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?
In contrast with free ideation where the mass crowd of solvers is empowered to bring in their ideas with little or no direction –as many companies have approached open innovation with rather bad results-, the most effective method to deliver real solutions to the seekers is challenge driven innovation. As aforementioned, this method consists of formulating specific and actionable problems or opportunities, to better focus the innovation efforts of potential solvers to a real solution that can eventually be implemented.
The open innovation platform is to be managed by a pool of Project Managers (PM) in charge of dealing with the Innovation challenges. Every time a public or private stakeholder (seeker) wants to open a challenge, a PM is assigned to the challenge and follows a series of steps:
- The PM works with the Seeker in the formulation and definition of the challenge.
- Once the challenge is defined, the Seeker has to set the prize or prizes for the winning solutions. There may be many prizes of different amount to take advantage of many ideas and encourage more participation.
- The PM has to define with the Seeker the terms of agreement to be offered in the tender.
- Beyond the registered innovators in the platform, the PM should search for more innovators outside the platform, especially when the challenge requires specific expertise which is rather scarce or nonexistent among the registered innovators.
- Once all potential innovators have been invited to participate to the challenge, these have to submit their solution by the specified deadline, complying with the stated requirements.
- When submitting the solutions, the PM screens them all to ensure that they all meet the requirements established by the Seeker, prior to deliver them to the Seeker.
- Then, the Seeker may decide which solutions are suitable and award as many as he considers, or none at all if any solution is good enough.
- In the case of discarded solutions, the Seeker has signed an agreement upon which he cannot use the non-awarded ideas without permission of the Solver. To guarantee the accomplishment of this agreement, a pool of Innovation controllers are empowered to carry out Innovation audits on the “Seeker companies” to make sure that such ideas are not used.
Regarding intellectual property (IP) transfer, there are many possible options to regard:
- IP may be fully transferred to the Seeker, especially when the reward is according to it.
- IP may be transferred under a non-exclusive license to the Seeker, if the reward is too low.
This issue is to depend also on the nature of the assignment, taking into account that some innovations are only applicable to one case, because of the uniqueness of the Seeker or because the job is tailored for the Seeker, such as a graphic design.
The funding of the platform may come from two complementary sources:
- Brokering commission for every challenge managed to be paid by the Seeker.
- Sponsorship by many industry stakeholders, including the government.
The platform should engage a vast range of shareholders within the industry, encompassing private businesses, educational institutions, governments and even non-profit organizations.
How do you thing that this operational system could be improved?
The open innovation platform is to be structured in many areas of innovation, according to the nature of the needed expertise. Hereby, six areas of innovation are envisioned:
- Technological solutions (mainly IT related)
- Environmental friendly solutions
- Product development
- Marketing designs and merchandise
- Business model innovation (strategy challenges)
- Stories in different formats, photos, videos, etc.
Every innovation area would have its own pool of contributors, who receive updates about the incoming challenges in which they are invited to participate. Such challenges may be classified into three categories:
- Private challenges posted by private companies
- Public challenges posted by governments, public institutions and DMOs
- Public challenges for mission driven purposes, posted by non-profit organizations, related to cooperation programs or for mission driven destinations
The difference between private and public challenges is mainly the publicity of the challenge, which in the case of private challenges is more likely to be directed exclusively to a selected group of innovators without revealing the name of the innovation seeker and keeping maximum confidentiality. Conversely, public challenges are open to the whole platform, without need to keep confidentiality on the identity of the innovation seeker.
Furthermore, there could be an “Ideation bank” to collect solvers initiatives on identified problems or opportunities which have not yet been posed as a challenge, as they are not among the top priorities for seekers or there is no budget to award solutions at that moment. This ideation bank should give room to creative initiatives and work as a social media platform where solvers may pay for enhanced advertising of their ideas and participants may vote for their favorite ideas. The posted ideas should comply with a series of parameters, requiring detailed and structured explanation of the idea, to filter the mass participation. The “Ideation bank” would not only foster innovation, but also the promotion of new talents in the industry.
Do you think of other types of innovation challenges or areas?
Beyond the aforementioned most conventional approaches, what sets destination intelligence 3.0 apart is the development of an open innovation system accessible to all the tourism industry stakeholders at a regional level.
An open innovation system works like a platform where innovation seekers -operators, tourism boards, governments, consultants, etc.- look for new ideas on how to tackle with their challenges by connecting with innovation solvers -trade professionals, consultants, creative designers, and experts in various fields- through open challenges where the problem is precisely formulated to help solvers envision possible solutions and submit proposals, which are to be assessed and rewarded as long as they help in solving the problem.
Among the posed challenges, there should be some non-rewarded ones for mission-driven purposes -cooperation with destinations in developing countries, destinations recovering from natural disasters, mission-driven destinations, etc.- to showcase how contribution to the greater good is one of the most powerful motivators in innovation, drawing the attention of a larger pool of creative talent than in other challenges.
Such a strategy is not only to support such mission-driven challenges, but also to raise awareness throughout the industry about the potential of mission-driven tourism, as the open innovation system leverages more intelligence and creativity for this type of purpose than for any other, hence providing mission-driven destinations with a natural competitive advantage, and compensating at least some of their constraints.
How do you envision such kind of open innovation challenges?
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?
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?
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?
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?
With regard to the new approach intending to establish a closer relationship with tourists, there could be many possible kinds of research goals:
- Tourists’ needs, problems, and concerns in view of identifying insecurities and discomforts to be addressed through improvement or development of new services and facilities.
- Tourists’ motivations and aspirations to sense the convenience of developing new products or even revamping the destination model towards a 3.0 model to satisfy the aim for mission driven tourism activities.
- Tourists’ opinions to pre-test ideas on new products or marketing initiatives, to ensure their viability and adequate development.
In this point, research should be conducted on the issues that concern the creative society, to better orientate on defining missions that engage the human spirit of most stakeholders. The researched issues are to be chosen by the Destination Management Organization (DMO) with room for participation of local private stakeholders, as with the quantitative surveys. These research goals are to be attained through qualitative methods, such as in-depth interviews and focus groups to get a deeper insight on the researched issues. The access to the sample is here a bit more complicated than in other research projects. Hereby are envisioned some ways to identify the desired sample representatives, bearing in mind that these have to be selected according to specific criteria related to the research goals in every case:
- In the quantitative surveys, through which the pollsters know their sociological and motivational profile
- In social media discussions about the destination and topics related to the research goals
- In the accommodation, in collaboration with the supplier
- On-site when practicing activities related to the research goals
To successfully carry out this task it is necessary to clearly define the target profiles and get the cooperation of the local service suppliers such as accommodation and activity suppliers, which ultimately also benefit from such research. Once identified suitable candidates, these should be invited to participate in a meeting with an interviewer or a focus group, in exchange for a voucher for some of the destination’s services.
The outcomes of the qualitative research are to provide insights and ideas which serve as a basis for further research with quantitative methods.
Would you consider any other goal when researching for tourists insights?
The main objectives when tracking the tourism activity in local destinations are to monitor:
- Evolution of the accommodation offer by type and location
- Demand seasonality by type and location of the accommodation
- Evaluate the satisfaction of local businesses with the tourism activity
- Characterize types of demand, clustering them according to their geographical origin, length of stay, type of services used, seasonality, motivations, trip organization, type of group, activities and places visited, loyalty to the destination and expenditure.
- Satisfaction, intention to recommend, and intention to repeat visit.
These are to be attained through quantitative research methods, resulting in a periodical series of statistical data to be delivered throughout the local and regional industry stakeholders’ network. Hereby it is important to note that these quantitative surveys may work as omnibus surveys, in which business owners may pay for introducing questions related to their business’ information needs.
These data is to be obtained through two different quantitative methods:
- For data on occupancy rates, occupancy satisfaction, origin of demand and length of stay, telephone based survey to the accommodation owners has to be carried out, right after every period of two weeks. This should use a sample representing 20% of the total capacity, to obtain a 98.5% of reliability. The occupancy rate is a weighted average for the number of available beds calculated from the answers of each establishment in the sample.
- For data on characteristics of demand, satisfaction and intention to recommend, an on-site survey has to be carried out either in the tourist areas or in the hotel lobbies. This is designed in many stages: firstly, areas are stratified to ensure that samples are taken from each area. Secondly, primary sample units (towns) with significant tourist accommodation capacity are selected. Then, intermediate units (establishments) are sampled randomly from clusters. Finally, individual units (tourists) are selected in a systematic random way from within each establishment.
The results may be delivered through both web-based updates every two weeks and an Annual Report to be delivered to all regional stakeholders.
Would you consider any other research objective to be monitored?