Comparing Place Excellence in Monaco and Dubai

Place Excellence in Monaco

monaco-viewEarlier this year Bearing was mentoring an MBA project of Monaco University MBA students titled “Monaco: Place Excellence and Client Attraction” for the Direction du Tourisme et des Congrès (DTC) of Monaco.

In the project, we have analysed the current situation and capabilities of Monaco from the point of view of the Place Excellence concept and considering the existing world best practices and sustainable results of its execution in Monaco.

Benchmarking, Innovation Radar and Sweet Spot analysis were used as the tools to assess the current capabilities of the Principality. Place Excellence is an approach for how to work out a place management strategy.

clip_image001Places have always competed with each other, but today the competitive environment is increasingly fierce, because of economic and cultural globalisation and the increasing mobility of talents and capital.

Rather than being slogan and advertisement-based, efficient place branding is about delivering an exceptional experience that is memorable and emotional. In this sense, place branding is actually a bridge building activity between stakeholders and several target markets. The integration between the main target markets is therefore an important issue for a place success.

Place Excellence in Dubai

The Emirate of Dubai is an impressive example of successful implementation of the Place Excellence concept. The Dubai government’s decision to diversify from a trade-based but oil-dependent economy to one that is service- and tourism-focused turned Dubai into one of the fastest-growing cities in the world.

The choice of Dubai as a benchmark for the recent study was caused by several reasons. It is fascinating by itself to follow how the small and comparatively remote state with an imperfect supply of conventional natural and cultural attractions can grow into an internationally well-known tourist destination. Possible weaknesses have been turned into selling points of consistently hot weather and awesome desert landscape and elaborate attractions have been constructed to satisfy modern tastes, with technology allowing them to function irrespective of climatic and other geographical impediments.

Economic wealth has meant funds to support expansion in all sectors of the industry, including the fostering of a global air transport system and stock of lavish accommodation.

Simon AnholtSimon Anholt, a well-known public policy advisor, says that places must engage with the outside world in a clear, coordinated and communicative way ( Anholt, 2007 ). Successful branding of a place in the global market is a direct result of identifying and leveraging the city’s uniqueness and comparative strengths in a defined manner.

Place branding is the process of image communication to a target market. All places compete with other places for people (visitors, residents), resources, and business. This competitive environment makes it important for places, no matter their size or composition, to clearly differentiate themselves and to convey why they are relevant and valued options.

Despite the Middle East’s unfavourable image and security issues, Dubai seeks to create its own path to branding its products and services. Instead of replicating what other competitive destinations have already achieved, Dubai offers innovative products and services to investors and tourists alike.

Dubai has pursued a well-defined and unique brand identity through a clear strategy including unique value proposition, attraction and brand promise. Developing and communicating Dubai’s brand image is a key factor in distinguishing it in the highly competitive global environment. And the emirate has succeeded in branding itself as a leader in “quality and innovation” (J.Henderson, 2006).

There is a strong interconnection between all the key participants in the local economy, including residents, business executives and government officials who act and translate a strong message of Dubai in a consistent innovative way. Whether it is business, trade, tourism, education or healthcare, every development project is driven by continuous effort for differentiation and innovation.


Dubai’s strategic branding approach provides a rare case that demonstrates the importance of the brand identity and equity on the global stage.

clip_image005Dubai decision makers have made a deliberate effort to establish the city in the upper echelon of markets including tourism, real estate, convention and education. Moves towards diversification, privatisation, deregulation and liberalisation of foreign investment rules have been beneficial to the tourism industry, which is also recognised as a worthwhile option by non-oil producers.

Dubai’s emergence as a tourist destination is an outcome of prevailing political, economic, socio-cultural, geographical and historical structures and processes, which have determined its tourism and non-tourism assets.

With wealth increasing throughout the world, Dubai’s tourism market is promoting a luxurious tourist image because it meets the heady demands of high-income consumers. In turn, this generates a higher number of returning visitors, as well as focusing positive attention on Dubai (H.Lee, D.Jain, 2009).

Comparison with Monaco

The similar challenge has been experienced recently by Monaco. The tiny principality, located on a picturesque Mediterranean coast, is the most densely populated places in the world, and also the most millionaire dense.

As well as Dubai Monaco is positioning itself as safe, glamorous tourism location with diversions of shopping and assorted cultural and natural heritage attractions. Both locations compete for the same target markets of wealthy and international people, and tourists who wish to experience glamour and excellence in hospitality.

Under his rule of Prince Albert II, the Principality has been working hard on refocusing its image towards the place with innovations in business and culture.

clip_image008Monaco nowadays strives to create a multinational innovative business hub by attracting and supporting talented and successful entrepreneurs.

Monaco attractions and amenities are facets of its brand to be communicated consistently to the main target groups of customers: residents, investors and visitors.

The Dubai Strategic Plan 2015 released in February 2007 reflected the innovative brand development approach and presented a clear vision of how to make Dubai a more desirable place to live and do business. This strategy is clearly communicated through Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing of Dubai (DTCM). DTCM plays a pivotal role in increasing the awareness of Dubai to global audiences as well as in tourists and inward investment attraction into the emirate. Its mission encompasses tourism sustainability and economic growth, industry partnerships, unique experiences for visitors and innovation in promotion.

DTCM has a strong on-line presence and its website translates strong messages anchored in the national strategy, the same as the Dubai Government website does. Its organizational structure is focused on all Dubai customers: visitors, resident and investors. Such strong brand communication would not be possible without the harmonized interconnection of all actors in the local economy, including residents, business executives, government and academia interacting in a clear and concise manner in a collaborative environment.


Our conclusions from the project are that along with the uniquely well developed tourism cluster and the financial services hub Monaco has rich, currently under-utilized assets. Benchmarking Dubai with Monaco showed us the gaps in consistency and the potential for improvements.

Monaco lacks a well-balanced innovative portfolio to strengthen the national brand. Goals to attract target clients will prove to be difficult to achieve – communication of Monaco vision must be improve. Comparing Dubai´s well-aligned messages with the messages from Monaco public websites, the target markets of the Principality are less clear. All assets, actors and activity need to collaborate to provide place excellence based on healthy business and political environment combined with entrepreneurial spirit.

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