Destination Management of the 3rd Generation in a practical test


or : How unfavourable conditions in the German – Dutch – Belgian border area benefiting innovations

Networks of attraction points managed by process-oriented marketing organizations, will replace in future the region bound destination management with rigid structures, according to the thesis of Bender, Laesser and Beritelli, who postulated the destination management of the “Third Generation” in 2011. Consequently, the territorially oriented management is less promising, but rather the focus on a process-oriented approach, which has the task to coordinate the product development, generating attention, interest and sale, but also the provision of the service chain and customer loyalty.

“In this process-oriented tourism marketing, the role of each partner in the process of product development, attention and need generation, active selling, booking, service provision up to customer service need to be addressed and clarified beforehand. The attention and the interest, for example, generated by tourism organizations, must be “picked up” in the form of concrete products and booking options. Accordingly, it is proposed to “think in flexible process-oriented network structures and thereby transform the regionally oriented image advertising and brand development in product development and sales”.
( Bieger , Th , Laesser , C., Beritelli , P. : Destination structure finished 3rd Generation – The connection to the market ; University of St. Gallen, 2011).

So far, so exciting. But what about it in practice?
Overall, I think the approach is absolutely compatible and sustainable – but the implementation is likely to be yet to come in most tourism regions of Germany – the reasons (smallness in destination management, lack of innovators, high political impact, low budget) are well known.

More exciting, however, is the finding that these same structures arise (without a theoretical concept that would have been involved), if no clear overarching territorial unit exists. So it is in project accompanied by COMPASS: “Holiday in the Heart of Europe”. Here, the destinations City Region Aachen, South Limburg, the Belgian province of Limburg and Liège have come together, to jointly develop and market themselves across borders – despite the lack of territorial homogeneity.

The region, in which outstanding attractions can be found as well as more regionally famous attractions, cannot be clearly assigned to a cultural or natural space, rather it is an area in which the administrative borders have changed repeatedly over the centuries, includes various natural areas and three different languages are spoken. However, the destination manager of the above have Regions joined forces to benefit from the synergies of cooperation nonetheless.

In the situation outlined above territorial marketing is not appropriate, which has led in this case to the fact that new ways had to be sought. In the end, during the collaboration a process-oriented structure as postulated by Bender, Laesser and Beritelli and principles of the “Destination of the 3rd Generation” has been developed and mostly fulfilled.
These are mainly :

  • The thematic concentration of attraction points
  • The replacement of the orientation of territories by adhering to tasks within marketing processes
  • A flexible organizational structure with partially outsourced marketing tasks and various specialists as external service providers

The process in the border region is not far from complete and there also still falls short of the involvement of the private sector, a beginning , however, is done, and I ‘m showing that the region can serve as an example for many other destinations, which on the one hand follow the constraint to merge budgets and on the other hand have no territorial homogeneity.

We are excited and will report.


Author: Karsten Palme

I am Managing Director of COMPASS. I studied Geography of Economics and Tourism M.A. (RWTH Aachen) and I am certified trainer for innovation and management. My consultancy focus lies in destination management and tourism marketing with focus on cross-border cooperation. I also offer managementtraining and train-the-trainer-seminars. Economic Development: Cross-border co-operations, promotion of investments, city and location marketing, development of business clusters. Contact:, tel. +49 (0)221 94339638

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