The objective of this study is to scrutinize the possibilities and drawbacks of using storytelling as a means of developing and marketing Nordic tourism destinations. On the basis of five selected Nordic cases, the study sheds light both on the ways in which storytelling is practiced and how stakeholder cooperation unfolds and seeks to determine the prerequisites for using storytelling as part of a destination development strategy. Drawing on the literature on storytelling as well as theory on inter-organisational relations, the study develops a theoretical model which centres on four closely interrelated elements: types of stakeholders involved; stages of the storytelling process; outcome of the storytelling process; and destination development. The theoretical model serves as a central tool for the cases presented to illustrate the issues at stake.
The theoretical model of this research project is founded in storytelling literature, primarily marketing related contributions, as well as theory on inter-organisational relations and revolves around four closely interrelated elements: types of stakeholders involved; stages of the storytelling process; outcome of the storytelling process; and destination development. Based on this model, storytelling is depicted as a multi-actor, multi-level process leading to destination development. A story, on which a storytelling approach is founded, has to be: a) accepted by those who are involved in the storytelling process, b) location-based and, c) subject to conceptualization and commercialization.
A constituent part of conceptualization and commercialization is to establish a narrative environment where co-production between stakeholders and customers is central as this ensures customer involvement and a richer destination experience. The process oriented theoretical model proclaims the significance of strong leadership and stakeholder participation and involvement. The importance of seamless communication in all directions cannot be overemphasized. An equally vital aspect is the preservation of a core group of enthusiasts who energise the development process.
In general, the cases analyzed are characterised by individual stories of many qualities for instance in terms of high level of engagement on the part of the individual storytellers, using dramaturgical principles, sense stimulation and achieving customer involvement. However, not on all dimensions and in all aspects are the cases exemplary. Especially the link between storytelling and destination development is less developed in some of the cases, which indicates that skilful storytelling practices are not sufficient for storytelling to function as a means of destination development. Excluding the storytellers and storytelling locations from the strategic decisions of a storytelling planning process, as well as lack of interaction horizontally among storytellers is a serious limitation to storytelling as a destination development tool. In other cases a relatively holistic coordinated story can, however, be identified that ties individual stories together and on this basis a common identity for the destination evolves. These cases are typically characterised by flat organisational structures where information flows freely facilitating ongoing learning processes. All five cases demonstrate the potential for innovative destination development through a storytelling approach, however, whereas some cases realise this potential others do not due to less than optimum strategic planning and stakeholder relations.
Forskningsmiljö / Institution
- Institutionen för ekonomi och IT
Medverkande Högskolan Väst