“Stakeholder Engagement for Rural Destinations”: Matthew Landkamer – Show Notes

  • Name: Adam Stoker
  • Position: Co-founder and CEO of Relic Agency
  • Favorite Destination: Fiji
  • Dream Destination: New Zealand
  • Name: Matthew Landkamer
  • Position: Principal at The Coraggio Group
  • Favorite Destination: Santa Fe, New Mexico
  • Dream Destination: Slovenia or Japan

“Stakeholder Engagement for Rural Destinations” – Show Notes and Highlights

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Show Highlights

  • Adam Stoker just released his first book titled, “Touchpoints: The Destination Marketer’s Guide to Brand Evaluation and Enhancement.” You can get this book on Amazon for Kindle or in Paperback.

About Matthew 

  • One of his favorite destinations is Santa Fe, New Mexico because he loves the food there. Santa Fe has the third-largest art market in the U.S. behind New York and Los Angeles. A very unexpected fact.
  • He is interested in traveling to Slovenia because of a speaker at the Outlook Forum that Visit California hosted. Either Slovenia or Japan because he is an avid potter.
  • He got into pottery while he studied and got an art degree in college. He had a successful painting career for 20 years or so. He jokes that he painted himself into a corner and decided to take a break from painting. In the meantime, he thought it would be fun to sign him and his daughter up for a pottery class. He loved it so much he bought his own wheel, kiln, and everything.
  • With his art background, he worked for an art supply company and fell into marketing there. Then, he did marketing for multiple companies over time and ended up at an architecture firm in Seattle that hired Coraggio Group to help them. He was so impressed with Corragio Group, that he ended up there and now it’s been seven years.

About Coraggio Group

  • Coraggio is a consulting firm based in Portland, Oregon that has been around for 15 years. The company consults for strategy, change leadership, leadership, culture, and other improvement work in various industries.
  • They had their first tourism client about 10 years ago. Now, about half of their work is from the tourism industry. It’s the industry the company puts the most emphasis on.

Stakeholder Engagement

  • A destination will always have its immediate stakeholders including its board, hoteliers, and others. However, it also has important stakeholders such as government, industry groups, the chamber of commerce, a possible downtown association, and the local residents. 
  • Rural destinations often need work in stakeholder engagement. In rural towns, there’s often a feeling of being left out. Rural towns might feel overlooked if they don’t get attribution for driving visitation or generating as much revenue when compared to urban areas. Resentment can build up. Rural towns can often see a lack of readiness, as Matthew calls it, for tourism. “Doing the due diligence to do the stakeholder engagement can help set the stage for a greater acceptance of tourism as a potential economic driver,” said Matthew.
  • Find ways to make engagement creative and interesting. For example, split into smaller groups for activities. Use monopoly money to see how they would put it into “buckets” of spending. Have them write answers on flip charts. 

Collecting Information from and Listening to Stakeholders 

  • It’s multi-modal — you need to do in-person listening, as well as employee surveys, focus groups, telephone interviews, and more. Get different kinds of information out there in different ways. Quantitative is good for the numbers, but qualitative data lets you dive deeper. 
  • Build representational groups. Do deliberate outreach to make sure you’re getting people from all over those constituencies. Make sure to hear everything — the positive and negative. 
  • When moderating these discussions, minimize the amount of time you have the group speak as a whole. Have the room set up in rounds and provide exercises for people to do in small groups. Force people to sit next to people they don’t work with to prevent any ganging up or feeding off of each other. This minimizes grand overtaking and maximizes talking.
  • Don’t just tell stakeholders what is going on — you need to listen. It’s a balance. Think of the 80/20 rule — spend 80% of time listening and 20% talking about the plan. 
  • When dealing with cynics, Coraggio Group calls them people that care so much it hurts. It’s important to them that they don’t feel like it lives up to expectations. Listen, and answer with transparency and accuracy, showing that you heard them.
  • People respond better to decisions and changes when you state, “We heard you and we considered A, B, C, and we went with decisions because of X, Y, Z.”

How Are You Doing with Stakeholder Engagement?

  • There are two things you can do to check how you are doing with your stakeholder engagement.
    • One option is to do a gut check. Make a checklist of things that you want and you want the stakeholder to be bought into. Test those against each other. Are you seeing a good response? Is there engagement?
    • The second option is to do an annual survey of your stakeholders. It’s a continuous touchpoint each year to determine if you are doing a good job, overcoming challenges, and collecting stakeholder feedback and ideas. It doesn’t have to be long. 
    • It can simply consist of the satisfaction score — “How satisfied are you with our DMO and the work we’re doing in the community?” Followed up with “Where do you think we can improve?” Those two questions will yield incredible feedback.

In your work with stakeholders, once you start, your work is never done. The trust, engagement, and interaction will just keep growing. Collect information and inform. Those two things are the most important. Be inclusive and think beyond your normal borders for engagement.

Resources Mentioned in the Podcast

Touchpoints by Adam Stoker on Amazon

The Coraggio Group

Destination Marketers LinkedIn Group

Destination Marketers Facebook Group