A stakeholder is a person, group, or organization that has interest or concern in a business. This includes anyone whose actions determine the outcome of business decisions such as investors, business partners, employees, the government, community members, and more. Being able to collaborate and use your stakeholders as a soundboard is essential to any project or goal in your company. Identifying your stakeholders, especially priority members, is the first step in engaging and communicating with them. Know their place, how much involvement they should have, and their level of motivation.
Once you’ve identified your stakeholders, their engagement is crucial. The ability to use your stakeholders as a soundboard for ideas, projects, and goals is paramount. Here are some tips on how to engage with stakeholders.
- Communication is key. Gather information on your stakeholders to help understand how they might receive and understand information. This will help you strategize the best ways to communicate with these stakeholders.
- Consult with stakeholders in the beginning stages of a project, and continue to consult with them throughout the process so everyone is on the same page. This also ensures buy in from a priority target.
- Never underestimate the value of developing relationships with your stakeholders. A relationship of mutual respect will make engagement much easier.
- Create focus groups with key stakeholders. This allows for greater levels of communication and collaboration, making them feel valued and listened to.
- Interview your stakeholders to get the perspective of one influential stakeholder.
- Surveys are an effective way to get quick feedback from a large group of people.
- Newsletters/emails are great for quick, frequent updates. While there is no personal communication, it keeps the stakeholders involved in what is happening in your business.
- Your website can always be used to communicate your business’ values and mission to stakeholders.
- Social media, especially Facebook, is a great tool to engage stakeholders. These platforms keep followers updated with what is happening through posts, individual messages, or even through Facebook groups.
- Remember that engaging with stakeholders means engaging with various personality types that will see things differently than you do. Therefore, understand the need to compromise.
In regard to destination marketing, stakeholders are extraordinarily important. Key stakeholders in this field are government bodies, hospitality firms, visitors, and the local community. The management of these various stakeholders is important to the success of a destination. It improves the destination’s performance and thus gives the destination a competitive edge.
- The government is a key stakeholder in destination marketing since their responsibilities to the community have a high impact on tourism. You must comply with various regulations and frameworks that can improve or restrain a destination’s success. Government is also in charge of infrastructure, which is essential in creating a satisfying experience for the visitor. Efficient roads and transportation are an important aspect of tourism that is regulated by the government.
- Tourists and hospitality firms are essential stakeholders, as destination marketer’s must have a clear understanding on the responsibilities and goals of these firms to fulfill the accomodation, dining, activity, and entertainment of the visitor. The satisfaction of the traveler is a key element in a destination’s success, so engagement with hospitality firms is essential in a successful marketing plan. Collaboration on developing a cohesive and clear destination image/brand is vital.
- Local residents are an extremely important stakeholder group as they hold the key to the authentic culture of a place. As discussed in our Destination DNA blog post (link), the key to a destination’s success is the ability of DMOs to understand and market what makes the place unique. While it is also important for these stakeholders to be educated on the impact tourism will have on their community and economy, locals hold the power to set your destination apart from the plethora of competition. Engage and collaborate with local community via forums, social media, or newsletters in order to accurately capture (and market) the authenticity of a destination.
Using stakeholders as a soundboard should not be undervalued. Stakeholders provide important perspectives on key elements that make a business successful. For example, destination marketing relies on key stakeholders to create the success of a destination. While engaging with stakeholders might mean bringing in difficult and varying personalities, the dialogue provides diverging views to see differing perspectives which overall leads to greater success.