PROFIT Project: 3 years of innovation

As the project on PROFIT (PROfessionalisation Framework on Innovation in Tourism) ends at the end of this year, the partners held their end meetings during which the project was evaluated. 


Time for ISTO and the participating centres and organisations to evaluate the actions undertaken.

For all the results we refer to our publication "Innovation in social & sustainable tourism" which can be downloaded on the website www.profittourism.eu

European projects add a lot of value to ISTO Europe. They help us work together on the field,  understand different cultures, other approaches and enlarge our knowledge.

With PROFIT, ISTO focused on what we call in Flanders-Belgium "Tourism for All" This group of holiday centres and camp sites represents approximately 20% of the non-residential overnights. They are small factories of local supply, hospitality and yearly employment in a tourism sector that is often seasonal. But we need to be honest and their place in the tourism SME landscape wasn't always very obvious.

PROFIT gave us not only opportunities to explore but also solutions.

The DNA of social tourism: the methodology to translate a complex tourism offer in the region was used to explain what tourism for all is about. We worked with this actual picture of a positive and engaged tourism .

2.   The toolbox of 100 product ideas: We stimulated innovation by combining the DNA of the Flemish coast with the DNA of Tourism for All and future trends. The managers of the vacation centres were challenged to think about new products and we've developed a toolbox of 100 product ideas. Ranging from the use of virtual reality in a holiday environment to partnerships for more efficient and cheaper mobility over fair trade.

3.   Service Design and Co-creation: by asking your clients about their customers' journey and to learn what they find important, what they see as strong- and weak points, opportunities to develop, we implemented the customer design method.
By bringing together clients and managers we worked in co-creation.
Two target groups were selected young singles (1 out of 3 people in Belgium are single and we don't see them in our holiday centres). And sea school trips because of the increasing complexity and diversity among students. These sessions were sometimes inspiring sometimes confrontational.
Some examples: singles are traveling in small groups and can be a target group for the vacation centres. But they don't know these accommodations or they think they are old-fashioned.
For sea school trips: the website for the group offer isn't useful, nor clear. The mobility is a real problem and costs already 1/3 of the total budget. We do nothing with the positive experiences of our youth when they go  home.
Within the framework of our collaboration it was interesting to compare the approach, the results with our partners. Thanks to the co-creation we can present 8 action plans with canvas.

4.     Inspiration trips: One of the most successful activities were our inspiration trips. Not only the visits of some good examples in the different countries were inspiring but also the interaction between managers, the exchange of personal experience and the creation of a network between the SMEs was a real added value of the project.

5.   Think Tank:  What the inspiration trips were for the SMEs was the creation of a think tank for our experts, it  was an opportunity for the experts of different regions to meet and exchange experiences.

6.   Masterclasses: Our masterclasses were very important. ISTO looked for items to develop that were useful for our action plans, like the use of storytelling, the use of our DNA as a USP.

7.   Two concrete actions open door weekend and collaboration on innovative tourism with a social added value: our masterclasses led us to two operational actions The lack of marketing perception  within the young target group led us to the creation of an open door weekend in 2020. The translation of the DNA to the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations led to a proposal  of a knowledge centre on innovation in tourism with a social added value.

The most important key on innovation is collaboration, informal exchanges between colleagues over frontiers and between each other. The speed at which our world is changing compels us to share and exchange our expertise, to look far enough ahead and to get out of our comfort zone. With PROFIT, ISTO hopes to have contributed. A special thanks to Westtoer, our foreign partners and the Interreg 2 Seas Secretariat for their help .