Technology, Stories, and Co-Developed Experiences

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:  Engaging in collaborative, symbiotic story-telling exercises with tourists may assist DMO’s in differentiating their destinations in an increasingly hyper-competitive global marketplace.



Destination Marketing, Management, and Skills Training

The British Columbia Ministry of Jobs, Tourism, and Skills Training made a couple of noteworthy announcements this week. First (and possibly the most interesting and potentially controversial), is the re-branding and re-launch of Tourism BC as ‘Destination BC’  with a primary focus on destination marketing. Significantly, there was little, if any mention of ‘destination management’ in the release or any of the media coverage. This omission is important to recognize, as you can expend vast quantities on marketing initiatives which may have relatively marginal impact if the products and services you are promoting are not sufficiently developed and managed to meet the needs of a hyper-competitive international marketplace. Second, the Ministry highlighted investments in skills training for the tourism sector…this is an integral piece of the ‘destination management’ pie which should be integral to any destination development strategy. In 2011, I was involved in a BC regional tourism/hospitality skills training, capacity-building project which focused on essential skills and customer service training. In a brief that I recently produced, I have highlighted some of the issues, challenges, and strategies that should be considered for tourism/hospitality employers to attract and retain employees, improve employee morale and productivity , and enhance overall organizational performance.

Benefits of Customer Service Training – LeftCoastInsights Nov 2012.pdf

Ray Freeman

Hurricane Sandy and DMO Communications Preparedness

Watching the impacts of Hurricane Sandy on the Eastern Seaboard got me to thinking about strategies for preparation and  the responses to disasters from DMO’s.  I dug up an unpublished paper that I wrote prior to the 2010 Winter Olympics on the topic of PR and disaster communications, with examples from mega-events, disasters and other relevant scenarios; including, PR issues, natural disasters, cross-border health crises, and terrorism events.  I will watch with interest to see how New York and other communities in the areas affected by this disaster respond…how well prepared were they prior to this event and how will they manage the rebuilding of their destination image?  What lessons did they learn from the Sept. 11th 2001 terrorism attacks and how will they apply those lessons to Hurricane Sandy?

Ray Freeman

DMO Strategic Decision Disaster Marketing.pdf


Strategic sales training

Sales is one of the most important components of tourism development. Developing the skills of your front line sales team is critical to successful guest experiences. Along with the basic understanding of the procedural aspects of conducting a sales call and prospecting, we go deeper and try to understand the motivations for your customers. Research into the constraints to participation in leisure activities allows staff to empathize and respond to objections more effectively. Ultimately, your team should see the guest experience from the outside-in. Organizations that are focused on the customer experience from the outside-in will see revenue increases and cost savings. An on site workshop is an effective way to re-orient your sales system to exceed guest expectations.

Welcome to Left Coast Insights


The Left Coast Insights team possesses extensive skills in research and advanced knowledge and experience related to tourism product development and delivery.  In addition to our principal consultants, Ray Freeman and Ryan Staley, we draw on the expertise of some of the most experienced and respected practitioners in the industry.