Updated: Mar 23
We recently completed the 30th, and final, Ideas Lab that was delivered through Tourism Cafe’s partnership with the BC Regional Tourism Secretariat's Resiliency Network initiatives in support of COVID-19 recovery. What an incredible opportunity it has been to engage with so many diverse tourism operators from around BC and hear what they have been doing to evolve, pivot and invest to make it through COVID. We’re grateful for all of the stories, ideas and creativity shared during these sessions!
Ideas Labs were envisioned as an opportunity to share ideas around common challenges faced throughout our industry during the COVID crisis. We hope that the learning gained through these sessions contributes to spark creativity and strengthen the resilience of our industry.
Three consistent themes that emerged through the sessions are summarized below.
1. Cultivate relationships with your best customers – Businesses found that their existing, loyal customer base wanted to support them through COVID. This meant creating services, products and experiences that provided new value for customers while generating new revenue for the business. Strategic investment in customer relationship management software that helps build knowledge and communicate with customers is an important part of successfully leveraging those customers who love you the most and optimizing their lifetime customer value.
2. Build capacity for a digital-first mindset– COVID has certainly accelerated the need for increased technology solutions. Businesses that are succeeding through COVID are introducing e-commerce platforms to transact sales, commercialize virtual guest experiences, add more touchless services, and create new online and blended events. Some businesses are investing strategically in technology and re-education/training for their staff, while others are aligning themselves with new partners who have the technological capabilities and skills they need.
3. Re-imagine what is possible with your assets – Retail stores that offer private rentals for bubble group events, fire pits designed for small-group winter concerts, outdoor spaces (e.g. the 9th hole on a golf course) that became creative venues for culinary opportunities – the ways that businesses have been re-envisioning their spaces to deliver their own experience, or through new partnerships, is endless. Understanding what the local/regional customer values and responding through amended space design, was key to success. Your pivot to bridge the COVID period may not work out in the long run but there is learning to be had along the way and positive, unexpected benefits that will emerge.
A common word of wisdom was shared by many of the industry topic specialists who told their stories of what they have done during COVID. Don’t be afraid to try and fail! Try something, learn from it, then take the learning and try again. There was a common acknowledgement that COVID has forced new levels of creativity and innovation and afforded the time due to forced closures and less business – it’s described as the silver lining by various businesses accepting and adapting to our new reality. COVID, like it or not, has required that all businesses step back, evaluate what they do, evolve and emerge in new ways. In doing so, many are finding this is creating differentiated value for their customers, opening new markets, keeping staff engaged, and letting the local and virtual communities know you are in business!
To access the session summary produced for each of the nine Ideas Lab topics delivered visit http://tourismresiliency.ca/Ideas-Labs/.
Image credit: techversions.com