TED Conversations

Closing Statement from Daniel Raven-Ellison

Thank you everyone who has taken the time to contribute to this important question. Reading all of the comments, it's impossible not to think deeply about how relationships between global businesses and local communities are developed.

It's easy to think of global business and local community as two different things. This question is perhaps guilty of leading the conversation into such an easy binary. Of course, "global businesses" are made by multiple and interconnected local communities and many local communities are created by large businesses. Neither local or global are innately better than each other, they are so inextricably linked through uncountable or quantifiable relationships that one cannot exist without the other.

Aju made this point well by saying "global business creates a community of beneficiaries such as employees, contractors, vendors and even customers in the local geography. Except for a thin “live wire” of control that runs to the global headquarters, global business in each region have a very local existence."

Issues of supply and demand are woven through the whole of this conversation. What do people want, what is available and what is on offer are all vital questions, but interlaced through all the comments are issues of power. Who controls what is available to people and what decisions do those people make when consuming an idea, product or place? Mitchell started to address this by asking us to turn the conversation's question on its head by asking "How does a community create a fulfilling relationship with a global business?"

Candy shared a way forward by suggesting "Every community requires collaborative partnerships among business owners/operators engaged in facilitated discussion for the good of the community. This requires a common goal. Whether it is education, social culture...". A practical note that is all about a relationship of working together.

The conversation continues at www.thefutureoflocal.com. Please join us.

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  • May 27 2013: The Future of Local is a shift in the traditional roles of hotels within their local communities. Wherein the past, a hotel or resort was typically a refuge or escape, with a selected array of major attractions promoted to the guests. More and more, the next generation hotel is becoming a kind of "community accelerator" that brings together visitors with local artisans and small businesses. That has always been the case, more or less, with small independent hotels, but large global chains such as IHG are now placing a priority on this with new initiatives and programming.

    Globalization has created a uniformity of travel experiences in major, and not so major, tourism destinations. Not sure if that point is even worth discussing because it's so prevalent and ingrained in the world's economies. But how global hospitality brands challenge that homogenization is incredibly interesting. I don't think this discussion is about macro/micro economics and labor practices. It seems to me to be about integrating the local destination into the hotel and minimizing a hotel's impact on a destination's character, so the local population can share its cultural experience with the traveler in an undiluted and as authentic manner as possible. How large hotels move forward in that direction is the purpose of The Future of Local.

    Would love to hear from IHG about their plans for that.
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      May 28 2013: A very interesting summary of a handful of big underlying issues, Greg. How would you propose to go about integrating the local destination into a hotel? Where would you start?

      I think the constant balance that has to be found by global businesses between homogenisation and localisation is the key issue, and you'r every right in underlining it. Where should global brands place the needle, knowing that on one hand travellers cherish having their own standards in terms of comfort, whilst on the other hand they are keen on experiencing the true nature of a destination's character?

      Another interesting question could be, still focusing on the hospitality industry, is there such a thing as an ideal size for a hotel so as to minimise its cultural footprint whilst having the resources to bring local culture to like in a meaningful way?
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        May 28 2013: Being a "community accelerator" is an interesting idea... an accelerator to what? I love the idea of hotels not just being somewhere to sleep, but as a gateway to places... a "community gateway" of some kind.
        • May 30 2013: The boutique hotel, PhraNaKorn-Nornlen, http://www.phranakorn-nornlen.com/, in Bangkok has done a fantastic job of being a local 'community accelerator', making it easy for travelers to connect with local authorities on topics such as food, shopping and cultural sites/activities/traditions. Services include a variety of workshops and walking tours.
          I've had the fortune of visiting 29 countries. I rarely stay at global hotels because they seem disconnected from the local culture; in striving to provide consistency and quality, they more often than not lose authenticity and charm. Hotels that are truly committed to local communities, families, and local values tend to treat their employees with more respect than hotels that are not connected to 'place'. I believe the idea of placemaking is key. So, what makes a place, a place?
      • May 30 2013: One way to integrate the local community into a hotel is to invite them. The Space Program at the New Majestic Hotel in Singapore is an example. Here is the link:

        http://foreignpolicydesign.com/v4/projects/the-space-program/space-at-new-majestic-hotel/

        It's basically a small museum installation/retail outlet located in the lobby, which includes edgy art, books, music and furniture by the city's up and coming cultural trendsetters. It shows guests a new side of the city that's typically not easy to access in one place. It provides funds/exposure to local community members; it attracts locals to patronize the hotel; and it provides opportunities for lots of special events where the authors/artists/designers can talk about their work and the future of their city.

        Also, most large hotels could do a much better job communicating their region's local, authentic travel experiences through in-house storytelling and their website blogs. Some do but it's often minimal surface info about the most well known/generic guidebook experiences. By detailing specific small businesses that are truly local and attract locals, the large hotels are engaging with their community. And more importantly, they're engaging their guests with their local community. A lot of small hotel groups are doing this and building a loyal guest network. It requires a fair amount of work to update on a continual basis, but that's The Future of Local.

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