High Performance Tourism : the perspective of the businessJan 27, 2021
This is the third article in The Super Six of Better Tourism Series. The first article introduced the Super Six of Better Tourism framework as a suggested paradigm for how we might start to consider success in tourism in the future. It’s an alternative to the ‘volume-value-visitor satisfaction’ model and looks at a wider set of 6 sustainable and regenerative tourism outcomes. The graphic seeks to show that each one is important and that all are connected, feeding and replenishing each other.
If you are a tourism business seeking to achieve high performance in a changing world, does this model work for you? Well, if you believe that what we consider as ‘high performance’ in tourism is changing, then yes. The belief behind the model is that the tourism businesses and destinations that ‘win’ in the future will measure success by their levels of profit and visitor satisfaction and also by the extent to which they benefit local communities and protect and champion their place and the planet.
It falls to each individual business to really think through for themselves what this might mean. Is ‘high performance’ something more than just having a profitable or growing business? Does ‘sustainable’ involve more than managing waste, water and energy? Is it enough to delight visitors but not our community? Is The Super Six of Better Tourism something that you as a business owner or manager can or should buy into?
Digging down into each element of The Super Six means challenging your business to answer some key questions, such as:
- Should we seek to build a profitable business that lasts?
- Should our business seek to manage resources responsibly?
- Should we seek to delight and empower visitors?
- Should we be intentional about benefitting our local or host communities?
- Should we actively champion the natural and cultural heritage of the destination?
- Should we work with others to help us do this?
- Should we seek to balance all of these things? Are there any of these we can leave out and not worry about just now?
If you find yourself saying ‘yes’ to most of those questions, the Super Six can be rephrased as statements of intent, declarations of purpose or simply clear business commitments to pursuing those outcomes – as shown in the slightly revised graphic below.
Statements of Intent & Purpose
We build a profitable business that lasts
We name 'Building a Profitable Business that lasts' as the first and most important of the Super Six of Better Tourism Business – from the perspective of the tourism business. Why? For the same reason, that airline safety instructions tell us to put on our own oxygen mask before attending to the needs of others. Without profits, businesses simply cannot realise and deliver on all the other opportunities and responsibilities of a sustainable approach!
While more and more business owners are identifying that responsibilities extend beyond their bottom line, delivering profit over the longer term remains a primary responsibility of a business owner or manager. Success in this area is something to be very proud of – after all, it’s far easier to go out of business than to stay in business! Through profitable commercial activity, your business provides continuity and certainty for you, your team, your suppliers, your community and the wider economy. As such, it is perhaps the most significant contribution you can make to ensuring your destination thrives and flourishes.
We manage resources responsibly
Every one of us - every citizen, every business, every government - is now tasked to swiftly reduce our carbon emissions. Expectations are very high that the travel and tourism industries, and the businesses within them, do what they can to reduce their carbon footprint and mitigate its negative impact.
Reducing your carbon footprint has many advantages to your business as well as the climate change response. You will be prepared for new regulations. You will be recognized by staff and visitors as a responsible and forward-looking business. When you save energy and water and generate less waste, you are also guaranteed to save money. It's a win-win-win - for your bottom line, your business reputation and the environment.
It's what we might call 'greening' your business and it's what we might call a 'no-brainer'. It has come to be the minimum standard of activity required by any tourism business claiming to be responsible or sustainable. This means you may no longer get brownie points for getting on top of it, but you may get a lot of negative points if you're found wanting in this area.
We benefit communities
Local people are at the very heart of better tourism destinations and better tourism businesses. After all, great places to live are great places to visit. Tourism takes place where people live and go about their daily lives. This must be respected and valued by the industry in general, and by your business in particular. It’s important to treasure your social licence to operate. Overtourism up until 2020 had already placed a question mark over that licence. The halt to tourism caused by Covid-19 means it has been brought into even sharper focus, when ‘building back’ is laden with so many additional concerns around health, safety and capacity. Think about ways in which you can engage with your local or host community. In fact, think about how you can go beyond that and help make the destination a great place to live and work. How can you collaborate with others to ensure that tourism helps your local or host community to thrive?
We delight and empower visitors
No doubt, your business aims to overwhelmingly meet or exceed your visitor expectations. That's how you build a profitable tourism business that lasts. Being more responsible is no license to be less delightful! Quite the opposite, in fact!! Beyond that, consumer sentiment research throughout 2019 and 2020 has shown very strong expectations from visitors that businesses take the lead in empowering them to travel and behave responsibly. Your visitor wants you to help them understand the value their travel brings to you, your community and your place. Your visitor will also appreciate guidance on ways in which they can give back to the destination or offset the carbon impact of travel.
We champion places
A destination's product is whatever the natural resources, landscapes and seascapes of the place are. This is why Climate Change is the biggest long-term threat to tourism products and landscapes. A destination's product is also its cultural heritage, its attractions, historical sites, traditions, customs, foods, drinks, stories and way of living. This is why leaning into the heritage of your place is the biggest long-term opportunity for tourism products and places.
Protecting and enhancing the natural and cultural resources of places is intertwined with the long-term success of the industry (and therefore your business). In fact, it speaks to the very purpose of the industry. By championing the natural and cultural heritage of your place, you help preserve all those things that make you unique. You also contribute to the long-term success of your destination and the industry in general.
We work together
There is freedom in knowing that we do not have all the answers just yet - nobody does! Despite this, there is power in knowing that by working together, we have the ability to figure it out! Through collaboration, we can move beyond our own individual sphere of influence. We can pool ideas and resources to find progressive solutions that balance the care of the place, the people and the planet with the needs of the visitor and the local economy. We can harness the skills and talents of people in different sectors and organisations to arrive at solutions that we have not yet deciphered. Together simply is better.
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