Tag: responsible tourism

Collaborative business modelsCollaborative cultureEnvironmental sustainabilitySustainabilityThird sector and social sustainability

Voluntourism, beyond responsible tourism

Responsible tourism, Voluntourism, Sustainable tourism…are different concepts with a common idea: the tourism activity in which the visitor brings positive impacts to the destination, either to alleviate poverty, to help in the development of the local economy, rebuilding areas affected by natural catastrophe, etc.

With regards to the kind of people interested in these types of tourism activities, they are not all moved by the same motivations and goals. The visitor travels either passively (holiday trip + sightseeing), actively (holiday trip + volunteering) or as a volunteer (volunteering trip).

Nowadays, Latin America and Asia are the continents offering most of these programs. There are both outbound and incoming travel agencies specialized in this type of tourism, and some tour operators have developed business units based on responsible tourism, whereas in Africa volunteering holiday programs are more popular than responsible tourism programs.

Also in Eastern Europe some countries are discovering in this type of tourism a new source of revenue for its poorest regions. Other Western countries such as the USA, Germany, France, Spain or Italy have also included strategies for the development of volunteering tourism products in their tourism development plans.

These type of holiday programs let the visitor truly discover the local culture, staying in local homes or accommodation facilities managed by locals, visiting the destination and cooperating in different social projects. Some examples may be:

  • Helping in building homes for refugees or in the poorest areas of the destination
  • Working as a teacher in primary schools or supporting in sport camps for children
  • Cooperating with an NGO dealing with the victims of a natural catastrophe
  • Participating in an ecotourism program where to work in the preservation of the environment

Some portals like Xmigrations.com work as a search engine for activities and accommodation where you may find nature, sport and spiritual activities in places where you can work in exchange for a free stay.

http://www.visionesdelturismo.es/turismo-solidario-y-volunturismo/

Marketing 3.0SustainabilityThird sector and social sustainability

Bringing value through social tourism

The CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) systems in organizations work in 3 fields: environmental, social and economic. If we focus on the social part, we are likely to find many hotels, destinations and businesses that are socially responsible. This consists of a strategy based on a high social commitment integrated also in the corporate communication and promotion. Both the offer and demand have to be considered in social tourism:

1) Social tourist demand. People such as retirees, handicapped, and from the base of the pyramid, for whom tourism is not easily accessible.

2) Suppliers and social tourist offer. Businesses, organizations and tourism resources prepared and with policies developed to focus on the social part of CSR.

Therefore, tourism focusing on social issues includes market segments which have difficulties in accessing the practice of tourism, and also all those public and private initiatives whose main interest is to maximize the access to tourism integrating all collectives.

At the same time, destination’s competitiveness is highly enhanced so long as this approach contributes to the generation of employment, creates sustainable and conscious tourism flows, and integrates all stakeholders by aligning them in the same direction.

Starting up social tourism initiatives entails listening actively to the affected groups. Interest groups from the tourism sector encompass the employees, tour-operators, travel agencies, hotels, local community, leisure businesses, etc. as there are more people conscious about the social and environmental impacts of the industry.

The reasons why CSR policies are developed may be various, but the interest for social tourism in these groups goes in the direction of optimizing the opportunities to create value. Actually, not caring for social issues related to tourism may end up with the loss of confidence by the stakeholders.

One of the Spanish companies standing out recently in Social Tourism is Confortel, focusing on social branding actions. The social responsibility is their competitive advantage within the hospitality industry, and this is based upon their commitment with the people. Some of the initiatives they have started up are the following:

  • Care for the well-being and hospitality towards clients
    •    Availability of services and facilities accessible to everybody
    •    Labor inclusion. Employment for handicapped people. Nowadays their staff has 40% of handicapped workers, 20% of which are directly hired by the firm.
    •    Special Centres for employment. The firm has reconverted some of its hotels to this concept: Ilunion Suites Madrid e Ilunion Valencia3.

Another of the Spanish firms developing CSR policies is Fuerte Hoteles, focusing both on its employees and its clients, and cooperating with many disadvantaged groups. The hotel chain H10 Hotels is also a reference in social tourism. Some of the actions it is working on are the following:

  •  Caritas Dining hall aid program
    •    Campaign for children’s vaccination from La Caixa Social Welfare
    •    Incorpora Program from La Caixa Social Welfare
    •    Check-in for Africa Campaign (Fundación Guné)
    •    Sleep Smart Campaign. Helping de Homeless

The Corporate Social Responsibility has to be one of the strategic lines in our businesses, destinations, organizations, etc. It brings value to our clients and to ourselves, it helps us to stand out and to be more competitive, and it allows us to walk in the direction of the new times and the current social changes.

And to sum up, it is interesting to know a report on the hospitality sector with regards to CSR initiatives based on G4 (Sustainabilty Reporting Guidelines), the new reporting standard from the “Global Reporting Iniative” (GRI). This turns out to be a contribution in terms of transparency, commitment and confidence with its stakeholders.

Interested businesses may use this Guide to elaborate sustainability reports. It is suitable for any organization of any size, sector and location. So far, some international hotel chains such as Marriott, Hilton, Starwood and Intercontinental can be found in the report.

This blogpost is from  http://www.visionesdelturismo.es/turismo-social/

Environmental sustainabilityMarketing 3.0SustainabilityThird sector and social sustainability

Sustainable management of tourism destinations: challenges, goals and advantages

Since the concept of Sustainable development became popular in the mid 80’s with the celebration of the UN World Commission for the environment and development (Bruntland, Our Common Future, 1987) where this concept is defined for the first time: “The development responding to the needs of the present without compromising the development needs and satisfaction of the future generations”.

When applying this concept to the tourism industry, the concept of Sustainable tourism development is also born: “Development considering the economic, social and environmental impacts when satisfying the needs of the visitors, the local communities and the environment” (UNWTO).

Balancing the three dimensions. Therefore, a tourism development supported by an adequate balance of these three dimensions guarantees the destination’s sustainability in the long term, in a way that the destination operators have to:

1) Optimize the use of the environmental resources, a fundamental asset for the tourism development, keeping the essential eco-friendly processes and helping to preserve the natural resources and the biodiversity.

2) Respect the socio-cultural authenticity of the local communities, preserving their cultural assets and their traditional values, contributing to the social equality and the cross-cultural understanding.

3) Ensure that the economic activities are viable in the long term, delivering profits to all stakeholders proportionally, creating opportunities for stable employment for the local communities to obtain income and social services, thus contributing to reduce poverty.

The principles of sustainable tourism may turn into a series of management practices, which are applicable to all kinds of tourism businesses. The purpose of these principles is to minimize the negative impacts and maximize the benefits of the tourism activity in the socio-cultural, business and natural environment. Nowadays there are an increasing number of Governments and DMOs that adopt the sustainability principles within their management practices.

It is possible to say that sustainable tourism is a new fashion thanks to the new kind of traveler, who is better informed, and more linked to the destination’s social and cultural reality, so long as he or she is more exigent with the overall experience and looks for authenticity through the connection with locals. To satisfy the expectations of this new tourist demand, destinations face many new challenges and goals.

Goals for a sustainable management. On one hand, destinations have to adopt interdisciplinary and integrative approaches, including four main goals:

  1. Prove a sustainable management. Through actions such as the crisis and emergency management or the policies to counter the climate change.
  2. Maximize social and economic profits for the local community and minimize negative impacts, through supporting local entrepreneurs and public participation.
  3. Maximize profits for the local communities, visitors and cultural heritage, while minimizing the negative impacts, by preserving the tourist sites and managing the visitors’ behavior.
  4. Maximize the profits for the environment and minimize the negative impacts, by protecting the fragile environments and controlling the emission of toxic gases.

Challenges for sustainable tourism. On the other hand, in accordance with the destination’s sustainable management, the destination executives face new challenges:

  1. Reduce demand seasonality
  2. Tackle the impact of the tourism transport.
  3. Improve the quality of the tourism sector employments.
  4. Keep and improve the local communities’ prosperity and life quality.
  5. Minimize the use of resources and the production of waste.
  6. Preserve and leverage the value of natural and cultural heritage.

All these challenges can be overcome by using tourism as a tool for sustainable development through coordination between the public and private stakeholders.

To sum up, the 17 goals projected by the UN World Tourism Organization in its report “Tourism and the Sustainable Development Goals” are the following:

  1. No poverty
  2. Zero hunger
  3. Good health & well being
  4. Quality education
  5. Gender equality
  6. Clean water & sanitation
  7. Affordable & Clean energy
  8. Decent work & Economic growth
  9. Industry, innovation and infrastructure
  10. Reduced inequalities
  11. Sustainable cities and communities
  12. Responsible consumption and production
  13. Climate action
  14. Life below water
  15. Life on land
  16. Peace, justice and strong institutions
  17. Partnerships for the goals

This blogpost is from  http://www.visionesdelturismo.es/gestion-sostenible-de-destinos-turisticos/

Business trendsEnvironmental sustainabilityStrategySustainabilityThird sector and social sustainability

Tourism business trends for 2017: Social responsibility is profitable

The UN Global Compact was born as an international Project created in 1999 whose mission was to initiate a global movement to create awareness among the sustainable businesses about the impacts created by their activities, so as to mitigate their negative consequences.

The key points of the initiative are developed upon some clearly defined goals:

  • Doing business responsibly, aligning strategies to the ten universally accepted principles to promote CSR in the areas of environment, labor rules, corruption prosecution, and human rights.
  • Make strategic decisions to develop UN Sustainable Development Goals, emphasizing on innovation and collaboration.

There are more than 13.000 supporting organizations in more than 145 countries, being the largest business social responsibility voluntary initiative worldwide.

One of the usual questions is whether CSR is profitable or not. According to the World Business Council for the Sustainable Development (WBCSD) there are five sources of profitability within SCR:

1. Operational efficiency: reducing waste, selling recyclable products, etc.
2. Risk reduction: taking care of the environment, developing anti-corruption practices, etc.
3. Human resources recruitment and retention: increasing productivity by attracting honest, committed and participative talents, and reducing their turnover.
4. Long term protection of raw materials’ sources: development of suppliers and improvement of the price and payment conditions.
5.  Demand growth: customer attraction and loyalty, and compliance with the large buyers’ requirements.

Far from considering Social Responsibility as a fashion trend or a mere philanthropic action, it is considered as a series of practices applied by firms, and that are part of their corporate strategy, as their goal is to minimize the business impacts and aims to create internal benefits for all the stakeholders.

Socially responsible businesses generate profits by improving their reputation. According to Adela Cortina –Director of the ETNOR Foundation about business ethics-, “social responsibility should be assumed as a management tool, a measure of prudence and an exigence of fairness”. However, there are not clear rules and universal criteria on how to apply Social Responsibility within the Corporate Strategy, letting its development be up to the business owner criteria.

Some of the tourism companies which adhere to the UN Global Compact for Responsible tourism are:

  • Ilunion Hotels.
  • Segittur – Turismo e Innovación.
  • Viajes El Corte Inglés.
  • The Ostelea School of Tourism and Hospitality

This blogpost is from   http://www.visionesdelturismo.es/tendencias-de-las-empresas-turisticas-en-el-2017-aplicar-la-responsabilidad-social-es-rentable/

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?

Marketing 3.0Strategy planning & executionSustainabilityTourism marketing

The Marketing Plan 3.0: Building the vision and the mission

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?

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?

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?

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?