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Working Together: 2014 Opportunities & Trends

December 19, 2013 - Ernest Hohmeyer
There are exciting new opportunities to work together and trends appear to favor communities and businesses that do.

Collaboration & Networking

It’s not only the news of state funding for the 2 proposed hotel projects in Saranac Lake but a series of cooperative ventures across the North Country. For example, the Adirondack North Country Association’s “Adirondack North Country Product Branding” initiative and their “Adirondack Regional Art Trail” project, the Ogdensburg Bridge & Port Authority’s “collaborative, multi-county marketing effort to draw targeted Canadian visitors…” all of this and many more according to the “2013 Regional Economic Development Awards” booklet put out by New York State.

Yes, it appears that collaboration and networking are key buzzwords.

Is it For Me?

The Adirondacks are small business based. Many are “micro-businesses” that employ 6 people or less or where the entrepreneur is the sole employee and the “soul” of the business.

We often have to choose between “which local marketing effort do I get involved with?”

We may wonder if collaboration and partnering is a key opportunity. How do I take advantage?

There is no good answer here as every business and project is different. A couple of things you may wish to consider:

Stay Informed Now, you can join many of these groups with an on-line presence and “unsubscribe” anytime. While it is helpful to attend, you can go to a meeting or acquire the minutes and see if it fits your business. There are also appropriate related industry organizations or business groups.

Understand Your Own Market Knowing who your customer is helps to understand what types of collaboration makes sense – to you. There is a fine line between saying “this is what everyone is doing so should I” versus “this is an opportunity to grow my business based on what I do.”

We need to constantly evaluate new opportunities and sometimes it’s okay to jump into a new arena. It is often prudent though to look first at whom your customer has been and what are their other “likes” (and needs). This may help to determine if “packaging” your services or products with others makes sense.

Be Open Minded Never feel you know less than everyone else. We are getting hit with so much information; you may be surprised at how hard it is for all of our small businesses to keep track. And perhaps more importantly, how to figure out how to take advantage of what is going on.

Things are changing so fast, that what might have not made collaborative sense even a few years ago, may be appropriate now.

New World

There are wonderful new opportunities and in some cases they are complex. Technology is opening new doors in unprecedented fashion. The changing nature of these doors can sometimes be overwhelming to our ventures. This is why collaboration and appropriate networking can be so vital to our very small businesses.

For example, we have been talking about the diverse experiences visitors and even business travelers are looking for. They want to be sure there are other things to do and collaborations between lodging owners, downtown shops and our venues on “themed activities” can be important.

But that is not all.

Ehotelier.com in an article by featured writer Frederic Gonzalo “5 Travel Marketing Trends for 2014” includes:

Automation Ease and convenience has always been important to the travel industry. Increasingly technology platforms are creating what Gonzalo calls “frictionless, automated processes” between all points of the travel experience including car agencies, hotels, attractions and events.

Of interest to us he cites an example of using programs “…such as Canpass Air or NEXUS that allow frictionless passage at most US-Canada customs, based on prior pre-approval and payment of an annual fee.”

Mobile Booking Gonzalo suggests that “We will end most likely the year 2013 at 50%, which means 1 out of every 2 online travel search now comes from a mobile device! And we can only expect this trend to get stronger in 2014.”

“Niche marketing” “Culture buffs” is one niche he describes that made me think of our small Adirondack communities. This is “where some lesser-known destinations can attract travelers without any typical iconic structure, but a big enough draw through a strong event of cultural beam.”

A “cultural beam” hmm…

“Collaborative Economy”

This is interesting…

Gonzalo states the “sharing economy, also known as peer-to-peer (P2P) or collaborative economy, should hit mainstream in 2014…” In a related article linked to his web site “Collaborative Economy in Travel: The Big Disruptor,” Gonzalo states it “… basically stems from technological developments enabling consumers to bypass corporations and big brands to transact directly with each other.

In other words, there are new ways out there to collaborate.

“In fact, the collaborative economy,” he writes “is now rooted in each of the five key elements of the travel ecosystem.” He cites examples including:

• “Getting There from car-pooling to renting out your car, there are even sites where you can rent out your driveway as a parking spot…”

• “SLEEPING: Pretty much anybody who’s got a house or place to live is potential player in this field…” He points to sites such as “ HomeAway, HomeExchange, HouseTrip” etc.

• “VISITING” where you avoid “waiting in line at the information center,” …and obtain a “private guide to show you the off-the-beaten paths stuff…” and he talks about sites such as “LocalGuiding.”

Gonzalo writes that this is not without its downside. For example, how this collaborative economy may affect traditional tourism venues and “destination marketing organizations” as “the peer-to-peer (P2P) movement” can “transact directly with each other. “

Opportunities?

Technology and change affects everyone.

Adirondack small businesses, perhaps isolated in the past from some of these opportunities, may be able to take advantage by working together in many new ways.

 
 

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