Developing Tourism Strategy Through Co-Creation
Creating tourism strategy…brand strategy, digital strategy or marketing strategy…through co-creation can be challenging, but rewarding.
First the process is an ongoing commitment, not a single meeting.
Second, as most of you realized while reading A Call for Co-Creation, the primary reason why most NTOs and DMOs do not co-create strategy, ideas or products is because the management of people, opinions and egos can be a daunting task.
Implemented incorrectly, co-creation can yield more disagreement than insights.
But with a basic structure and a few guidelines, co-creation can be an advantageous solution for the creation of your tourism strategy.
Guidelines for Co-Creating your Tourism Strategy
Here is what we have learned after implementing co-creative strategy sessions for numerous tourism clients.
Have a leader
- a facilitator, a moderator, someone who is tasked with running the session
- ideally this person has an independent perspective (not yourself, your boss or a key stakeholder)
- make sure everyone in the meeting knows who the leader is
Find the right people
- look for people who are passionate, knowledgeable, confident and collaborative
- invite different perspectives, even peers who are known to disagree with you
- find new areas of expertise with your community
- keep the group size manageable, but diverse…8-12 participants is a good range
Establish clear roles
- tell participants why they are in the meeting and what is expected of them
- clarify responsibilities and expectations
- we like to use a participant role outline (Google Docs) for these sessions, which is distributed to all participants prior to the session
Create a manageable structure
- create a clear session structure and follow it
- allow time for conversation, but do not allow random conversations to dominate the session
- allow for group thinking and individual thinking
- explain that the process is ongoing and not constrained by a single session
Ask good questions
- do not assume the group will do the work for you
- prepare thoughtful questions and exercises to stimulate the conversation
- don’t waste time or talents on unnecessary topics
- listen, talk, listen again
- create a feedback loop to explain how feedback will be used and sorted
- create a process for addressing negative feedback or opposing recommendations
- ensure there is a takeaway for participants
A co-creation session will not write your tourism strategy for you, but it will provide unfiltered views from stakeholders and consumers, increased participation and strong advocacy for the resulting strategy.