Category: Environmental sustainability

Visions and case studies about environmental sustainability issues

Environmental sustainabilityStrategySustainabilityThird sector and social sustainability

Key strategies to address Barcelona’s tourism challenges

Historic overview. Barcelona is a case study where many of the mentioned strategies have been used. Till 1992, when the Olympic Games were celebrated, the city was a second tier destination within the European circuits. Despite having held two International Exhibitions, it had lost most of its appeal as a destination. However, the city carried out an extensive renovation to be prepared for the Olympics, and this resulted in relaunching many depressed clusters by leveraging their potential, as well as creating some brand new clusters.

Till then Barcelona had lived with its back facing the sea, and many parts of the old town were depressed and abandoned to the lowest class social sectors, also suffering from safety issues. So the greatest renovation was both in the waterfront and the depressed areas of the Old town. Further, directly related with the Olympics, a new district was built to host the Olympic Villa, where there was also the Olympic Port; and in the Montjuic area there was rebuilt the old Olympic Stadium keeping the original facade, and many other sport facilities were created.

The city regained its waterfront as one of the most attractive areas, creating two clusters for entertainment and many kilometers of beaches with a maritime promenade between the two clusters. Further, the Old town was equipped with culture entertainment facilities and many open spaces were created to attract both locals and visitors. The renovation consisted also of fostering the refurbishment of the old buildings with subsidies and building new residential buildings. This renovation drew the interest of the locals as an attractive location for housing.

As a result, these once-depressed areas started attracting new businesses such as shops, cafes, restaurants and accommodation facilities. Within a few years, they cleaned their image to a shining one like the most attractive areas of the town. All in all, the city leveraged all its potential charm and attractiveness namely based upon resources that were abandoned and through the vision of the city planning developers. From then on, the city started marketing itself as a new venue for international events, thanks to the regained reputation for the good organization of the Olympic Games, and as a tourism destination for city breaks among others.

Further on, Barcelona kept on targeting new market segments, leveraging and marketing under exploited heritage and also developing new clusters. In that sense, it took the leading position as a Cruise destination in the Mediterranean, which used to be Genoa. A few years after, the city’s tourism board started promoting the architectural heritage from Antoni Gaudi, as an attraction unique to Barcelona. At the same time, a new cluster was being created, also in the waterfront, to hold the International Forum of Cultures –a new kind of International Exhibition-, where a new residential area was built, along with Congress & Convention facilities and an iconic building which was later on to the Museum of Natural Sciences.

Over the last years two more clusters have been developed. First, the extension of the International Exhibition facilities in L’Hospitalet –Barcelona’s neighbor town- to host large international exhibitions and congresses such as the Mobile World Congress; and second, the last cluster to be developed –in this case, extended- was that of Sagrada Família Temple –the city’s top attraction- with the opening of St. Pau Hospital as a cultural center boasting the largest modernist enclosure in the city, within a five minute walk from the Temple.

New challenges. Despite being one of the top European urban destinations in terms of tourism revenue, the tourism development has raised the residents’ protests on the tourists’ behavior, the proliferation of tourist apartments which overload certain areas with too many visitors, the effect of these tourist apartments on the real estate prices, and the dominance of tourists in many public spaces. Further, there has been a growth of low budget travelers, whose expenditure is barely profitable for the city. At the same time, the raise of the Airbnb model has spread the tourism use of the residential areas. All these issues have invited the residents and the City Council to a reflection on what is the adequate Tourism model.

While the debate is still in process, this is a very good case to exemplify how the aforementioned strategies may solve some of the challenges typical of mature destinations. First are explained the clusters diagnosis and the corresponding cluster based solutions for each one, and finally the cross-destination programs to tackle the aforementioned challenges. In this case, only four clusters concentrate the suggested renovation.

Montjuic Mountain: “The Garden of Barcelona”. This is where the main Olympic facilities where built, nowadays used for sporting and cultural events. Despite the Montjuic Castle and two art museums, the area is quite underexploited, and is clearly a second tier cluster, with no must see attractions. However there is a large space where attractive attractions could be developed to make most of the tourists spend at least half a day of their stay in this area:

  • Using the Montjuic Castle as a venue for cultural events, combined with a street food market area with small outdoor restaurants, open on high season weekends and summer weeks.
  • Creating a first-class “botanical themed garden” with plants and urban aesthetics representing different world areas (Mediterranean, Japan, etc.), colorful vegetation, etc.

Forum Port: “Innovative entertainment”.  This is one of the most underexploited areas of Barcelona, where the International Forum of Cultures was celebrated in 2004. At present there is one Convention center and the Natural Science Museum in the Forum’s iconic building. This could be a cluster characterized by imaginative entertainment experiences, combined with iconic buildings with futuristic architectural style. These could be:

  • Imax & 3D Cinema in a ball shaped building with mirroring facade in a central location within the Forum area, as one of the most iconic buildings.
  • Large Aquarium in iconic building boasting species from different world regions, and including restaurants inside or beside the tank and a hotel with room views to the tank and the sea.
  • Seaplane terminal in the Port, offering sightseeing flights all over Catalonia, and possibly to some seaside destinations within Catalonia or the Balearic Islands.
  • “Dancing Springs Show” in the central area of the Port, installing a stable platform underwater with programmable springs to perform a light & music & water show.
  • Celebrity chef restaurants along the waterfront terraces of the Port, with exclusive views to the “Dancing Springs Show” and other selected performances.

Old Harbor: “Mediterranean history & tradition”. This is one of the clusters with the highest potential, given its privileged location nearby the Old town, and the most touristy waterfront area. Although it is already a very exploited cluster, the mix of attractions is far from optimum, as it is offering only a standardized experience, without any character related to the destination identity, nor with distinct value proposition. The proposal is to create:

  • Mediterranean Village with stores, restaurants, hotels and night entertainment. It would reproduce the local fishermen villages’ style, providing a truly Mediterranean experience.
  • 3 caravel reproductions in real size representing the ones with which Columbus discovered America. One would be a boutique hotel, another one a restaurant and the other a museum.

Poblenou district: “The art district”. This is a district with many faces at present: the Olympic Villa near the waterfront, the old Poblenou town with its village’s charm, and the old industrial Poblenou, full of warehouses and old factories with an abandoned atmosphere. The idea is to transform all this semi-abandoned area into an art district, filling both the open and the indoor spaces with sculptures and various types of art pieces. This would entail creating a new cluster from scratch, although leveraging most of the existing infrastructure, but filling it with an innovative experience system.

The Art district concept is both an incubator for new artists and an art marketplace. It is a destination model 3.0 in its full extent: a platform where many service suppliers (artists) can participate under a series of stated rules to contribute in creating a memorable experience characterized by both harmony and variety. The artist portfolio would encompass many types of art: scenic arts, sculpture, painting, handcrafting with glass, ceramic, etc.

An approach on the strategic and operational functioning may be found in the Whitepaper “Envisioning destination models 3.0”, but the upcoming Whitepaper “Envisioning Art Villages 3.0” will explain in more detail how this has to work.

These cluster developments are to create a sum of tourism attractions that correspond to and strengthen the aforementioned cluster identity, such as that of a Theme Park, but with original and authentic experiences targeting all segments, that you would never find in any Theme Park.

Beyond these key cluster developments, it is necessary to encourage tourists to visit these new areas, which should not only be achieved through good marketing but also by creating a network of charming transport systems. In the case of Barcelona, it could be a network of Old tramways, like the ones that used to circulate in the city many decades ago. The network would be the minimum necessary to reach all of these clusters through the nicest streets and avenues of the city.

Furthermore, as stated in the theoretical introduction, these new clusters should host many of the new accommodation developments to contribute in spreading the tourism flows.

Further, the development of these clusters would solve some of the mentioned issues:

  • Increasing the tourism expenditure: through the creation of the new clusters both the average stay and the visit repetition would likely increase, and many of the clusters would be to attract high expenditure tourists, namely that of the Forum Port. Concentrating the development of new accommodation in top end hotels or boutique hotels would strongly contribute to attract such kinds of tourists.
  • Demand for new accommodation development: many of the new clusters –if not all- could contribute in hosting some of the new accommodation facilities, also offering innovative concepts like art boutique hotel in the art district, garden boutique hotel in Montjuic, Mediterranean village boutique hotel in the Old harbor, the aforementioned hotel in the Aquarium tank, and many others, namely near the Forum Port cluster.
  • Conviviality with residents in the night-time: some of these clusters –namely the Forum Port and the Old harbor- could concentrate the nightlife of the city from a certain time on, prohibiting the operation of discotheques and night clubs in residential areas, so as to deviate all the noisy tourists in the non-residential clusters during the night-time. To make that work, there should be good public transport availability until the closing of these clubs.

Other issues regarding the proliferation of tourist apartments, the need to share the benefits of tourism with the poorer layers of society, and the rise in Airbnb based offers and its effect on the increase of the real estate prices could be addressed through policies such as:

  • Limiting the offer of Airbnb rooms to 1 room per apartment, 1 apartment per owner and also depending on the offer of every district, being more constrained in the areas suffering from congestion issues and with more accommodation offer.
  • Creating a body to control the non-regulated accommodation offer, enforcing the previous regulations to prevent the issues that residents complain about.
  • Offering the current night clubs in the areas suffering from conviviality issues a priority treatment to settle in the new clusters where nightlife is to be relocated, before they have to close or reconvert their current business.
  • Implement a limited capacity system and advance online booking in the cultural facilities such as monuments or museums, to avoid congestion and queues, and to enforce visitors to plan their visits in advance.
  • Create a tourism tax to make the tourists and tourism business contribute to the public expenses related to tourism spaces and subsidized public services they take advantage of. This could also help, by diminishing the business profitability, to lower the upward pressure of the real estate prices.

Do you think of other strategies to address Barcelona’s tourism challenges?

Environmental sustainabilityStrategySustainabilityThird sector and social sustainability

Typical challenges in mature destinations (II)

Lack of infrastructure renovation. Old destinations usually suffer from some kind of obsolescence at some point, not only regarding the transport or accommodation infrastructures, but also others such the buildings facades, the urban aesthetics, etc. All together, these elements may eventually give an image of decadence. However, this need for renovation may be regarded as an opportunity to develop each cluster’s identity, leveraging their uniqueness and their heritage to make them shine to the utmost.

Beyond usual competitiveness programs regarding accommodation facilities upgrade or quality labels certification, in line with the Re-clustering strategy suggested before in this section, some programs regarding the facades refurbishment and the development of unique urban aesthetics style for each cluster, using typical designs or elements that represent their identity.

Furthermore, beyond urban aesthetics renovation, an excellent way to change the atmosphere from decadence to lively and vibrant is to introduce elements of animation such as artists performing in the public spaces (painters, musicians, etc.) and imaginative illumination at night, in accordance with the type of atmosphere that is to be created.

Lack of new tourism businesses. A very different problem occurs when there is lack of private initiative to start up new businesses related to tourism. This may mean that the destination has no demand growth, but also that it is not capable of attracting new market segments or inspiring new experiences based on the current resources.

This challenge may be solved through either new cluster development or cluster reconversion, opening a new area with new resources to be exploited for tourism, which necessarily needs new business to operate, may inspire new experiences and attract new market segments. Complementing this move, there are two other possible programs to foster entrepreneurship. First, using one of the key concepts of Tourism 3.0, the development of an open innovation system is likely to bring in new business ideas and identify unsatisfied demands.

The second possible program is to create a tourism business incubator, facilitating entrepreneurs to start-up their business with a co-working space and business training at a subsidized cost for a certain period of time. Business incubators are to diminish the risk of business failure throughout the first months of the new business life. It is therefore a platform to encourage creative entrepreneurs to develop their ideas into the market.

Tourism expenditure & seasonality stagnation. Expenditure depends on many factors, such as the targeted segments, the geographical markets, the infrastructure and experiences attractiveness. Generating higher expenditure requires namely developing segments that target the wealthiest tourists: Luxury, MICE, Golf, Gambling, Special Interest, etc. with the adequate infrastructure and offering a charming and harmonic atmosphere leveraging the character of the destination, to attract investors, operators and, of course, the tourists.

Demand seasonality is another issue. It depends also on market segments and geographical markets, as some types of holidays or tourism related activities take place during the mid and low season. Also not all countries have their holiday at the same time, so there are many opportunities in this regard for marketing in new countries.

In both cases the idea of developing new or reconverted clusters to attract new market segments is more than appropriate, as it is also convenient to upgrade accommodation facilities and enhance the charm of the clusters to attract new businesses such as hotels, branded stores, prestigious restaurants and other entertainment infrastructures.

Poor branding, lost reputation, low brand awareness, etc. Marketing is always part of the problem and part of the solution. The cluster related solutions to brand challenges may be either the creation of new clusters, cluster reconversion or re-clustering the destination by developing each cluster identity and character. In this regard, providing a sense of variety to the visitor is strengthening the brand with more value.

Based upon these new developments, reconversions and re-clustering, it is important to define an identity for each cluster, where the experiences and the atmosphere feelings are reflecting this identity and character. So long as the most powerful marketing comes from the visitors’ opinions and recommendations, their experiences on site are the key brand developers.

Then, beyond the destination cluster development, a very effective marketing is –especially when there is a new cluster development- to organize a noteworthy international event that puts the destination in the spotlight of the outbound markets’ media and thus puts the destination brand at the target visitors’ top of mind.

What other challenges are usual in mature destinations?

Environmental sustainabilityStrategySustainabilityThird sector and social sustainability

Typical challenges in mature destinations (I)

Conviviality between locals and tourists. The most tourist crowded areas are sometimes also residential, and so there are usually many issues related to difficult conviviality between the local residents and the visitors, such as nightlife noise, tourists’ inappropriate behavior, or just a certain invasion of the public spaces and facilities, which are designed for the residents’ use only.

This may be solved with the development of other clusters to spread the tourism flows, and more specifically by regulating nightlife schedules in a way that from a certain time on nightlife entertainment is only allowed in specific areas with no residents, fully dedicated to leisure and entertainment. Further these and other rules concerning the tourists’ behavior should be well communicated through the tourist establishments and agents, and also enforced by local policemen controlling the problematic areas.

Finally, it is essential to control the concentration of accommodation facilities in the most demanded areas, not only by limiting the licenses for hotels and hostels, but also by limiting the allowance of Airbnb offers to a minimum, like 1 room per apartment and 1 apartment by owner, avoiding the proliferation of tourist apartments in the residential buildings. In accordance with the new clusters’ development, the demand for accommodation should be directed to the new clusters, also to help them grow and create demand for their businesses.

Congestion issues in popular areas. Closely related to the previous point, congestion issues are not only affecting the resident’s life, but also the tourists’ experience. Solving the issue for the tourist entails spreading the tourist interest hot spots and constraining visitors’ flows according to carrying capacity and bottle necks’ capacity.

First, the cluster development strategy should create new attractions in clusters other than the most crowded, even changing the location of some attractions from the crowded areas to the new cluster, as long as it is possible. This may be the case of museums or other cultural entertainment facilities. This may be done either through new cluster development or through reconverting existing clusters. Also the new accommodation facilities should be concentrated in the new tourism clusters, both to give them life and discharge the most popular areas from some of the tourism flows.

This new cluster development or reconversion should be complemented with the creation of tourism itineraries encouraging visitors to discover the destination off the beaten track, and the creation of charming transportation systems to move visitors from one place to another, encouraging them somehow to visit the new tourism clusters.

Excessive dominance of tourism businesses in the residential areas. Some residential areas popular among tourists have seen an increase in the percentage of tourism related businesses over the commercial mix, up to an extent that they lack some of the services they used to have close to their homes and many traditional businesses have had to close.

Being more profitable, some tourism businesses take the premises traditionally dedicated to services or products for the residents, up to the point where they barely exist or are too scarce according to the residents demand. The tourism business profitability allows them to pay higher rents than many residents’ oriented businesses and therefore it’s hard for these ones to keep their location. Such kind of business cannibalism obviously goes against the residents’ interest and so it is likely to put those residents against the tourism development.

Many solutions may be implemented to tackle this issue. A special tax for the tourism businesses could be fixed, so as to diminish their profitability after taxes and eventually lower the premises rental prices. The revenues from these taxes should be invested in helping the affected businesses to reconvert or start-up in another location. Another solution, combined with this one, could be the creation of micro-clusters for tourism businesses, allowing them to settle down in certain areas, but preventing them to settle in other areas reserved for the residents’ oriented businesses.

What other challenges are usual in mature destinations?

Environmental sustainabilitySustainabilityThird sector and social sustainability

Monitoring sustainability issues

Beyond the indicators related to the Competitiveness programs and mission related goals –poverty alleviation & environment protection-, it is also recommendable to carry out a comprehensive assessment of sustainability issues through the elaboration of a set of Sustainable Tourism Indicators (STI).

First of all, tourism sustainable development has to be based upon three main principles:

  • Equitability: the generation of wealth out of the tourism activity should be fairly distributed among all the destination stakeholders.
  • Livability: the tourism activity should allow the destination’s inhabitants to cover their present and future needs, ensuring a long-lasting quality of life.
  • Viability: development has to respect the carrying capacities of the destination ecosystems without using non-renewable resources

The indicators have to play the role of analyzing all types of factors affecting the structure of the tourism industry, assessing the benefits and impacts of the tourism activity, identifying critical issues that need to be addressed, measuring the achievement of the Plan’s objectives and orientating in the need for strategy shift in line with the objectives achievement.

Based on the 20 main sustainability issues identified in the WTO’s “Indicators of sustainable development for tourism destinations: a Guidebook”, Tangenay, Rajaonson and Therrien developed a list of 20 STI as the main indicators to monitor the key sustainability issues within a destination. These are exposed in the following table.

Sustainability issue Indicator
Ecosystem Area of natural protected space
Water Water consumption (tourism sector)
Atmosphere Air pollution (tourism sector)
Energy Energy consumption (tourism sector)
Waste Volume of waste recycled or treated/total volume generated
Well-being Level of satisfaction of the local population
Resilience and risk Environmental vulnerability
Security and safety Ratio of tourists to local population at cultural events
Health Quality of bodies of water (lakes, rivers and sea)
Satisfaction Level of tourist satisfaction
Public participation Level of public participation in election
Culture Level of maintenance of heritage sites
Accessibility Frequency, capacity of services, or level of use by existing transport modes to the destination
Investments Percentage of new real estate developments intended for tourism
Ecotourism promotion Number and % of businesses that acquired an eco-responsible label
Economic vitality Percentage of income generated by tourism in the community
Employment % of new jobs in the tourism sector occupied by local residents
Marketing Percentage of return visits
Distinction Number of visits to heritage sites
Traffic Volume of tourists

Whenever data is not available, other indicators for the same issue should be found according to the available data related to this issue in the destination. Further, in relation to the previous section about monitoring the implementation of the Plan, the STI scorecard has to include indicators directly related to the destinations policy on sustainability.

In this regard, the KPIs related to environmental impacts should be designed by specialized consultants specifically for every destination –depending on the type of environment and issues to tackle-, whereas some of the KPIs to track the evolution of poverty alleviation could be:

  • Newly created tourism businesses in the poorer layers of the community
  • Increased disposable income in the poorer layers of the community
  • Newly created “non-tourism” businesses serving the poorer layers of the community
  • Increased turnover of old businesses serving the poorer layers of the community
  • Increased number of households with access to Internet and computer literacy
  • Increased access to primary & secondary education in the poorer layers of the community

Concerning the value for money, service quality could be measured in two ways other than the tourists’ satisfaction:

  • Mystery tourist system, consisting of periodical service evaluation by outsourced professionals pretending to be casual tourists.
  • Tracking of congestion and “early sold out” services through systematic observation, to identify bottlenecks and unsatisfied demand for critical services.

Would you consider other indicators?

Environmental sustainabilityStrategyStrategy planning & executionSustainability

Cross-destination competitiveness programs: strategy enforcement & sustainability

Regulation and bureaucracy system audit. As mentioned in the cross-destination competitiveness diagnosis, the adequacy of the regulation is essential to foster sustainable development. Regulations are to enforce the policies determined in the strategic development plan, and so whenever there is any strategic shift or new practices are to be implemented, the regulation has to adapt to these changes.

Carrying out a regulation audit is to detect gaps in the present regulations with regards to the intended policies. This may mean some needed changes in the regulations, adding new articles within the existing regulations, or in some cases elaborating new regulations. The audit should state what kinds of behaviors, undesired actions or practices are being permitted by the current regulation to justify a change, and what risks are assumed by the current gaps.

Furthermore, there should be auditing of the bureaucracy system concerning the starting up procedures for new businesses to detect inefficiencies and bottlenecks that cause unnecessary delays. An agile bureaucracy system is an important factor that enhances chances of entrepreneurs and investors choosing the destination to set up a new business.

Eco-label system. To help some operators set themselves apart in terms of sustainability management, the implementation of an eco-label system may also help to foster an eco-friendly culture among the destination operators. There should be different eco-labels depending on the environmental impact degree of the operator, describing precisely the obligations, practices and constraints to comply with for every label category. These would be different depending also on the type of operator.

To extend the implementation of this eco-label system, it would be convenient to design an incentive system consisting of both fiscal and marketing incentives. These last ones may consist of privileged position in both marketing materials and activities.

Eco-labels are especially convenient for destinations marketing ecotourism related products, and also when targeting geographical markets that are especially sensitive to environmental issues such as the Nordic Countries, Germany, Australia, Canada, etc. This is a must have program for destinations intending to approach the vision of Tourism 3.0, as it is an effective and visible way to reduce negative impacts in the environment, enhancing sustainability.

Which other programs would you consider to enforce sustainability policies and others?

Environmental sustainabilityMarketing 3.0Strategy planning & executionSustainabilityThird sector and social sustainability

The principles and goals of a destination model: sustainability

Sustainability means qualitative and balanced growth preserving both socio cultural and environmental value. Sustainable development is defined as “the satisfaction of the present moment without compromising the capacity of the future generations to satisfy their needs”. In the tourism industry there are several forces favoring a tourism sustainable development:

  • The consumer pressure: greater consciousness about environmental issues, increase of alternative tourism concepts such as ecotourism, agrotourism, etc. and better preservation of the destination’s environmental and cultural resources.
  • The public authorities: through new regulations incentivizing conservation and recuperation of the environment.
  • The civil society: increasingly concerned about the environment, demanding measures for the conservation of the cultural, social and natural heritage.

There are however some forces against the sustainable development, namely the economic growth, which has to be countered with development planning measures and policies. Businesses want to increase revenue and financial value, the society is demanding employment, and the public administration needs their taxes to provide public services.

According to Professor Muller from the University of Bern, there are five conditions that a destination should comply with to be sustainable, all ingrained in the public policies:

  • Economic development, intending to develop tourism as an alternative economic sector.
  • Environmental conditions, intending to develop environmental consciousness and preserving the natural heritage.
  • Cultural identity, fostering traditions and local cultural heritage.
  • Social base, improving the life quality of the destination inhabitants.
  • Tourism attractiveness, improving the visitor satisfaction by leveraging the local heritage.

The public administration has to consider the needs of this development in the regulations, and ensure the participation of the local stakeholders through a campaign to arouse consciousness and concern about these issues.

Do you think of other conditions to make a destination sustainable?

Business model innovationCo-creationCollaborative business modelsEnvironmental sustainabilityInnovation

Story innovation concepts: added value & crowd game driven experiences

Beyond the explained details of the four prototypes, there may be many other added value experiences to support the main one in fostering its popularity and conveying new contributions both in virtual and real world platforms. Some of these story related experiences could be video games (in the case of the prototypes 3 and 4 the video game is an essential component), comic based stories, theater plays, board games, movies, spin-off stories, merchandise products, etc. This is actually what film series such as Harry Potter, Star Wars or Lord of the rings have done to some extent, trying to satisfy the desires of their followers for more story related experiences.

With regards to the crowd game driven experiences, the environmental challenges would be driven by volunteers, usually entailing some kind of field work to achieve a certain goal in relation with the environment protection in the form of a game driven experience to make it more fun and stimulating. In the case of the creativity & cooperation challenge, it would be driven by contributors willing to prove their creative skills, in the form of a game driven experience where participants also have to prove teamwork capacity by solving one or more innovation challenges related with the mission purpose, which also serves as an educational experience in collaborative innovation. Finally, the educational fun experience is for tourists willing to entertain while taking away some significant learning outcomes related to skill development or social consciousness, for instance.

In the case of contributors in creativity & cooperation challenges and also in the case of story making contributors, there should be a system that not only facilitates but also rewards contributors based on a reputation and incentive system, in order to stimulate talented followers to bring in their passion and imagination to build the story world. This is not only crowd sourcing but also providing the audience members an opportunity to live a life-changing experience by exploiting their skills. The Whitepaper “Envisioning Open innovation in destinations” is to further develop the idea of the incentive and reputation system for contributors.

Do you envision other story innovation concepts to enhance the aforementioned ideas or to inspire new story based experiences?

Business model innovationCollaborative business modelsEnvironmental sustainability

Destination Models 3.0: Environmental benefits

When focusing on environmental protection and sustainability, in the case of nature-based tourism destinations, there are many roles that the destination model may take:

  • Collaboration with research programs (either by universities, corporations, government, etc.) or environmental protection programs (private foundations, NGOs, government, etc.) by lending some of the facilities, programming volunteering activities related with the field work, etc. In some cases, the open innovation system could serve also as crowdsourcing resource for innovative ideas. Alternatively, the destination could also serve as a pre-testing field for new eco-friendly products.
  • Creating awareness among stakeholders about the environmental issues and challenges of the destination, by educating them on the threats and the good practices that should guarantee the protection of the destination’s environment, in order to create a network of environmental ambassadors that spread these concerns and good practices.
  • Integrating environmental friendly facilities and practices within the main business activity, thus minimizing the impact on the environment. These facilities and practices could also be leveraged for educating and creating awareness about the environmental challenges, thus accomplishing the aforementioned role at the same time.

The indicators to track the environment related mission should be designed by environmental experts according to the established goals aligned with the mission.

Beyond the aforementioned main benefits, there may be other positive impacts such as those related to cultural protection and promotion, socio-cultural change and human development on both the local communities’ side and the visitors’ side. These benefits may be difficult to measure and are most likely to be assessed through the kinds of stories that are created and their popularity.

A series of Whitepapers are to be released featuring case studies to illustrate how the destination model 3.0 approach may be applied in various tourism destinations.

Would you consider other roles to be played by the destination board?

Business model innovationCollaborative business modelsEnvironmental sustainabilitySustainabilityThird sector and social sustainability

Destination Models 3.0: Social & environmental costs

Even if destination models 3.0 intend to address social and environmental concerns by reducing the negative impacts that the tourism activity usually creates, it may not be possible to eliminate them completely, for it is necessary to foresee and monitor these impacts to obtain a holistic assessment on the mission accomplishment.

Furthermore, this section should also explain to what extent the destination model manages to reduce these kinds of costs in comparison to most conventional models. So long as the mission is not only to create positive impacts, but also to reduce negative impacts, it is necessary to gauge the negative impacts that the model manages to save in the social and environmental spheres.

There should be established a set of goals in relation to this intended impact reduction. For this purpose, a series of performance metrics are to be designed, along with those for measuring the positive social and environmental impacts. Once a year, a social and environmental audit should be carried out to assess the impact reduction in relation to previous years.

Some indicators on environmental negative impacts could be:

  • Air pollution
  • Acoustic pollution
  • Forest land reduction
  • River or sea water cleanliness
  • Survival status of endangered species

Some indicators on economic, social or cultural negative impacts could be:

  • Employment seasonality
  • Employment insecurity
  • Satisfaction of residents in tourist areas on the cohabitation with tourists
  • Rise of the real estate prices due to the tourism activity
  • Termination or offshoring of non-tourism local businesses replaced by tourism businesses

Would you consider other relevant indicators in either category?

Business model innovationCollaborative business modelsCollaborative cultureCulture changeEnvironmental sustainability

Destination Marketing 3.0: Internal marketing strategy

It is necessary to market the vision, mission and values to employees and partners, as they have to become engaged to act as brand ambassadors in the social networks. This starts by executives performing an adequate leadership style according to the stated values. Only by delivering a value-driven leadership experience through everyday behavior will the executives manage to engage employees and partners in the mission and values they preach. The leader’s role here is rather to inspire and empower employees to develop their ideas towards the mission accomplishment.

Furthermore, so long as these values are successfully embedded in the corporate culture, these employees and partners in turn will be brand ambassadors inspiring and engaging other people in a life-changing experience. Such values ultimately deliver several pay-offs, like an increased capacity to attract talented employees, boosting productivity, and eventually improving customer satisfaction and recommendation.

Talented professionals look for employers empowering them to be creative, enabling them to develop their human potential. Furthermore, they are to be far more productive if they sympathize and believe in the mission that the organization is striving for. Outside stakeholders assess the organization’s authenticity according to the experience they have with their employees and closest partners.

Such cultural change may require important sacrifice, as it is necessary to stand by these values even if it hurts the business. Only then, when witnessing the employer’s integrity, will the employees engage in full commitment. Furthermore, such cultural issues are to be regarded when recruiting new employees and selecting partners, to make sure that they are likely to integrate within such culture.

Among the values to be promoted internally, it is important to regard the importance of innovation and collaboration beyond the organization’s boundaries as the main values that make a difference in sustaining the competitiveness and marketing the destination to outperform competitors.

Internal marketing should go beyond employees and service partners, also encompassing other partners such as non-profit organizations with whom the destination may cooperate for the development of mission-driven volunteering programs. These are to become key agents in both the mission accomplishment and the delivery of stories, as they hold reputation among communities of volunteers who may become mission-driven activists and brand ambassadors at the same time. Other partners in this section could be educational institutions, which may nurture the destination with storytellers and content marketing providers, as the mission driven purpose may inspire some educational activities in this direction.

Internal marketing is to be especially critical when the shift towards Marketing 3.0 is promoted by the DMO, as they need the commitment of all the destination’s operators.

In the case of the resorts, a specific internal marketing program has to be prepared for shareholders, to convince them on the new marketing strategy focused on the mission accomplishment and the long term profits rather than short-term. As the new marketing approach entails reformulating the business model to some extent, it is necessary to gain their approval to do so.

What kind of challenges do you envision when deploying Internal Marketing by a DMO in cooperation with the destination’s operators?