The objective of this study is to scrutinise and show the potential/drawbacks of digital storytelling as a means of developing a marketing dimension of Latina County (central Italy), suffering the overwhelming role of Rome as huge touristic hub.
For the purposes of Erasmus plus Den-Cupid project, #Outofrome work sheds light on the way digital storytelling can be used and practiced and how cooperation among stakeholders is a complementary part of using storytelling as destination development strategy.
The study aims to:
- Produce a specific analysis on Latina county and its specific storytelling destination situation and possible development based on qualitative research methods;
- Use a theoretical model defined as an integration between storytelling, network and policy theory;
- Give specific views on storytelling and stakeholder cooperation;
- Understand from the learning-by-doing process of Den-Cupid which are the SWOT points of the adopted approach;
- Work in close cooperation with detected stakeholder along the Den-Cupid development process and disseminate the results from the storytelling study
The theoretical orientation of this research-action-oriented project is based on the storytelling literature which focuses on marketing contributions as well as inter-organisational relations, which might be resumed in a number of key elements, namely: stakeholder analysis and local context analysis; storytelling stages and strategy crafting; outcome of the storytelling project; destination development results.
Hence, storytelling must be thought as a multi-stakeholder process crafted on different levels and interest points. Stories will be the core elements of storytelling and they have to be: “a) accepted by those who are involved in the storytelling process, b) location-based and, c) subject to conceptualisation and commercialisation” (Mossberg et al., 2010).
Storytelling production as such has to be conceived as a co-production between stakeholders and customers with a strong leadership – without these basic ingredients the risk is to create a process which is not energised by a central group of participants.
In fact, the production of well-crafted storytelling products is not enough to guarantee destination development – stakeholder interaction, horizontality in the involvement of storytellers are all factors which are included in the present work as fundamental points of storytelling as a true cultural heritage valorisation practice.
The overall work will be action-oriented, in other words the theoretical background will sustain the field study (stakeholder interviews) and desk research, as well as the practical creation of a digital storytelling project aiming at destination development.
Substantially, #Outofrome project will be structured through these phases:
- Theoretical analysis
- Field study (qualitative analysis) + Desk research
- Digital storytelling project development
Italian tourism approach is still quite traditional and the experiential tourism is slowly taking approach. The on-going logics reside in favouring a few huge cultural hubs, while leaving behind the rest of the historical heritage. This is particular evident in Latina county province where tourism is deeply seasonal, limited to a few areas (the coasts mainly during summer time) and absent in many heritage sites, being Rome the main hub which fails to re-distribute tourists around it.
The potential of storytelling has been chosen as a method to make tourism destination offers more ‘intelligible’, in other words to facilitate cooperation and interaction between stakeholders, catalysing arrangements and local engagement. In a panorama of limited resources competing to attract tourists is vital and it is also the engine to ignite quality.
Italian small towns constitute a ‘natural’ terrain to adopt the so-called “experience economy” (Pine & Gilmore, 1999) in which tourists do not simply buy products, but stories behind them (Mossberg, 2007). Hence, stories can become the tool to express a certain set of values, elements, attractions, traditions, invisible dimensions of certain destinations – it is enough to remind literary or film induced tourism. To especially achieve the junction between values and destinations, stories must be embedded among actors, arenas, ideas, actions – in more specific terms, public and private entities, regions, locations, local people, and storytellers.
Therefore, storytelling seems more a negotiated and performed history between visitors, storytellers and places which could be a key of re-imagining a specific territory.
Selection of the case study
Latina County has been chosen being the working territory of Futuro Digitale Association. The reflection resides on the low presence of tourism and on the structural lack of data when it comes to tourism flux – there is not an official way of tracking tourists at the moment in overall Italy. Latina province presents a unique setting of elements, combining natural, human and historical sites which are kept well preserved, almost untainted, connected to a number of stories which come from the local population. However, this patrimony is quite fragmented, unorganised, untransmitted, and many interesting activities appear to be hidden, only available to locals.
The theoretical model (Mossberg et al., 2010)
|STAKEHOLDERS (local / non local) (public / private)||STORYTELLING PROCESS||OUTCOMES OF STORYTELLING PROCESS (year 1, 2, 3…)||DESTINATION DEVELOPMENT DIMENSIONS|
-Initiators -Decision makers -Owners
|A Agenda setting
-Theme -Selection of stories and participants -Selection of target groups -Ownership -Financing
|Further concept development
-Storyline and communicative strategies
-Number & type of storytellers/location providers
-Number and types of guests
-Knowledge & skills (new ways of using existing resources / use of new resources)
-New ventures -Extend season -Destination brand
-Employment -Training -Infrastructure
-Image & Identity
|B Steering committee
-Combination of A & C stakeholders / actors
|B Design of the storytelling concept
-Storyline -Servicescape design -Program & packaging -Internal & external communication-Souvenirs
-Storytellers -Storytelling location providers -Service providers
-What? -How? -Where? -When? -Why?
This framework of analysis shows how the outcomes of storytelling derive from the interaction between further concept development, marketing and inter-organisational dynamics – as it can be seen this is a developing category in terms of outcomes (media coverage or number of guests create the conditions for further cooperation or for the detection of new storytelling patterns, for example). Indeed, in the worst case a poorly handled storytelling outline and planning can ignite lack of trust or deficiency in further developments.
The storytelling process/outcomes may determine economic, socio-cultural and environmental consequences – cooperation activities among stakeholders or de-seasonalisation could determine benefits at tourism at large, influencing as well relations between local people.
Using this framework, the authors will be able to understand both the storytelling activity outcomes per se as well as its relations with the wider context situation.
The overall work will be focused on the development of an online platform called #Outofrome containing the stories of Latina County through a bottom-up process of interviews/stakeholder engagement combined with a desk study analysis.
Basically, Latina County lacks of a real storytelling as such, therefore the main desired outcome coming from the project is to realise the conditions of a possible County storytelling. Encouraging an innovative digital approach can lead to an immediate understanding of the County ‘identity’.
The idea is to rationalise the County through a number of categories to be detected through the active contribution of stakeholders, local people, artisans etc. The platform will combine also a strong social media strategy to forge past and present, surpassing the main touristic approach in Rome much focused on the widely acknowledged monuments and its historical masterpieces.
Medias, oral contributions, written material will be combined in the platform to express the interpreted identity emerged from the field work of #Outofrome team.
The phases will be related to the proposed scheme of action in table 1.
Mossberg, L. (2007). “A Marketing Approach to the Tourist Experience”, Scandinavian Journal of Hospitality and Tourism, 7(1), 59-74.
Pine, B.J. & Gilmore, J.H. (1999). The Experience Economy, The: Work Is Theatre & Every Business a Stage: Work Is Theatre and Every Business a Stage. Cambridge MA: Harvard Business School Press.