Co-creationCulture changeInnovationMarketing 3.0Strategy

Destination Models 3.0: Development strategies (III)

Transitioning to content based marketing

As it takes a certain time for the open innovation system to become a productive content marketing machine, it is necessary to use other marketing strategies along the early stages of the destination model development. These would mainly consist on the following:

  • Partnering with Special Interest tour-operators and travel agents connected to a network of values driven travellers, to become our first brand ambassadors.
  • Invite popular bloggers and journalists to write about the destination’s experiences and stories.
  • Advertising in target related media, co-branding with our channel partners.

In parallel with these marketing strategies, it is necessary to start spotting existing stories to be used for marketing purposes. As many stories are already in the minds of the locals or even written, there has to be carried out some research to identify them. Further, the storytelling  training is also expected to empower and motivate locals to tell their stories and create new ones.

So long as the storytelling facilitation and the content creation contests generate an increasing amount of marketable content, and this manage to create awareness about the destination’s brand and its life-changing experiences, the platform could start reducing the budget for the aforementioned marketing programs, eventually concentrating all the marketing efforts on the “content marketing system”.

Such transition requires accurate monitoring of the social media impact of the stories in contrast with the impact of the other marketing programs. Based upon the results of such tracking, the platform’s marketing executives should decide whether to accelerate or not the transition towards the storytelling system. For such purpose, the marketing plan should have a series of key performance marketing metrics to help the executives visualize the impact of every marketing program.

Therefore, the marketing plan has to be flexible, with marketing goals determining the turning points when to shift the budget allocation from conventional to storytelling marketing.

Would you consider any strategy to accelerate the transition to content based marketing?

IntelligenceIntelligence methods

Destination Intelligence 3.0: Implementation of the monitoring system

The monitoring activities should be carried out by establishing Tourism Observatories in local regions, which are in charge of collecting and processing the data to elaborate the research outcomes. Then, these local Observatories are to be coordinated by an Observatory at an upper regional level to elaborate aggregated statistics ensuring that the research methods and criteria are unified and thus the data is comparable.

Such observatories should operate in cooperation with the local tourist boards and industry associations, to facilitate access to data from the local businesses. Further, cooperation with educational institutions at a University level should also be encouraged, to give prestige to the Observatory and nurture it with know-how and young talents whenever necessary.

The Observatories are to become the reference research center for the tourism industry both at a local and regional level, elaborating not only the regular statistics about tourism industry performance, but also carrying out ad-hoc studies to satisfy special research needs from either public bodies or private operators.

Tourism Observatories may be funded by industry associations, tourism boards and also through the ad-hoc services they provide to private businesses and public bodies. Again, the monitoring system is an opportunity to foster cooperation between the private operators and the public bodies.

Do you know about Tourism Observatories activities? What do you think they could do more to support local industry associations and governments in planning the tourism sector strategy, marketing and innovation?

Collaborative business modelsCollaborative cultureInnovative cultureMarketing 3.0Strategy

Destination Marketing 3.0: Implementation

The implementation process of the new marketing system is to be progressive and flexible, depending on its performance compared to the destination’s traditional marketing. By keeping track of the new marketing key performance indicators, the executives are to decide to what extent the marketing budget should shift the priority towards the new marketing system and replace the traditional marketing tools.

This is expected to be a progressive shift that may take a few years, envisioning that the new marketing system is to cost much less than the traditional one, especially in the long term. As explained previously, the new marketing is about empowering, encouraging and facilitating stakeholders on co-creating stories, experiences and other contents to be marketed throughout the social networks, and this is not only a more effective marketing, but also a more cost effective one.

When implementing the new marketing strategies and tactics, there also has to be a new set of key performance indicators to monitor the success of the new marketing strategies. Upon tracking these metrics, we will decide whether to progressively shift budget allocation from conventional marketing to storytelling based marketing through social media.

There are many indicators that could orientate us on the new marketing performance:

  • Production of stories, experiences and other contents in the open innovation system.
  • Voting participation on stories, experiences and other ideas through the social media networks or mobile apps when opening a content creation contest.
  • Shares on the stories published on the Destination’s social media page.
  • Destination publicity out of the stories and content production in all types of media.
  • Key influencers’ opinions on the destination’s value proposition.
  • Sales of merchandising products created through the content marketing system.
  • Followers of the Destination’s social media sites.
  • Survey on visitors to know what attracted them to come to the destination.
  • Qualitative reviews and ratings applying to both experiences and stories. In the new Tourism 3.0 culture, community members risk their reputations when giving reviews, hence only brands with high integrity are likely to obtain good reviews and ratings.

To develop an “exigent” rating system, community members could only vote for one, two or three stories, and would be rewarded if their nominated stories were eventually awarded, to motivate them to read carefully and make thoughtful ratings.

Destination executives’ role is to ensure the brand integrity rather than trying to stimulate reviews by sponsoring them, which could be regarded as manipulation.

Do you miss or envision any other relevant KPI to take into account?

Collaborative business modelsInnovationInnovative cultureOpen innovationStrategy

Destination Models 3.0: Development strategies (II)

Open Innovation system development

Being one of the key assets to invigorate creativity and sustain the destination model competitive advantage, it is necessary to design a set of strategies to engage stakeholders in contributing up to leveraging the most of the collective intelligence. The open innovation platform is to unlock the creativity of all stakeholders, starting by its employees, followed by its closer partners, and beyond.

One of the key factors to make the open innovation work is to constantly connect with external networks, which are more likely to bring in new ideas than creativity alone. Based on the same principle, encouraging the network members to travel, research and learn about other destinations should nurture the innovation ecosystem with inspiring ideas.

Most productive innovation networks are characterized by a decentralized structure with many leaders who have collaborative mindsets. Such decentralization not only unlocks initiative and creativity, but also fosters further interaction and collaboration among the network members.

When developing the open innovation system there are four critical steps to follow from the design phase, to the execution and management of the network:

Connecting and organizing people:

  • Find open minded people who are motivated for innovation
  • Combine people with different approaches to innovation (idea generators, experts, producers)
  • Make sure there are members with different profile in terms of skills, seniority, and field of expertise
  • Include subgroups devoted to specific tasks and goals

Setting goals and engaging members:

  • Define the role of the innovation network and groups in relation to the organization’s mission
  • Establish innovation goals and metrics to track progress
  • Plan how to establish trust among network members and engage them quickly

Supporting and facilitating:

  • Determine technology support required for network members
  • Define additional support if necessary
  • Define key information inputs

Managing and tracking:

  • Define incentive system to reward contributions
  • Determine accountabilities and timing to track and assess performance
  • Decide who takes new responsibilities and who leaves responsibilities

When composing innovation teams for specific purposes such as business model innovation, some rules should be applied. For instance, there should be a balance between four kinds of contributors:

  • Idea generators, who come up with out-of-the-box approaches and questions to start with
  • Researchers, who bring along an analytical perspective based upon market insights
  • Experts, who bring deep knowledge in their field of expertise
  • Producers, who coordinate the activities of the network and connect with people from outside

Furthermore, mixing people from different backgrounds -in terms of education, culture, and industry expertise- is likely to bring along different approaches when trying to solve complicated challenges.

To start operating the open innovation platform, there are many steps to be followed:

  • Guarantee internet access to all internal stakeholders (partners and employees)
  • Train them on how to use the tools
  • Set up content creation contests for experiences, stories and marketing materials; setting clear rules to make sure they are aligned with the values and the mission. Everybody should be empowered to start their own story or to collaborate with others’.
  • Storytelling facilitation: stakeholders would attend training workshops on how to write stories
  • Training on business model innovation methods and frameworks to establish a common language
  • Presenting a story and other marketing contents as successful cases to inspire participation

Would you consider any other step in the development of the open innovation system?

Business model innovationCollaborative business modelsThird sector and social sustainability

Destination Models 3.0: Development strategies (I)

Once designed the architecture of the model, it’s time to design the strategies to develop it to the utmost of its potential. The development strategies are likely to be quite different depending on the initial scenario, whether it is a resort, a decentralized destination or a group of resources to be exploited for the tourism business. Hereby are described the four key development strategies that are to determine the success of the destination model 3.0 in most of the cases.

Human resources development

One of the key factors that makes destination models 3.0 deliver a superior value proposition to other destinations is the better human development of its service suppliers, along with the service quality control and incentive system. The human resources development strategy intends to unlock and leverage all the human potential of destination stakeholders, by stimulating their creativity and empowering them to develop and bring in all their talents in benefit of the destination, giving them incentives and recognition for their contributions. There could be many kinds of training programs:

  • Empowering locals to become micro-entrepreneurs, coaching them on how to develop their idea.
  • Training employees and service suppliers on how to deliver a memorable customer experience.
  • Language training in the main languages of the target outbound markets.
  • “Storytelling training” for all local stakeholders on how to create and tell stories, developing their communication skills, and eventually giving them the chance of participating in rewarding contests and publishing their stories.
  • Training to develop artistic skills such as photography or graphic design, to be used in the creation of marketing contents.
  • Educating on business model innovation in order to both help entrepreneurs reinvent their own business and to participate in the open innovation system discussions about revamping the destination platform business model.

Some of these programs like the storytelling training and artistic skills development, should also be offered as life-changing experiences to the tourists, who eventually may generate ideas and contents for the destination.

Would you consider other skills development goals?

IntelligenceIntelligence methodsMarketing 3.0

Destination Intelligence 3.0: Monitoring programs’ performance

Beyond the aforementioned general performance indicators, it may be convenient to track performance of the evolution of specific competitiveness programs such as Quality certification for local businesses, hospitality campaigns, service quality competitions, etc.

Such tracking may be carried out through many methods:

  • Mystery tourist system, consisting of periodical service evaluation by outsourced professionals pretending to be casual tourists.
  • Survey on customer satisfaction in the accommodation facilities for the Quality certification assessment.
  • Survey on customer satisfaction and assessment in the departure halls of airports or train stations.
  • Tracking of congestion and “early sold out” services through systematic observation, to identify bottlenecks and unsatisfied demand for critical services.

Do you envision other specific programs to be monitored or researched upon? Do you think of other appropriate research methods?

Co-creationCollaborative business modelsIntelligenceIntelligence methodsMarketing 3.0

Destination Marketing 3.0: Mobile Apps 3.0

As an essential tool for empowering tourists to contribute and participate in the collaborative marketing system, the Mobile Apps 3.0 would enable tourists to write reviews and rate immediately after the experience, vote and participate in content creation contests, make bookings and search for information about the destination.

The Mobile App 3.0 would not only be a supporting tool for the communication between the tourist and the destination, but also a tool to encourage tourists to become co-creators of the destination experience and to engage them in the mission accomplishment. Other functions of the Mobile App could be augmented reality features, geo-localization, video & photo uploading, map download, nearby deal pop-up service, etc.

This is to be developed for DMOs only, to take profit of the investment being supported by many stakeholders, and to offer the tourist a comprehensive service.

What kind of obstacles do you envision to make the Mobile Apps 3.0 an effective tool?

Business model innovationCollaborative business modelsCulture changeMarketing 3.0Strategy

Destination Models 3.0: Integrating partners (V)

Selling the vision to investors

In many cases the tourism development will require not only to integrate businesses, land and facilities’ owners, but also to invest in developing new infrastructure or renovating heritage and urban aesthetics, for it may be necessary to attract investors beyond the local players. In this regard, the local government should play a decisive role in supporting the development of the destination model, at least in the early stages and until the model is consolidated and profitable. Such support could consist on assuming many investments and integrating within the platform as a stable shareholder, or taking the role of platform’s guarantor to external shareholders and financial institutions.

As destination models 3.0 are mission driven models whose value is ultimately derived from the impact they make on the society and its environment, they require investors who share the same vision and so agree upon prioritizing the long-term profits over the short-term. Shareholders have to assume that the success of their investment will only come as a result of being faithful to the values and the mission, to obtain the engagement of all stakeholders.

Fortunately, there is already a growing concern among investors about sustainability, considering the long-term policies that guarantee the preservation of the environment and social cohesion as key sources of competitive advantage that manage to set destinations apart from their competitors.

Needless to say that many investors are not likely to share this vision or be willing to support the project over a long period of time, for which it would be convenient to create a two-tier shareholding structure whereby long-term shareholders would be given more power than the short-term oriented ones when deciding the corporate strategic direction, to help the long-term oriented votes clearly outweigh the short-term oriented ones.

However, investors want to assess the long-term benefits of sustainability –namely profitability and returnability- through metrics that quantify them financially. In his book “Marketing 3.0”, Philip Kotler suggests three metrics:

  • Improved cost productivity is mainly attained through the lower marketing costs of the experience and story generation & distribution system through the social networks, compared to conventional product development and marketing campaigns. Further, mission driven businesses obtain higher engagement from their employees and partners, which ultimately boost their productivity.
  • Higher revenue from new market opportunities, due to the higher market penetration that mission driven businesses tend to achieve, as they touch not only people’s minds and hearts, but also their human spirit. Further, the government is also more likely to support businesses that intend to address some of the local challenges and improve people’s lives.
  • Higher corporate brand value is the long-term result of sticking to the brand values, pursuing the mission and successfully generating compelling stories which are extensively distributed.

To foster long-term focused shareholding, the destination model should encourage somehow all stakeholders to become shareholders, especially those located in the destination’s community. As mentioned before, the government should also play a key role, at least in the early stages of development, as a key support benefiting the long-term welfare of the community.

Would you consider other strategies when selling the vision to investors?

Business model innovationCollaborative business modelsCollaborative cultureSustainabilityThird sector and social sustainability

Destination Models 3.0: Integrating partners (IV)

Selling the vision to community stakeholders

The challenge of integrating all the community of stakeholders requires its own marketing plan, usually known as internal marketing plan. This plan should encompass the target stakeholders to attract in every phase, the integration formulas, and the communication strategies and actions to achieve these goals. Since the beginning when presenting the first model prototypes to pre-test and design the integration formulas and when eventually marketing the destination model to engage the community stakeholders, it will be necessary to explain them the model vision in a compelling way that connects first with their emotions and human spirit, and ultimately opening their want for a deeper understanding of the destination model rationale.

Stories are the best way to help people imagine how the new model is likely to improve their current status quo, how it creates value and therefore improves the community’s life quality. Stories convey the new model ideas to the people’s minds describing them in a way that overcomes resistance, the most likely reaction to new model propositions challenging the status quo. By capturing people’s attention and curiosity, compelling stories are to pave the way for an in-depth presentation and further discussion about the new destination model, to eventually make the potential stakeholders understand the implications that the new model would have for them: costs, obligations, efforts, and benefits for the individuals and the destination as a whole.

To better convey the idea about how the new model would operate for the local stakeholders, it is convenient to use one main character similar to the audience profiles (service suppliers) to be the protagonist. Such character should have similar problems, needs, concerns, fears and aspirations as most local potential stakeholders, so to make them feel identified with him and connect with the story. Then, the story shows the character finding out how the new model addresses all these needs and concerns, so to help the audience visualize the answers to their questions and fully understand the operation of the model.

Furthermore, it is convenient to provide potential stakeholders with an interactive tool where to “play” with the model simulating how it would be to become an integrated partner within the new platform. So long as the model system is complex, such tool is crucial to help potential partners understand and envision their possible fit. This should be complemented with workshops where platform representatives would attend community stakeholders’ queries.

Such destination’s vision is not only necessary to convince the community members to integrate, but also a guiding force that constantly aligns everyone’s efforts on their contribution to expand the destination mode to the utmost of its potential and to accomplish the mission.

In this stage, when defining the model to be deployed throughout the destination, one of the key points is to decide upon harmonizing the urban aesthetics style to be deployed throughout the destination. This should be quite flexible and should be voted by locals.

Would you consider other strategies when selling the vision to the community stakeholders?

IntelligenceIntelligence methodsMarketing 3.0

Destination Intelligence 3.0: Tracking tourist satisfaction in social media

Finally, a third set of research goals are those related to customer ratings and reviews, usually obtained through social media tools or specific portals such as Tripadvisor. This is basically another channel to obtain a mix of quantitative (ratings) and qualitative (reviews) information to complement the other sources, taking into account that the customer feedback is voluntary and hence the data cannot be considered statistically representative. Many research goals may be envisioned in this section:

  • Detailed ratings on specific accommodation services, restaurants, activities, etc.
  • Detailed ratings on general issues about the destination such as feeling of locals’ hospitality, cleanliness, availability of good information, transport services, etc.
  • Reviews commenting about the tourists experience in accommodations, restaurants, activities, etc.
  • Reviews and discussions commenting about the tourists experience and impression on general issues that they consider especially relevant about the destination.

Furthermore, as mentioned in the previous section, social media may be a good source of candidates for the qualitative research. By analyzing the reviews, proactive and creative tourists may be identified, and they are also likely to enjoy the chance of giving their opinions and ideas about the destination needs and opportunities for improvement.

Mobile apps may also be designed to establish a direct relationship with the tourist, incentivizing these to give feedback (reviews and ratings) on many aspects of the destination. The potential of mobile apps for obtaining information from the tourists is especially interesting, thanks to the capacity to convey such feedback on-site right after the experience when it is still fresh in their minds.

Marketing 3.0 intends to engage tourists and other stakeholders in the social networks to obtain their collaboration in co-creating experiences, stories and marketing contents, but also to control the brand to keep its activities aligned with the mission and to become brand ambassadors. Creative tourists are expected to be keen on providing ideas and critical opinion on all issues related with the destination’s management and development. Therefore, destinations developing towards a tourism 3.0 model are likely to attract many of these creative tourists and have plenty of participation at no cost in the monitoring activities.

Up to what extend do you think that social media reviews and ratings should be considered as representative of the tourists’ satisfaction?