about the vision of a world with shortage of oil, and others such as Tomorrow Calling tackle many environmental issues. This type of ARG approaches the idea –ingrained in the Vision of Tourism 3.0- of open innovation for tackling the social and environmental challenges, so long as ARGs are focused on collaborative problem solving, leveraging the collective intelligence, knowledge and imagination to design innovative solutions. The “Serious ARG” approach works as a marketing strategy to attract and engage contributors through the shape of a game.

So far, the ARG phenomenon has already reached millions of players in more than 177 countries, who participate both online and in live events in the streets. There is even an award at IndieCade for games that have a social message, shift the social perception of games as a medium, represent a new play paradigm, expand the audience or influence culture.

Moreover, there have been organized some ARG directly related to the tourism industry. In 2008, the American Art Museum organised an ARG called Ghosts of a Chance encouraging players to find new ways to engage with their art collection, attracting more than 6000 participants over six weeks. At the same year, McDonald’s and the International Olympic Committee launched an ARG to promote the Summer Olympics of Beijing, facilitating the participation of players from different countries running the game in 6 languages, and encouraging players to share information and interact with fellow co-players overseas. They used a sport celebrity as Game Master to promote the game and promised to donate US$ 100,000 to charity at the end of the game on behalf of players.

Prototypes such as those presented for Augmented Reality Games could be useful for Alternate Reality Games, namely the “Worldwide ARG tournament calendar”, the “Film story or local legend based game”, and mostly the “Collaborative challenge based game”, without discarding other options. Rather, inspiration should come from the “Serious ARGs” focused on tackling real-world challenges.

The ARG can therefore become a good strategy to find and engage new targets, neutralize tourism demand seasonality and also create long lasting positive impacts both for the visitors –through the life-changing experience provided by the game itself- and for the destination, so long as the game challenge is related to some of the social or environmental concerns of the destination stakeholders.

Business trendsCo-creationEnvironmental sustainabilityMarketing 3.0storytelling

Envisioning Augmented Reality Games in destinations

Following up with the previous article on Augmented reality (AR), where many key ideas were introduced, this one is to envision further storyliving and gaming experiences based on Augmented Reality.

Creating an Augmented Reality gaming experience is quite a daunting task, so long as the digital content overlays the real world, a suitable scenario is needed to match with the game and its digital content. So, ideally, the game has to be based to some extent on the tangible or intangible (stories, traditions, etc.) heritage of the destination to make it meaningful and effective as a marketing strategy. The game can work as a tool to educate players in the destination history as well as to move them to take action in contributing to some of the local challenges.

For tourism destinations 3.0, the challenge of destination based Augmented Reality games is not only to draw the attention of many visitors, but also to offer them a life-changing edutainment experience that allows them to develop new skills on collaborative problem-solving, conflict resolution, critical thinking, negotiation, mindfulness, etc. Ideally, the game should be designed for many participants to play at the same time in order to make them interact and develop some of these skills.

Further, other relevant features to be considered in such games would be many constraints related to the social and environmental concerns and challenges, to raise awareness and address them to some extent, also awaking the players’ human spirit and turning it into a life-changing experience.

Let’s envision some prototypes:

  1. Worldwide AR game tournament calendar: Imagine a game that is going on globally and so takes place in several destinations sequentially, as it happens with many professional sports tournament calendar, so to attract gamers to each of the destinations participating in the game.
  2. Film story or local legend based AR game: Imagine gamers playing the characters of a film or series broadcasted in a destination, or from a local legend where they can create their own story collaboratively based on the same characters or adding some new ones, in the same scenario.
  3. Videogame based AR game: Imagine using a popular videogame to create an AR game attracting many of its fan players to the destination to play their own character or some of the existing characters in the physical scenario of the destination. This is compatible with Type 1.
  4. Collaborative challenge based AR game: Imagine an AR game to turn a collaborative challenge -such as an environmental or social challenge- into a game to further engage many players and make them become contributors. Making things fun helps both attracting and engaging unusual contributors.

Although it does not incorporate Augmented reality, Geocaching  is a good example to showcase what a multiplayer mobile phone based game can be. Foursquare is an example to showcase collaborative contribution through the mobile phone related to tourism destinations, although it is not a game nor it has AR.

At present, Augmented reality is mainly based on the mobile screen showing the view of its camera and displaying the related digital content, but in the near future it will merge with alternate reality as long as the wearable technology becomes more widespread. This will allow enhanced versions of the games, more complex and also more immersive for the player.

Marketing 3.0StrategySustainabilityThird sector and social sustainability

Sustainable Tourism Development: Helping Revive Post-Conflict Destinations

One of the greatest and perhaps least recognized aspects of the sustainable tourism industry is the potential for economic growth and peace building in post conflict areas of the world. Working in these areas proves that not only does sustainable tourism have the incredible ability to preserve natural and cultural resources, but it can play a key role in the revival of economies and communities shattered by conflict.

The State of Tourism in post conflict areas

Some of the major problems faced by post conflict destinations are security based. The first hurdle in the revival of the tourism industry is making sure the destination is absolutely safe for visitors and pushing that message consistently across all channels of communication.

Another issue that arises in regard to security is rebuilding the destination’s image, as these locations are often perceived as degraded during times of conflict and violence.  It’s important to highlight that a destination’s cultural and natural heritage is alive and well by sharing high quality content about the destination, such as images, videos and copy.

The second set of issues facing post conflict destinations relates to infrastructure and human capital. Many times, after a long-lasting conflict like the civil war in Sri Lanka, many forms of infrastructure and many of the industries that service tourists are in poor condition, making it difficult for them to visit in a number of ways. For example, in some areas, roads may have become impassable; buildings may be dilapidated and need to be rebuilt. In order to sustain a tourism industry, these areas need rebuilding and basic resources restructured in order to revive their destination’s appeal and functionality.

How to restart the tourism activity

When setting goals for these destinations it is convenient to mirror that of a brand new, undiscovered destination, even if they had a tourism industry before the conflict. Through clear and coordinated communication between all stakeholders, the first phase of these strategies focuses on building the structures necessary to sustain the tourism industry.

A great way to kick start the tourism presence in these areas is to focus on regions that have not been affected by the conflict. A good approach is to promote off the beaten path, adventurous destinations and target tourists who are interested in those types of places. In each destination this might look different, but strategic marketing and promotion allows for such burgeoning markets to flourish.

Benefits & Outcomes

First and foremost, tourism in these countries means an influential source of capital. It provides economic opportunity through employment, ownership of businesses, and an increased market size. It also perpetuates personal and community empowerment by offering renewed opportunities for self-sustaining businesses and economies.

Tourism can also play a key role in reconciliation. It often unites communities that may have been broken or displaced during conflict around common interests and goals, fostering a sense of peace and cooperation that may not otherwise occur. In some cases, tourism can contribute to preventing the revival of a conflict in destinations with increasingly well-established tourism industries, as it contributes to a virtuous cycle of development and economic growth that would be threatened by the renewal of violence.

By rebuilding and strengthening culture, economy, and infrastructure, the tourism industry provides post conflict regions a chance to make a statement about their future to the world. These communities are able to showcase their homes as more than just what people see on TV news.

This article has been re-posted with permission from www.solimarinternational.com/resources-page/blog/itemlist/tag/Geotourism%20Program%20with%20National%20Geographic

Collaborative cultureEnvironmental sustainabilityMarketing 3.0Storytelling training & case studiesSustainability

The ‘Trashtag Challenge’, the new viral challenge that is cleaning beaches all over the world

We have talked many times in this blog about how tourism activity can address the social and environmental challenges of the destinations leveraging the power of storytelling and social media for the greater good. Among all the “Trash contents and challenges” that can be found nowadays in the internet, it is also fair to highlight such a remarkable initiative, also to remind us of the motivational power of good doing and the spiritual fulfillment that it brings.

The hashtag #trashtag intends to shake the environmental consciousness of people all over the planet by challenging them to show a picture of a natural site full of trash followed by a picture of the same site when all the trash has been removed. The challenge has gone viral and so it is possible to see hundreds of examples where it has moved people to take action.

This is a perfect example to showcase how social media can be an excellent platform to connect with the target audiences to engage them in a social or environmental mission, and how it can encourage positive mass behavior by becoming viral in the social networks. The lessons to be learned through this case to create similar challenges are mainly the simplicity of the challenge and the power of the visual impact showing the results achieved. Simplicity helps people taking action without need to think over about the where, when and mostly how to do it. The visual impact is what creates the desire of the audience to take action and the will to see and show the final result. To learn more about mass phenomena, I suggest you to read over the previous articles on the “Tipping Point Theory”, where these are explained in detail.

You can also find further information about the Trashtag challenge in the following link

Environmental sustainabilityMarketing 3.0SustainabilityThird sector and social sustainability

The Importance of Measuring Tourism Impacts

Measuring tourism impacts is often perceived as a tedious and complicated task by some tourism professionals. Since tourism is integrated across numerous sectors, there are many aspects to consider when analyzing the results of tourism development. At the broadest level, tourism affects the economy through employment and investment. It also impacts the environment as many tourism destinations are in conservation areas, traveling requires creating carbon dioxide, and too many visitors can degrade natural wonders.

why tourism matters

For these and many other reasons, measuring tourism impacts is actually one of most important practices in achieving successful sustainable tourism development. Here are some of the reasons behind its significance:

1. Helps in Conservation

Determining the economic, socio-cultural, and environmental impacts of tourism development will help in conservation because it can show the positive and negative effects. Is tourism development helping in the protection and growth of wildlife? Is tourism development promoting the culture of indigenous peoples? Or is tourism development negatively exploiting the natural resources and cultures of the local population?

Measuring tourism impacts on our environment will help decision-makers in creating strategies that will support rather than harm conservation. Decision-makers can use the Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria (GSTC) to evaluate the impact of tourism on the local community, cultural heritage, and the environment. From this evaluation, they can then establish if they should implement stronger controls, support other initiatives, or correct harmful practices.

The GSTC Partnership was initiated by the Rainforest Alliance, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the United Nations Foundation, and the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) to promote and implement universal sustainable tourism principles around the world.

2. Spurs Investment

Sustainable tourism development often begins with investment from the government and private sector. To rationalize these investments, the government and the private sector need numbers from the tourism sector.

How many jobs is tourism creating, both directly and indirectly? How much of the gross domestic product (GDP) is from tourism? What is the potential of tourism in creating more jobs and in increasing the country’s GDP?

By measuring these important tourism metrics, investors will get the information and encouragement that they need to continue supporting sustainable tourism development.

The UNWTO, in partnership with the International Labor Organization (ILO) recently released a report on the best practices of measuring the impact of tourism on employment. This could be a helpful resource for those who want to increase employment on their communities.

3. Educates Tourists

Last year, at least one billion tourists traveled across the globe. That means one billion opportunities to teach about how tourism affects the world and how people can have more positive impacts on communities and the environment. How much of a tourist’s expenditure go to the local economy? How can tourists reduce negative economic impacts, especially on protected areas and heritage sites? How are tourists getting involved with preservation after visiting a destination?

By measuring tourism impacts and sharing results with tourists, we can help them support sustainable tourism development. Measuring tourism impacts is therefore crucial for sustainable tourism development. Having the numbers and the research results with us is a powerful tool for our industry.

This blog post is from www.solimarinternational.com/resources-page/blog/itemlist/tag/Measuring%20Tourism%20Impacts

Environmental sustainabilityMarketing 3.0SustainabilityThird sector and social sustainability

How Tourism, Conservation, and Local Economies Can Work Together

I’m not a biologist, but my basic understanding of an ecosystem is an interconnected system of organisms that rely on one another to maintain their existence as they continuously transfer energy from one organism to another. It’s nature’s way of sustaining life.

But what does this have to do with tourism? Aside from our focus on developing tourism in a way that protects and promotes the delicate ecosystems within a destination, there is also an interesting comparison between an ecosystem and all the moving parts of a destination. We believe that tourism, conservation and local economies can be and should be approached in a similar holistic, ecosystem way. Rather than focus on only one aspect of a destination, we need to look at the entire ecosystem – how tourism, conservation and local economies interact, what needs they have, and how they can support one another to benefit the entire destination.

Just as energy and nutrients drive the biological ecosystem, money and experiences drive the destination ecosystem. Money helps fund peoples desire to travel and money is transferred from a visitor to a tourism business in exchange for a unique travel experience. Conservation areas and local economies receive money from travelers and travel businesses (gate fees, hotel stays, guided tours, etc.) and use it to sustain their conservation activities and livelihood. This, in turn, helps protect and enhance the destination so that travelers continue to be inspired to travel to it, maintaining the flow of money to support the destination.

Just like the biological ecosystem after which it is modeled, the destination ecosystem is a delicately balanced system relying on each component to work together to sustain the destination. If done well, tourism, conservation and local economies can sustain themselves; but when done poorly, the system collapses. Biologists realized this long ago and take an ecosystem approach to the areas they study and manage. However, for a destination, such an approach is often lacking, which results in damage to the destination as well as the organizations and people within them.

For example, if park managers decided that they wanted more antelope in their park and supported the growth of the population without looking at the entire ecosystem, they would soon find that their large antelope population had eaten all the grass and the ecosystem would deteriorate. The same is true for a destination, if the focus is purely on one aspect of a destination like growing the local economy, attracting as many visitors as possible, or conserving the destination, without consideration for anything else, the system will crash and the destination will suffer. Rather than looking at a tourism business or a park or the communities around it in isolation, an integrated approach to destinations and the tourism, conservation and local economic activities within them is vital for long-term sustainability.

Integrated planning, implementation, and monitoring of activities within a destination helps to ensure that the balance between all the key players is maintained and that each one can leverage the other for its own benefit and the benefit of the destination. It is only when this integrated ecosystem works together in balance that a destination truly thrives.

For examples of how this kind of approach was used in our work in Uganda, download our case studies on destination development and community tourism enterprise development.

This article is reposted with permission from www.solimarinternational.com/resources-page/blog/itemlist/tag/Integrated%20Marketing%20Program