In October, our TDM students went on a two day field trip to Rotterdam. They visited companies and organizations that concern with tourism and city marketing. The trip helped students to understand how different stakeholders work together, creating an envrionment that attracts business and investment to Rotterdam and promoting the city as a tourism destination. It was further a great opportunity to practice how to prepare for stakeholder meetings, asking precise and effective questions. This will be an essential skill in Phase 2 of the programme. TDM student Iris (the Netherlands) summarized her experiences from the Rotterdam field trip. We hope you enjoy reading her post.
After a week long break from school in October we have started with Module 2 of the TDM Master Programme: Destination Stakeholder Management. Tourism development at destinations is the result of activities from and relations between various stakeholders. There are several concepts on how to categorize stakeholders of tourism destinations. The power and influence of different stakeholder groups varies largely due to the individual context of places.
In order for us to deepen our understanding of different stakeholder concepts our lecturers organized a two day field trip to Rotterdam. It included presentations of seven organizations and companies as well as a tour through the Rotterdam Markthal. Following up on the content of the TDM Symposium on Urban Tourism and City Marketing it was supposed to strengthen our understanding on what role different stakeholders can take within the promotion of a city, not only as a tourism destination but as hubs for businesses, entrepreneurship and innovation.
On Monday, October 23, we all went together to Rotterdam by train. Kim Heinen kicked off the program with the first presentation. She is working for Rotterdam Partners as International Press Officer and is responsible for marketing and communications and attracting media interest. Rotterdam Partners focuses on the image of Rotterdam and promotes the city both nationally and internationally. They are engaging in city marketing, acquisition marketing and helping with the development of a better business climate. This is how they help strengthening the economy of the port city in the broadest sense of the term (international trade & investment, convention bureau & tourism board, hospitality & expats).
Rotterdam Partners believes in the power of collaboration. According to Kim Heinen, the most important stakeholders are the people of Rotterdam themselves. They can tell their story and the one of the city the best, making it a more interesting place. Rotterdam Partners has access to a network of organizations with common interest in creating an international image. The brand promise is all about mentality and character of Rotterdam and the people living and working there. In 2016 Lonely Planet voted Rotterdam as one of the top 10 cities to visit in their annual Best in Travel campaign. This is also due to the work of organizations such as Rotterdam Partners.
Samira Ben Massaud gave the second presentation of the day. She is an advisor at City Marketing Rotterdam and worked on the branding campaign surrounding the slogan ‘Make It Happen’. In 2003 the city marketing needed more consistency and strived for creating a more modern perception. Achieving it is part of the recently initiated campaign. Currently, Samira is working on a new project which contains street art to create an appeal of urban modernity. Part of her job is also to convince other partners to use ‘make it happen’ in their promotion efforts which creates more publicity.
But does a city really need a slogan? According to Samira not necessarily. However, you need something to bundle interests she said. It is also a great challenge to make the residents develop a good feeling towards a slogan and feel represented by it. After all, residents are a major target group to a city’s marketing activities. At City Marketing Rotterdam, all stakeholders get a seat on the table once in a while, strengthening each other’s initiatives and creating stories together.
After a short lunch break the program continued with a visit to the Ibis hotel and the very modern and successful King Kong Hostel in de Witte de Withstraat. The most important stakeholders for the King Kong Hostel are the Municipality, Rotterdam Partners, local entrepreneurs, citizens, tourists, and social media partners: Beautiful People & Sumatran orang-utan society. After a drink in the King Kong Hostel we went to explore the neighbourhood and had dinner which wrapped up the first day of our Rotterdam field trip. Whilst some of us stayed overnight, some others went back to Breda.
On the next day, we met again starting the day by a presentation of Melissa Ablett, the General Manager of Cambridge Innovation Centre Rotterdam. She is originally from the CIC in the US, founded by CEO Tim Rowe, an American company with the mission to “fix the world through innovation”. CIC Rotterdam opened in September 2016 and created workspaces and communities within them helping entrepreneurs to innovate better and faster. By now, CIC Rotterdam houses more than 100 innovative businesses, most of them start ups.
The next stop of the second day was the impressive and modern Rotterdam Markthal. Brenda Kamphuis from Rotterdamtours gave us a comprehensive guided tour after she presented her company. Judith Freijser ended the day with the final presentation and a tour through the Rotterdam Maritime Museum.
During the field trip we experienced what we have learned in the first week of this module in a real-life scenario. We gained new insights into city marketing and into the relationships of different local stakeholders. Back in Breda we presented the stakeholder network of one of the key actors in the tourism development of Rotterdam in small groups. It was very interesting to see how all the different stakeholders are connected and collaborating to give Rotterdam a great podium for tourism and investment.
It was also very interesting to hear about the sometimes varying opinions and visions from the stakeholders. For instance, some see collaborations as more important than others. Two years ago, The King Kong Hostel withdrew their membership of a larger stakeholder network. They didn’t want to cooperate anymore because they are in a financially healthy situation and don’t require additional support. But others want to work together because they believe in the essence of creating more in partnerships. All in all, it was definitely an interesting and fun trip and a good start into the coming weeks of Destination Stakeholder Management!