Solutions to offer full time work for key employees in tourism in order to increase tourism low seasons by offering quality services and experiences all year.
Problem and context:
The tourist destination Flaam, Aurland Municipality in rural Norway has high and low seasons. The destination attracts customers with high expectations. Flaam has 400 permanent residents. Employed within the tourism sector: 1/3 as permanent staff. 2/3 as temporary seasonal staff.
- The actors organised the network EMBLA and started to share key personnel and opening hours. Examples: Two businesses share a marketing manager. Others share a chef, others a F&B-manager.
- Tourism actors have started to cooperate (by talking informally together) to secure that rooms and services are available in low season and especially during Christmas / New year / Easter. Informal cooperation has proved successful and now the actors have decided to formalize this cooperation. Thus the low season products have become economic sustainable also during the low season.
- The network itself provides no services. It is a platform for cooperation. The key is joint conclusions to secure low season services for tourists.
Main stakeholders and beneficiaries:
Most of the businesses are members of SBG (the region’s business center) and as such, they access a coordinator. In addition, EMBLA has achieved becoming part of 3 different research projects as subject for case studies. Thus they access advice on how to get good rating on Trip Adviser and similar. They develop knowledge about travel patterns and on how to improve adventures and experiences.
Funding allowed the coordinator to work 21 days per year to develop the cooperation. Research was funded without costs since EMBLA was a case study.
The partners (CEOs) are now doing the job assisted by the public part-funded business garden with approximately 1 day of work pr month.
Evidence of success
The businesses has overcome the phase of no-cooperation, realized the benefits of working together, started sharing resources and achieved lower costs allowing sustainable extension of the season. The businesses that co-operates most closely have documented increased turnover and lower costs. If we compare the 4 low-season months November – February, the turnover has increased between 14 – 30% from 2016/17 to 2017/18. The next year 10%. EMBLA gets closer to achieving year-round activity.
The NW started being 8 members. In 2017, they are 15. With increased no of members, EMBLA faced lower member focus. They needed to formalise the cooperation, avoiding occasional free-riders, clarifications in respective boards and securing that participating members were CEOs
Potential for learning or transfer
1 The process of realising the need for cooperation to decrease costs:
In addition to the individual focus on higher turnover and lower costs, EMBLA focused on a common goal; satisfied guests. Thus, EMBLA managed to achieve a holistic mind-set among its members. Their focus on the guest also led to an understanding of taking societal responsibility.
2 The process of moving from informal to formal cooperation:
Trust must be the basis, but has its limits. With increasing no. of EMBLA-members, they needed to formalise rules on confidentiality, make formal agendas and to introduce minutes. In this process the rooted common guest-focus was priceless.
3 The benefit of being a case study and thus bringing in researchers:
Parallel to the EMBLA-actors efforts to reduce costs, they also receive valuable research based information to secure quality of their low season-products.
4 The partners (CEOs) use time on the cooperation and trust each other.