Collaboration as a Business Strategy: Insights from Industry Leaders, with Susan Baier

Episode 327

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A marketing strategist for over 30 years, Susan Baier founded Audience Audit in 2009 to help organizations understand their best audiences based on attitudes and needs rather than just demographics or purchase behavior. She develops custom segmentation research for marketers and agencies around the world, supporting their efforts to create marketing initiatives that are more relevant, more efficient, and more impactful.

On this episode of Destination on the Left, I talk with Susan Baier, my research partner in our latest research study on my favorite subject of collaboration. We share the insights uncovered about how to operationalize collaboration and why we were keen to understand all the ways that tourism, hospitality businesses, and DMOs are creating successful partnerships.

What You Will Learn in this Episode:

  • The three different types of collaborators that were identified in the study
  • Why the study focused on understanding how organizations are operationalizing collaboration and integrating it into their daily and strategic business practices
  • The importance of collaboration as a business strategy
  • Key attitudes towards collaboration uncovered in the survey
  • Factors that contribute to a collaborative mindset, such as communication, open-mindedness, and active listening
  • How collaboration can support diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts in organizations

Collaboration as a Strategy

Destination marketers understand the importance of collaboration as a strategy to achieve their goals. In our recent survey on attitudes towards building collaboration into internal systems, three distinct segments emerged.

The first group, prudent planners, believe in a formalized collaboration process that includes clearly defined goals, financial objectives, and communication channels. They emphasize the need for a contingency plan to address unforeseen circumstances and advocate for a designated person to manage collaborations. For prudent planners, collaboration is a process-oriented activity that requires a well-structured framework.

The second group of destination marketers is called enterprisers, and they are characterized by their love for collaboration. They are open-minded about the collaboration process and believe in allowing adjustments to happen organically. Enterprisers view collaborations as a competitive advantage and do not limit themselves to collaborating within the travel and tourism industry only but also with organizations outside the industry.

The third group, the selective spectators, are less proactive when it comes to collaborations. They only collaborate with organizations they have some connection with, and they take a reactive approach, waiting for others to offer collaboration opportunities. Selective spectators are less confident about their collaboration process and do not see the need for collaborators to share the same values.

Understanding these distinct segments is crucial for destination marketers to tailor their collaboration strategies for the best results.

Traits of a Collaborative Mindset

The survey found that most respondents plan to increase the number of collaborations they’re involved in. The study identified communication, open-mindedness, flexibility, active listening, and being a team player as factors that contribute to a collaborative mindset. Our study encourages destination marketers to think more intentionally about collaboration and identify the pieces of their process they follow when collaborating.


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