Trends in innovation and destination development are emerging in some leading-edge research coming out of Europe. A couple of examples include ‘Storytelling and Destination Development’ from Nordic Innovation and ‘Conceptualising technology enhanced destination experiences’ by Professors Buhalis, Neuhofer, and Ladkin of Bournemouth University in the UK.
While coming from different perspectives, these research examples highlight some key indicators for the sustainability of destinations and DMO’s. First, the development of a strategic and collaborative ‘storytelling framework’ may assist stakeholders and partners in a tourism network to engage in more efficient promotional initiatives in a concerted fashion. Essentially, by agreeing on a suitable ‘theme’ or regional story-line, tourism marketers may present a united front and common messaging to build a unique brand impression of a region and, hopefully, create an emotional connection with tourists. While marketing toolkits exist to facilitate this approach, a storytelling framework may more effectively draw out unique messages and stories from tourism operators and their visitors.
Supporting this, Buhalis and Zorge suggest that “(a) tourists are co-creating their own experiences, and (b) technology can be used to co-create enhanced experiences.” Expanding on the story-telling concept, the use of mobile and social media vehicles delivered through a reciprocal story-telling communications framework by DMO’s may create collaborative ownership of messaging between tourists and their destinations. Buhalis and Zorge further state “The successful destination of the future will therefore be the one that strategically and effectively integrates ICTs in all structures, communications and interactions to dynamically cocreate technology enhanced destination experiences with tourists in all travel stages”. A North American example of an initiative moving in this direction comes from the Canadian Tourism Commission: http://35milliondirectors.com/ Engaging in collaborative, symbiotic story-telling exercises with tourists may assist DMO’s in differentiating their destinations in an increasingly hyper-competitive global marketplace.