Future Days for Destinations
Together with other players and associations from the industry, Tourismuszukunft has been organising the Future Days since April, focusing on different topics and target groups. All these webinars, digital discussions or digital round tables are free of charge. And they have shown that the Corona crisis is an accelerator of development in DMOs and it has been realised that, at the moment, making mistakes is allowed more than ever. However, on the other hand, this experience means to learn and have a look at future skills.
The interview below presents the feedback from organizers after the first two events in April and May. Since then, there were more events for destinations and also an extended programme on other topics and targets. German NTG Partner DSFT attended the Future Days for Destinations where it became apparent that NTG future skills are crucial in the process of Change4Destination.
Mr. Bauhuber, together with your colleagues from Tourismuszukunft, you have organized “Future Days for Destinations” as a digital format for which you were able to attract many experts as speakers and which was met with a great response. What was the feedback?
With the first unique event in April we reached 940 tourism professionals via the ZOOM registration tool. Besides, there were over 35,000 views of the live streams on the participating Facebook pages. We are very glad about this great interest. But there was also a lot of qualitative feedback from the participants in the form of comments and e-mails. I think our aim to shed light on the current situation from many perspectives, to discuss it, and to make sense of the time during and after Corona has been successful.
Could you tell us a little more about the basic idea behind this whole initiative which continues on several levels and with further formats?
I think the crucial point in the crisis and crisis management is dialogue. Dialogue that goes beyond one’s destination. The need for information is enormous. We have been organizing such workshops and webinars for travel distribution for some time now. It was a logical step for us to expand the format to destinations. How do others deal with shock and confusion? How are the next steps approached elsewhere? Which processes need to be initiated and understood beforehand? We see ourselves as a platform for everyone who wants to exchange ideas. Therefore, in addition to expert sessions, there are also interactive workshops where concrete results and support are created.
What topics were discussed in the first round of the Future Days and why were they chosen?
Ahead of the Future Days, there was a kick-off seminar as part of our Change4Destination Corona Roadmap, where we asked the industry what was needed and where the shoe pinches. On this basis, we then put the program together. Once again, the main theme is that DMOs must increasingly see themselves as management rather than marketing organizations. The current focus is not to compete for guests, but on stakeholder management, taking care of their own key players. The second major issue, which we are observing, is creativity in product development. More than ever before, products must consist of a bundle of offers beyond tourism, they have to be flexible and as tailorable as possible, and be digitally experienceable and depictable. Bringing these aspects into a product and at the same time remaining creative is perhaps the greatest challenge for many – and this will be evident far beyond the Corona crisis.
Regarding the relationship between a DMO and the service provider level, is the current crisis an opportunity to distinguish oneself as a tourism management organization?
I don’t think that there will ever be a moment in the life of a DMO manager when you will find more open ears among your stakeholders and actors in the region than now. The chance to strengthen one’s networks, to develop things together and to strategically reposition one’s region for the future has never been greater. Because all actors are currently rethinking their actions for future work. I would say that this crisis acts as an accelerator for the development of DMOs into genuine management organizations. The prerequisite, however, is that one recognizes and wants to accept this new role in the first place. Most DMOs want it! But some organizations deliberately say that they do not want to carry this big responsibility – or that they do not want it at all.
What has remained from the sessions?
It became clear that the destinations are coping differently with the current situation. Those who had already had crisis management in place – or at least had a few scenarios kept in mind – are now in a better position than those who only started to create appropriate structures when the travel restrictions came into force. Crisis management requires experience at many organizational and operational levels. However, as great as the differences are at the regional level, they are small between Germany, Austria and Switzerland at the federal and also at the state levels.
What should destinations do to get out of this period in good shape and what should we as an industry be prepared for?
The task now is to act. Get out of shock. Towards action. Networking, flexibility, and openness are required skills now more than ever. And most importantly: You are allowed to make mistakes during this time! In this crisis, where sometimes very quick action is required, the tolerance for mistakes is much greater for all players than in times of long planning periods, when a high degree of perfection is rightly demanded. My appeal is, therefore: let’s go and try it out! Then tourism work can become meaningful.
The second round of the Future Days for Destinations was held on May 4th. Which topics were focused on?
Firstly, we took along the most important ideas from the first Future Days and developed them further, for example, the topics of stakeholder management in the operational business and the current digitalization offensive. But we also received more than 40 suggestions for new sessions from the industry, from companies, from consultants, and DMOs. We would like to take this opportunity to thank you once again!
This time the focus of the new programme relied even more on Covid-19 perspectives. So how can we organize travel with Corona? But we also looked at the tension between Corona and the climate crisis. So the topic of sustainability is what drives us – and here in particular tourist mobility. After all, the car is taking on a very central role again, while intermodal concepts have a hard time competing with individual transport in Corona times. There were more events in May and June, focusing on future destinations as well as travel distributions, accomodation sector, sustainability and other topics relevant for German tourism – inbound and outbound. Germany is moving into the limelight in travel distribution. So we have to build bridges. (To learn more about “Future Days for Destinations” (in German).
A team of enthusiasts. Each one of us has his or her special skills. You will find suitable contact persons for every topic. Whether for brands, target groups, social media, or websites. Or by target group such as destination, host, or travel agency. Florian Bauhuber is the General Manager of Tourismuszukunft.
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