By Jack Johnson, Destinations International
The release of the Becoming a Community Shared Value Workbook - A Values Based Roadmap for Destination Organizations to Embrace Community Alignment
By Jack Johnson, Destinations International
A community shared value is a value that is appreciated at an individual level and shared by every member of the community. Community values are the non-negotiable core principles or standards that the community’s residents wish to maintain. They must be acknowledged, honored and constantly defended to ensure that change and development occur in accordance with these. Community values guide the community’s vision, mission and strategic plan as well as its goals, objectives, activities, capital projects, budgets and services.
In 2018 and early 2019, the advocacy and research staff of Destinations International spent considerable time reviewing a myriad of source materials on individual destination organizations in the United States and Canada. The goal was to understand why so many destinations organization budgets, or even the organization itself, were under political attack. Sources included press coverage, editorials, websites, press releases, social media postings, newsletters, newscasts, podcasts, program audit reports, government RFPs for destination marketing services, memos, city plans and minutes of government meetings related to those RFPs and countless hours of local government public hearings posted on YouTube.
As we poured through all the information, we started grouping what we had found into categories and, in the end, we saw three major categories emerge - notable fiduciary failures within the industry, the lack of community relevance, and responses and arguments that no longer resonate. These were failures by the organizations that had made them vulnerable to political attacks. All three of these failures could be tied back to a single, simple principle. A simple orientation to build the destination organization’s efforts and activities around. Who were they doing everything for? Who was their ultimate customer?
In the past, they may have thought about the hospitality industry with hotels and restaurants front and center. Or they may have claimed it was their visitors in general, with specific segments of visitors prioritized. While these are understandable and important, they fail to appreciate why destination organizations were created in the first place.
At the end of this review, we became convinced that destination organizations were doomed to a life of periodic political attacks, unstable budget resources and potential failure unless they turned and focused on their true ultimate customer — the residents of the destination. And in doing so, embraced their civic role, complete with basic and fiduciary responsibilities.
In the spring and summer of 2019, Destinations International explored these findings and the conclusion we had drawn with specific groups within our membership and outside constituencies related to our industry. Refinements were made, and the final version of the concept was presented at the 2019 Destinations International Annual Convention in St. Louis, Missouri, USA. In that presentation, Destinations International stressed not only the need to make this change but committed to assisting our members in pivoting to this community and resident focus. We created this workbook to help with that effort.
As the advocacy and research staff of Destinations International began the effort to build this workbook, we began to understand that we needed a list of core industry values that are the non-negotiable core principles or standards that define those destination organizations that are focused on their community’s residents.
We spent the fall of 2019 exploring what those were and presented the initial list at the Destinations International Advocacy Summit in Madison, Wisconsin, USA. Though slowed by the effects of the COVID-19 global pandemic and related recession, the staff took input and refined the list in 2020. It was only then that staff realized that these were more than a list of core values. Within these values is a roadmap for our members to fulfill the shared value of destination promotion in their communities. Within these values, building one upon another was the way forward – they were the answer to the question, how do you become a community shared value.