Places & Regions
Within the focus area Places & Regions, we specialise in developing attractive investment infrastructures at local and regional places, innovative cluster building and place branding and marketing strategies. A key concept for us is Place Excellence. This can be achieved when the forces of place management, place development, and place branding are working together to coordinate toward the same, jointly accepted goals.
The history of place management
Successful Place Management is a cornerstone of the process to achieve place excellence. Place Management has developed during the last decades away from simple quantifiable elements into complex attraction development. This means that besides hard factors, several subtle soft factors have gained importance.
The consequences for the place manager are that you need to have basic competence in business intelligence, understand new trends, and understand new disruptive technologies and their implications and a number of personal competencies such as negotiation skills. Also, good leadership skills to create collaborative environments are crucial. How the changing place climate is developing and setting the arena for place management is illustrated below.
The macro development that has changed the place climate during the past 50 years is fourfold.
- The first macro influence is that national borders have eroded. They appear on maps, but are less and less felt elsewhere.
- The impact of subsidiarity is the second macro influence. Subsidiarity is the concept for a strategy where matters should be decided as much as possible at the local or regional levels. National governments have simultaneously passed authority upwards to the European Union and downwards to regions and places.
- The third strong driver is the macro influence of commerce, advances in information technologies and how deregulation has allowed both to flourish and with them places.
- Lastly, the enlargement of Europe to the East has added new place opportunities and a refreshing dynamic to the old continent.
Building relevant attraction factors
The current challenge for place managers is to rethink the target markets and discover the innovative and exact unique-selling-point attractions related to their place. This is an exact mission since it is necessary to understand why certain choices are made. The place managers´ challenge is to offer a unique proposition and establish a sustainable relationship with visitors´ markets. The traditional mass markets, characterised by standardised products and services, are slowly replaced by tailor-made and mass-customised offerings encapsulating hard and soft factors in a combination. The “hygienic factors” (see illustration below) are defined as important but not necessarily the triggering factors behind the decision to visit, settle or invest in a place. The relevance of innovative soft factors for place brand development is growing, as indicated in the red part of the illustration.
The target market for business and investors contains both domestic and foreign businesspeople. Nowadays, the majority of these people have a cross-border view – seeing at least Europe as a potential “home market” and sometimes even having thoughts of a more intercontinental nature.
Place managers must listen to and understand what entices the audience and their purchasing behaviour. Below we use the upcoming expansion of Chinese tourism to Europe as an example. Place managers must understand what purchasing priorities the vast Chinese market entails.
The background is that the Chinese population increasingly admire and aspire to western brands, not only product brands but also famous personal icons from abroad (read Europe).
How to get it right?
Based on our accumulated practical experiences, we have gathered 14 principles on how place managers can act to be winners. We have developed a methodology for how these principles can be organised and implemented.
Your approaches to place management
- 1. Visionary leadership and bravery
- 2. The ability to focus on specific issues while subject to numerous conflicting stimuli
- 3. Demand driven approaches in contrast to supply driven
- 4. The capacity to combine various factors in a unique way
- 5. The capacity to absorb new trends and innovations
Your personal competences
- To be bilingual and to have unique skills of place relevance
- 7. Intercultural experience
- 8. Professional behaviour
- 9. Communicative brilliance
- 10. Ability to devleop a legitimised position
- 11. Sensitive awareness for when it is time to use the inbuilt handbrake
- 12. Personal feeling of minimising prestige
- 13. Personal strength to be energic
- 14. Skill to deliver beyond expectations
Place Management, the book
For additional information, we recommend the book Place Management, published by Bearing in October 2011, which in detail describes the concepts presented here, with examples from numerous European municipalities.