FRESH EYES:Strategic thinking is a bit of a craft. It also requires insightful understandings (drawing on accumulated experience and specialist knowledge) of the key strategic relationships found at play in a given destination. Sometimes such capacities readily exist locally, but often destinations appreciate the added value brought into play by calling in an independent planning specialist - one who can approach it all with fresh eyes and a more unbiased view of the issues. Using the right consultants to achieve a more finely tuned and integrated strategy, by systematically and cohesively addressing & facilitating all the needs, will normally enhance most outcomes. However they too should be selected for the proven qualities of their strategic thinking.VERIFICATION NEED: Common sense tells us that whenever an investment of valuable or scarce financial resources is at stake, making a point of always talking privately to a diverse sampling of the consultant’s previous clients (to verify from their essential perspective the actual results and satisfaction levels achieved vis a vis the credentials claimed), certainly helps avoid mistakes in this important regard. Additionally, time invested in web searches (using a variety of targeted search terms) can be extremely well spent in possibly providing further unfiltered insights into the veracity of any project results claimed. It also potentially uncovers independent & frank community opinion on the value of what was ultimately produced. In this regard, something of a similar process to checking out not just the 5 star, but also the 1 and 3 star reviews when evaluating a product offer on Amazon. (Or alternatively reading a hotel review on tripadvisor.)BRANDING TOO:In the specialist area of brand strategydevelopment, web feedback from some disappointed destinations suggests that - following through with such extra thoroughness, in independently checking claims and credentials, is something they now regret not treating far more seriously. Sadly, such bad experiences can also have the adverse side effect of devaluing or even discrediting the very concept of place branding itself - which in reality should be regarded as not only essential, but critical to business and destination success.[...]
Strategic Planning and Marketing (3)‘Where the competitive edge really lies’By Bruce Dickson, Tourism Development SolutionsAnd what types of strategy plans work best?KEY INSIGHT: A successful strategic approach aims to more accurately understand - and apply to best advantage (and ROI) - the destination’s true strengths and most worthy opportunities, in relation to both its visitor experiences and its most significant and/or highest yielding markets. Truly lasting and outstanding strategic results - of the type any enterprising or aspiring destination should be seeking - by necessity also require the application of sufficient time, research, experience and expertise. Rushing or shortchanging this fundamental process is the equivalent of deliberately setting out to lay a weak foundation and framework for all your valuable efforts. It is also the worst way to make best use of what are normally limited available resources.IN DEPTH:Experience suggests that rarely are fully integrated, highly focused and well researched strategies achieved, to their most potent & considered potential, by simply facilitating a morning brainstorming session with a few peers & stakeholders. Leading destinations are aware that not only their tourism marketing, market research findings and sales focus must be approached with great strategic insight, but also their broader destination and product development issues. FRESHNESS:This is specially true of the need to constantly (but judiciously) extend and upgrade the strength, mix and appeal of a destination's visitor experiences - and key supporting amenities and services. (An answer to the 'been there, done that' visitor syndrome and constant 'pursuit of the new'.) INTERDEPENDENT: Tourism marketing, sales and development issues are strongly interdependent. So an integrated approach to them all can really boost results and accelerate a destination's prospects for success.THOROUGH: The aim should be to always give the wider planning process the justice and thoroughness it truly deserves, if a truly solid framework for achieving superior results is truly being sought.Any vital market researchgaps need to be filled beforehand and all other available research (of relevance to the task) absorbed, processed and brought to bear. Such added effort and rigor should also help achieve the vital end strategy goal of using and applying limited resources to greatest effect.
“Planning is an unnatural process; it is much more fun to do something. The nicest thing about not planning is that failure comes as a complete surprise, rather than being preceded by a period of worry and depression.”- Sir John Harvey-Jones, Chairman, ICI UK