We revealed three different attitudinal segments among travel, tourism and hospitality professionals in our 2021 “Rising Tide” Collaboration Impact study. Three groups that feel very differently about the benefits and challenges of collaboration with other industry organizations.
Promoters are enthusiastic supporters of organizational collaboration, pursue it actively and with a range of organization types. Doubters are collaborators as well, with a more measured view of the challenges and opportunities and expect results to take longer. Protectors are interested in collaborating but feel they have a substantial risk of losing their competitive advantage by revealing proprietary expertise and processes to competitors.
Regardless of these differences, 99% of respondents in our study said their organizations have collaborated with others in the industry.
With such widespread activity occurring, we were curious about who these organizations were choosing as collaborative partners. And we found something surprising.
Collaboration with Direct Competitors is Common
While it might seem intuitive that collaborators are avoiding working with organizations who provide similar products and services to the same audience, we were surprised to see that the opposite is true. 76% of respondents say their organization collaborated with direct competitors, while 52% collaborated with organizations offering different products or services.
Promoters are significantly more likely to enter a collaboration with direct competitors – 88% of them do, compared to 70% of Doubters and 68% of Protectors.
The number of organizations that respondents have collaborated with may be playing a factor in the prevalence of direct-competitor collaborations. Those who have collaborated with more than 5 organizations are far more likely to have collaborated with direct competitors (73%) compared to those who haven’t (29%). Perhaps a larger number of collaborations simply increases the likelihood that organizations will collaborate with a direct competitor sooner or later, but the gap is striking.
Experience also may play a role here. Respondents with the most collaboration experience are the most likely to embrace collaboration with direct competitors. 84% of those who say they have extensive experience have collaborated with direct competitors, compared to only 57% of those who say they don’t have much personal experience.
And regardless of their attitudes about collaboration, those with more than 30 years of experience in the travel, tourism, and hospitality industry are more likely than those with less than 10 years of experience to collaborate with direct competitors – regardless of the age of the respondent.
Collaborating with Direct Competitors Works
This is where the data gets really interesting!
Respondents whose organizations have collaborated with direct competitors are more likely to say they have gained every one of the benefits we explored in our survey:
- Increased innovation
- Improved relevance to customers
- Economic gains
- Improved brand identify
- Increased levels of trust in the organization by stakeholders, customers, and partners.
Here is what individuals had to say so you can hear it straight from them:
“Collaborate with others in your industry, even if they are competitors. You are all working for common goals, and fresh ideas help everyone involved.” (Promoter)
“If you collaborate with a competitor who handles something better than you, you don’t have as much research and work to do. You can make more money and develop a better relationship with the competitor who may come to you next time with something they don’t normally do.” (Doubter)
“Most people confuse their partners with their competitors, and a bigger pie makes one’s own slice larger.” (Protector)
Those statements are backed up by the research as well.
Those who have collaborated with direct competitors are more likely to rate their collaborations as being extremely valuable – both for their organizations and for their own work and expertise.
These respondents are also the most likely to say that collaboration can help travel, tourism, and hospitality organizations survive current challenges and be more successful in the future.
Why Does It Matter?
The commonality between all of these organizations is that they have embraced a potential obstacle (revealing something that a competitor could take advantage of) and treated it as an opportunity. This is a thread that runs through our research – that our industry is remarkably resilient, and in the face of difficult times we have turned to those we might have otherwise considered a threat.
It’s these characteristics of hope, optimism, and determination that we love about our industry. More about that in our next post.
This coming year is going to have its fair share of obstacles for many of us in the travel, tourism and hospitality industry, but even a slight change in how you see the world can make a big difference in your success. I encourage you to keep looking for more obstacles you can turn into opportunities! If you feel overwhelmed though, and need an outside perspective, just know, that is what we do here at Break The Ice Media. Feel free to reach out and pick our brain!