In this time of global crisis and uncertainty, we put the call out to leaders, CEOs, strategists and consultants to sit down and tell us, in their own words, what is going on and what is going to happen next in this vital global industry.

Stakeholder engagement, digital excellence, micro influencers and local hoods – all of these are tools that we all are going to have to pick up and use at some point as we rebuild our industry.

But we find ourselves at a difficult crossroads. 

Right now, the idea of stakeholder engagement is incredibly appealing, especially as we seek to prove our relevance as destination organizations. Take also into consideration the fact that the whole world has gone digital when it comes to the tourism consumer buyer decision process, and you can see how important it is that we make this shift. 

But here’s the rub: we are ill equipped to do that as destination organizations.

Our corporate structures, our job roles and functions, our funding, and frankly, our whole operating system, is built around a model of push marketing that counts on huge target markets reacting to stimulus in a mass fashion. 

...if we want to work with stakeholders in a meaningful and effective manner, we must shift our sense of scale.

So I'm not surprised that one of the biggest difficulties we see out there is that while organizations ideologically and theoretically embrace these concepts, they don't know where to start. 

Riikka Lahdensuo, Project Head of Brand Building at the City of Helsinki in Finland has some thoughts on that topic. Programs she has worked on include live like a local, numerous micro influencer campaigns and focus on thematic local-hoods. In each case the common denominator is this, if you want to work with stakeholders in a meaningful and effective manner, we must shift our sense of scale.  

Stakeholder projects, such as the micro influencer campaigns that Riikka talks about, start with small groups of partners and grow from there. 

It definitely is not something we're used to doing as destination organizations. It's a fundamental shift in how we work with our local peers, but it is also the starting point for meaningful and effective partnerships that reinforce our role as destination brand builders and community stewards.

It all starts with a phone call… or these days maybe a Google chat…