Is travel ready for the shared value business?

In his second guest column for Travel Daily, Simon Nowroz, former managing director of Travelport Asia Pacific and founder of London-based innovation studio, The Amazing Mr Anderson, discusses the concept of shared value within the travel industry…

Over the past weeks I’ve spent time with a number of senior travel executives.

During our discussions we spoke about growth, technology and the financial performance of the industry. However, none of the discussions included sustainability without me introducing it. This was a disappointment because the travel and tourism sector is in danger of being left behind, as the broader business community evolves to a more inclusive and sustainable model.

Too many travel executives are backward looking when it comes to strategy, growth and innovation. They remain preoccupied with tactics that enslave them to a “factory model” that ignores the environmental damage, or costs, caused by everyday business operations.  These costs, commonly referred to as externalities, arise when firms create social costs that they do not have to bear, such as pollution, land degradation or community displacement.

Simon Nowroz
Simon Nowroz

Since companies traditionally haven’t had to report externalities they took a very narrow view of how to account for growth. The result was stifled creativity, tactical innovation, and lazy and incomplete financial reporting. But thankfully, that’s all changing.

During a series of recent roundtable discussions with executive teams from industries as diverse as healthcare, education, media and utilities I witnessed the emergence of promising and exciting elements of a new model, called Shared Value.

Shared Value is defined as operating practices that enhance the competitiveness of a company while simultaneously advancing the economic and social conditions in the communities in which it operates. Shared value creation focuses on identifying and expanding the connections between societal and economic progress so both economic and social progress is achieved.

Shared value is not social responsibility or philanthropy, but a new way to achieve balanced and sustainable economic success. It is not on the margin of what companies do but at the center, and I believe it is the next major transformation in how business is organized and operates.

Getting to Shared Value takes innovation. Existing assumptions need to be challenged, while norms and conventions have to be re-examined.  New relationships convened and fresh conversations started. Alternative futures need to be imagined and explored and the prevailing dogma unlearned.

All this can happen and is happening, and its time the travel and tourism sector joins the migration to a better, more sustainable form of commerce. Our biggest innovation challenge today is how do we establish Shared Value for our industry; anything else is just a distraction which will keep us chained to past.

CLICK HERE to read more about The Amazing Mr Anderson.

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