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  • 1. EDEN EVENTS 2013 SESSION 5: EDEN CLASS Bruxelles, Tuesday 12th November 2013 What is tourism success? Specifically, what does tourism success mean for a destination as opposed to a destination management organisation (DMO)? What is the story behind the story? Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen. First of all, let me thank the EDEN Association and the Commission supporting Eden class initiative, giving me the opportunity to moderate this session. Let me introduce myself: my name is Lorenzo Canova, I am a sociologist and for about twenty years I have been dealing with development policies and I have been responsible for different experimental projects concerning the fields of tourism, cultural policies, environmental sustainability and local development. I teach Tourism and Local Development at the University of Bergamo in Italy. For more than ten years I have been working for the Department of Development and Economic Cohesion at the Italian Ministry of Economic Development, where I coordinate the Program “SensiContemporanei”, which is an experimental program of public investments in local development, tourism, contemporary art, design, architecture and audiovisual industry. The title of the class is “Place Branding, Place Making”. Both these concepts will be discussed by our experts, Mr Stephan Koehl, Chief Executive Officer of the Berchtsgadener Land Tourismus GmbH; Mr Mauro Carbone, Chief Executive Officier of the Ente Turismo Alba Bra Langhe Roero and Vichy Martin, Chief Executive Officer ot the HeartlandsRobinson’s Shaft, who are professionals working on the field and bringing us their useful experience. I am sure we are all very interested in listenning their presentation, so that we can take advantages of their direct and personal experience. In approaching the topic of place making and place branding,I would like we could keep in mind the concept of success. Everyone who deals with PLACE MAKING- in place planning and hospitality, in definingthe standard of services and the mix of activities, in designing and creating the setting ofa unique experience that destination aspires to offer - is working to create a successful destination. Same purpose have people defining a BRANDING STRATEGY to positiondestination on the market. Both of these activities are trying to achievesuccess, as a result. BUT what do we mean by success in tourism? Specifically, what does success in tourism mean for a destination as opposed to a Destination Management Organization or, if you prefer the so called DMO?
  • 2. What is the story behind the story? It is surprising to observethat what should be a simple concept like "definition of success",it becomes actually quite complicatedto define. There is an interesting study (which appeared in “Tourism Management”, in 2010, n. 31, pp. 572 – 589 by Bornhorst et al.) discussing that stakeholders consider success as economically performing well (translated in common terms or in tourism business, it means “making money”), and secondly attracting more visitors. This is a cliché. The research conducted by the authors of that paper found outthat stakeholders see a link between DMO work and destination success, however they are not always able to measure the real contribution. This make our topicmore interesting. Marketing and community support are considered key business areas for DMOs, but there are no clear key measurement to make the DMO accountable. In a nutshell, if things go right and visitors increase all is fine and everybody is happy. When things change, everybody starts complaining but discussions are difficult to unlock as the DMO have rarely a clear mandate on which they are accountable for. Beside that, the world of tourism is nowadays changing. Social media are bringing us in the collaborative economy. We note individuals taking steps creating their own travel ecosystem. Many have heard of HomeAway 1 , yet there are countless sites now enabling people to rent out a room, a sofa or the whole apartment or house. Uber 2 is a game changer in the Taxi business. You have services such as Vayable 3 , Uniiverse, or GetYourGuide 4 , that basically address the core of your trip, that is your experience at the destination. This is what visitors and tourists are looking for. As for user-generated content sites (such as Tripadvisor), their importance keeps on growing, overtaking the age-old influencers, that parents and friends were traditionally. Indeed, more and more studies and researches are going to demonstrate that we trust peer reviews or reviews from strangers more than those from friends or colleagues. Without mentioning the role of OTAs. 1 HomeAway Inc. is a public traded online vacation rental marketplace. HomeAway was founded by venture capital firms Austin Ventures, Institutional Venture Partners, Redpoint Ventures, Technology Crossover Ventures and Trident Capital. 2 Uber is a venture-founded startup and Transportation Network Company based in San Francisco, California, that has created a mobile application connecting passengers with drivers of vehicles for hire. 3 VAYABLE is a community marketplace where you can discover, book, and offer tours, activities, and unique experiences anywhere in the world. 4 Guided tours. Cooking classes. Sightseeing Buses. Canal cruises. There are lots of things to do when you’re discovering a new place. The hard part? Figuring out where to start! GetYourGuide collects and categorizes all the world’s things to do, so that you research less and do more. Africa to Oceania and back again, GetYourGuide makes it simple for you to find and book activities.
  • 3. Briefly, companies outside the destination are starting to bring benefits from suppliers at a lower costs DMOs are able to do. At the end of the day, all these new technologies have created an open forum where information become readily accessible, makingit the utmost challenge and opportunity for the DMO at the same time. This is the scenario and in order to answer this needproperly, the DMO must first answer the most basic question: Who’s the client? The traveller or the member? Voter or political representative? Because, this is where the biggest problem lies. Most, if not all, DMOs get their funding from national and regional governmentmostly, and in variable proportions from a membership. Some cities or regions collect a tourism tax. This could explain why, when the DMO seeks to build a marketing and a communications plan, their final customer is not the traveller, but their members. It’s sure thatthe DMO needs to adapt or will die, and its business modelneedscertainly to be revisited to take into account the changing landscape (or scenario) of the industry. In this scenario, the definition of “success” - keepingvalid the two variables: making money and attracting more visitors - only explains the effects and the results of a destination that achieve SUCCESS, but tell us nothing about HOW to achieve it. This is probably a good reason to devote a specif session of the EDEN class to discuss and to analyse the relationship between Place Making, Place Branding and THE CONCEPT OF SUCCESS. Doing this exercise, our speakers will also considerthe way of actingand what to do, to MAKE happy all the actors dealing in tourism destination, and satisfy needs and requests they may have. From my point of view, the concept of actors dealing in tourism destination meanstravellers, citizens, people from the business community, administrators and managers, cultural and environment NGOs, and also politicians. As a matter of fact,own POLITICAL CONSENSUSdepends on the satisfaction of instances and requests coming from most of these actors. I am not simply saying that EVERYBODY HAS TO BE HAPPY, but I mean that probably working tomeet needs that can build a climate of confidence and wellbeingcan be one of the factors to focus in approaching the way to BE SUCCESFUL IN TOURISM and to make YOUR DESTINATION COMPETITIVE!!! To reach this goal is important to know: How the system of relationship among all the actors and stakeholders involved in tourism has to be managed; How the decision-making process works in different fields of activity that you are dealing with;
  • 4. What instruments to prioritize; Howthe system of objectives should be structured. These are only very few points, and many otherswill come out from the threeprovided presentations, which are facing the following questions: A. How can DMOs support suppliers and the entire destination to leverage on social media? B. How can a community bring to a new life a place considered dead? C. What happens after a crisis? How to start again? The speakers will introduce us the story behind the stories, so that we can understand what made their case successful. In giving the floor to the speakers, I invite them to offer us as many topics, themes, issues and suggestion as possible, so that at the end of our meeting each of us can find at least a couple of topics to work on and why not,to share them with other destinations. In this way, Eden network can became a real platform of sharing work, an effective cooperation tool and an exchange system of knowledge and learning, to become more and more successful and competitive.

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