Community-based collaboration & ‘social marketing‘
Some PWF readers have been telling us about the ‘new boy’ heading up Destination Gippsland – Chris Buckingham, General Manager of the region’s tourism marketing board.
Gippsland, in Victoria’s southeast, sweeps from the Great Divide down to the coast and has many wonderful natural assets. After many years of NOT working all that well together, it seems Chris’s bubbly ‘can do’ enthusiam and energy is drawing the region together like other provincial Victorian tourism destinations such as the Ballarat and Bendigo regions.
Chris hit the ground running as the bushfires took their toll on small tourism businesses last summer and now we hear he and his team are seen to be constantly in Melbourne ‘in the face’ of Tourism Vic, which leads to local confidence as ‘Gippsland doesn’t have big icons like other regions have to spend up big on promotion’.
With a background in what he calls ‘social marketing’ Chris seems to have drawn tourism microbusinessowners to him and his ideas and they are delighted Gippsland will be ‘first cab off the rank’ with regional tourism promotion at the newly refurbished showgrounds at Royal Melbourne Show starting soon.
All of the above helps with sharing the burden of sustainable product development and promotion so a region can benefit from more jobs, small business profitability and community pride, while still caring for the region’s natural and cultural heritage.
Whether it’s social marketing or just his nature but Chris seems to be applying the basic elements of community-based collaboration that make such good, practical sense:
1. One group on its own is unlikely to succeed in a community-based project – the interdependence of groups in a community is a fact of life – and this must be recognised by all involved.
2. ALL key people must be involved right from the start.
3. Everyone involved must be able to see personal benefits as well as benefits for others.
4. The leader must be seen to have the authority and resources to successfully complete the project.
5. The collaborative process (coming from the inclusion of ALL key people) itself must be seen as having the power to influence decisions made eg by council or government.
6. The community’s goals for the collaborative project must be clearly stated and monitored by a reference group that helps with ongoing reviews and adjustment.
The new Gippsland ‘branding’ will be launched October 16 – all very secret right now….we’ll report back on how it’s all received!
These principles come from an American study carried out at Jackson Hole, Wyoming, where the local community was very disenchanted with government but together they managed to ‘get over it’ and develop a ‘Comprehensive Plan’ that organised divergent community interests while protecting the region’s distinct character and ecological integrity. “Collaboration Theory & Community Tourism Planning” Jamal & Getz.
Has your region had similar problems and how did you tackle it?