Innovation is more than just an app. We know this from last time, exploring customer service and the new wave of how we collaborate and communicate.

It’s not what you do that’s valued by customers but how you do it. What we mean by this is it’s less about what you’re offering, but rather the delivery of your product or service.

Let’s start by defining what innovation is and the various elements that shape how a business delivers innovation – to both its stakeholders and customers.

 

Move over Zuckenberg & Branson…

First, let’s get something straight. Innovation doesn’t have to be some big, bold new invention.

Innovation can be about product and service (the what) but more importantly it is about the style and manner in which the consumer interacts with the product, team, brand and overall communications.

True innovation can be, and is, found in the how of what it means to be entrepreneurial.

Innovation looks different to every business. Here are a few examples:

  • Greater choice in how your product or service can be accessed. Think about where you do business – how accessible is it for stakeholders and the end user to actually do business with you. 
  • The style and manner in which you communicate with potential stakeholders – innovation can mean changing the environment in which you do business to create a different perception.
  • It can mean evolving the type of communications and messages you use to gain investment and buy in.
  • Providing customers with the option to hand make their own product or service – if possible.
  • Changes in product ingredients or equipment to keep ahead of the crowd.
  • Type of written and verbal communication used to make a connection with the consumer. Not simply relying on IT, social media and mass mailouts.
  • It may have to do with minimising waste – recycling product or re-using in a way that has not been done before in the market. 

 

Often businesses and especially start ups are focusing so much on the product/service and getting this to market, that they fail to give attention to the story and how they’re going to sell the product.

So, innovation could simply mean creativity in the process of service delivery. Next time, we’re talking about looking beyond your own industry for inspiration.  

Remember, customer service is so much more than service with a smile. It’s about the entire experience.

At Kiikstart, we’re dedicated to helping people have more choice, influence and control about how they live, work and learn. If you’d like to hear more about what we do, contact us today on 0428 593 400 or enquiries@kiikstart.com.

Customer service. It’s about providing good service, right? Sure, it used to be as simple as that. But now, and into 2017, it’s about the entire customer experience.

We’ve been exploring how tourism operators can stay relevant – and this week is no different. 2017 is going to be the year of the customer, so let’s chat about how you can get prepared.

Your customers are smarter than ever

They expect more, so you need to be able to match those expectations. It’s 2017, so if you haven’t embraced technology in your tourism business, it’s time to check right in. Use your marketing and advertising to tell them what they can expect by visiting.

And it’s not just your visitors who are smart, they also have intelligent devices. Leverage the mobile phone in the entire customer experience, from connecting with them to staying in touch after the visit.

If you’re old fashioned and love the power of word of mouth, social media is where it’s at. When a customer has an amazing experience, they share it. Be so amazing that your customers want to tell everyone about their experience.

 

The customer experience is the new marketing

Alongside social media and technology, self-service tools are a must-have. Take advantage of the customer service tools at your disposal to give them the direction they need to accomplish tasks themselves. Think about what self-service applications you can introduce in your tourism outlet.

Customers will pay for excellent service. This gives businesses the opportunity to differentiate through a consistent approach to customer service, which goes beyond the ‘norm’.

 

Visitors want to be engaged

Your visitors want interesting, hands on experiences. It’s a must to have definite key points of difference to be able to compete in a more sophisticated market.

Superior guest experiences require you to make the right tactical partnerships to continually stay ahead of the competition and truly be creative.

 

Social media is only part of the story. It’s about exploring how to minimise the gap between marketing fantasy and front-end reality. Don’t promote an inferior product or experience and feel that you need to be part of the social media space if your service offering doesn’t match. You will do more damage to the brand that not doing anything at all. 

Be courageous and get a handle on key strengths from a service offering, as well as the skill gaps that will continue to water down the brand. Mystery shopping is not just for retailers so if you are not undertaking it at least a quarter you don’t have insight into areas of need but also potential market opportunities that come from strengths. 

Remember the key principles we’ve discussed in the past few blogs.

  • Utilise IT to improve the customer experience
  • Tell stories in different ways
  • Get creative with your signage and interior 
  • Speak their language
  • Know your customers.

So, there you have it. When we talk of customer service, what we really mean is the customer experience. Do what you can to make it a good one. You’ve got to continuously innovate.

We’re going to be exploring why innovation is more than just an app in the next few blogs. It’s not what you do that’s valued by customers but how you do it.

Don’t go far…

At Kiikstart, we’re dedicated to helping people have more choice, influence and control about how they live, work and learn. If you’d like to hear more about what we do, contact us today on 0428 593 400 or enquiries@kiikstart.com.

All tourism providers rely on visitors. That’s the nature of the industry. A lot of us are focusing on attracting the numbers, but in turn, we forget to make the most out of the people who do visit.

The same goes for when you you’re the tourist. We’ll explain why soon. This article is all about sharing insights and expertise to develop more leverage from visits to other businesses and experiences.

Let’s get started.

 

The tourism sector undertakes famils to other businesses but rarely utilises these insights and stories to build on the customer experience. There are great opportunities to develop the level of expenditure both via staff and better use the physical workspace, including internal signage.

We’ve already explored the power of engaging signage. Your internal signage needs to be creative to encourage a sense of discovery and exploration – not only in the region but the space itself.

Simply put, just visiting other businesses isn’t good enough. You’ve got to put yourself in the tourist’s shoes, which in most cases you will be, and see what’s working and what’s not. 

 

Stop, think and reflect…

Now is the time to stop and think about how you’re creatively using these famils to add value to their business and your guest’s experience. If you’re going to take the time to visit other outlets and be a tourist in your own back yard, make sure you have the vision to capitalise on it when you return to your day-to-day operations.

  • You need to be asking yourself these kinds of questions.
  • What are the strengths of the venue? What are they doing well?
  • What are the gaps & how can you avoid them in your own venue?
  • Are they using specific tools, such as social media? Will they work in for you? 
  • Are there any partnership opportunities? How can you work together?

Again, all of this draws back into our six-part series on making your venue sustainable. If you missed it, you can read the first article here.

At Kiikstart, we’re dedicated to helping people have more choice, influence and control about how they live, work and learn. If you’d like to hear more about what we do, contact us today on 0428 593 400 or enquiries@kiikstart.com.

The world is changing. We now rely on technology more than ever. And for businesses, it’s shaping how the customer experience.

Technology, if embraced, can transform our tourism businesses. There’s IT, apps, and social media available to us now, which we can incorporate to build on the experience – rather than detract from it.

 

Embrace technology to improve visitor numbers

No matter what tourism outlet you’re running, there are advantages for all of us when it comes to technology. Think about email, for example. We could use it to communicate before, during or after the visit.

Draw this back to your own experience for a moment. Let’s say the last time you went on holiday. Did you visit a restaurant, stay in a hotel or do a day tour that used technology to first connect with you? Maybe you saw a special package online, which attracted you to visit them. There was anticipation and excitement.

A hotel could send out an email to their past guests sharing a special event that’s happening in their region. This could encourage re-repeat visitors and boost extra guest numbers. When communicating, it’s important to personal and to the point. Don’t let your audience feel like they’re just another number. You don’t have long to get their attention, when it comes to the online world. It must happen in a few seconds.

Let’s go into greater depth about the do’s and don’ts of technology.

 

5 tips to help you take advantage of IT

  1. Social media: Introduce social platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Tourism companies will need a plan for how it can utilise the traveller’s use of social media while they’re on holiday. Also, when they immediately when they return to encourage exposure and word of mouth amongst family and friends.
  2. Internal hubs: Look at Internal IT hubs where staff and volunteers can consult with guests
  3. Celebrate everything local: Consider audio and visual where local legends are featured and can tell their story and show their work.
  4. Get interactive: Use interactive touring guides that the staff, volunteers and guest can utilise.
  5. Always add value: No matter what you’re doing online, it must be valuable to build on the customer experience.

 

Consistency is key

When it comes to anything online, being consistent is the most important part.

First, be clear on what the customer wants, so you can make it a memorable experience. How can you make it different from the rest? How can you surprise them or connect with them?

Make a list of the specific needs that your customers will have. Identify common traits and key attributes of your guests. How will you get feedback from your guests to improve their experience? (Hint: social media!)

Once you ‘know’ your customer, you’ll be able to work out the best channels to communicate with them. Whether they’ve visited your venue or not, your chosen channels will help you keep top of mind.

Social media, your website, emails and other forms of contact online are great ways to boost your visitor numbers – and learn what your past guests thought of the experience.

 

That’s a wrap!

This is the end of our framework to making your tourism outlet successful in the future. We hope you’ve enjoyed it. But don’t go far, as we’ve got a lot of other cool information coming up.

Next, we’ll share our insights and expertise to develop more leverage from visits.

At Kiikstart, we’re dedicated to helping people have more choice, influence and control about how they live, work and learn. If you’d like to hear more about what we do, contact us today on 0428 593 400 or enquiries@kiikstart.com.

It’s what’s on the inside that counts. This is why we’re focusing so much attention on your interior. Whether you operate a VIC, retail or hospitality space, or deliver your experience out in the environment, these principles apply.

Last time, we spoke about brochures, walls and shelves, and why they’re important in stimulating the senses. This week, we’re talking about why telling stories, your location’s unique tale, is essential.

 

Everyone loves a good story

Personalise your visitor’s experience by introducing producers in video and audio format, using storytelling.

Tourism operators of the future will utilise local identities and legends to a much greater degree, both within visual representation, audio, and in-house displays, design, and internal events. Local identities and characters will add value and points of difference.

Information will be integrated and not seen as mutually exclusive to create a more holistic and interesting experience.

 

Embrace the five senses

The design of your interior will demand more creativity and imagination in regards to the integration of information with retail product. This will require taking full advantage of the five senses, which have been largely under- developed and forgotten many current tourism outlets.

  1. Sight
  2. Smell
  3. Taste
  4. Touch
  5. Sound

Staff and volunteers will need to tell stories, using these senses. The days of providing brochures only will be over, if it’s not already. The modern visitor will expect and require experiences and memories, which requires an approach to storytelling that can deliver the following:

  • Excitement and surprise – communicating the WOW and points of difference
  • Inspiration and creating imagination in other people
  • Highly visual – puts the guest within the experience before they are even there
  • A benefit focused interaction and educational experience – not one simply focused on the features of a product of service
  • Reinforces lived experiences, insight and expertise
  • Expresses confidence and conviction – staff and volunteers will be the custodian of the brand.
  • Continuously recommends and suggests.

 

Capitalise on the brag factor

Tourism operators will need to tap into the traveller’s ego when creating future spaces. Working closer with local producers and suppliers, organisers will meet expectations of exclusivity. The future tourist does not want the norm.

Travellers want the WOW factor and will be more discerning than in the past. And embracing storytelling is one of the best ways to successfully sell.

Stay in your seats for part 7, the last in our series on making your space sustainable for the future. We’ll be talking about utilising IT and technology to better connect.

At Kiikstart, we’re dedicated to helping people have more choice, influence and control about how they live, work and learn. If you’d like to hear more about what we do, contact us today on 0428 593 400 or enquiries@kiikstart.com.

Make. Create. Craft. Build. Play.

This is Maker Faire’s ethos. It’s a fair that brings people together and ideas together.

But just like VICs and all other tourism bodies and events, creativity and human connectedness are extremely important. The important questions still need to be answered, like ‘are we relevant?’

We spoke to Alison Kershaw, the organiser of Maker Faire Adelaide. She shared with us some of the must do’s for organisations who are not only curating creative events for their communities, but want to adopt a more visionary approach to corporate events.

There are hundreds of events, conferences and workshops out there, so how can you bring a new perspective to yours? Here’s how Alison approaches it.

It’s about the vision

Maker Faire Adelaide was born from a diverse community of people who had a genuine interest in making cool items. The event has grown from a group of people that were driven to share interesting things that were made from their kitchen tables. Where else could you have the Australian Dalek Builders Union and the Hand weavers and Spinners Guild of SA on the same bill?

There is a commitment in teaching others, but also learning and sharing of ideas and knowledge amongst people – who didn’t share these same interests. Maker Faire Adelaide has served as a space for exhibitors to make genuine connections with others, through the sharing of ideas.

The event is focused on celebrating the beautiful, but also the out there and unexpected talent that is often born from people’s kitchen tables. The sorts of talent that’s often kept ‘inside the home.’

Maker Faire celebrates innovation, no matter what the scale. It proves that change and revolution isn’t just about large corporates and applications. There’s a broader, more encompassing story to what innovation can be for people and their communities.

Celebrating the unusual

Alison believes standing out is about sharing the unusual, common purpose and common passions. Maker Faire, for example, celebrates the continual slaving away that too often is overlooked in the most celebrated of entrepreneurial journeys.

While some of the makers will continue to inhabit co-working spaces and adopt an entrepreneurial approach to their ideas, many will stay working away on the kitchen table – continuing to delight in the conversations and connections that are made through events like Maker Faire Adelaide.

She encourages all organisers to consider how they want to position their next event, workshop or conference, to stand out.

Evolving the current experience you’re delivering to your participants is critical to having a greater impact.

Kiikstart would like to thank Alison for her insights and brain space. Kiikstart is all about building better businesses through creative, more impactful experiences – it’s all about the people and the place.

If you’d like to hear more about what we do, contact us today on 0428 593 400 or enquiries@kiikstart.com.

So, we’ve taken things inside now, as you know from last time. The inside of your VIC is where your guests will spend most of their time. Last week we spoke about internal signage and the importance of making it creative and to stimulate the senses.

Now, we’re going to discuss brochures, walls and shelves. Let’s get started.

 

Brochure stock will become discerning & reduced

As we move forward, there will be less of a need for brochures. Instead, VIC’s will work with operators, suppliers and producers to create other means of promotion and revenue raising. 

To reinforce the offerings of the individual region, we suggest each VIC design their own unique brochures that make suggestions of how to make best use of time in the region. Brochure stocking is no longer a one-size-fit-all approach. There’s an opportunity to get distinct and really capture your guests.

Brochure content will focus more on regional experiences that are complimentary and focus on both the product/producer and service where relevant.

 

Convey your region creativity, through imaginative tactics

VIC’s of the future will use a range of interactive and informative signage to raise guest awareness and interest in the near future. Walls and shelves are key space to make the most of.

The methods include:

  • Shelf talkers to accompany product which highlights the benefits and unique points of difference
  • Wall decals and audio visual to convey local legends and experiences
  • Wall decals outlining the history of the region and its relevance today in terms of key experiences and product offering
  • Walls and floor decals outlining suggestions of experiences based on interest or time in the region
  • Walls or floor decals highlighting quirky facts that can be linked back into regional experiences and bookings and help move people through the space.

Relying solely on staff and volunteers to interact with guests is no longer enough. VICs will use a variety of tactics to generate interest. We’ll talk more about how to create a more unique and relevant product mix. The main idea is to really utilise everything your region has to offer – locally made products, local identities, local everything.

We’ll be back soon! And if you love what you’re reading, be sure to learn more about us. At Kiikstart, we’re dedicated to helping people have more choice, influence and control about how they live, work and learn.

If you’d like to hear more about what we do, contact us today on 0428 593 400 or enquiries@kiikstart.com.

How are you finding the framework so far? This week, we’re talking about the inside of your VIC.

While things like outside signage and being an advocate for your own region are important, your visitors will spend most of their time inside the centre. So, we’re going to dedicate a couple of weeks to redesigning the inside of your VIC.

Let’s start with internal signage.

 

Smart & creative internal signage, stimulating the senses

Your internal signage will need to be creative to encourage a sense of discovery and exploration – not only in the region but the VIC space itself.

The space will need to make better use of creative communications in order to generate the interest that leads to smart conversation with staff and volunteers.

Key messages will need to stimulate a sense on intrigue, a desire to want to find out more, to explore right here and now.

It could look something like this:

 

Make sure you don’t miss out. Ask us what is happening today in the region.

Ask us about the artist in residence today – meet the people that make the region.

Signage needs to plant seeds and highlight the quirky and unknown facts about the region.

Only have a day in the region? Don’t miss out. Ask us how to make the most of it.

Treat yourself to the best we have to offer – speak with us.

Create memories that last well after the holiday has ended. Get insider knowledge here.

Indulge in experiences and have stories that will make friends and family envious.

 

Notice the emotion in each? It encapsulates the senses.

Next Friday, we’re going to continue this chat, bringing forward ideas for your brochures, telling your unique story, stimulating the senses, and the product mix. Be sure to stick around for this!

At Kiikstart, we’re dedicated to helping people have more choice, influence and control about how they live, work and learn. If you’d like to hear more about what we do, contact us today on 0428 593 400 or enquiries@kiikstart.com.

How well do you know your place? Are you cheering for your hometown? If you’re not, it’s time to pick up those pom poms and get dancing.

Let’s talk about the importance of becoming an advocate for your own region.

Make discoveries in your own backyard

Put yourself in your guest’s shoes. Become a traveller yourself – in your own backyard. VIC’s have the opportunity to become destinations for visiting family and friends of the locals.

VIC’s can become the place, where locals can showcase the uniqueness of the region to family and friends both via experiences and product.

Ask yourself this. Why can’t the VIC be one of the first starting points when a resident is introducing a friend or relative to the region?

This reinforces the positioning of the VIC as the passionate and informed experts within their own region. Let’s take greater advantage of it.

 

Use local talent too. Celebrate local events.

VIC’s of the future will create hands-on experiences for the guest to interact with regional producers and suppliers. To feel the story, the history, the heritage and the vision.

Guests will want something that is unique and quality – a product or experience that generates emotions and memories, well after the holiday is over.

The VIC will become a catalyst and a beacon for bringing industry together so both locals, intrastate, interstate and international guests can benefit. VIC’s will become destinations of unique gifts for locals. This is a largely untapped market and one the VIC can utilise in the future while benefitting the producers, artisans of the region.

So, what do you think of this all so far? Again, this entire framework is designed to arm you with strategies you can apply to your own VIC to remain relevant and productive. You can use this across the tourism industry as a whole, like we’ve said before. The same principles apply.

Next up, we’re talking about the inside of your VIC. Stay tuned for the release next Friday!

At Kiikstart, we’re dedicated to helping people have more choice, influence and control about how they live, work and learn. If you’d like to hear more about what we do, contact us today on 0428 593 400 or enquiries@kiikstart.com.

Photo credit: Steve Rosa, Manager of Southern Highlands Welcome Centre.

Welcome back to part two of our five-part framework. At the end of this, you’re going to have all these strategies you can apply to your own VIC to stay relevant and progressive. This framework can be used across the board, for the tourism industry in its entirety.

Let’s chat about language.

As mentioned last week that information, in the traditional sense alone, won’t be enough to drive people into your centre. It needs to be conveyed in a meaningful way.

Speak their language.

The communications you use to connect with your visitors are critical. Changing the language, both internally and externally within your centre, will be your vehicle to shift perceptions and mindsets.

As the type of visitor is changing, it’s important the language utilised on signage and in verbal communication reflects these changes. Avoid the term souvenir, as it it’s somewhat antiquated and outdated.

Souvenir can imply cheap, throw away and usually imported goods. Often these are inexpensive items you buy for other people, rather than an investment in something unique for yourself.

All verbal and written communication needs to create a certain perception and emotion within the mind of the visitor. This means using words such as unique, gifts, and experiences need to be utilised to a greater degree.

 

Rethink your name.

Don’t be afraid to change the VIC’s name, in order to evolve and remain timely.

Consider the following as we move into 2017:

  • Visitor Discovery Hub
  • Regional Exploration Hub
  • Regional Discovery Centre.

It’s important that you see tourists as guests. Ask yourself these two questions:

  1. What do you do to make your customer feel like a guest within the VIC space?
  2. Treat the visitor like a guest in your own home. What would you do different and what would you need to do more of?

When you think of people as guests and not tourists you will create a more intimate, caring and personal environment in which to interact. Guests require a greater level of attention and focus. Tourist is a somewhat generic and impersonal term.

VIC’s will need to start becoming more creative with its language, in order to evolve the perception of its offerings to guests of the future. Over the next few years, you’ll see an evolution of the language used within the VIC’s and a re-framing of how tourists are seen and serviced. Embrace this and get on board early!

Stay comfortable on your seats, ready for next week. We’re talking about advocating for your own region, by discovering your own backyard. It’s going to be a fun session. 

At Kiikstart, we’re dedicated to helping people have more choice, influence and control about how they live, work and learn. If you’d like to hear more about what we do, contact us today on 0428 593 400 or enquiries@kiikstart.com.

Part three is on its way!