Editorial
Georges Panayotis' column

16 May 2017

Creativity: when intelligence and fun converge...

Georges Panayotis

Is it the job of all tourism enterprises to become a universal reservation portal? Must they become a single outlet where travelers may build their journey, from transportation to accommodations, from shopping to cultural activities, dinning to discovery? One may legitimately question this new strategy that opts for the quest for exhaustiveness to the detriment of the specificity of the trade.

When Airbnb buys a sharing platform for restaurant delivery and comes up with the idea to sell its hosts' tips in each city; when Booking.com makes it possible to by local "Experiences" in addition to the hotel reservation; when Ryanair partners with an online distributor of 6,200 properties to sell flight + hotel, or when AccorHotels sign a partnership with Misterfly to sell combined travel and accommodations packages... one might ask about the evolution of distribution models and the economic merit of these partnerships.

It is possible to understand the obsession large tourism corporations have with tourism, today, in a global competition, to keep the most direct and exclusive relationship with the customer. They express a certain legitimate fear of seeing it escape to another commercial circuit making it necessary to remunerate in some way or another and that could thus enrich itself with the corporation's loyalty membership base.

The world of the digital economy forces every business, especially in tourism, to control its commercialization and find its legitimacy on an increasingly affordable marketplace that is increasingly occupied by powerful and avid actors. Does the answer lie in the quest to cover all bases? Is it necessary to show a little interest in everything to avoid forgetting something and appearing too limited with respect to a competitor's offer? Is the one that comes out on top is the one that collects quotations of authors of all kinds and combines all the arguments in hopes of obtaining a higher than average grade from one's teachers? This deserves real strategic consideration because it is a journey that grows automatically in terms of size, multiplication of activities, to avoid forgetting any, without necessarily being competent in any one.

By analogy, the department store, where one can find and buy just about everything on one of many floors, could be put in a face-off with Apple Store, where the expertise of its salespeople and the showcasing of innovations is highly appreciated. While department stores struggle to stay open, Apple has multiplied its store openings. Concentrating development on the diversification of the offer at all costs, means taking the risk of neglecting the core business, the very DNA of the business. Innovation must be first and foremost through the product, through its renewal, through the maintenance of its level of quality and its performances. Legitimacy in the customer's eyes comes from their confidence in the brand, the appeal of the strength of the concept well ahead of the distribution circuit and related services.

The automobile industry, meanwhile, chose another strategy, to keep its focus on innovating its reference production while expanding its range of peripheral services ranging from credit to leasing. Related services strengthen the core trade, but without ever losing sight of the reason for its industrial pertinence.

Do and undo, build and rebuild: these are the constant obsessions of creatives who will never be satisfied with the status quo. They allow their intelligence to drift and play on unexplored routes, and that is just as well. But it is not enough to simply produce a workshop prototype, it is necessary to dedicate the energy and means to give it an industrial dimension, to create the network that will impose itself on customers. The latter will find their way there by foot, train or plane. The goal of the journey should not be confused with the journey itself.

Publication director