Collaboration research: What did 150+ travel, tourism, and hospitality professionals say?

Backed by stats

In December of 2020, we surveyed 161 travel, tourism, and hospitality professionals to learn more about their stance on collaboration. The results of our collaboration research showed 99% of respondents said their organizations had collaborated with others in the industry. The results also showed that 45% said their organizations had extensive experience with collaboration as well. 

We have long touted the power of collaboration in our network, but our research revealed that collaboration in travel & tourism is even more prevalent than we thought. Collaboration has played a key role in our ability to find opportunities amidst the challenges of 2020. However, in spite of its popularity, there are a number of mixed opinions about the risks and rewards of this practice. 

We believe that with a little creativity, your team can turn a perceived obstacle into a huge opportunity!

Different Attitudes, Different Segments

We found three distinct attitudes about collaboration. These attitudes impacted which organizations worked on collaborations and saw success, and who didn’t.

Curious what sort of collaborator you are? Find out here in 60 seconds!

The first group (Promoters) were relentlessly enthusiastic about the benefits of collaboration between organizations. The second group (Doubters) was more reserved. Doubters believed that collaboration was difficult and ineffective, scorning overzealous organizations for their unrealistic expectations.

A third group (Protectors) held high regard for collaboration with some restrictions. They believed their organizations’ proprietary expertise, systems, and processes represented a competitive advantage, therefore the exposure of inter-organizational collaborations could put them at risk.

collaborator types

Each one of these segments represents about one-third of the industry professionals we surveyed. This means that beliefs are evenly split and that collaborative organizations are likely to encounter one of these groups. This does not change based on age, experience level, niche, or annual revenue. 

But here is what is fascinating! Collaborations are likely to result in success regardless of which segments work together! That means collaborations work, even for those who doubt their effectiveness!

You still need to make sure it is the right collaboration, but instead of crumbling in the face of adversity, travel professionals are finding new opportunities by collaborating with those around them. In addition, they continue to forge new relationships, service lines, and products that enable them to grow as things return to normal.

Obstacles To Collaboration

When different types of travel professionals and organizations try to optimize for inter-organizational collaboration, a lot can go wrong. We asked about the greatest challenges associated with collaborations to find out why.

Top 3 Challenges

First off, there is a lack of faith in our abilities to collaborate well. While 48% of the Promoters “completely agree” that they have strong collaborative skills, only 21% of Doubters and 21% of Protectors share the same sentiment. Note: That is an excuse, not a good reason to not collaborate. 

Second, 61% of respondents said a lack of funding or other resources was a significant challenge for their organization. Note: Many creative collaborations don’t require significant funding. 

Third, 57% cited poor communication between organizations. Note: You can mitigate this with proper setting of expectations at the beginning. 

You can play with the collaboration research data yourself by going here.

Other challenges

Sizeable groups also cited other challenges we’ve encountered at Break the Ice Media:

  • Lower priority compared to initiatives specific to one participating organization or another (45%)
  • Lack of leadership support (41%)
  • Lack of trust between organizations (40%)
  • External forces such as economic or industry developments driving other priorities (39%)
  • Lack of a strong designated leader for the collaborative effort (35%)
  • Different comfort levels with technology (33%)

In nearly all cases, the percentage of each segment citing a particular challenge was eerily similar — everybody seems to be struggling with the same things no matter which segment they were part of.

Want to learn more about our collaboration research? We recorded a video presentation. 

The 3 C’s of Collaboration

At Break the Ice Media, we group these challenges into the 3C’s: Communication, Commonality, and Commitment. And while some specific challenges may be encountered more often than others, it’s clear from our research that overcoming challenges in all three areas is critical for collaborations to be successful.

  • First, communication is essential to maintain clarity with your partners and prospects, and it is an opportunity to be a calming voice amidst the uncertainty and chaos. 
  • Next, commonality is about identifying common goals and operating with the greater good at heart. 
  • And finally, commitment means sticking with your collaborative efforts no matter how tough the going gets because when we bounce back, we bounce back together. 

Travel professionals and organizations that check all of these boxes can thrive under any circumstances, and this framework is key in identifying opportunity in the face of adversity.

Opportunities To Seize

Members of all three segments “agree completely” that their organizations would benefit from collaborating with the right counterparts: 90% of Promoters, 50% of Doubters, and 45% of Protectors agree completely with this statement, and nearly all others “agree strongly.”

Flat out, the industry believes we should encourage collaboration rather than dampen it. As one Promoter states:

“Everyone is experiencing their own emotions with Covid and our businesses. Now is the time to open up some of the personal chapters of your life and become closer in your partnerships.”

A Doubter encourages: 

“Do not be your own stumbling block when it comes to collaboration. If you feel like your role or organization will take a back seat moving forward in a group, then you were most likely riding in the back already.”

And from a Protector, perhaps the most encouraging note for organizations feeling like collaborating with others might be playing outside of their league: 

“This is a time of great opportunity. In particular, those new to the industry will have their ideas listened to in ways they would not have even a year ago.”

We at Break the Ice Media couldn’t agree more.

Get out there and start talking to other organizations in our industry! Most of them are ready to have the conversation, and most agree there is opportunity in collaboration. 

If you are struggling to come up with great ideas, talk to us! We live and breathe this stuff and would be happy to give you a behind the scenes peak at what others are doing. 

Want to learn more about collaboration, here is your go-to resource suite