Collaborative pilot project paves the way for rural tourism success

Ali UrenBusiness Transformation, Innovation, Tourism & HospitalityLeave a Comment

Crafting Collaborations

Authored by Kushla Gale from Tilma Group

What happens when you bring together (across a nice Tassie red!) a passionate advocate for regional and rural tourism and an out-of-the-box thinker who specialises in learning and development and creating innovative and energetic teams? 

A collaboration that supports regional and rural councils to be brave, and think outside the box in paving the way for tourism success – just ask the team at Leeton Shire Council:

“Through the development of the Leeton Responsible Visitor Economy Activation Plan Linda and Ali have provided us with a solid foundation and framework to continue to evolve our destination brand and build on opportunities to shape our focus towards creating a consistent and impactful identity for our region. Thank you, ladies!”

– Brent Lawrence, Manager Visitor, Cultural and Local Economy, Leeton Shire Council

RESPONSIBLE VISITOR ECONOMY PILOT PROJECT

A year ago, Linda Tillman of regional tourism consultancy Tilma Group collaborated with Ali Uren of learning and development agency Kiikstart on a pro bono Responsible Visitor Economy pilot project.

The two co-wrote a series of three articles on three critical questions regional councils should ask about tourism:

  1. What is the role of local government in a modern and changing tourism industry? 
  2. Are we a destination or do we have the ability to become one? 
  3. Do we have the capacity, commitment and resources to realise our human potential?

Linda and Ali then presented a webinar on the topic for Australian Regional Tourism, and offered attendees the opportunity to submit an EOI for the two to work with one regional destination to

  • determine and agree on the region’s “why” 
  • undertake a stock take and analysis of all pillars of the visitor economy 
  • develop a clear picture of the region’s visitors 
  • undertake an innovation capability review and co-design solutions 
  • develop a responsible visitor economy activation plan – a roadmap for the region’s visitor economy development 

While 19 Councils applied for the pilot, Leeton Shire Council was successful.

As Brent, the Visitor, Cultural and Local Economy manager put it, while Leeton was undertaking some great tourism development projects,

“We haven’t really worked out what our destination stands for and need some help in this area to know our parameters and sharpen our focus. 

“I really need some support to get my team suitably skilled to move us forward in the right direction and give us some real focus in terms of activation as opposed to preparing another strategic plan that is unrealistic with its deliverables.”

– Brent Lawrence, Manager Visitor, Cultural and Local Economy, Leeton Shire Council
Outcomes
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The outcome of the project was to identify key foundational projects to support the Shire’s tourism development:

  1. Define and activate Leeton’s DNA in its brand
  2. Develop an integrated cultural, events and tourism governance model to drive innovation and creativity
  3. Develop the skills of industry and within Council’s visitor economy team
  4. Implement an innovative collaborative visitor servicing model

With strong foundations in place, the team can then work on three key tourism development projects:

  1. Build two key festivals to support activation of the brand and attract new visitor markets
  2. Implement targeted marketing campaigns (shifting financial resources from visitor servicing to promotion)
  3. Develop edutourism

“When this opportunity presented itself, I knew this was a project that Leeton Shire Council would benefit from in many ways – I’m thrilled that we were selected as the successful applicant from 19 other Councils across Australia! 

“Over the past six months tourism industry professionals Linda Tillman from Tilma Group and Ali Uren from Kiikstart have extensively reviewed the way Leeton Council approaches the development of our local visitor economy. 

“Through the development of the Leeton Responsible Visitor Economy Activation Plan they have provided us with a solid foundation and framework to continue to evolve our destination brand and build on opportunities to shape our focus towards creating a consistent and impactful identity for our region. Thank you, ladies!”

ABOUT THE COLLABORATORS

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Tilma Group is a regional tourism and events consultancy which has worked over the past decade on a holistic suite of regional tourism development projects from the Northern Territory to Victoria. Tilma Group specialises in strategic planning for local governments, and state, regional and local tourism organisations across tourism and event development, marketing, event management, and industry training. 

Linda Tillman,Managing Director of Tilma Group, and a recently retired Director from the Board of Australian Regional Tourism, is also founder of event management capacity building program, rEVENTS Academy. Well known for her passionate advocacy for regional communities, and ability to harness the symbiotic relationship between tourism and events for destinations, Linda has an intimate understanding of regional Australia and an innate ability to connect with regional communities.

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Since founding Kiikstart in 2008, Ali Uren has specialised in solving problems and delivering innovation through responding to skills gaps and risks. Kiikstart’s purpose is to build stronger regions that are better positioned to meet the changing needs of visitors. In turn, this results in better bottom lines with more engaged, connected teams. Since 2008 Kiikstart has educated over 2,000 people to measurable outcomes and worked in-depth with over 50 brands to re-design how they do business. Kiikstart’s clients, regardless of size, aim to be the pace-setters and influencers in their industries and stay ahead of the game. 

Examples of recent industry experience includes training for TICSA, working closely with Outback icons the Innamincka and Birdsville Hotels, being a judge and mentor for the South Australian Tourism Awards, helping modernise 17 regional Visitor Information Centres across South Australia and Tasmania, and coaching young tourism professionals as part of ART’s Emerging Tourism Professionals Program. In addition, Ali Uren has delivered subjects within Innovation and Entrepreneurship and successfully mentored Masters students at the University of Adelaide, Deakin University and Charles Sturt University as part of the E-Challenge project. 

SUPPORT FOR YOUR REGION

If you would like support to develop your visitor economy responsibly, don’t hesitate to reach out.

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