Identifying the key opportunities for collaboration in place branding

City Nation Place was founded on a belief that effective collaboration between key stakeholders was the key to successfully promoting and managing the reputation of a city, region, or country.

When tourism and economic development organisations pool their resources - and when your private sector and citizens are telling the same narrative - you can deliver truly positive change within your place. And it’s a better use of resources – there’s no need to repeat mistakes or reinvent the wheel if you’re already integrating your learnings and strategies with your key stakeholders.

Within place branding, ‘collaboration’ could broadly encompass anything from working more effectively between your tourism and economic development partners, to engaging your private sector or local government, or even to initiating strategic partnerships with places halfway around the world. Each presents its own challenges and opportunities, and of course, it’s rarely as easy as simply saying “let’s work together!” and watching the pieces fall into place. Organisations within a place often have conflicting hierarchies, incompatible funding streams, and even incongruous ideals and objectives. However, if you’re able to find a common ground and a common way of working, you can increase the impact of your strategies significantly.

How effective is collaboration between teams?

In our 2021 research report, we asked our participants to rate the effectiveness of their collaboration with different entities in order to understand where collaboration was working best – and where the most common gaps are. 

Unsurprisingly, the best collaboration was seen between tourism development and MICE attraction organisations - perhaps because historically the success of a conference has often been measured in bed nights. The research does also highlight some of the weaker areas of cooperation within place promotion; for example, collaboration between MICE attraction and investment promotion organisations were ranked least effective. However, when places are able to join the dots between these organisations, the potential impacts of hosting an event increase exponentially.

Even where collaboration was rated highly between teams, there’s still a lot of scope for improvement. 52% of respondents ranked the effectiveness of collaboration between their tourism and economic development teams at ‘good’ or ‘very good’ - but that still leaves 48% whose answers ranged from ‘average’ to ‘not very effective’.

What next?

So what can places do to foster better collaborative relationships - both internally and with like-minded places around the world?

In order to understand how better partnerships between key stakeholders could provide a long-term benefits, we identified five major challenges facing places where collaboration could be the key ingredient to success:

  • Creating a single unified story across all your place stakeholders
  • Working with your partners to share data and insights to build an accurate picture of your place
  • How business events, economic development, and tourism promotion can work in tandem to deliver more sustainable, resilient returns
  • Developing a regional approach that allows you to collaborate with your neighbours instead of competing
  • Understanding the soft power impact when we collaborate together on global issues 

You can download the full report HERE or apply to become a member of CNP Connections HERE to get complimentary access to all our reports. Please note, to qualify for your FREE membership of CNP Connections you should be in a leadership or strategic role as part of a government team; destination marketing organisation; economic development team; investment promotion agency; city, state, or regional marketing board; or similar organisation.

Related reading:

REPORT: Collaboration is king

How can you foster better collaboration between stakeholders

Rethinking place attractiveness in the fallout of COVID-19

Are smart cities the key to resilience

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The Place Brand Portfolio is City Nation Place's searchable portfolio of Awards case studies from the past five years.