This blog explores the factors that motivate people within a destination to ‘engage’ at destination level.
I recently worked with a group of very interesting people whose work requires them to achieve engagement and participation of stakeholders in their destinations. While committed to it, they find it challenging. To build engagement, it’s really helpful to understand the motivations for engagement in the first place.
Here’s Maslow’s Hierarchy of Human Needs, as valid today as it was when he first shared it with the world in the 1940s. A brief summary is that humans have five core needs that are staggered in a hierarchy, and that we must satisfy our needs at each level before moving up to the next one. The first two needs relate to survival – we need water, food, shelter and to feel protected before we can consider any higher level needs, for example.
How does an understanding of these needs play out in destination engagement?
Therefore, keep things short, focused and geographically accessible.
Therefore, seek to understand what makes people fearful, acknowledge what is at stake, verbalise it and address where the destination is in relation to it.
Therefore, identify those who generate trust and respect and allow them to lead and engage others.
Therefore, ensure that what you are asking people to engage in actually makes a difference. Be action-oriented and emphasise how their participation influences the outcomes.
This is the point where people wish to focus on The Common Good or The Bigger Picture and is ideally the space where destination engagement would operate within. Be mindful that a group can only operate at this level if all earlier needs on the hierarchy have been addressed.
To summarise, meaningful engagement will play out through short, fun, easy, convenient and focused activities that actually make a difference and that benefit from widespread contribution.