2.18 Understanding sustainability: Designing a Circular Visitor Economy

With this activity, we want will be focusing on the business angle, as industry practice is at the heart of a more sustainable destination.

With this activity, destinations will be able to develop regenerative tourism, which provides a holistic way of thinking in which all stakeholders build reciprocal and beneficial relationships with the aim to actively improve social and environmental systems and align all the destination's stakeholders to sustain it.

‍

During the kickoff sessions during Week 6, we discussed circularity and how destinations can take advantage of designing a circular visitor economy to drive change within them. In doing this, destinations will be able to develop regenerative tourism, which provides a holistic way of thinking in which all stakeholders build reciprocal and beneficial relationships with the aim to actively improve social and environmental systems and align all the destination's stakeholders to sustain it.

‍

Thus, in order to develop a circular visitor economy in the destination, it is important to acknowledge that, in tourism, circularity can be achieved within three different perspectives:

  • Creation of Knowledge Loops.
  • Creation of Value Chain Loops.
  • Creation of Feedback Loops.

‍

With this activity, we want you to focus on the business angle, as industry practice is at the heart of a more sustainable destination. Are you ready to get started? You can complete and download the different exercises by clicking on the images below. πŸ‘€

‍

⚠️ Note that this activity is made up from a number of other exercises and templates that can be completed individually. That means you can focus on using the ones that will result more helpful for your DMO.

‍

‍

1. Creation of Knowledge

‍

1.1. Understand Circular Flows & Circular Brainstorming

‍

At its core, a circular economy means that products no longer have a life cycle with a beginning, middle, and end. Therefore, they contribute less waste and can actually add value to the destination. When materials stop being used, they go back into a useful cycle, hence the circular economy. Imagine what would happen if everything was designed to be restorative and regenerative?

‍

This template should be filled in within the members of your DMO, and potentially, with your Diverse Empowered Team. First, we would like you to become familiar with the two types of circular flows: the technical and the biological. At a glance, which of these loops feels most relevant or achievable for what your destination's development? Consider the current position of your destination's strategy within the flows.

‍

Afterwards, go through each loop as a lens for your new strategy. For each loop, ask yourself: "What would it take for this to work for the new strategy idea?" and "What's standing in our way from this working now?". As you move from the inner loops to the outer loops, you'll notice that the inner, tighter loops preserve more value and embedded energy. Then, ask yourself, can we try to stay in the inner loops? What are we able to affect right now? If you don't have time to fill in both worksheets, choose the type of circular flow that you believe will fit best within your strategy and fill it in.

‍

Lastly, and with the information that you gathered in Week 7 through the interviews with the stakeholders from the destination, brainstorm with your Diverse Empowered Team how you could implement all of that information into the strategy to ensure its circularity. For this, it's important to keep an open mind without judgement, and apply a critical lens only after you have gone broad. With this last part, feel free to add more sections to develop more ideas, as the more you have the more you'll be able to include in you strategy!

‍

‍

1.2. Define Your Challenge

‍

Circular design is inherently systemic, so it is particularly valuable to have a clear definition of what you are trying to solve and how you plan to go about it. This will likely require an interdisciplinary approach with a range of support. That is why we recommend that for this activity you also gather with your Diverse Empowered Team, to have a richer input.

‍

The activity will help you articulate and frame what circularity challenge you want to solve and the impact you want to have. In addition, it's an opportunity to bring a team together to align your goals and the approach you might take.

‍

Start by clarifying your goal - what are you looking to accomplish? Then, as a group, ideate on the questions proposed:

  • What impact do we hope to have on the destination?
  • What would success look like? How will we know when we achieve it?
  • What is already working for us? Can we amplify these forces?
  • what's working against us? How can we address these challenges?

‍

In the case that you feel like you would need to dive deeper within the challenges that are working against you in achieving the sustainable development of your destination, move on to part 3 of the exercise (Barriers Breakdown), before moving to part 2 (Steps Required). Completing this optional part of the exercise will allow you to ensure the success of the activity if a high degree of clarity hasn't been achieved during the ideation process.

‍

Then, you should focus on the required action. To help you think of the steps you will need to take in order to achieve this, answer the following questions:

  • What questions do we need to explore to move forward?
  • Who are the key players and collaborators from the destination that we need to make this happen?
  • What is the early narrative we want to create around our intentions that we can share with others?
  • What should be our next steps?

‍

By answering these questions, we want to help you to capture the value that you want to generate and share with the destiantion's stakeholders so that it can be used as a basis to telling them the story.

‍

2. Creation of Value Chains

‍

2.1. Find Circular Opportunities

‍

Making your destiantion's strategy more circular can begin with small changes. Consider what you have direct influence over and start there. Keep an eye on the big picture, and as you build small successes, scale your solution over time.

‍

In the first part of the template, we would like you to focus on your destiantion's strategy and complete the Interventions Worksheet, which will jelp you find opportunities for circularity through a series of questions. The idea is that if you answer yes to any of them, you should write down a few considerations for each opportunity that could be possible within your DMO.

‍

Having gathered these considerations, which will already be a great starting point, you should decide which of the identified opportunitites seem more achievable and have the biggest potential to improve visitor and stakeholder value. For this part of the activity, it might result specially useful to involve your Diverse Empowered Team to obtain those additional perspectives of what might result most appropriate within the destination.

‍

Then, move on to the second part of the activity, in which you should focus on further exploring those opportunities identified with the help of the worksheet. Dedeciate approximately 20 minutes to each of these opportunity and discuss the ways in which stakeholders' wellbeing can be improved, what it will require to exploit it and what the next steps should be in order to transform our destination for the better.

‍

At the end of the activity, you'll have an overview of some of the best opportunities that exist within your destination to achieve circularity and will be able to set a clear direction towards attaining our goals.

‍

2.2. Imagine New Partnerships

‍

Following initial ideation, new opportunities may appear to broaden your sphere of influence within the wider system in which you’re operating. This may uncover a need to partner with new or unexpected organisations.

‍

During this activity, we would like you to focus on what you'll need to exploit the identified opportunities, brainstorm on the partnerships that could help you exploit them and on contacting these stakeholders in order to work on establishing the desired partnerships. Β 

‍

In the first part, look back at the opportunities that you identified in the previous activity (Find Circular Opportunities), and if you want, also new ones that come to mind. The objective is to focus on asking yourselves who and what it is that you'll need as a destination in order to exploit those opportunities and succesfully transform the destination through circularity.

‍

Once you have thought of what you would optimally require to work on exploiting the identified opportunities, move to the second part of the activity, during which you should focus on analysing the different stakeholders that exist within your destination. Identify which of those stakeholders could be helpful in aiding the exploitation of those opportunities and add notes on how and why you would like to establish partnerships with them. This will allow you to later select which stakeholders could serve as the best partners before contacting them.

‍

Lastly, move on to reaching out and conacting those potential partners. The provided sections should help you in developing a narrative to help them understand what the value of partnership will be for them and the system. You can also use the different provided questions to write down notes, preferably in different coloured post-its to distinguish them, to gather your thoughts on the different potential partners around these matters:

  • What commitments would be needed from either side to make things a reality and to mitigate risk?
  • Develop some 'ground rules' on prototyping the new partnership together – e.g. who will gain from new business opportunities it may create?
  • Set parameters for making collaboration a success – what will you measure to know whether the partnership is worth pursuing?

‍

By doing this, this template will serve as a board that you can come back to when making those decisions to establish partners with stakeholders from the destination.

‍

‍

3. Creation of Feedback Loops

‍

3.1. Embed Feedback Mechanisms

‍

Embedding mechanisms to gather feedback before you implement the circular strategy of your destination will allow you to gain insight long after it has left your immediate control, enabling continuous and agile learning. This will be valuable both to your end users, other users in the chain, and the strategy of your business.

‍

Filling in the provided worksheet, you should be able to list out different hypothesis for your strategy, including the expectations that you have for it and the things you need to test and learn about it. By doing this you will be able to identify its strengths and weakneses and continuously work on them. Keep in mind that this is a template that can be reused as many times as you want by rewriting the post-it notes.

‍

Once you have filled in the different sections of the worksheet with the evidence you need to validate the learnings, take some time with your team to uncover what you set out to learn. Some of the methods that you can use yo gather data are:

  • Interviews with visitors to understand their experience.
  • Surveys to uncover specific information about their experience.
  • Forums to observe what visitors think about your destination.
  • If your strategy is also developed online, you can use analytics to track user behaviours.

‍

We recommend that you continuously use this process alongside the design of the strategy to ensure its success through the capture of data to maximise learnings and improvements. In addition, filling in the template with your team members within the DMO or with your Diverse and Empowered Team will allow you to gather different perspectives.

‍

Lastly, we suggest that you use this evaluations to learn and improve the strategy, as the goal is to shape its design not to confirm our assumptions. If you surface unexpected insights along the way, which may take you off course,don't worry, but strike the right balance between being intention and flexible.

‍

‍

3.2. Continuous Learning Loops & Digital Systems

‍

Design is continuous with the circular economy. That’s why it’s important to create feedback cycles and learn from the input you get along the way. In addition, as more and more software developers use an agile process, digital systems are designed inherently to evolve, scale, be feedback-rich, and iterate characteristics that are circular by nature. As such, they can serve as another inspiration for designing circularly.

‍

The aim of this activty is to help you use the feedback you are collecting to explore the next steps to iterate your design and continue to add value to your destination as a whole. To complete it, we would recommend to fill in the template with your team members within the DMO or with your Diverse and Empowered Team.

‍

In the first part of the activity, we would like you to focus on the different digital systems that exist within your destination and analyse them in terms of how you could gather feedback through them, how they could be scaled, if they have altered or had an effect on any of the business models of the destination and reflect about what their iteration cycles look like. By doing this, we hope you will be able to identify which of these existing systems can better aid the circular development of your destination to achieve its sustainability to focus on their further implementation and improvement. In addition, we would like you to brainstorm on existing digital systems that other destinations or organisations might have developed and implemented with the aim of identifying new opportunities for your destination to achieve these goals.

‍

For the second part of the activity, we have put together a diagram to help you revise your strategy developments and effectively implement continous learning loops. By answering the different questions, you'll be able to identify weaknesses within your strategy and strengthen them for its successful implementation in the destination. Furthermore, you can use the space provided in the activity to add post-it notes with thoughts and measures to improve the overall action plan for the strategy's implementation.

‍

‍

3.3. Regenerative Thinking

‍

By analysing and completing the provided template, you'll be able to invision your destination as a regenerative system and how the circular economy can have many positive consequences that enhance quality of life, community and environment.

‍

The focus when filling in the template, would be to use it within your DMO but also share it with the different businesses that exist within your destination. By doing this, you'll be able to collect data from the different stakeholders and understand where they believe they stand in the axis.

‍

This will allow you to gather data from the different agents on important topics such as:

  • Are we providing quality tourism jobs and wages to the locals?
  • Are the tourism activities that we develop affecting the natural resources and endemic especies that our destination posesses?
  • How are we generating added value through our actions?

‍

By focusing on one stakeholder at a time, the template will serve as a source of data and feedback to reflect on the sustainable development of our destination. We would recommend to use it as a feedback mechanism, but could also be used during Module 3 to gather numerical data and insights from the businesses that operate within the destination.

‍

‍

With this activity, destinations will be able to develop regenerative tourism, which provides a holistic way of thinking in which all stakeholders build reciprocal and beneficial relationships with the aim to actively improve social and environmental systems and align all the destination's stakeholders to sustain it.

‍

During the kickoff sessions during Week 6, we discussed circularity and how destinations can take advantage of designing a circular visitor economy to drive change within them. In doing this, destinations will be able to develop regenerative tourism, which provides a holistic way of thinking in which all stakeholders build reciprocal and beneficial relationships with the aim to actively improve social and environmental systems and align all the destination's stakeholders to sustain it.

‍

Thus, in order to develop a circular visitor economy in the destination, it is important to acknowledge that, in tourism, circularity can be achieved within three different perspectives:

  • Creation of Knowledge Loops.
  • Creation of Value Chain Loops.
  • Creation of Feedback Loops.

‍

With this activity, we want you to focus on the business angle, as industry practice is at the heart of a more sustainable destination. Are you ready to get started? You can complete and download the different exercises by clicking on the images below. πŸ‘€

‍

⚠️ Note that this activity is made up from a number of other exercises and templates that can be completed individually. That means you can focus on using the ones that will result more helpful for your DMO.

‍

‍

1. Creation of Knowledge

‍

1.1. Understand Circular Flows & Circular Brainstorming

‍

At its core, a circular economy means that products no longer have a life cycle with a beginning, middle, and end. Therefore, they contribute less waste and can actually add value to the destination. When materials stop being used, they go back into a useful cycle, hence the circular economy. Imagine what would happen if everything was designed to be restorative and regenerative?

‍

This template should be filled in within the members of your DMO, and potentially, with your Diverse Empowered Team. First, we would like you to become familiar with the two types of circular flows: the technical and the biological. At a glance, which of these loops feels most relevant or achievable for what your destination's development? Consider the current position of your destination's strategy within the flows.

‍

Afterwards, go through each loop as a lens for your new strategy. For each loop, ask yourself: "What would it take for this to work for the new strategy idea?" and "What's standing in our way from this working now?". As you move from the inner loops to the outer loops, you'll notice that the inner, tighter loops preserve more value and embedded energy. Then, ask yourself, can we try to stay in the inner loops? What are we able to affect right now? If you don't have time to fill in both worksheets, choose the type of circular flow that you believe will fit best within your strategy and fill it in.

‍

Lastly, and with the information that you gathered in Week 7 through the interviews with the stakeholders from the destination, brainstorm with your Diverse Empowered Team how you could implement all of that information into the strategy to ensure its circularity. For this, it's important to keep an open mind without judgement, and apply a critical lens only after you have gone broad. With this last part, feel free to add more sections to develop more ideas, as the more you have the more you'll be able to include in you strategy!

‍

‍

1.2. Define Your Challenge

‍

Circular design is inherently systemic, so it is particularly valuable to have a clear definition of what you are trying to solve and how you plan to go about it. This will likely require an interdisciplinary approach with a range of support. That is why we recommend that for this activity you also gather with your Diverse Empowered Team, to have a richer input.

‍

The activity will help you articulate and frame what circularity challenge you want to solve and the impact you want to have. In addition, it's an opportunity to bring a team together to align your goals and the approach you might take.

‍

Start by clarifying your goal - what are you looking to accomplish? Then, as a group, ideate on the questions proposed:

  • What impact do we hope to have on the destination?
  • What would success look like? How will we know when we achieve it?
  • What is already working for us? Can we amplify these forces?
  • what's working against us? How can we address these challenges?

‍

In the case that you feel like you would need to dive deeper within the challenges that are working against you in achieving the sustainable development of your destination, move on to part 3 of the exercise (Barriers Breakdown), before moving to part 2 (Steps Required). Completing this optional part of the exercise will allow you to ensure the success of the activity if a high degree of clarity hasn't been achieved during the ideation process.

‍

Then, you should focus on the required action. To help you think of the steps you will need to take in order to achieve this, answer the following questions:

  • What questions do we need to explore to move forward?
  • Who are the key players and collaborators from the destination that we need to make this happen?
  • What is the early narrative we want to create around our intentions that we can share with others?
  • What should be our next steps?

‍

By answering these questions, we want to help you to capture the value that you want to generate and share with the destiantion's stakeholders so that it can be used as a basis to telling them the story.

‍

2. Creation of Value Chains

‍

2.1. Find Circular Opportunities

‍

Making your destiantion's strategy more circular can begin with small changes. Consider what you have direct influence over and start there. Keep an eye on the big picture, and as you build small successes, scale your solution over time.

‍

In the first part of the template, we would like you to focus on your destiantion's strategy and complete the Interventions Worksheet, which will jelp you find opportunities for circularity through a series of questions. The idea is that if you answer yes to any of them, you should write down a few considerations for each opportunity that could be possible within your DMO.

‍

Having gathered these considerations, which will already be a great starting point, you should decide which of the identified opportunitites seem more achievable and have the biggest potential to improve visitor and stakeholder value. For this part of the activity, it might result specially useful to involve your Diverse Empowered Team to obtain those additional perspectives of what might result most appropriate within the destination.

‍

Then, move on to the second part of the activity, in which you should focus on further exploring those opportunities identified with the help of the worksheet. Dedeciate approximately 20 minutes to each of these opportunity and discuss the ways in which stakeholders' wellbeing can be improved, what it will require to exploit it and what the next steps should be in order to transform our destination for the better.

‍

At the end of the activity, you'll have an overview of some of the best opportunities that exist within your destination to achieve circularity and will be able to set a clear direction towards attaining our goals.

‍

2.2. Imagine New Partnerships

‍

Following initial ideation, new opportunities may appear to broaden your sphere of influence within the wider system in which you’re operating. This may uncover a need to partner with new or unexpected organisations.

‍

During this activity, we would like you to focus on what you'll need to exploit the identified opportunities, brainstorm on the partnerships that could help you exploit them and on contacting these stakeholders in order to work on establishing the desired partnerships. Β 

‍

In the first part, look back at the opportunities that you identified in the previous activity (Find Circular Opportunities), and if you want, also new ones that come to mind. The objective is to focus on asking yourselves who and what it is that you'll need as a destination in order to exploit those opportunities and succesfully transform the destination through circularity.

‍

Once you have thought of what you would optimally require to work on exploiting the identified opportunities, move to the second part of the activity, during which you should focus on analysing the different stakeholders that exist within your destination. Identify which of those stakeholders could be helpful in aiding the exploitation of those opportunities and add notes on how and why you would like to establish partnerships with them. This will allow you to later select which stakeholders could serve as the best partners before contacting them.

‍

Lastly, move on to reaching out and conacting those potential partners. The provided sections should help you in developing a narrative to help them understand what the value of partnership will be for them and the system. You can also use the different provided questions to write down notes, preferably in different coloured post-its to distinguish them, to gather your thoughts on the different potential partners around these matters:

  • What commitments would be needed from either side to make things a reality and to mitigate risk?
  • Develop some 'ground rules' on prototyping the new partnership together – e.g. who will gain from new business opportunities it may create?
  • Set parameters for making collaboration a success – what will you measure to know whether the partnership is worth pursuing?

‍

By doing this, this template will serve as a board that you can come back to when making those decisions to establish partners with stakeholders from the destination.

‍

‍

3. Creation of Feedback Loops

‍

3.1. Embed Feedback Mechanisms

‍

Embedding mechanisms to gather feedback before you implement the circular strategy of your destination will allow you to gain insight long after it has left your immediate control, enabling continuous and agile learning. This will be valuable both to your end users, other users in the chain, and the strategy of your business.

‍

Filling in the provided worksheet, you should be able to list out different hypothesis for your strategy, including the expectations that you have for it and the things you need to test and learn about it. By doing this you will be able to identify its strengths and weakneses and continuously work on them. Keep in mind that this is a template that can be reused as many times as you want by rewriting the post-it notes.

‍

Once you have filled in the different sections of the worksheet with the evidence you need to validate the learnings, take some time with your team to uncover what you set out to learn. Some of the methods that you can use yo gather data are:

  • Interviews with visitors to understand their experience.
  • Surveys to uncover specific information about their experience.
  • Forums to observe what visitors think about your destination.
  • If your strategy is also developed online, you can use analytics to track user behaviours.

‍

We recommend that you continuously use this process alongside the design of the strategy to ensure its success through the capture of data to maximise learnings and improvements. In addition, filling in the template with your team members within the DMO or with your Diverse and Empowered Team will allow you to gather different perspectives.

‍

Lastly, we suggest that you use this evaluations to learn and improve the strategy, as the goal is to shape its design not to confirm our assumptions. If you surface unexpected insights along the way, which may take you off course,don't worry, but strike the right balance between being intention and flexible.

‍

‍

3.2. Continuous Learning Loops & Digital Systems

‍

Design is continuous with the circular economy. That’s why it’s important to create feedback cycles and learn from the input you get along the way. In addition, as more and more software developers use an agile process, digital systems are designed inherently to evolve, scale, be feedback-rich, and iterate characteristics that are circular by nature. As such, they can serve as another inspiration for designing circularly.

‍

The aim of this activty is to help you use the feedback you are collecting to explore the next steps to iterate your design and continue to add value to your destination as a whole. To complete it, we would recommend to fill in the template with your team members within the DMO or with your Diverse and Empowered Team.

‍

In the first part of the activity, we would like you to focus on the different digital systems that exist within your destination and analyse them in terms of how you could gather feedback through them, how they could be scaled, if they have altered or had an effect on any of the business models of the destination and reflect about what their iteration cycles look like. By doing this, we hope you will be able to identify which of these existing systems can better aid the circular development of your destination to achieve its sustainability to focus on their further implementation and improvement. In addition, we would like you to brainstorm on existing digital systems that other destinations or organisations might have developed and implemented with the aim of identifying new opportunities for your destination to achieve these goals.

‍

For the second part of the activity, we have put together a diagram to help you revise your strategy developments and effectively implement continous learning loops. By answering the different questions, you'll be able to identify weaknesses within your strategy and strengthen them for its successful implementation in the destination. Furthermore, you can use the space provided in the activity to add post-it notes with thoughts and measures to improve the overall action plan for the strategy's implementation.

‍

‍

3.3. Regenerative Thinking

‍

By analysing and completing the provided template, you'll be able to invision your destination as a regenerative system and how the circular economy can have many positive consequences that enhance quality of life, community and environment.

‍

The focus when filling in the template, would be to use it within your DMO but also share it with the different businesses that exist within your destination. By doing this, you'll be able to collect data from the different stakeholders and understand where they believe they stand in the axis.

‍

This will allow you to gather data from the different agents on important topics such as:

  • Are we providing quality tourism jobs and wages to the locals?
  • Are the tourism activities that we develop affecting the natural resources and endemic especies that our destination posesses?
  • How are we generating added value through our actions?

‍

By focusing on one stakeholder at a time, the template will serve as a source of data and feedback to reflect on the sustainable development of our destination. We would recommend to use it as a feedback mechanism, but could also be used during Module 3 to gather numerical data and insights from the businesses that operate within the destination.

‍

‍