Mar 27, 2012

Always focus on the chain of value

Actions that your company or tourism destination takes are important BUT it’s impossible to be competitive if you don’t focus on your chains of value.
As Thomas Friedman said “It created a global platform that allowed more people to plug and play, collaborate and compete, share knowledge and share work, than anything we have ever seen in the history of the world” If you don’t make the most of this global platform others will do.
Long time ago, I don’t remember the place neither the hotel (well as a matter of fact I remember but I’m here to create bounds not barriers with my fellow Touristologists!!!), a hotel manager said to me “Jordi instead of all this bunch of theories like Servuction, 1,2,3 theory, Strategy Triangle, Bermuda Triangle, “Homus Organizativus”... Can you bring something as useful as the big tour-operator that I had at the beginning of my career? With it I sold all the rooms, to a good price and the only think that I had to worry about was to provide the service”.
Well, I’m just a Touristologist not a miracle worker!  Furthermore… this business model is gone.. forever! For Better or For Worse…
The fact of the matter is that rely on big intermediaries can be a partial solution if (and only if)
1) You are using them as a way to complement your own actions.  I mean, your own 1,2,3 theory!
2) You try to seduce these new customers that big intermediaries bring in a way that next time price won’t be the most important thing.
But habits are hard to die… First tour-operators bring to us the tourist, after that Google and now group buying and flash sales sites.
I’m not saying that they are a bad option. I only repeat what makes sense to me. I mean, 1,2,3 theory.
As always you have two business models and you have to forecast the possible effect of using each one of the possible middleman.
You are thinking in a segment price oriented (number 1) then group buying and flash sales sites can be an option BUT only for occasional promotions. To think that people willing to catch the new offer will become a loyalty customer is a good example of oxymoron.
You are thinking in a segment value oriented (number 1) well, group buying and flash sales sites are a good way to destroy your positioning
I think it is better if you use your knowledge, attitude and contacts to create your own 1,2,3 NOT because group buying and flash sales sites are a bad option BUT because is time that you get the knowledge, the attitude and contacts to carry on this kind of activities.
Of course, at the end of the day it’s up to you. You can wait to others bring the tourist to you. It doesn’t matter if it’s a big tour-operator, the new search engine, the new SnS or the new group buying and flash sales sites ,BUT remember if others do the hard work, they will keep customer’s trust, earn a good commission and, usually, force you to put your prices down.
On the other hand, you can begin to think as a Touristologist does and make the most of a flat world! If you decide the last…
Welcome to the club of the brightest science of XXI century!!!!

Mar 20, 2012

Servuction, what else?

As you know servuction is all about managing the interactions between customers, staff in contact and physical support. One of the usual mistakes of my Touristologists it is to clearly define all this three components and then don’t provide a good example of their interaction. Luckily this only happens in the first year (at least this is my wish, my prayer and where I put all my efforts!!!), at the end of their grade most of them have already learned that when they make an argument they have to backup it with Touristology's framework and some bibliography. Sometimes it is enough with a couple of articles (like in this post), sometimes you have to provide more academic studies.
When you are working in the jungle of real enterprises and tourism destinations you realize that, apart from the tree components of servuction, you have to manage the context in which action takes place. So, the duality space and time!
Space and time at micro level I mean in the tourism destination (where I’ll put the focus on this post) but also at macro level which means  actions in the space of the entire trip (country of origin and tourism destination) and the time of all the trip (before, during and after).
Who said that Touristology is an easy grade? I know this one! One with no idea whatsoever about Tourism! Ok let’s forget this genius and let’s focus on space and time, shall we?
Space: It has to be the most flexible as possible. In this way you can add or reduce space thinking about customer’s needs. You can separate the space in a way that you can handle two different segments. For instance, a restaurant can organize their space for a party o for a romantic dinner. You can have a room in your hotel with a folding bed. Therefore you can quickly convert a room in an office. You can have a restaurant that with a fast change in lights and tables becomes a disco pub… and so on.
As I always say to my students you don’t have a camping, restaurant, hotel…. you have a space that can become anything to offer the right service, for the right customer, to the right price (and margin! Please don’t forget about segments accountancy) through the right channel. This is what Revenue Management is all about. Right?
Time: You must open and close your business following customer’s needs especially now with the event of new technologies. For instance, in the case of restaurants you can use these creative ways to achieve that: mark down the price in specific hours (happy hours), make a discount for customers finishing to eat faster or making a compromise that you will finish the service in 45 minutes.
You also can make the most of mobile technologies. Do you prepare a lot of plates and you get fewer costumers than expected? Maybe you can use LBS (Location Base Services) to attract customers near to your business. You can use a flash or a group buying website (I have to write about that deeper BUT here you can get a few ideas or you can use your own chain of value notifying and allowing special customers (pro-am remember?) to organize a special activity right now. Something similar to what I explained in this post.
Any doubt about which I prefer?
Equally important is avoiding mixing two non- complementary segments at the same time and space. Otherwise you will end up with problems. Let’s see a practical application of the problem that appears when you don’t respect these principles… It was a hotel in Taiwan… needing a good expert in Servuction…
 To make a long story short (well it’s an article!) :
Europeans and Chinese needs are different.
Europeans want to buy something exclusive in a quiet environment. Chinese prefer a louder one and do shopping in large groups. Ok! This arouses some problems. Can something be exclusive when there is a group buying exactly the same? Can you provide a quiet and louder environment at the same moment?
Ummm. Sounds a sort of multiculturalism problem here! Phew! Luckily we are Touristologist and to take the most of multiculturality is our thing. Isn’t it?
There are several reasons why Chinese people like to buy luxury overseas. The first one is cheaper prices, the second is because they find more variety and the third one (and to me the most important one because it’s up to your servuction process) because they find a better service and experience. Are you sure you can ignore one of the most important and growth markets?
Do you want loyalty and prescribers Chinese’s customers without losing the Europeans ones? Which are your proposals to achieve that?
As Walt Disney said “Do what you do so well that they will want to see it again and bring their friends.
Come on Touristologist use your frameworks! Otherwise, they will get rusty!
 Is there any Touristologists out there?

Mar 13, 2012

Touristology’s framework

Good Touristologists know that in order to become one they have to build up a strong framework based upon all the frameworks that they see during the grade. It’s similar to the Russian Dolls changing dolls for frameworks! 

First things first, people, what else? It is the beginning of all tourism activity. People who travel because they want to travel or because through a travel they can get what it is important to them.  People of your organization or tourism destination which provide the service, helps to transform the travel into an experience and sometimes even to create the tourism products. All the people involved in this process have to be properly trained. Then they become “Homus Organizativus” which is a way to represent the people ready for action. They are the bedrock of the tourism activity, your tourism destination and your organization. They can be your employees, your collaborators or your own customers.
Normal people become “Homus Organizativus” when:
1) They share the same vision that the rest of the organization. Sometimes also called enterprise culture and represented by the yellow triangle in the next figure.
2) They have tasks: The things that they have to do.
3) They have responsibilities: Which means that something good happens to them if they finish the tasks properly and the other way around. A responsibility it isn’t a task but it is the consequence of a well done task. In order to know that we have to link it to a variable of control that we’ll see in a moment.
4) Authority: When you are inside an organization, the fulfillment of your tasks, usually need the help of other people. If you don’t have the authority to ask for it you will have a problem (and the organization as well!!!). If you have a task and a superior asks for something it’s very important to have the authority to say not now, I’ll be more than happy to do that when I finish this.
5) Variables of control:  How do you know if you do your tasks properly? How do you know if you fulfill your responsibility? You will need a variable of control. This variable can be economical (services sold, expense in a specific cost…) or non-economical (percentage of customers who make a complaint, percentage of customers happy after service recovery, employee’s turnover…). In both cases, you will need a threshold, and average and a standard deviation.
For instance, you know that in order to pass a test you need a 5 (if the maximum mark is 10) this will be the threshold. If you get a 7 I supposed you will be very happy BUT what if the class’ average is 9, not so good huh? What if the class’s average is 3, WOW! Your seven is very good! You also want to know if this average is representative.  A high standard deviation will tell you that the average is not representative. For instance, an average of 3 because seven students get a 1 and only two students get a 10 it’s very different if the case is that all the students get a 3.  I don’t know you but I hate to be average!
6) Protocols of communication: In order to work as an organization we have to communicate if we finish our task, if we need a service recovery… otherwise we can end up doing the same over and over or not doing it at all!
 I usually represent  “homus organizativous”  framework in this way.
When you have people properly trained you can pass to the next level, the creation of organizations autonomous and replicable.
Autonomous? Which means that they can operate by themselves. Your company only works properly when you are there? I’m sorry but you don’t create and organization you create a job for you!
Replicable? Meaning that you can use the same principles and frameworks to create a similar one. You will be ready to create a franchise, to extend your business in other tourism destinations or countries of origin and so on.
The Touristology’s frameworks related to organizations are the following ones which you are already familiar with.
1) Bermuda Triangle in order to know if your company will be viable.
2) Strategic Triangle to be sure that your company is competitive and keep it that way!
Once you have people inside a viable and competitive organization, it’s time to use 1, 2, 3 Theory to develop a set of  successful strategies in an international environment.
Finally, Servuction Servuction as a business process through all the chain of value, from the beginning to the end of the trip. From the country of origin to the tourism destination. Remember you don’t send products abroad, we bring people, for that reason it’s so important to get their trust and add value. We have to provoke the trip, we have to prove that we are Touristologists!
Who said that Touristology is an easy grade? I know this one! One with no idea whatsoever about Tourism!
Paraphrasing Michelangelo “Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it.” I like to say… Every student can become a Touristologist and it’s the task of the lecturer to add the right frameworks!
Come on Touristologists put your frameworks on! Keep them ready; improve them with your experience and examples of your professional life.
Touristology’s frameworks make you a Touristologist. Good Touristologists make Touristology a science…