The short version of DestinationQ: ‘Competitiveness from collaboration’

‘Competitiveness from collaboration’ was the theme at Queensland’s biggest tourism industry gathering: DestinationQ

The really short version of the forum:

Destination promotion happens through destination stories, told by many.
Destination stories are the direct result of experiences.
Destination experiences result from collaboration across industries.

 

Welcome to Country, Nunukul Yuggera

A great place to start the theme of collaboration: in the world’s most secular society, Indigenous tourism products offer something that we don’t frequently experience in our modern lives – a connection to something ‘beyond’ the world we see. 

It's great to hear that Queensland is way on its way to smashing its goal of 20 new Indigenous tourism businesses by 2020! Did you read about what we learned from the Commonwealth Games about collaborating with your local Indigenous community? First Nations flavour a destination – not only with their art but in the connections between visitors and the Indigenous community. The opportunity with Indigenous products in regional Australia is tremendous!

The Nunukul Yuggera mob gave us chills and a feeling of grounding through their dance, song and stories. The Welcome to Country ceremony is a sign of tourism hospitality on this land stretching back millennia.

Tilma's Linda and Kushla were once treated to an insightful view over the Brisbane CBD and the pre- and early-European landscape of Brisbane and the Aboriginal people who lived here by Earthcheck’s Mark Olsen. Did you know that Suncorp Stadium is built on the site of intertribal sports carnivals of pre-European times? Mark’s insights absolutely opened our eyes. 


Destination management

William Bakker, Destination Think!
Presentation slides

A bit of kudos for us Queenslanders: William used to work at Tourism British Colombia and his boss was obsessed with Queensland and used to spy on everything we did!

Destination Think! provides regular case studies of how small communities to whole countries deal with destination management challenges  - which are similar across the globe though the approach to solving them is often very different.
What experiments are people doing? What happens when those experiments are merged?
We recommend signing up for their brief weekly newsletter for regular and thought-provoking inspiration.


Who is the right visitor for our destination? 

  • Delivers economic value
  • Adds value to local community
  • Doesn’t cause negative environmental impact

Copenhagen has announced the end of tourism as we know it to enter into an era of localhood. Their right visitor is a temporary local: respectful, cleans up after themselves, contributes to the community.

Greenland is sorting their ‘right tourist’ wheat from the chaff with Why Greenland may not be for you. 


What are visitors looking for?

Visitors are looking for experiences. AirBNB’s Experiences has tapped into this where locals can offer authentic experiences to visitors such as learning to make pasta from an Italian grandmother in Rome. You can sell your own custom experiences on AirBNB if you live in Sydney or Melbourne.

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How to add value for your visitors

These ideas on added value are from The Experience Economy by Joseph Pine

These ideas on added value are from The Experience Economy by Joseph Pine

Goods: coffee beans
Value added goods: roast the beans, package them, sell them in a shop
Service: Brew the beans and serve coffee. 
Experience: Turn the beans into an experience like Starbucks did with baristas, ‘venti’ and ‘grande’, and frappadappachinos. 

The next layer is the transformational experience! 

People travel to be transformed, even if they don’t think about it that way. 
They travel to experience new cultures, challenge themselves, learn, get new perspectives, and risk.
Think about your destination with that in mind: it’s a very different perspective!

Diving, for example:
Good = scuba gear
Service = ferrying people to diving spots
Experience = film them
Transform their lives: give them insights, enable them to see the ecosystem and how it works, and the impact of global warming. 

 

If you deliver the right experience to the right audience they will tell the right story.
Our job is to develop the right experiences. 
This is the shift for DMOs: from promotion to actively collaborating with every other industry – arts, transport, etc – to create a holistic travel experience that people will rave about.
Destination stories are direct results of destination experiences.


Destination branding - be you; everyone else is already taken

We must look at who are we really. Our brand must be aligned with what is really happening in the destination. Coke can choose its brand message and Pepsi can choose a different one though the product is the same. But a destination can’t pick what it wants to be - we are what we are. 
Every single destination is totally unique in its physical attributes and its culture – and there is a market for it. Why be like everyone else?

Destination brand flows from place DNA – and the brand will align with all the images of the destination on Instagram. Incorporate your origin story (DNA) in your brand.

Appealing to the broadest range of markets? That’s a bit meh. 
What about the 1% of Chinese who love birdwatching? That’s still tens of millions of people. Money becomes less important to those who are passionate about their niche interest. They’ll travel to wherever their passion exists. 

Niche markets are passion-based markets. They are not necessarily small markets! They are global markets. Birdwatchers across the world are connected through their passion: they all read the same blogs, and are in the same Facebook groups. They have their own culture, language, hierarchy/status, bragging rights, influencers, and emotional appeal. 

For example, the niche market for Flanders in Belgium is middle aged men who go on buddy bike tours. Bike tours are not easy. People go to Flanders to suffer on their bike trips. Only Flanders can offer this experience of uphill struggles in the rain: “Suffering Flanders”. They can deliver on what their market wants.

Hotel Zed is a great example of choosing a niche target market. They changed an average roadside motel into an amazing experience with just paint and furniture. ‘Brace yourself, you're on route to booking of some of the most UNORDINARY rooms anywhere.’ Their hokey little pool slide is even called The Zedernator.

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Focus on improving the customer journey
Invest your destination's money wisely
Figure out where the challenges are to help improve bookings/conversions
Think of a cycling destination where the hotels don’t have infrastructure to store expensive bikes or bike wash stations. Sometimes removing the pain points is as powerful as promotion to attract visitors.

Iceland Academy is an entertaining way to take away potential travellers’ concerns


Destination promotion happens through destination stories, told by many.
Destination stories are the direct result of experiences.
Destination experiences result from collaboration across industries.

 

Insights into Tourism & Events Queensland

Leanne Coddington, TEQ
Damien Walker, DTESB Department of Tourism, Events, Small Business and the Commonwealth Games
Daniel Geschwind, QTIC

It was pretty exciting to hear Leanne Coddington use Tilma Group MD Linda Tillman’s five key takeouts of the DestinationQ Events Forum as her own summary of the conference.

There are tons of tools available to tourism businesses:
There are grants programs and all sorts of assistance you can tap into – mentoring, digital upskilling, and business development programs.

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Local governments get how crucial tourism is. Collaboration across industries is necessary to maximise the limited resources we have. Your Council and RTO know the community so well so they can maximise experience development and the opportunities that exist across industries, like growing tourism together with growing agribusiness. 

Digital disruption is affecting tourism especially in marketing. Tourism is at the cutting edge of the disruption. People take up digital advances very rapidly.
Surf it rather than get overwhelmed by it. Approach it with an open mind. We cannot stand still. Make sure you connect with the consumer in new ways, such as with Virtual Reality – get into peoples’ heads before they choose a destination.

TEQ is now using their Best of Queensland Experiences program so that they can offer the best experiences to get people to come here! Events will join tourism products soon in this program.

 

The not-distant future is wild!

Global Futurist Chris Riddel

It's simple: people want to have amazing experiences.

Today our lives are being changed by: social media, mobiles, the cloud, analytics of big data.
The next things that are going to change our lives are:
Sharing economy
Blockchain
Artificial intelligence
Internet of things 

With everything connected to the internet marketers won’t need to profile target markets as groups eg with demographics. We’ll be able to create hyperpersonalised experiences.

There will be massive changes and job losses because of tech.
Amazon will soon have a bricks and mortar presence in Australia
Driverless tech is already yesterday’s news – a $30K retrofit turns semitrailers into self-driving robots with cameras and radars; San Francisco has driverless taxis (Uber)
Driverless cars will be on Australian streets in the next 12 months. 

How to use tech to enrich your product

What will lose people jobs is businesses not being innovative and adaptive and creating incredible experiences. 
Use tech to create incredible experiences for your guests.
Tech helps you extend experiences – it’s not a replacement. It’s an add on component.

Simplify what you’ve always done to make it better.
Create experiences using your mobile. 
A local camel farm puts a robotic jockey on camels in races with VR to control the robot so everyone can be a jockey for a day! 

Frictionlesss experiences will be the new norm, like on an Uber ride when your app pays for your ride automatically.

We are no longer tourism companies, we are a tech companies. Think of Lego who lets you design your own model online then order it as well as share it with your friends so they can play with it online.


Data is the new oil – find, mine, refine.
Networks will enable faster innovation.

Tech doesn't have to be a huge investment: Commonwealth Bank’s system of getting cardless cash from ATMs with mobile phones (which has been copied around the world) cost $15,000 and was invented by a student in a start-up environment. 

Screens will disappear with augmented reality: the world will become your screen. Pokemon Go was finally a use for augmented reality: Pokemon Go brought augmented reality to life with its fusion of nostalgia (of playing Pokemon as a kid), real world gaming (adrenaline, endorphins) and competition to make something addictive. In 3 years you won’t be able to tell the difference between what is real and what is not – such as in games like Call of Duty.

AI as augmented intelligence (rather than artificial intelligence) as an extension of your brain similarly to how a car is extension of your legs.

 

Collaboration for success and competitiveness

Summer Land CamelsJeff Flood
Presentation slides

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Create new value and opportunity for yourself and by default others.
Collaboration is different than cooperation.
Competition is often a zero-sum game - a fight over a piece of the pie.

If you think you’re the most valuable just wait until a few colleagues quit or get sick. Everything is interconnected and dependent on every other part to function. It’s impossible for us not to collaborate.

You can change how you collaborate. The camel farm is collaborating with guests, delivery people, bus drivers, staff members etc.

Staff want to have a great life experience not only a living. Nuture and invest in relationships. You are not defined by ‘We build these widgets’ – you are a series of relationships. 

The camel farm is run on the principles of natural capital – the currency of natural systems – the ecological, economic and human interface that yields a flow of valuable goods and services now and into the future within a sustainable framework.


Bundy Food Tours

Suzie Clarke
Presentation slides

Suzie Clarke shared her story on how she collaborates with Bundaberg North Burnett Tourism, local farmers and food producers in the Bundaberg region and was mentored by others in the development of her tour operator business. 

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Nashville underwent a huge transformation recently over ten years.
Who are we?
What do we want to do?
How do we get there? Via collaboration. 

Build a genuine brand and never deviate from what you’re working towards.
Plan your work, be focused be deliberate, take risks, collaborate.

Make the experience more than functional – make it emotional! How do you make a beach or museum emotional?

Know your community’s products, and cross-sell: make your visitors feel they didn’t have enough time to see and experience it all so they have to come back

Be exemplary in your service. 
Music City Platinum Ambassador program: employee training of customer service. All the taxi drivers have to do the course every year. The rookie police officers do the training because visitors stop them to get advice. 
Nashville has a Hit Maker citywide program asking people to report on who made their day. Who gave them amazing customer service? They celebrate the monthly and annual winners by treating like VIP rock stars! 

Overcome fragmentation with communication
Newsletters, monthly sales meetings, new member orientation. luncheons for hundreds. Nashville overcommunicates their messages to make sure everyone is on same page. What they've done and what’s ahead. Where dangers are. Where they need help. Even the construction industry knows what is happening in tourism. 

Overcome fragmentation with events
Civic pride, national and international PR, ancillary business, visitation – it's amazing what events are good for.

Nashville now has the USA’s biggest fireworks for July 4. They chased the bar set by Macy’s. (Macy did a press release of how many shells they were going to shoot off so Nashville ensured they did more!) Now in their sights: competing with NYE in NY. Nashville will do a 3-hour event to go up against Dick Clark. The whole city will benefit from this economic engine event.

Be agile!
Out of nowhere, their hockey team got into the finals and tens of thousands of fans were gathering. The hockey team contacted the VIC requesting to move the party to the park. The VIC leveraged this and in 30 days they created 30 events, 3 concerts and 4 TV shows to celebrate the team. 117,000 people within a half mile celebrating music and sports: unbudgeted and unplanned.
It led to that the Stanley Cup finals should be in Nashville every year – what an unmissable party!
It led to an opportunity to talk with NFL to their draft event in Nashville, and to make Nashville part of the FIFA 2026 bid. Music is the unique offering. They built their reputation on smaller events to go for the big ones. 

Image by Shawn McKenzie

Image by Shawn McKenzie


Big Run Events, Birdsville Big Red Bash

Greg Donovan
Presentation slides

The Big Red Bash is the world's most remote music concert, held in Birdsville in far western Queensland. 40% of attendees have never been to outback, 60% are from interstate, 33% are families (It's a safe environment), 14 nights away is average = 80K visitor nights and $7m economic impact.
Costs are high – truck equipment, charter flights for artists but the organisers figured well, horse races can pull 6-7K people in the outback. Big Red Bash is also midweek not weekend. The journey is part of the experience. 

Big Run Events is an events management company based in Sydney so they have to collaborate and build relationships and trust within the town, with Council, landowners, local businesses and service providers and other outback destinations along the way. Everyone is involved in an extensive debrief where everyone has input - police, council, health care, businesses, landowners…
Action points are agreed on and then acted on. Free tickets are given to everyone in the shire ($400).

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Effective collaboration

Look for win-win outcomes
Have open and honest communications
Listen to opinions, advice, concerns
Deliver on commitments
Demonstrate professional approach through actions – don’t leave anything to chance to build confidence in them as professionals
No surprises – keep people informed. 
Have Council on your side! 
Integrate: have ticket sales at the visitor info centre where visitors can buy local merchandise

 

The New Forest, England


Anthony Climpson
Presentation slides

We are always subject to fragmentation in tourism with different standards of accommodations, etc, and operators don’t travel very far and don’t meet with each other.  The DMO is the only one who is looking at the region holistically while all the operators are busy with their businesses. 

My job is to try and make common sense common practice in a net of relationships for common benefit for all. 
Tourism is putting things together for the benefit of fun and making a living.
The mind is like a parachute: it doesn’t work unless it’s open. 
Tourism is a contact sport. 

Collaboration: Get buy in, don’t force decisions, get everyone on the same page first, have a shared vision, and be willing to change your own ideas.

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Collaborative workshopping

We have been hanging out to go to a conference where the room full of tourism professionals get to share all their thoughts and smarts - well, this was the one! The afternoon session turned the theme of Collaboration into action, workshopping on how tourism businesses can best deepen their connection with Queensland's destination experiences. 

 

Your takeaways

Were you at the conference? What did you takeaway from it? Leave your comment! 

The speakers presentations from the forum are available on the DestinationQ website, along with a report from the collaborative workshop session in the afternoon. 

Linda TillmanComment