The top three factors of a successful industry capability development program…with great return on investment

Industry development programs aren't successful by accident, there is a formula of three critical success factors that determine good return on investment.

When we established Tourism Tribe, our vision was to help tourism businesses be sustainable and make a profit doing what they love, no matter where they’re located.

Small businesses (less than 20 employees) make up 90 per cent of the tourism industry, and many wonderful operators and experiences are located in remote and regional areas.

So we created a platform with a range of services delivered in a smart and efficient way for tourism operators, no matter where they’re located, and meeting the needs of small business.

Since then, we have been asked by many regional councils, Regional Tourism Organisations (RTOs), State Tourism Organisations (STOs), Tourism Industry Councils and operators to carry out industry capability development programs right across Australia.

We have trained thousands of small businesses and run hundreds of workshops and mentoring programs. We have also conducted online assessments on hundreds of businesses…700 to be precise!

We assess the digital footprint of businesses – including their website, their Google and TripAdvisor listings, and their Facebook and Instagram accounts – and use this data to measure the strength of their online presence, benchmarked against industry best practice.

Tourism Tribe Digital Assessment Categories
Tourism Tribe Digital Assessment Categories

We believe these assessments are fundamental not only to improving an industry’s digital and business capabilities, but also to receiving Return on Investment (ROI) when it comes to industry capability development programs.

Like any good strategic plan, you need to know where you are now, before you work out where you need to get to…and how you are going to get there.

Based on the data and our learnings, we can share what works and why it works – what are the success factors and points of failure – when an organisation invests in an industry capability development program for their region.

The top three factors for good ROI and a successful industry capability development program are:

 1. The right approach to assessing the business’s needs.

Good data, and the analysis of that data, is crucial for good ROI on industry capability development programs.

If the data reveals a fairly low level of digital adoption in a region, then we would recommend operators attend a workshop and undertake a mentoring program, as that “hand holding” approach would be appropriate.

Appropriate training for a more digitally savvy business, on the other hand, might be more self-regulated, for example, webinars. What’s right for one business, is not right for the next, and they will only be interested in training that is relevant to them.

As well, the data from the 700 businesses allows us to identify areas of strong and not-so-strong digital adoption, meaning we can tailor skills training accordingly (some areas might be strong in websites, while others are stronger in social media, for example).

2. A clear understanding of the business acumen and attitudes of the local industry.

Through understanding where the businesses are, in terms of their motivation to grow and improve their business’s digital capabilities, you can tailor the training and coaching to their specific needs (and thus not waste valuable training budget).

The data we have gathered about the operators allows us to customise the training in very specific ways and the benefits to them are tangible, with immediate business benefits.

We find that businesses that have an attitude of continual learning are the ones that grow and are sustainable going forward.

3. The ability of the organisation running the industry capability development program to engage with the operators.

We have found that when an organisation has a meaningful relationship with local operators, the latter are more likely to engage in industry capability development programs.

Frequent and regular connections with the business build trust and result in operators being keen to participate in the opportunities offered.

The dynamic between business capability and industry engagement is key to good ROI (see diagram below).

diagram capability vs engagement
Business capability vs Industry engagement


So in summary, great engagement, a good understanding of your region’s digital capabilities (backed up by data) and an understanding of businesses’ motivations when it comes to improvements are fundamental to a good industry capability development program with great ROI.


This article was written by Tourism Tribe co-founder and digital strategist, trainer and mentor, Liz Ward. Please contact if you have a question.

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