3 Skills & Attributes To Focus On In The 21st Century!

As always graduation day was a very enjoyable and special day full of smiles, congratulations and a sense of having played a part (albeit a minor role) in someone’s life. This year I listened to Sarah Willingham, a fantastic entrepreneur, and as it happens a very inspiring speaker. Sarah’s story and advice was brilliant, poignant, uplifting and heartfelt and one word resonated with me and it was ‘Resilience’. “Remain resilient”, Sarah said.

I recalled my thoughts on employability attributes and skills in the 21st Century and how I can play a role in ensuring my students gain them. These skills go beyond disciplinary expertise and standard attributes such as:

• Oral & written communication
• Collaborator & networking skills
• Agility and adaptability
• Empathy and global stewardship
• Professionalism and self-regulation
• Critical thinking and problem solving
• Curiosity and imagination
• Initiative and entrepreneurialism
• Vision for the future.

I feel that there are three more attributes that are not focused on.
• Resilience
• Hope and optimism
• Grit

Resilience – the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties: toughness. This ability to be knocked down by life and come back stronger than ever, not allowing failure to overcome you. But how do I impart this ‘rubber ball’ ability? I decided to myself 3 questions:

• Do I help learners see failure as opportunity for growth?
• Do I encourage and reinforce learners own innate resiliency?
• Do I ensure each and every learner knows “You matter”?

Hope and optimism – confidence about the success of something or about the future, the glass being half full rather than half empty. Winston Churchill’s famous quote describes it well “a pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” Again, I asked some questions:

• Do I role model, teach, reinforce positive self-talk?
• Do I encourage a can-do attitude?
• Do I use examples that portray how others have succeeded or overcome adversity?

Grit – courage and resolve; strength of character. You’ve got to love that word, say it out loud. It’s about perseverance for long term goals and again highlighting this to students.

• How do I give learners opportunities to work on long-term, complex projects?
• Do I assist my students in identifying perseverance?
• Do I acknowledge the rewards of persevering through tough times?

Since asking these questions of myself I have starting to notice positive events, promoted seeking of new experiences, encouraged and role modelled the development of a positive attitude and self-belief and fostered a culture of listening. This has given a focus on my teaching. I have engaged in positive talk, maintained perspectives and developed a positive attitude.

So, what attributes and skills do you think are important and need to be added? How would you / do you develop them? What am I missing here? Let me know in the comments.

Karl McCormack, Lecturer – Accounting & Business

Click here for information on the courses available at Staffordshire Business School

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Free online training tourism tool now available – SMARTOUR

Thinking about going into the tourism industry ? Or maybe you work there already but have never had training?

We have a free online tool to help you develop. It was developed by and with the tourism industry – here is the list of topics available:

  • Accessibility – what is the scope and potential of this growing market for those with access needs?
  • Sustainable Supply Chains – what are the actions needed to get the most from your local supply chain?
  • Sustainable Food and drink tourism – how important is food and drink for the tourist offer? and what simple low cost actions can you take
  • Social media and marketing – developing your markets and guidance on social media
  • Seasonality – developing a plan for seasonality
  • Quality – what is service quality and how does it link to the visitor experience?
  • Training – planning and thinking about training for staff
  • EU Quality Principles – a simple and practical guide to EU Quality principles
  • Energy Controls – why you need to control energy
  • Interpreting Energy Bills – looking at energy bills and saving money
  • Indoor Air Quality – what affects customer comfort in rooms?

Each unit last between 30 mins and 1 hour – a simple test is available at the end of each module.

The tool can be found here smartour.dcnet.eu

and here is some guidance on the registration process to get started. Fill this out correctly and the tool will generate a certificate you can print out (depending on your results).

SMARTOUR Online Training Tool ppt 

Useful links

Project website – http://www.smartourproject.eu/

Twitter @tourismsu   #SMARTOUR

Facebook page -Sustainable Tourism in Europe https://www.facebook.com/smartourproject 

SMARTOUR logo

Key visitor information and recommended markets

If you are studying or living in Stoke on Trent  here are the key information sources for whats on and where to visit

Our twitter feed for all things tourism and events @tourismsu 

Visit Stoke and on twitter @VisitStoke

Visit Newcastle under Lyme on twitter @NewcastleTC they also have an app

Enjoy Staffordshire on twitter @EnjoyStaffs

Visit Peak District on twitter @Visit Peak District and has an app available

Visit Cheshire on twitter @Visit Cheshire 

There’s lots of farmers and artisan markets in the region – here’s four of the best

Stone – first Saturday of every month – very popular and great food, plus great places in the town to eat as well . You can get the train from Stoke in 5 mins or cycle/walk along the canal there.

Nantwich – last Saturday of every month in the town square – again good produce, nice independent shops in the town

Leek – Sunday supplement in the town centre– arts and crafts and food, first Sunday of every month

Rode Hall – first Saturday of every month

Details of our Tourism and Events courses here

Here’s to the Man in Manufacturing

Did you know that Volkswagen manufacture over 10.3 million cars per year, employ 600,000 people world-wide, shape 2,600 tons of steel every day in their Wolfsburg plant, are 96% automated in their production, produce 32 parts per minute on their press lines, use 35 different kinds of steel and produce more of their own component parts than any other automotive manufacturer? Nor did I, but this week I accompanied a group of Staffordshire University Business students on a Study Trip to Germany. We visited the Volkswagen manufacturing plant in Wolfsburg, the largest car plant in Europe.

I have been on a few factory tours in my time, but to say that I was amazed is an understatement. Within an archaic looking 1940’s building we were exposed to the wonders of modern technology, watching row upon row of environmentally friendly Kuka robots dancing to the tune of production, moving seamlessly to and fro in a whirlwind of activity, that culminated in the production of a new car every 18 seconds.

It is amazing to witness, but what is sadly more amazing is the disappearance of the human element of production. The employees were few and far between, taken over by a mass of machinery. In fact, we were told that of the 70,000 employees at the huge manufacturing plant at Wolfsburg, less than a third of them work in production, the remainder are all office workers.


It is predicted that robots will take over most jobs within 30 years and the development of humanoid robotic technology is moving at a frighteningly fast pace. As consumers, the number of transactions that we perform without ever seeing or speaking to a human being is increasing day by day with the development of touch-screen customer service systems, automated telephone lines and a variety of apps that we now consider essential for day-to-day living.

Whilst we embrace this on demand, responsive service to our consumer needs, I believe there is still a need for the human touch. The irony is, the factory tour that our students enjoyed so much was enhanced by our visitor tour guide, Robertino. Even down to him obligingly taking a selfie with us all. So for now, let’s keep the ‘man’ in manufacturing.

 

Angela Lawrence, Senior Lecturer in Marketing

Twitter @iteroange Facebook @angelawrence

Find out more about Staffordshire University Business Management Awards

 

 

Do not waste your time with useless SWOT analysis

How to conduct a SWOT analysis perfectly to boost your business!

SWOT is a simple and popular tool for businesses – everyone knows it. Therefore you can find it in a lot of books, blogs or trainings – business students learn about it everywhere. Most entrepreneurs conduct at least one before launching their business, most of which are far from perfect. Most of which are far from perfect.

The secret of the perfect SWOT is the analysis. Which means that you have to invest time and effort. It is not an idea-generation tool. SWOT is a strategy development tool – therefore it is not enough to collect some ideas for each area. SWOT may be simple – but not easy.

Why does your business need a SWOT analysis?

SWOT analysis is a strategy development method – it is indispensable for any new business. Specification of the objectives of the enterprise, identification of external and internal factors that have an impact on the success and positioning yourself in the market – these cannot be achieved without SWOT analysis. Even if you do not write down you have (sort of) a SWOT in your mind. With identification of the strengths and weaknesses it determines every marketing decision.

SWOT analysis is a strategic planning tool, therefore it is a must before starting your business planning. It is not just for new businesses, it is a vital part of any marketing plan. The environment, the customers, the competition are constantly changing, therefore you should update your SWOT regularly. SWOT analysis is a perfect tool to assess the effectiveness and determine the future of the organisation.

When you diversify your business or enter new markets – you need a marketing plan for that. One market – one strategy. B2C/B2B, different countries, digital – the markets are different. SWOT is a tool for strategy development, therefore any new market means a new SWOT.

It is also a good feedback for your team (and for you), it can function as a starting point for team discussions about the future in a specific business situation. Though the factors are mostly factual, their evaluation may be subjective.

You may not always conduct SWOT, but when you do, do it right.

Steps of the SWOT
Identification of the factors. Or data collection. Every SWOT analysis begins with the examination of the company and exploration of its environment: you have to identify the strengths and weaknesses and spot the threats and opportunities outside. Most of the students stop here, but this is a mistake. Because there is one more step.

Scrutiny of the factors (aka analysis). You should evaluate and classify your findings. Are you able to answer these questions:
– Why is this factor relevant? What is the impact of this?
– How can we use this factor in our strategy?

Identification of the factors – sources of information for SWOT
1. Customer data and feedback. The number of prospects, contacts, leads, clients and repurchasing clients. The structure and the activity of your customers. Customer value (Do you know it?) as the most important one. The feedback from customers in any channels: from social media to formal complaints.
2. Performance indicators and team feedback. Production rates, growth, market share, RoI. Campaign indicators: reach, activity (e.g. shares), cost per lead, website data (unique visitors, bounce rate, time spent, shopping cart abandonment), mail/advertising response rates. Personal indicators of your team.
3. Your financial performance – sales results, income, value of the company, investment, or any other information about the financial background and resources.
4. Market research – collect customer information (primary/secondary, qualitative/quantitative). Check forums, blogs, social media. Conduct a questionnaire survey. You can also research the supply chain or any other stakeholder group.
5. Information from the competitors. Public information: price lists, homepages, social media sites, stores and web shops, advertisements, publications, financial reports. Request proposals, use their services.
6. Your mission, objectives, marketing and financial plans, previous analyses.

In the SWOT you summarise your findings by grouping them into four areas: strengths, weaknesses, threats and opportunities. Threats and opportunities are mostly external factors and trends, while strengths and weaknesses focuses on the business itself. The result is something like this:

Click here to download a SWOT template!

Do not stop here. Your SWOT is not ready yet. The SWOT is an analysis, you still have work to do: the analysis itself.

Scrutiny of the strengths and weaknesses
To evaluate them, first you have to answer three questions:
– Is it a competitive advantage?
– Are you really good at this?
– What is the perception of the customers?

High quality products can be a real strength of the company, but if the competitors (or some of them) are producing the same high-quality goods then quality does not differentiate your business. Should you even classify this as a strength? Yes. It is important to understand if you are good at something. Your team also need feedback (Your sales have a 90% closing rate, your customer satisfaction is close to 100% – can you tell your team that they are not a strength for the company?).
However only competitive advantages can give you the upper hand against your rivals. When anyone can achieve this, it becomes a necessity for the market.

Even if you are the best you still can improve. It is essential to understand that you are better than the competitors, but if your customers are not satisfied, you should improve. Can a 40% repurchase rate be a strength? A 4% sales funnel conversion rate? An 85% cart abandonment rate?
You can classify it as a strength – you can be the best with them – at this specific situation. Temporarily. But the decisions should be different in the case of a real strength of the company compared to a competitive-only strength.

It is also vital to examine the perception of customers. An unknown, but existing strength requires different actions than an alleged but non-existent one. Customers can draw conclusions without knowing the facts, for example perceived quality of a product is highly related to its price, country of origin or the retailer. Perceived value (→ satisfaction) of a product is based on customers’ expectations. Cognitive dissonance distorts our perception, customers are not rational.

When you are ready with this, take a look at the whole picture.
Which are the most important strengths of the company? Which are unique? Where to improve, what to communicate? Can the business save money on some strengths?
Can you deal with all the weaknesses at the same time? Is it vital to improve any of them for the survival of the company? Can something compensate the weaknesses?
You can use ABC (Pareto) analysis to classify your factors.

Draw your conclusions for strategy – you can start thinking about the implications here. What are the consequences of these factors to the strategic level of 4Ps? Branding, pricing strategy, communication strategy, product portfolio, partnerships – most of them are determined by the strengths and weaknesses.

Do not forget to communicate / discuss this with your team. It can be important feedback for them, a recognition of their results. You can also set targets with them.

Scrutiny of the threats and the opportunities
As for the opportunities, the most important question is the prerequisites. What should you do to capitalise on them? How can you make full use of all the opportunities? Can you start working on them now? Do you need money, knowledge, licence – or any other resource before you can act? What steps lead the opportunity to become reality?

Threats are more difficult. You should know:
– the odds of their occurrence
– the consequences (potential impact of occurrence)
– ways of prevention / protection

Rank them by importance (multiple the odds and impact): those with high impact or high probability need immediate action (prevention or preparation). The identification of the most vulnerable points will influence your marketing. Focus the company’s resources to the critical factors, and do the easy and obvious only for the rest.
It is also important to examine what you can do. Some threats can be avoided, others certainly become reality sooner or later. The objective of the analysis is to be ready. To understand the options and start acting. Sometimes it is just monitoring the environment and setting up triggers (reacting behaviour) – sometimes it is leading the changes (proactive behaviour).

Do you really need to conduct a quality SWOT analysis?
The real question is this: do you need any marketing for your success? Sometimes business works without marketing or DIY.

But whenever you work with a marketing expert, a consultant or an agency, you have to make sure that they understand your business and goals. SWOT – a quality one – is a good starting point for cooperation.

Andras Kenez, Lecturer in Marketing

Any questions? Email Andras.Kenez@staffs.ac.uk

Erasmus International Staff Week – 13th to 17th Nov 2017- Employability, Enterprise and Entrepreneurship

For the week of  13th to 17th November 2017 Staffordshire University cordially invites, to our Stoke-on-Trent Campus, academic/teaching and professional staff from our International Partners with special interests in the following:

  • career services and entrepreneurship in Higher Education with emphasis on employability skills for students,
  • how Erasmus+ mobility impacts on employability and
  • professional development for staff gaining new perspectives on supporting students in the job market.

This year our international week will coincide with Staffordshire University’s CareersFest and Global Enterprise Week #GEW2017 – an annual, week long careers, employability and entrepreneurial festival, designed to ensure our students are future fit for their chosen career.

During this period the campus is transformed into a career-focussed festival, buzzing with jobs fairs, seminars, networking events and workshops.

We hope you can join us at this time, to engage with the activities, network and form alliances with colleagues, share best practices, judge competitions, run workshops, and see what Staffordshire University can offer.

Please register by completing the form on this link Erasmus Training Programme Application Form (004)

The accepted participants can book their accommodation in any hotel of their choice located close by. More detailed information of special rates and recommendations will be given directly to the participants via email.

NB! Do not book hotels or flights before your participation has been confirmed!

The participants are expected to cover their travel, accommodation and daily allowance expenses independently from their own funds, e.g. Erasmus+ staff mobility or other funds.

Organisers Wendy Pollard and Prof Jon Fairburn

Wendy Pollard – Erasmus Coordinator

Institute for Research and Knowledge Exchange

+44 (0) 1785 353404

erasmus@staffs.ac.uk 

Prof Jon Fairburn, Business School

+44 (0) 1782 294094

jon.fairburn@staffs.ac.uk 

Funded by the ERASMUS + PROGRAMME

Esports. Is it a game changer for UK education?

Staffordshire University Business School has become the first British University to launch an esports degree. The course focuses on the business and culture of esports from developing teams, communities and a fan base to hosting esports events.

Staffordshire University has invested heavily in new facilities as part of a £40m transformation of its Stoke-on-Trent campus and academics feel the University is well placed to plug into rapidly growing sectors like esports which is the practice of playing video games competitively over the internet or via networked computers in venues and stadiums.

Already Staffordshire University has responded to the Association for UK Interactive Entertainment’s (Ukie) white paper on esports by introducing a module on esports in their Games Degree.

Back in January, Dr Fletcher, Head of the Games and Visual Effects at Staffordshire University said:

“The module which is available to students on our Games Studies course is a fascinating branch of cultural studies. It looks at the national, and international market for esports, and the cultural aspects that drive it as well as the darker side of cheating and doping by esports players. Games designers are growing up and that brings with it new trends in gaming which comes with its own set of ethical dilemmas.”

Other countries around the world have recognised esports as part of the curriculum for some years.  In South Korea, where the first esports association was set up 17 years ago, they have been accepting esports players onto their sports programmes for four years. At the Asia Pacific University in Malaysia, students can complete certificates in League of Legends, DOTA 2 and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. In Norway,  the Garnes Vidaregaande high school pupils can opt for esports and can study for up to five hours per week, they focus not just on game play but also combine physical exercise in the mix.

One thing all these esports educators have in common is an agreement that esports provides a vast amount of transferable skills to the participants.

Top skills for esports:

  1. Teamworking
  2. Resilience
  3. Stamina
  4. Problem Solving
  5. Communication
  6. Endurance
  7. Decision Making
  8. Leadership
  9. Critical thinking
  10. Analytical

The students on Staffordshire University Business School’s BA (Hons) esports will also have classes in event management, digital marketing, the legal side of esports and streaming techniques. This will make sure that when they leave university they’ll have all the right skills to prepare them for a great career. With huge growth predicted in this area there are lots of job opportunities.  Many recruitment agencies, like Odgers Berndston have set up separate divisions to deal with esports careers and there are even some new sites that have sprung up like ‘esports Careers’ who are currently listing almost 500 vacancies.  The British esports Association lists over 12 career paths on its website, here are a few:

  1. Shoutcaster/host
  2. Coach/analyst
  3. Journalist/content creator
  4. PR/Marketing executive
  5. Community/social media manager
  6. Broadcast/production crew
  7. Event manager

To find out more about esports at Staffordshire University Business School visit the website staffs.ac.uk.

Rachel Gowers MBA
Associate Dean
Staffordshire University Business School

 

So you’ve graduated – now what?

5 top tips for new graduates from Senior Lecturer Angela Lawrence

Three years of study have come to an end, exams are over, the university board has sat, results announced and graduation is looming. It can be a worrying and scary time for many graduates as the intensity of those final assessments has been all-consuming for weeks and months. All of a sudden everything is over. There’s quite a gap in your life that you need to fill and you may be floundering and wondering what’s next. If you were smart, you began applying for graduate jobs at the beginning of the year, but even so, you may not yet have bagged the job of your dreams.

Here are a few tips to help you to stay focused on securing the graduate employment that you deserve:

  1. It’s a numbers game

Statistics suggest that 39 graduates apply for every advertised graduate position. So you are up against around 38 ex-students who are applying for the same jobs as you. Don’t be too hard on yourself if it takes a while and you feel like you spend half of every week filling in applications – it’s a numbers game, the more jobs you apply for the better chance you will have of securing the role that’s right for you. Keep believing in yourself and keep on searching through the jobs sites; sooner or later your time will come.

  1. Perseverance is key

Don’t give up – NEVER give up! You have worked hard to earn your degree and you deserve to get a graduate position. Okay, you may have to accept a job that is less than what you want in the first instance, to make ends meet, but do not stop seeking out and applying for graduate positions.  It took three years to get your degree so it may take three months or more to secure that job that you are after.

  1. Keep in work

Work, work, work…and keep working! You may only be working part-time, working to help out a family member’s business or working as a volunteer, but you must keep working. Having that evidence on your CV that you have a strong working ethic speaks volumes to potential employers. Furthermore, you are probably practising a multitude of transferable skills, whatever the role. Skills that employers want to hear about, such as good timekeeping, the ability to work independently or as part of a team, the ability to be trusted, accuracy and attention to detail.

  1. Ask for feedback

If you have applied for a job and had no response within indicated timescales, then ring the company up and ask them if they have shortlisted applications yet. If they have and you are not on the list, ask them if they would mind telling you what the criteria for shortlisting was, so that you know for next time. If you actually got to an assessment board or had an interview, but were not successful in being offered the job, you must ask for feedback. It may simply be that another candidate had more relevant experience, or it may be that you find out it was something that you were lacking, that you could work on before your next interview. It may be the way you interviewed, possibly nerves were showing. So practise makes perfect and you now have that knowledge to help you to prepare yourself better for your next interview.

  1. Network

The saying goes “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know”. This is never more true than in the game of job hunting. It is stated that ninety-three percent of recruiters use LinkedIn for recruitment. So if you haven’t got a professional LinkedIn profile, you’re missing a trick. Join your alumni LinkedIn group and network with alumni who know only too well how hard it is to find that all-important break in the job hunting market. But offline networking can be equally important. Check out the local networking opportunities with your local Chamber of Commerce, and seek out recruitment fairs in your local area or in the region in which you would like to work.

A final tip for Staffordshire University graduates – don’t forget that you have access to our online careers portal, eCoach following graduation. Our Careers Network services are available to you for as long as you need them. Your lecturers and personal tutors will be happy to provide you with references, so good luck and we know you’ll do us proud!

Tourism: large scale funding opportunities

“To travel is to discover that everyone is wrong about other countries.” Aldous Huxley

In my opinion Aldous Huxley is correct when he said that tourism is a way to learn and get about other countries. In fact, tourism is a major economic activity in the European Union with wide-ranging impact on economic growth, employment, and social development. A demonstration that in Europe there is a lot to learn!!

Tourism has been recognised as a powerful tool in fighting economic decline and unemployment. Nevertheless the tourism sector faces a series of challenges. These are due not only to the classic economic issues Europe faces nowadays. The fact is that tourism is a very diversified economic activity and it encompasses a great variety of sectors and sub-sectors.

Culture, Sport, Food and Beverage, Industry, Agriculture, Arts&Crafts, Blue economy are just a few topics which can be collected under tourism umbrella. What about the opportunities in this sector?

What is out there for tourism businesses and services providers?

The European Union sets a series of funding scheme which can help tourism and its sub-sector to develop and growth.

Here we will analyse some of them which might be interesting. For a full information you can check this publication: EU FUNDING FOR THE TOURISM SECTOR 2014-2020

 

EUROPEAN FUND FOR STRATEGIC INVESTMENTS

Any type of useful transaction or investment for the development of legitimate (SMEs) activities. Everywhere in the EU, including cross-border projects (no geographic quotas).

 

EUROPEAN REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT FUND

These programmes may for instance support:
– Tourism-related research, technological development and innovation, including service
innovation and clusters (tourism service incubators, living labs, demonstration projects)

– The development of tourism-related ICT products (apps, data mining)

– The development of innovative tourism services, in particular in less favoured and peripheral regions with underdeveloped industrial structures and strongly dependent on tourism (new business models, exploitation of new ideas)

– The development of high value added products and services in niche markets (health tourism, tourism for seniors, cultural and ecotourism, gastronomy tourism, sports tourism, etc.) by mobilising specific local resources and therefore contributing to smart regional specialisation

– Clustering activities among different tourism industries as well as with creative industries, to diversify regional tourism products and extend the tourism season (e.g. in the nautical and boating tourism industry, as well as for the cruise industry).

– Activities connecting the coastal regions to the hinterland for more integrated regional
development

– Measures to improve energy efficiency and renewable energy use among tourism SMEs

– The protection, promotion and development of natural and cultural tourism assets and related services

– Small-scale cultural and sustainable tourism infrastructure

– Measures in favour of entrepreneurship, self-employment and business creation as well as the internationalisation of tourism SMEs and clusters

– Vocational training, skills upgrading

 

EUROPEAN SOCIAL FUND

ESF is providing grants. All projects have to be co-financed, with a maximum EU contribution of 50% to 85% (95% in exceptional cases) of the total project costs depending on the relative wealth of the region (“More developed regions”, “Transitions regions” or “Less developed regions”). The level of funding varies widely, depending of the project and the Operational Programme. Examples listed below range from EUR 50.000 to EUR 3 million.

EUROPEAN AGRICULTURE FUND FOR RURAL DEVELOPMENT

– Vocational training and skills acquisition actions (courses, workshops, coaching for instance on how to develop rural tourism), demonstration activities and information actions

– Advisory services to help farmers, forest holders, other land managers and SMEs in rural areas to improve their economic performance

– Business start-up aid as well as investments for non-agricultural activities in rural areas (rural accommodation, shops, restaurants, guided tours)

– Drawing up and updating of plans for the development of municipalities and villages in rural areas

– Investments for public use in recreational infrastructure, tourist information and small scale tourism infrastructure

– Studies and investments associated with the maintenance, restoration and upgrading of the cultural and natural heritage of villages, rural landscapes and high nature value sites, including

– Related socio-economic aspects, as well as environmental awareness actions
co-operation involving at least two entities (creation of clusters and networks; co-operation
among small operators in organising joint work processes and sharing facilities and resources and for the development and/or marketing of tourism services relating to rural tourism)

 

EUROPEAN MARITIME AND FISHERIES FUND

– Studies
– Projects, including test projects and cooperation projects
– Conferences, seminars, fora and workshops

Public information and sharing best practice, awareness raising campaigns and associated communication and dissemination activities such as publicity campaigns, events, the development and maintenance of websites, stakeholder platforms;

– Professional training, life-long learning and the acquisition of new professional skills enabling professionals of the fisheries sector or their life partners to enter into tourism activities or to carry out complementary activities in the field of tourism.

 

LIFE

– Pilot projects assess the effectiveness of a method/approach that is new or has been used in a different (geographical, ecological, socio-economic) context; they compare its results with those produced by best practices, in order to determine if the method should be tested on a larger scale (i.e. in a demonstration project) and inform stakeholders

– Demonstration projects test and evaluate a method/approach that is new or has been used in a different context; they inform other stakeholders of the results and, where appropriate, encourage them to apply these methods/approaches

– Best practice projects apply appropriate, cost-effective and state-of-the-art techniques,
methods and approaches taking into account the specific context of the project

– Information, awareness and dissemination projects related to one of the priority areas.

 

HORIZON 2020

LEIT & REFLECTIVE. For “Research & Innovation Actions”, grants for projects typically lasting 36 to 48 months, with an average EU contribution of € 2 to 5 million over that period. The grant may cover 100% of the total eligible costs. For “Innovation Actions”, grants for projects typically lasting 30 to 36 months, with an average EU contribution of € 2 to 5 million over that period. The grant may cover 100% of the total eligible costs for non-profit organisations and 70% maximum for profit-making entities (companies …). For “Coordination and Support Actions”, grants for projects typically lasting 12 to 30 months and an average EU contribution of € 500.000 to 2 million over that period. The grant covers 100% of the total eligible costs.

SME INSTRUMENT. For feasibility assessment, grants of € 50.000 (lump sum) with a typical duration of 6 months, covering maximum 70 % of total cost of the project. For innovation development & demonstration projects, grants of € 500.000 to 2,5 million (indicative range), with a typical duration of 1 to 2 years, covering 70 % of total cost of the project as a general rule). As for risk finance, this instrument allows financial intermediaries to offer SMEs better loans, guarantees or counter-guarantees as well as hybrid, mezzanine or equity finance.

 

COSME

TOURISM ACTION PLAN

Some of the Tourism Action Plan’s objectives are pursued through calls for Proposals and calls for tenders open to the tourism sector. These may concern, among other things:

– The development and/or promotion of sustainable transnational thematic tourism products (linked, for instance, European routes dedicated to specific aspects of our cultural and industrial heritage, cycling trails, eco-tourism, maritime and sub-aquatic areas, etc.).

– The development and/or promotion of niche products exploiting synergies between tourism and creative industries at European level (e.g. European Route around high-end products)

– Transnational public and private partnerships developing tourism products targeting specific age groups (e.g. seniors and youth) to increase tourism flows between European countries during the low and medium seasons

– Capacity building schemes for “accessible tourism” (i.e. to all, regardless of their physical limitations, disabilities or age) whereby destination managers, entrepreneurs, can learn from experienced and successful ‘accessible’ operators, create synergies with other operators along the supply chain, explore new market opportunities and way to make business.

 

CREATIVE EUROPE PROGRAMME

TRANSNATIONAL COOPERATION PROJECTS
The “Culture sub-programme” funds transnational activities within and outside of the EU, aimed at developing, creating, producing, disseminating and preserving goods and services which embody cultural, artistic or other creative expressions. This encompasses activities to develop skills, competences and know-how, including how to adapt to digital technologies; to test new business and management models; to organise international cultural activities, such as touring events, exhibitions, exchanges and festivals; as well as to stimulate interest in, and improve access to, European cultural and creative works. The programme will not support projects including pornographic or racist material or advocating violence.

EUROPEAN NETWORKS
The “Culture sub-programme” supports European networks (i.e. structured groups of organisations) that strengthen the capacity of the cultural and creative sectors to operate transnationally and internationally, adapt to change and promote innovation. A limited number of networks with broad coverage will be supported across a balanced range of sectors. Greater synergies between existing networks are welcomed in order to reinforce their organisational and financial structure and avoid duplication of efforts.

EUROPEAN CAPITALS OF CULTURE
The title of “European Capital of Culture” is awarded each year to one city in two Member States, according to a chronological list of eligible Member States set for 2020-2033 (Croatia and Ireland in 2020; Romania and Greece in 2021 …). These cities have to create a cultural programme specifically for that year. The “Culture sub-programme” supports the implementation of this programme which has to highlight the richness and diversity of European cultures and the features they share, as well as to promote greater understanding between European citizens.

 

ERASMUS+

– Learning opportunities for individuals through Mobility Projects for Higher Education Students and Staff, a loan guarantee scheme to help Master’s degree students financing their studies abroad and Mobility Projects for VET Learners and Staff (Vocational Education and Training)

– Cooperation between educational institutions, businesses, local and regional authorities and NGOs, mainly through Joint Master Degrees (i.e. high-level integrated international study programmes of 60, 90 or 120 ECTS); Strategic Partnerships (allowing organisations from different socio-economic sectors to develop and disseminate, among other things, innovative practices leading to high quality teaching, – training, learning and youth work); Knowledge Alliances (a/ to develop innovative and multidisciplinary approaches to teaching and learning; b/ to stimulate entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial skills among teaching staff and workers; c/ to facilitate the exchange, flow and co-creation of knowledge between higher education and enterprises); and Sector Skills Alliances (to design and deliver joint vocational training programmes and teaching / training methodologies, with particular focus on work-based learning, providing learners with the skills required by the labour market);

– Not-for profit European sport events encouraging participation in sport and physical activity.

 

Antonella Tozzi, Project Manager at Eurocrea Merchant SRL

About me: https://www.linkedin.com/in/antonella-tozzi-7ab49645

 

Useful links

Project website – http://www.smartourproject.eu/ includes links to our online training tool and events in England and Italy

Twitter @tourismsu   #SMARTOUR

Facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/smartourproject/

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Seasonality pressures and the tourism industry

During the high season, service inconsistency and reduced levels of customer satisfaction can be experienced.

Getting the right products in the right place at the right time is crucial in the holiday season. Holiday stress can be felt by the accommodation industry as the holiday season places pressure on getting it right where a large proportion of revenue is earned in a very short time.

The tourism industry is characterised by tight capacity in the high season, affected by competition from favourable commissions and loyalty discounts offered to customers by the large chains, rising fuel prices, rising import prices in general, a shortage of quality seasonal workers and currently inflation rising above earnings growth. All of these factors place pressure on profitability and sustainability.

During the seasons, the industry is impacted by competition from favourable commissions and loyalty discounts offered to customers by the large quality standardised chains such as Marriott, Starwood and Intercontinental.  These large scale providers agree commissions with popular travel websites such as Expedia to favourably promote their services. In addition, the large scale accommodation providers retain customers by the use of attractive loyalty schemes across the world. This competition can make it difficult for Small and Medium size Enterprises (SMEs) to survive.

However, it is believed that SMEs have better scope for creativity and have a special identity where there is no need for standardisation of brand guidelines that lack local relevance. Customers are savvy and are often willing to shop around for a unique experience.  Knowledge of and adoption of the role of points of local interest in tourism can provide a personal experience. Additional extras that do not focus on price such as local excursions, local food and drink, complimentary services such as spa facilities and free wi fi can help to satisfy customers and retain them.  In order to combat fierce competition from the large scale accommodation providers, a number of SMEs have joined forces with consortiums like for example the Leading Hotels of the World and the Small Luxury Hotels of the World groups to benefit from marketing economies of scale where search engine optimisation plays a role in sustainability of bookings.

Brexit has heightened the problem of obtaining quality seasonal workers as the number of people entering employment in the UK faces decline. This in turn puts pressure on the demand for higher wages and sinks into profit margins. The fall in the value of the pound following the announcement of Brexit is a factor which has led to inflationary pressures due to increased import prices and we now face a situation where price rises are above earnings growth; thus resulting in a turbulent business environment.

So, how can capacity challenges be met during the holiday season and during such an uneasy economic period?

  • Forecast key events and seasonal events and how to resource them.
  • Start online promotions early as this will attract customers in advance, create positive cash flow, enable the business to invest and enable the business to accurately anticipate demand.
  • Recruit staff with the ability to multi task as this will lower overall staff costs and enable customer needs to be more effectively met during the peak season.
  • Invest in staff by training them so waste is keep to a minimum, cost savings are made and customers remain satisfied. Encourage staff to take holiday during the low season.
  • Invest in facilities so that customers are not disappointed by out of date or poorly maintained provision. Refurbish in the low season when there is less demand on resources and during the low season take idle accommodation out of use to conserve.
  • Make use of lean production management principles to include developing long term strategies with suppliers. Just In Time (JIT) techniques gained momentum in businesses over the past decade based on having close relationships with suppliers where supplies are delivered at the moment they are needed, reducing waste and adding value.  Reducing the levels of stock can prevent waste if items are not needed or if tastes change. It also helps cash flow and limits the cost of warehousing and insurance.

Unneeded staff, unneeded processing steps, non-value adding activity should be removed to ensure maximum efficiency. In advocating lean production principles, a focus on quality and continuous improvement is needed; increased responsibility in employee roles in involving staff in decision making is integral.  If products are quality assured before reaching the customer by dedicated employees, then customer satisfaction should be fulfilled. Employees can also be encouraged to take a full part in evaluating the need for improvement whilst tasks are completed.

  • Be energy efficient – see energy training module: www.smartourproject.eu
  • Make use of market segmentation with identification of niche markets including markets with local relevance to maximise revenue where concentration on the needs of such a market can bring competitive gains. Promoting the benefits of low season which include promotional pricing, reduced congestion and quieter relaxation to target markets such as the older generation or empty nesters that are not limited to taking a break during school holidays can be beneficial in controlling demand.
  • Concentration on customer relationship marketing by actively listening to customers, closely meeting their needs and taking action where there is customer dissatisfaction should lead to repeat business.

Coping with seasonal fluctuations in demand presents challenging decision making. Smartour has been developed to provide an insight into these challenges with training modules and an opportunity to share in developing sustainable tourism:  www.smartourproject.eu

By Vicki Disley, Newcastle under Lyme College

UPDATE – The SMARTOUR Tool is now online and covers this topic if you want to learn more 

Useful links

Project website – http://www.smartourproject.eu/ and links to our online training tool and events across England and Italy

Twitter @tourismsu   #SMARTOUR

Facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/smartourproject/

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