Coordination is as much important as participation, to enhance effectiveness and profitability in the use of material, human and financial resources, generating synergies and economies of scale. Furthermore, coordination and cooperation among all stakeholders within the industry makes it possible to develop some programs that are difficult to carry out individually due to their high cost.
In this regard, it is crucial to develop a new culture of cooperation within the destination stakeholder system, moving people to shift their attitudes in vision of a future of shared success. The Whitepaper “Building a culture of cooperation and innovation” is to explain the benefits and the process to carry out this cultural change.
The destination model should have development goals in at least four areas: economy, society, culture and environment.
Economy: generate revenue benefiting the local businesses and inhabitants, creating jobs and empowering the micro service businesses to grow, namely those at the base of the pyramid.
Society: sustain the prosperity of the local population with the enhancement of their quality of life and the satisfaction of the visitors.
Culture: preserve and leverage the cultural heritage as a key asset of the destination, encompassing monuments, traditions, gastronomy, etc.
Environment: preserve the natural heritage and landscape, controlling the impact on the fragile resources of the destination.
The accomplishment of these goals is to be carried out by drafting specific objectives in each area and key performance indicators to monitor the evolution of the development in relation to the aforementioned goals.
Which other areas would you consider to set development goals?
Participation should be the most inclusive and intensive as possible, encompassing public and private agents involved in the planning and management of the tourism businesses to guarantee the success of the development model. It is necessary to ensure that the tourism development will be a win-win deal for all local stakeholders and therefore nobody is excluded from the welfare distribution.
The effective participation of many stakeholders is the best guarantee of consensus, commitment and will for implementing the development model. It is convenient to convey an image of cohesion and effectiveness to the stakeholders outside the tourism industry, so long as their cooperation is likely to be necessary at some point.
Furthermore, participation is to leverage all the stakeholders’ intelligence and creativity, also as a starting point for developing a culture of collaboration and innovation, and to set the basis for a successful development of the open innovation system. In this point it is important to understand that participants are very much willing to bring in their ideas and to have their opinions taken into account, so to feel co-creators of the development project. Further, by letting them know how their ideas and opinions have been useful, they are likely to build an emotional connection with the project, thus enhancing their commitment and will for contribution throughout its development.
To what extent do you think that local stakeholders opinion should be considered?
The development of a network of professional contributors should entail the following steps:
- Set innovation goals and metrics to track results. Considering all kinds of desired outputs, set innovation goals and objectives in accordance with the executive board and innovation advisors. Formulate specific, measurable and time-bounded objectives, and prioritize them to build the innovation system according to the real needs and guide the innovation efforts. Then, design a set of metrics to monitor the project’s results.
- Draft a comprehensive list of the needed profiles encompassing researchers, idea generators, producers and experts in all fields, as long as innovation is to be carried out by groups including these four contributor profiles. Some of them may be Strategy consultants, IT consultants, environmental experts, without disregarding some professionals for content creation such as writers, graphic designers, photographers and audiovisual developers.
- Research networks and identify potential contributors. Get to know them well to create a database including their skills, experience, education, achievements, professional interests, associated network, and personal remarks regarding their concerns, values and aspirations. Invite them to a business oriented presentation explaining the goals and operation of the Open Innovation System, also to sense their interest and vision.
- Identify potential leaders. As the open innovation has to work as a decentralized system with many leaders, it is necessary to have one in each field of expertise at the very least. These should have collaborative mindsets and empowering leadership style to further engage other contributors. Further, there should be some key influencers and destination executives championing the open innovation development to involve new contributors.
- Market contribution as an opportunity to showcase their skills, connect with like-minded professionals, build reputation within their professional community, get rewards according to their contribution, achieve visible results that may bring them more professional credit, etc. Collaborate with professional associations to search for contributors and to market open innovation contribution as a professional opportunity.
- Design reward system. Research on the market fees for each type of contributor to have a comprehensive fee list considering field of expertise, experience, achievements, proven skills, and other relevant variables. As long as innovation challenges are to be driven by collaboration among contributors, there has to be a way to assess the value of each contribution, as the final result may be a mix of ideas coming from different innovators.
- Organize a kick-off workshop and open challenge to showcase how the system works. Pose an easy challenge in which most contributors are likely to be rewarded. An initial success story is crucial to motivate contributors in engaging further. Listen to their opinions, reviews and suggestions for improvement. Thank them for their feedback and let them know how useful it has been to streamline the system.
Beyond these initial steps, there are other key success factors that should not be disregarded:
- Building a culture of trust, innovation and collaboration
- Searching and connecting with external innovation networks to cooperate
- Encouraging contributors to travel to bring in new ideas from other destinations
- Organize workshops to train in co-creation, marketing, leadership and other subjects
- Identify needed infrastructure to facilitate and enhance collaborative innovation
Keep in mind as an innovation mantra that “those that will succeed are the ones that embrace creativity and experiment with different ways of reaching and engaging their customers”.
Do you think of other necessary tips or key success factors?
When introducing and trying to engage employees and community stakeholders in social media platforms, there may be many barriers, fears, concerns and attitudes that pose a cultural change challenge. Therefore, it is necessary to research and listen to these employees and community stakeholders on their opinions, visions and attitudes about engaging in social media to assess the need for a specific culture change and internal marketing strategy to deal with these obstacles. For instance, some of the barriers may be:
- Fear of negative reaction from customers
- Lack of time or internal resources
- Fear of extra workload for the employees
- Lack of knowledge and expertise
- Not convinced about its profitability
- Fear of losing privacy
Once all the barriers are well known, there has to be design and implementation of a Change Strategy to overcome them based on the following sequential patterns:
|1. Create a guiding coalition
||· Identify and engage change agents as social media catalysts
· Assemble a coherent group to lead the change
· Integrate this team into the affected groups
· Bring in champions in each group dedicated to social media success
|2. Develop a clear vision
||· Create a catalyzing vision for the social media effort
· Develop strategy in line with the overall vision
|3. Share the vision
||· Communicate the vision in every possible way to the community
· Commit executive and community leadership to supporting the vision
· Coalition members should be role models for the community
|1. 4. Empower people and remove obstacles
||· Organize training courses on storytelling and content creation
· Organize training courses on social media adapted to all audiences
· Change structures, systems, compensation and any factors that obstruct the social media effort
|5. Secure consistent short-term wins
||· Make public and visible performance improvements
· Celebrate victories in line with the overall program vision
· Reward and recognize those securing the wins
· Publicize the progress of the project together with the contests
|6. Consolidate and keep moving
||· Use momentum to gradually change all systems and processes that don’t support the program’s success
· Enable change agents throughout the organization and community
· Energize the project with consistent flow of new content of all types
|7. Anchor the program in the organization and the community
||· New approach should be anchored in the culture of the community
· Real key to social media success is in transforming the organization and community to the culture of a social enterprise
· Maintain consistent action to further embed behaviors and discipline
Do you think of other barriers or necessary steps to overcome the stated ones?
The development of the Marketing Plan 3.0 may present two cultural challenges:
- The need for developing a new set of values as organizational standards of behavior, as a key success factor of the new values driven marketing
- The need to overcome barriers in the adoption of the social media and content marketing engagement by the employees and the local community
Beyond the life-changing experiences and the related stories, to keep the brand integrity and ensure the success of the new marketing endeavor it is necessary that the employees and partners’ behaviors faithfully reflect the preached values. Therefore, it is probably necessary to develop a culture change program, at least to harmonize certain critical behaviors throughout the destination stakeholder community.
Designed upon consensus among the key stakeholders and community leaders, there has to be a set of values underlying the behaviors to be promoted throughout the community. Such values should be cooperation, innovation and openness to new ideas, integrity and transparency, initiative, sustainability, solidarity, common good, etc. To convince stakeholders of assuming the new set of values, it is recommendable to elaborate a Case for Change, which contains the following pieces:
- Context: why changes are needed now, stating opportunities and threats that justify it.
- Changes: what has to change, who is to be affected and what does not have to change
- Process: how the proposed changes are to be implemented and expected timing
- Benefits: who benefits from the changes (destination, community, individuals, etc.)
- Consequences: what would happen if these changes are delayed
- Expectations: the role every stakeholder has to play
- Commitment: leaders have to present the Case for Change to the community, stating their explicit commitments that ultimately make them accountable to the community.
Once the Case for Change has been defined, it’s time to implement it following five principles:
- Train employees, partners and community members on how to apply the new set of values on a daily basis, with especial emphasis on their relationships with tourists.
- Putting the new values into practice by changing behaviors
- Leaders have to preach by example, becoming the key role models that inspire everybody
- Ensure that everyone is aligned with the new values and behaviors, and correct if necessary
- Celebrate results achieved by any employee or community member to encourage others
The key ideas of driving culture change to understand are that this has to be started from the leadership positions, well communicated to convince their organization or community while listening, understanding and addressing their possible resistance, preaching by example, achieving and celebrating results, and benefiting all stakeholders to prevent further resistance.
The Whitepaper on “Building a culture of collaboration and innovation” is to develop in detail the key factors to a successful cultural change into developing the desired attitudes.
Would you consider other points in designing and implementing the Case for change?
Beyond the target tourists, the segmentation strategy formulation should also consider other groups and individuals who are not to become tourists necessarily but are also constituents of the marketing strategies, as they are about to play one or many important roles in the destination development. Hereby are explained all the types of roles that may be played by some of these constituents:
- Tourist: occasionally or frequently visiting the destination
- Client: buys merchandise products
- Follower: follows the destination social media sites, shares content and votes in contests
- Contributor: actively participates in bringing ideas and creating content through the open innovation system for non-qualified contributors.
- Professional contributor: cooperates with the destination by bringing in his professional knowledge and skills to the innovation challenges reserved to qualified contributors. Here there should also be consideration for those leaders participating in the executive board.
- Brand ambassador: actively advocates for the brands value proposition in all networks.
- Volunteer: participates in volunteer programs in cooperation with Non-profit organizations.
- Investor: brings in capital needed to financially support the destination platform start-up
- Partners & Sponsors: establish long-term cooperation deals with the destination
- Employee: works full-time, part-time or collaborates as a freelancer
Do you think of any other role that is relevant for the development of the destination?
If the Marketing Audit depicts the portrait of the destination’s present situation, the Vision depicts the portrait of what the destination is to become upon accomplishment of the Mission, and the Mission is the ultimate reason for the destination development. To define the Vision, Mission and goals, it is convenient to engage stakeholders through the following steps:
- Community leaders’ mobilization. The first step is to create awareness of the need for a new destination marketing model, to boost the tourism business in favor of the community in order to address critical issues and concerns, namely poverty and the environment. Community leaders are the first to participate in the discussion as they should also be the first to be engaged with the new marketing system, though in the following phases other community members should also be consulted. These have to be defined:
- Current and future challenges affecting the local communities to be addressed
- Specific constituents of these challenges, namely those at the bottom of the pyramid
- Other concerns related to environmental and cultural issues
- Voting proposal and opening participation. Once the community leaders agree upon a mission proposal addressing the critical issues they consider as priorities, this should be voted upon by all interested community members, who could also bring up their ideas.
- Refining and approving mission. In accordance with the votes and suggestions, the mission proposal may be refined and approved without voting if there is consensus.
- Tourism experience value proposition. Then, there should be the drafting of the part of the mission statement related to the tourism experience value proposition, which is associated with the socio-cultural transformation connected to the life-changing experiences. This step also requires the participation of industry leaders, influencers and stakeholders in general, who are to become key brand ambassadors for the destination’s development. This part of the mission statement intends only to orientate and inspire the life-changing experiences of the product developers, and so does not need the approval of the whole community, though their contribution should be encouraged.
It is necessary to highlight the importance of engaging as many industry leaders, influencers and creative activists as possible from the outset, as long as the new destination marketing development needs to leverage their influential power, especially at the beginning.
Therefore, by engaging them from the outset and giving them the chance to bring in their ideas, and showing them somehow that their contribution has been incorporated into the mission guidelines, they will feel as if they are co-creators of the new project and will establish an emotional connection with the destination, which in turn encourages them to keep on contributing, so long as they are willing to tell a story of success in which they took part. Such engagement should be maintained by inviting them to participate in regular meetings to track the evolution of the destination development and mission accomplishment.
Would you consider any other step in building the vision and the mission statement?
The innovation platform should market its value proposition not only to the whole industry stakeholders throughout the region, but also to all potential contributors in and outside the industry. The process starts by identifying a pool of champions who are willing to showcase the benefits of open innovation for both contributors –solvers- and receivers –seekers-.
By identifying a group of visionaries in both sides of the platform, the conditions are set to face the first challenges, the ones which have to showcase how the open innovation works, and how it may contribute to improving the competitiveness of the whole industry. As soon as a few of these innovation challenges show successful results and satisfaction in both sides of the innovation process, a greater group of early adopters is likely to become interested and eager to participate to some extent.
As stated before, beyond rewards, the great motivators to take into account are the will for contribution to the community’s progress and well-being, and the will for recognition and prestige among industry peers. Such motivators suggest two main strategies to attract talent:
- Promote innovation challenges for non-profit purposes. Such challenges may be focused on helping destinations in developing countries or having suffered natural disasters, or mission driven tourism organizations, mostly related to environmental issues, like in ecotourism. Such challenges could be sponsored by private companies to offer some compensation.
- Organization of events to award best contributors and give them public recognition.
These and other strategies should be supported by marketing the open innovation platform to potential contributors in their communities and favorite media channels, which would entail social media, magazines, journals, public presentations, etc.
A more detailed explanation about the operation of an open innovation system is to be provided in the Whitepaper “Envisioning open innovation in destinations”.
Do you think of other strategies or tactics to attract talent to the open innovation system?
It is necessary to develop incentive systems to recognize and reward collaborative partnerships between innovators. Mind that the most powerful motivators that drive contribution are:
Contribution to the greater good. As long as innovations contribute to improve the community’s quality of life to some extent, this is itself highly rewarding. Intrinsic motivation is actually the primary driver, as a satisfactory result is already quite rewarding.
Peer recognition. One of the highest motivators –probably the highest- is the status and recognition attained through contributions. It is therefore crucial to find ways of recognizing contributors, rewarding them with appropriate community prestige.
Compensation. It is necessary to think of a flexible system of compensations, according to the various motivations within the pool of innovators. Beyond money rewards, it is necessary to find out other kinds of compensations that contributors would be willing to strive for.
Fostering collaboration in the innovation efforts poses many challenges, primarily related to the culture of trust, which has to be created over time, starting by the design of an appropriate system of rewards to tackle with critical issues such as intellectual property transfers and confidentiality, among other concerns.
The best way to start with collaborative innovation is in mission driven challenges that appeal to the contributors’ human spirit rather than for its compensation, which is actually likely to be symbolic or insignificant. The collaboration in non-profit challenges is expected to progressively weave interaction and networking among innovators, as well as trust among the frequent contributors. Such practice is also expected to inspire reflection about the design of collaboration systems for compensated challenges.
Can you think of other motivators or strategies to foster contribution in the open innovation system?
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?