Tourism SMEs are faced with limited internal resources, which forces entrepreneurs to access the external resources that are embedded in their social networks. Networks have been found to present an important source of support for entrepreneurs by providing them with a wide range of opportunities. In order to survive on the market, SMEs are forced to establish networks, since only collaboration enables resource exchange and the SMEs access to opportunities. As such, organisational networks may represent an essential element of the SMEs’ survival strategies.
A group of tourism SMEs can compete globally by co-operating locally, networks and clusters in tourism have experienced a dramatic growth, bringing benefits such as flexibility, share of valuable marketing information, innovation, opportunity to enter other networks and clusters on a national level and across borders, resource development and knowledge transfer between stakeholders.
∙Sharing ideas and knowledge: You can identify business best practices or industry benchmarks. Learning from what others do is a valuable strategy for all businesses. You can keep up with the trends in your industry and the target market conditions which is important in an ever-changing business climate.
∙New business opportunities: It’s natural that networking will result in opportunities. Using the contacts you make when you meet people can open doors for business opportunities.
∙Enhanced visibility: Being visible and getting noticed is a big benefit of networking. Attending networking events raises your personal profile and can help keep you front and center in the minds of the right people.
The numerous benefits attributed to tourism networks in past research are mainly related to the integration of tourism destinations and the performance and quality enhancement of tourism destinations. By fostering innovation, knowledge sharing and competitiveness of the involved interrelated stakeholders, the networked collaboration can help tourism SMEs to be more resilient and to function better in a fast-changing, turbulent and competitive world.
There is also evidence that the frequency of contacts among the interrelated tourism firms, at both the formal and informal level, strongly influences the destination’s success. In fact, more frequent interactions might lead to more efficient information, knowledge and skills transfer. Thus, by increasing the tourism SMEs’ social capital, networks can improve the competitive position of tourism firms and enhance the overall tourist experience.
∙Destination branding: You can develop a community brand and attract the travellers to your destination.
∙Relocalisation of value chains: You can partner with local suppliers in order to create valuable packages that are attractive to travellers who are looking for a great deal.
∙Cross promotional marketing: You also can develop cross-promotional campaigns that encourage your customers to book with a complementary travel business in your destination.
Cluster members have often common projects in the fields of providing information, communication, training, event organisation, marketing and PR. Clusters utilize the advantages of localisation. It enables:
∙The faster and more accurate flow of information,
∙The spread of technological and organisational experiences,
∙The constant exchange of knowledge,
∙The support of local societies (educational institutions, infrastructural development, etc.),
∙Faster market adaptation.