StrategyStrategy planning & execution

Product competitiveness strategy: infrastructures and services

Beyond enhancing the resources available and the correlated experiences, there are other issues more related to the discomforts and insecurities that need to be fixed sometimes, such as:

Signage: not only to arrive to the site but also to move around within it, good signage is essential to help the visitor get the best out of his or her time.

Food & beverage: even if it is not an essential part of the experience, it is necessary to provide visitors with the chance to buy snacks or drinks, offering a good range of products.

Personnel training: ongoing human resources education in the right attitudes and skills development is recommended to guarantee a good service.

Information: offering precise information to get to the site (website, leaflets, guides, etc.) is as much important as information about the site resources, itineraries, stories, etc.

Accessibility: sometimes there are sites isolated within their cluster, with limited accessibility due to poor public transport service. Services such as “taxi calling” can solve this issue.

Urban aesthetics: some elements such as benches, dustbins, public lighting are essential to keep the tourist areas clean and safe, as well as to provide comfort to the visitors.

Congestion: some sites suffer from congestion issues to be solved through regulated group sizes, scheduled visits to control flows, queuing time information, etc.

What other kind of generic infrastructures and services would you consider to reduce efforts in a tourist attraction?

StrategyStrategy planning & executionTourism marketing

Product competitiveness strategy: resources & experiences

Beyond the development programs to create new products, there are also programs to improve the current products’ competitiveness. In this point, however, it is also necessary to talk about product competitiveness strategy, as the programs are in fact a concrete idea as a result of the product improvement strategy.

The product improvement strategy follows the same methodology of the cluster improvement strategy: creating more value and reducing efforts, which ultimately means creating more resources, experiences and feelings to add value, and developing or improving infrastructures and services to reduce discomforts and risks. Furthermore, when assessing every product individually, it is also convenient to make management and marketing recommendations to attract more visitors and/or to increase their expenditure, reduce congestion problems, increase safety, and other practices to reduce risks and discomforts.

The following examples may better illustrate the product improvement strategy concerning resources and experiences:

Restaurants: adapting charming buildings’ spaces, gardens or terraces as a restaurant may be a very profitable way to create new experiences and revenue streams.

Souvenir shops: when the tourist is satisfied with the site experience, he/she often looks for some kind of object to remember that experience, or to have more information about it.

Creative activities: it is well known that many tourists are willing to take an active role in their tourist experience. Creative tourism is a new trend adaptable to many cases.

Animation: improving the atmosphere feelings may be achieved by integrating performing artists such as musicians or painters, adequate music and illumination, shifting from sightseeing to life-seeing.

Guided visits: either through audio-guides or tour guides, providing interesting information and stories about the site always enhances the value of the experience.

Decoration: the details make the difference between an outstanding experience and a normal one. All decoration elements should be carefully regarded to create an excellent atmosphere.

What kind of generic resources and experiences would you consider to improve a tourist attraction?

InnovationStrategyStrategy planning & executionTourism marketing

Product development programs

There are certain types of products that may be developed in many destinations:

  • Events calendar: there should be an Events committee in charge of designing an attractive calendar of events, both to cover seasonality gaps and to strengthen the value during the high season, when there is the toughest rivalry among destinations.
  • Theme routes: leveraging both material and immaterial natural or cultural heritage may be achieved by creating theme routes. These may consist of visiting places related to a story or a historical character, or just linking related resources.
  • Shopping streets: streets with a sufficient number of attractive stores could be marketed as shopping streets creating a brand, attracting new ones, and enhancing the stores service competitiveness to guarantee a premium shopping experience.
  • Attraction of DMC to the destination offering special interest experiences that are being developed in other destinations to broaden the product portfolio. Some DMCs know-how may be highly appreciated and even have a market prestige that attracts visitors themselves.
  • Souvenir product line: all destination brands may be leveraged through the creation of a merchandise product line, encompassing typical branded products (t-shirts, caps, etc.) and also genuinely local souvenirs related to the unique destination assets.
  • Destination smart card: specially conceived for city destinations, the smart card encompasses public transport allowance, free entrance to many sites and discounts for many other sites, along with some vouchers for restaurants and other services.

Which other product development programs would you consider?

 

Co-creationCollaborative business modelsInnovationMarketing 3.0Open innovation

Product development through co-creation

Beyond customization right before or during the experience, co-creation may take place in many different ways:

  • Co-creation workshops, organized as a creative and educational activity open to all stakeholders, which in turn may provide valuable ideas to develop products.
  • Product development contests, organized to promote contribution to the open innovation system providing elaborated ideas on how to develop new life-changing experiences.
  • Ideation bank contributions, permanently accessible as a section of the open innovation system, where innovation needs are posted, and solutions are submitted and voted.
  • Product Manager’s creation based on inputs from creative reviews and new stories, permanently inspiring and nurturing the marketers’ creativity.
  • Local service supplier creation based on own creativity, inputs from reviews and stories, and the technical support of the Product Manager.

The Product co-creation workshops play a critical role as both educational and productive events. There, Product Managers explain the product development process and the key success factors for creating life-changing experiences according to the destination’s mission. The workshops educate the attendants in the art of ideation and team working to generate and refine ideas leveraging all group members’ creativity.

Attendance should be mandatory for local DMC like the micro-entrepreneurs from the base of the pyramid, but also the participation of all other community stakeholders should be encouraged. Other interesting targets could be school students as part of their education, members of mission driven organizations such as NGO, etc.

Do you think of other ways to develop products through co-creation?

Business model innovationCo-creationInnovationMarketing 3.0Strategy

How to develop new products

Beyond the cluster’s and cross-destination conditions, product competitiveness is no doubt a key factor to consider in the overall assessment and strategy. Product competitiveness strategies entail sometimes developing new products and others just improving the current ones. In this regard, this section explains the key product development strategies and methods, some product development programs that are used in most destinations, and also the product competitiveness strategy and most common programs.

Developing new products is not an easy challenge. Once the product portfolio strategy is defined, the product categories to develop are established. Then, from the product category to the marketable product is where creativity and product development mastery make the difference. The main steps of the product development are the following:

  1. Conceptualization
  2. Business model design & test
  3. Feasibility study and assessment of social and environmental impacts of the product
  4. Business Plan
  5. Launch
  6. Monitoring performance & improvement

Even if the Product Manager is solely responsible for the product development, in Tourism 3.0, the co-creation and the ideas coming from the open innovation bring support in the steps 1, 2 and 6. Steps #1 and #2 are supported by the contribution of the co-creation workshops and the Open Innovation System through various types of contributions: professional and non-professional; whereas the step #6 is supported by the visitor’s creative reviews after their experience with the product.

The case of the life-changing experiences is where co-creation and open innovation play the most decisive role, due to their complex nature, as they have to provoke some kind of personal transformation in the visitor, far beyond the usual tourism experiences. Their development process is therefore more complex as well. The development of life-changing experiences entails the following steps:

  1. Starting from the mission as an inspirational mantra, and listening to related stories to better understand the life-changing idea, define the experience concept based on its life-changing goals (effects or impacts), the constituents of the positive change (those who benefit from the activity), and the activity behind the experience.
  2. Try to include storytelling training as a part of the experience, to generate new stories
  3. Business model design & test
  4. Feasibility study and assessment of social and environmental impacts of the product
  5. Business plan
  6. Launch
  7. Monitoring performance & improvement

In this case, the Product Manager has to supervise the adequacy of the ideas being developed through the open innovation, the product development contests and the co-creation workshops, to help improve & refine them, and to invigorate contribution. The Product Manager is also in charge of selecting and managing channel partners, organizing the aforementioned events, benchmarking and managing customer feedback.

Once the life-changing experience product has been launched, the performance is monitored and creative reviews are encouraged, along with the creation of stories about the experience. These two are the most inspirational sources for product improvement and new products development. The capacity of the product to be customized for every tourist makes it more productive in terms of stories created and creative reviews.

Would you consider other steps in the product development process?

StrategyStrategy planning & execution

Developing value for money

The value assessed by the rational mind is that which takes into account the services and service quality received in relation to the prices paid and overall costs. This is usually the least important of the factors to assess the destination competitiveness, but it should not be disregarded, as the importance of every type of value depends on the type of target, and price sensitive tourists abound. In this regard, it is important that the destination offers a range of services –namely accommodation- to match all targets’ budget. There are many different issues to consider when assessing both Service quality and price.

Service quality

Service quality may be defined as compliance with the client’s expectations in all kinds of services provided throughout the trip:

  • Transport: punctuality, comfort, schedule availability and adequacy, staff attention, added services like entertainment, food, etc.
  • Accommodation: staff attention, compliance with the rating system & quality certifications.
  • Food & Beverage: taste, variety, originality, healthy production procedures, quality of the ingredients, cleanliness of the premises, etc.
  • Activities: safety, staff kindness, compliance with sales information, etc.

Price

Price issues encompass many factors affecting the overall cost:

  • Currency exchange: both the exchange rate and commission may entail a significant cost
  • Package price: the bulk of the budget goes to transport and accommodation, especially when buying a holiday package
  • Tips: many countries are used to receiving tips in service businesses
  • Daily expenses: all costs related to daily life not included in the package, like meals, public transport, snacks, etc.
  • Shopping & souvenirs: this is sometimes one of the main activities or purposes of a trip, and so eventually accounts for a considerable percentage of the overall budget.

Improving cluster competitiveness is a complex challenge to tackle, as it entails a large array of variables which in many cases have to be coordinated. Further, it is important to know which of these factors are more and less important to our targets, to prioritize our efforts.

Do you think of other variables influencing the value for money?

StrategyStrategy planning & execution

Developing emotional value: discomforts and risks

There are many sources of discomforts that tourists may have to face:

  • Lack of cleanliness: in the accommodation, transport facilities, restaurants, streets, tourist sites, urban and natural landscape, etc.
  • Lack of proper services and infrastructure: uncomfortable transportation means, poor comfort of the accommodation, poor variety and quality of food & beverage, etc.
  • Adverse weather & air conditions: temperature, wind, humidity, rain, air pollution, etc.
  • Bureaucratic procedures: visas, money exchange, special permits, etc.
  • Cultural differences: different schedules, language barrier, different values, food, having to dress in a certain way, etc.

There are also many types of issues that create insecurities in the tourists:

  • Safety: Lack of proper safety standards in services and infrastructure, lack of street security (vandalism, terrorism, pickpockets, etc.), meteorological threats, etc.
  • Health: lack of emergency & medical services, threat of contagious illnesses, etc.
  • Information: lack of information about the destination, language barriers, lack of proper signage, lack of price transparency, etc.
  • Service quality: possibility of luggage lost or late arrival, transport delays, etc.
  • Uncontrollable risks: weather conditions impeding the planned activity, etc.

Do you think of other risks of discomforts that might need to be reduced or managed?

InnovationStrategyTourism marketing

Developing destination’s emotional value: feelings

There are also many kinds of feelings that the destination atmosphere may create in the visitor. Such sensations can be created through adding several kinds of features or extras that provide feelings of life, authenticity & harmony, magic atmosphere, variety, fun, etc. Such extras may be, for every kind of feeling:

  • Harmony & authenticity: urban aesthetics, people /employees dressing in traditional costumes, architectural style, souvenirs, cultural monuments & sculptures, natural smells, open kitchen in a restaurant, religious ceremonies, artisans handcrafting products, etc. Charming destinations are famous for their identity reflected in their architectural style.
  • Life: wildlife (birds, butterflies, squirrels on trees, flying fish, ducks and swans on water canals or lakes, etc.), artists performing outdoors (human sculptures, musicians, painters, acrobats, etc.), street markets, water springs, liveliness of local population, plants and flowers on balconies, people performing traditional arts (dancing, Tai chi, etc.), and everything else that turns sightseeing into life-seeing and feeling.
  • Magic feelings: Night illumination with different colors, attractive smells, fireworks, inspiring music, dancing springs, permanent nice surprises, sophisticated street performances, etc. and the synchronicity between all these elements.
  • Variety: different kinds of shops in shopping streets, broad range of courses in a menu, facades of different colors, markets with wide variety of products, gardens with many types of plants and flowers, options for amusement, architecture, etc.
  • Hospitality: cleanliness, proper indoor temperature, kindness of the local population, proper condition of the cultural and natural heritage, interior design and materials, service customization, etc.
  • Relax: birds singing, water flowing, relaxation music, green areas, silence, etc.
  • Safety: cleanliness and good conservation of the urban landscape, kindness and honesty of the local population, peaceful atmosphere, lack of beggars in the streets, illumination at night, police in the streets, smooth traffic, good functioning of public services, etc.

Besides, there are some feelings closely related to Tourism 3.0:

  • Customization: making the tourist feel as a unique person, being called by one’s name by service suppliers, being able to tailor the service experiences, small personalized gifts, etc.
  • Contribution: letting people know how their contribution in the open innovation or content marketing system is useful for the destination, letting people visualize the result of their contribution, letting visitors provide ideas and opinions on as many issues as possible, etc.
  • Growth: learning new skills, opening one’s mind, gaining personal and social awareness, acquiring new good habits, and all that results from the life-changing experiences.
  • Recognition & reward: being mentioned in a public place or document for your contribution, receiving an award, receiving a tangible reward, etc. for your contributions.

Do you think of other ways to create positive feelings for the visitors?

InnovationMarketing 3.0StrategyStrategy planning & executionTourism marketing

Developing emotional value: experiences

The value created by the experiences and feelings in relation to the discomforts and risks lived by the tourists during their holiday in the destination is referred to as emotional value. In this point, there are many types of experiences, feelings, discomforts and risks to talk about, for each of these four factors is explained through the development of many categories.

When classifying experiences, there are many possible criteria that can be used. According to the relationship established between the tourist and the destination:

  • Edutainment: to learn while entertaining in an active relationship that keeps the tourist mentally absorbed.
  • Entertainment: to see, listen, smell, touch in a rather passive relationship that keeps the tourist mentally absorbed.
  • Escapism: to do some kind of sporting or physical activity that keeps the tourist active and physically immersed in the destination.
  • Esthetic: to be there, rather sightseeing entailing a passive relationship that keeps the tourist physically immersed in the destination.

Furthermore, the life-changing experiences leading the development of tourism 3.0 could also be classified in many categories depending on the type of transformation or change experienced by the tourist:

  • Personal awareness & discovery, and spiritual development
  • Social awareness and cross-cultural understanding
  • Environmental consciousness and education
  • Skill development in arts, communication and leadership
  • Transfer of values and wisdom
  • Personal transformation by discovering the fulfillment of contributing to the greater good

Finally, the experiences may also be classified according to the product or service they are generated by. In this classification, we distinguish many kinds of experiences:

  • Restaurants: food-street markets, panoramic restaurants, underwater restaurant, show cooking, boutique restaurant in a special location like a boat, self-cooking, terrace with view, cave restaurant, restaurant with live music & performance, etc.
  • Sightseeing with original & charming transport systems: gondolas, old fashioned tramway, rickshaw, seaplane, tourist train, dogsledding, snowmobile, camel/horse/elephant ride, hot balloon, helicopter, cable-car, transparent bottom boat, charming old boat, etc.
  • Accommodation: huts in trees, Ice hotel, monastery, boutique hotel, boat hotel, huts in the jungle, transparent ceiling igloo, cave hotel, castle, underwater hotel, etc.
  • Shopping: street markets, theme markets, shopping villages, artisans show-crafting, educational shopping –explaining how the product is done, or/and its benefits-, etc.
  • Culture & entertainment: Imax/3D cinema, charming villages & old towns, botanical garden, zoo, aquarium, wildlife watching, storytelling performance, museum, religious ceremony in a temple, visiting a Palace or a castle, theater, opera, music festivals, music & fireworks & springs, street theater, acrobatics show, etc.
  • Fun: adventure park & zip lines, roller coaster, party boat, water park, amusement park, etc.
  • Iconic experiences: these take place in an iconic building and may consist of many different types of activities such as sightseeing from a privileged position, attending events, museums, accommodation, etc. The iconic buildings may be a telecom tower, big wheel, Congress Center, Opera House, Wellness & Spa center, Sporting events venue, Imax Cinema, bridge, hotel, museum of science, national theater, temple, stadium, etc.
  • Special interest: cycling, hiking, learning to cook, bird watching, climbing, diving, snorkeling, sailing, learning languages, marathon, Sport events, learning about art, Cultural events, pilgrimages, wildlife discovery, skydiving, etc.

Do you think of other types of memorable experiences?

StrategyStrategy planning & executionSustainability

Developing destination’s spiritual value

The programs or actions to neutralize or reduce the negative impacts of the tourism activity are nearly or exactly the same ones that eventually manage to create positive impacts. In most cases, it is just a matter of the initial state of the destination and the intensity and ambition of the program what makes the difference between neutralizing or reducing negative impacts, and creating positive ones. Such impacts may correspond to three different spheres of influence: social, economic and environmental impacts. The main factors that create spiritual value in a destination are the following:

  • Fostering entrepreneurship at the base of the pyramid and training the poorer layers of the local community to integrate in the labor market not only reduces poverty but also enhances social cohesion, and creates a spirit of social harmony as a result of the integration of these groups of people in the community. This is very likely to be perceived by the visitors and appreciated by their human spirit.
  • Encouraging community members to contribute through the open innovation system in creating stories, co-creating products and bringing in ideas to enhance competitiveness is also a powerful social impact generator. Leveraging people’s talents, rewarding and giving them recognition for their contribution makes them feel like valuable protagonists within the tourism industry system, and helps them grow personally, eventually shifting their attitude towards tourists, being more hospitable and helping them have a memorable experience.
  • Preserving the natural environment and fostering the growth of the local endemic species helps the destination boost its uniqueness and character. Creating green spaces both in the public and private areas with typically local trees, plants and flowers conveys a spirit of healthy environment. Furthermore, in the cases where there are typically local animal species, it is also good to make them be part of the destination experience. Both lush animal and vegetable life provide positive impacts to the visitors’ human spirit.
  • Enhancing the attractiveness of the destination also makes it a pleasant living place for its inhabitants. Improving cleanliness, heritage restoration, developing cultural entertainment –events, museums, etc.-, creating green spaces, clearing pollution, making the urban areas more human friendly, harmonizing urban aesthetics and enhancing other aspects of the landscape are appealing to all community stakeholders.
  • Boosting economic development and wealth creation is one of the main goals of tourism development. The tourism 3.0 approach intends to spread the generation of wealth among all types of stakeholders. A clear indicator of success is therefore the increase of disposable income throughout all layers of society. The extent to which the destination collaborative model expands is one of the main key success factors to make it happen.

The key idea behind the creation of spiritual value is the balanced development and shared growth, considering tourism businesses, employees and micro-entrepreneurs, local inhabitants not related to the tourism activity, non-tourism businesses, and the cultural and natural heritage. Tourism development should be a win-win activity for all elements that are part of the destination life to make it appealing to the visitors’ human spirit.

Do you think of other factors which contribute to create spiritual value?