Four Communications: Innovation key to recovery

Four Communications

According to Four Communications’ recent survey of 50 global leaders, innovation is the key factor for a recovery in placemaking, with nearly 90 per cent of respondents considering new ways to plan destinations, places and spaces around the world.

The survey, which aimed to uncover leaders’ COVID-19 recovery plan, as well as the key solutions and barriers, additionally found that the biggest barrier to recovery is the need to deliver better long-term solutions, not just address the short-term.

The vast majority of business leaders are rethinking prior assumptions and looking to new models for the future, with seven out of 10 having already considered innovating as a result of COVID-19 and a further 16 per cent saying they may innovate. Just six per cent didn’t know and only four per cent of survey respondents said they weren’t planning to innovate.

Travel Forward 20

Chief executive travel and co-chair, Four Communications, Debbie Hindle commented on the survey: “Our research has revealed that almost two thirds of global placemakers are most concerned about developing long-term solutions for better recoveries. That’s leading to an immediate push for innovation and a hunger to develop new forms of collaboration which could transform placemaking in the future.”

Ensuring recovery planning delivers better and to the long-term was quoted as the primary barrier to success by 56 per cent of respondents. Other major concerns for placemakers include weak economies and consumer spending (54 per cent) and being prepared for a second wave of COVID-19 (52 per cent).

Four in 10 place leaders are also concerned about balancing safety and the need to protect livelihoods; re-envisioning public spaces and public realm to take into account the need for distancing; and changing consumer sentiment, which may mean consumers avoid cities in the short-term, or need new services in the future, such as working from home and outdoor spaces.

A third of place leaders reported that barriers to growth included a lack of funds and investment, as well as difficulties implementing social distancing requirements, while only 18 per cent reported concern that preparations for resilience planning to include COVID-19 together with other issues such as natural disasters was a barrier to growth.

Two thirds said they were actively looking at the innovations in sectors outside their own, which had given them ideas for the future, including virtual trade shows, virtual property show rounds, virtual trips and digital art commissions. Physical innovations being considered included new ways to use outdoor spaces, to plan the flow of people, tracking crowds and demand management, creating new authentic experiences, increasing community engagement and sustainable strategies.

New public and private sector initiatives were also pinpointed as a key area for innovation in the future. Eight out of 10 leaders said they had previously undertaken public and private sector collaborations, 50 per cent had collaborated with industry associations, 45 per cent with cultural associations, 39 per cent with cross government initiatives and 25 per cent with NGOs.

Shifting organisations from marketing to sustainable destination management was also a strong theme, as was the need for new business relationships.

All of the above views of property developers, investors, tourism boards, cultural organisations, government authorities and NGOs from Europe, the Middle East, the USA, Africa and Asia were unveiled at a round-table debate on June 30.