The tourism industry is characterized by a high degree of complexity – partly due to its international character and especially due to the variety and diversity of stakeholders involved in the planning and implementation process of developments in destinations. The Master program in Tourism Destination Management at NHTV Breda University of Applied Sciences, has designed a course Destination Stakeholder Management, focusing on how these local and global stakeholders’ interests, demands and ideologies are considered in the design of tourism developments.
The Master students of 2016-17 visited Rotterdam on the 13th and 14th of October to meet several local stakeholders. In this post, Katharina Goebel, a student from Germany, shares her experience of her trip to Rotterdam.
After a pretty stressful first six weeks we have now started with Module 2 of the TDM Master programme: Destination Stakeholder Management (DSM).
So, what is a stakeholder exactly? Very generally speaking, a stakeholder is any group or individual who can affect or is affected by the decisions, policies and goals of a tourism destination. There are many different approaches and models towards the stakeholder concept, such as classifying as primary and secondary stakeholders, or identifying them through their degree of power, legitimacy and urgency – but enough with the theory!
In order for us to deepen our understanding of the stakeholder concept in the real tourism world, our lecturers organised a field trip to Rotterdam, which included presentations of six different local stakeholders. The goal? To experience in practice what we had learned in theory in the first week of this module. Therefore, we also had to prepare a presentation for the next DSM workshop to visualise the networks and influential factors of all six stakeholders.
We went to Rotterdam for two days. On Thursday, October 13, we all went together by bus to Kunsthal Rotterdam, where the first two presentations took place: Kim Heinen presented Rotterdam Partners, a foundation promoting Rotterdam as a tourist destination but also attracting foreign investment and strengthening the economy; after a lunch break at the Kunsthal café and a very brief (unfortunately) but free visit at the Peter Lindbergh exhibition, Emily Ansenk, Executive Director of Kunsthal Rotterdam, presented her institution. After that, we switched locations and walked to the King Kong Hostel, a very modern hostel in the up-and-coming Witte de Withstraat, where former NHTV student and now General Manager Alisa Korkorina gave the final presentation of the day, accompanied by great cakes and drinks.
After a long day of presentations, we went to explore Rotterdam a bit more, visited the Markthal and had a quick drink, before joining together for a delicious Dominican dinner in Rotterdam. Whilst some of us stayed overnight, some others went back to Breda.
On Friday, October 14, we met again to explore the SS Rotterdam, a former cruise ship of the Holland America Line, which has been transformed into a hotel that is permanently located in Rotterdam. I had been to the ship before during my Bachelor programme and was very surprised that both visits were quite different. Whilst during my previous visit we very much focussed on the cruise industry and proposed future business models for the Holland America Line, this visit was much more focused on how the hotel differentiates itself through its authentic interior design and which stakeholders are necessary in achieving this. After Ton Wesselink, General Manager of the SS Rotterdam, gave us a comprehensive tour, Corinne Lampen from the Rotterdam City Marketing and Municipality presented her company. This was followed by a quick lunch at a very nice location, Fenix Food Factory, and our final presentation of the Rotterdam Port Authority at the World Port Centre.
Due to the diversity of all these stakeholders, it was very interesting to see how they are all interconnected and together help promote and market Rotterdam as a destination for tourism and investment, which is centred around Rotterdam Partners and the Municipality. It was also very interesting to hear about the different perspectives of each stakeholder, of which some found the marketing and promotion organisations more and others much less important. All in all, it was definitely a fun trip and a good base and preparation – for the coming weeks of Destination Stakeholder Management and also for our upcoming assignments in South East Asia.