Published on Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Boring no longer: Disruptive innovation brings big destination benefits

New report lists tactical disruptive innovations, how to effect them and have some fun again!

Your inbound destination tourism set? Goes up and down a little but generally handled by the same players? From PDA in the tourist"s hand to bank account in Boston?

Tourism is now a managed mature industry. This year, we will see the international tourist-count reach 1billion and deliver a trillion dollars in tourism revenue. Add domestic tourism and you have at least 6 billion tourists and at least 6 trillion dollars of revenue.

What does that mean in practice? All inclusives offering homogenised deals, chain hotels offering standardized services, low-cost airlines offering practically no services, and all these commodity products delivered by massive global product distribution networks to a PDA in your pocket. Where is the FUN gone? Where is the excitement?

Boring? Let the big players get on with their own game if it makes them happy. Why not have a little fun and develop some disruptive and profitable initiatives for your destination and have a lot of fun too!
Here are just a few opportunities:

GROW YOUR OWN FESTIVAL or EVENT: Doesn"t have to be big, but it does have to fulfil your destination"s needs and tastes to work. The idea is that you organize a party that you will enjoy and then invite the world (well the sort of people you like!) to it. Great result a festival that makes lots of money and fills the place with nice, high spending people. Worst result - a good party!

START A MARKET: OK so Christmas markets are everywhere, but what about Harvest Markets? Summer markets? Easter markets? Tourists not only love markets but they will travel a long way to find them.

TAKE THE TRAIL: Long trails, short trails, winding trails straight trails. They all not only provide great opportunities for interpretation to add value to your visitors experiences but also give you methods to sell local products and services. Plus they provide a matrix for local co-operation, joint marketing and management!

POP-UP LOCAL SUPERMARKET: There are pop-up shops, pop-up theatres, pop-up cafes and restaurants, why not a pop-up local supermarket of truly local wares. It can change every day or even every hour providing a physical buying opportunity and real showcase. Plus another opportunity for local co-operation.

INTEGRATED TACTICAL MARKETING: It"s not only hoteliers who benefit from incoming tourism business. Actually everybody can benefit. Why not get together a local group from all trades to brainstorm about single integrated marketing events?

HOMECOMINGS and GATHERINGS and more. Whatever you call them, they work. Last year it was Scotland"s "Homecoming" this year it"s Ireland"s "Gathering". The important point is that it uses happy memories, past times, nostalgia and the sense of home as an amazingly powerful tourism (and economic) draw.

DESTINATION EVANGELISTS: For literally thousands of years the potency of this marketing method has proved itself again and again. A strong tourism product, a simple message, the potential to get involved - all deliver destination evangelists. This process is made much more powerful as people distrust big company marketing messages and proliferate information via the ever-more-powerful social media.

DAY TRIPS: Don"t distain the opportunities for day trips by train or coach, or car or bicycle - even foot. Properly organized and promoted day trips offer a low-cost high yield tourism opportunity.

TRANSPORTATION: Take a tip from hypermarkets and outlets who organize their own transportation. The fact is that if you make it easy for tourists to visit, they are much more likely to come. Even if you have to subvent the cost it may well be a paying opportunity.

DO ONE THING WELL: Disruptive innovations have to be strong - and FUN. Every time you do something interesting it will be recorded and reported by … who knows. Ultimately you will get a reputation for success - and that will bring more ideas and more tourists. Soon you"ll get a virtuous circle operating, joining tourists and destination suppliers - providing interest, work, and fun for all.

PIGGY BACK: Disruptive innovations are about seeing opportunities and taking advantage of the status quo as a basis for your innovation. So, if someone else is doing well (destination, attraction, transport operator, whatever) make use of it - it takes much less energy to use an existing situation than to create a new one.


Valere Tjolle


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