, 1er journal des professionnels du tourisme francophone

Tourism Conference: The Welcome City Lab wants to boost innovation

proposals to better integrate innovation in national tourism policy

Last February 10th, at a workshop for National Tourism, Welcome City Lab listed eight specific proposals to better integrate innovation into national tourism policy. It was after the completion of a survey of 400 tourism start-ups in Ile-de-France from the 1st to 10th of February 2014 that the Welcome City Lab was able to identify these actions. Whether the innovation is technological, of usage, service, organizational or social it must be an integral part of French national policy. Here is the summary of the proposals, wishes, and requests.

Rédigé par Mathilde Khlat translated by Joséphine Foucher le Jeudi 13 Mars 2014

1. Create a mindset and a culture of innovation in France

Last February 10th, at a workshop of National Tourism, Welcome City Lab listed eight specific proposals to better integrate innovation into national tourism policy.
Last February 10th, at a workshop of National Tourism, Welcome City Lab listed eight specific proposals to better integrate innovation into national tourism policy.
Last February 10th, at a workshop of National Tourism, Welcome City Lab listed eight specific proposals to better integrate innovation into national tourism policy.

Observation: Innovation is traditionally sluggish in France, where risk-taking in the economy is poorly recognized.

- Introduce an entrepreneurial culture at school and in higher education; promote a culture of change and awareness of innovation.

- Promoting good practice in innovation, valorizing the best initiatives by gifting prizes or trophies for innovative initiatives.

- Make a real place for start-ups in all national, regional or local tourist events, like the "start-up" space made available in the recent National Conference of Tourism.

- Strengthen the auto-entrepreneur status to allow people to test an idea or a project before fully launching into a new occupation.

2. Open French administration and institutional tourism organizations to the world of innovation

Observation: the complicated web of the French tourist administration, where culture is to take no risk and thus enhance the long standing companies, is very afraid of start-ups, on all levels, from the subscriber categories, to the rate of contributions, public procedures, etc. .


- Following a Small Business Act logic, let’s open public markets to start-ups, by allowing innovative companies to respond to job offer by valorizing their innovations rather than their experience or past references.

- Following an Open Data logic, let’s open access to public information and tourist data to provide free access to data managed by tourist offices, CDT , CRT, Atout France to private companies; same logic for photos and videos in tourism promotion territories.

- In line with its multi-use public spaces and buildings, let’s open meeting rooms and conference centers in city halls, tourist offices, CDT and CRT with events that highlight innovations and start-up tourism.

- In a logic of diversification of their members, giving start-ups the opportunity to join tourist offices, CDT , CRT and Atout France by offering a lower first year membership cost, given the limited financial resources of these companies;

develop projects, innovative products and services in the tourism promotion activities (press receptions, trade shows, advertising, promotional materials , etc.), tourist offices, CDT, CRT, Atout France abroad, in order to complete the sometimes traditional static image of France with a more modern, innovative image and that looks towards the future.

3. Improve access to financing non-technological innovation

Observation: only technological innovation that relies on a patent certifying its innovative nature can have access to some funding, which penalizes non-technological innovation.


- Due to the unfortunate reluctance of French banks with regard to innovation, expand the funding of BPI France to start-ups with non-technological innovation, including innovation in the service or usage sector.

- Improve the tax scheme reserved to “Business Angels” to encourage risk-taking in the private financing of innovation.

4. Facilitate the internationalization of French start-up tourism

Observation: One of the traditional weaknesses of French start-up is their difficulty to internationalize, which partly explains the low number of Small French Companies that succeed internationally.


- Better integrate the specific needs of start-ups through export support programs established by UBIFRANCE and international tourism promotion programs offered by Atout France.

- Strengthen the teaching of foreign languages in schools, and make English proficiency a requirement for obtaining certain diplomas or tests related to tourism (ex: the test to become a taxi driver.)

- Pooling costs in foreign language translation for startups.

5. Generalize the practice of economic intelligence, strategic watch and tourism monitoring

Observation: economic intelligence, strategic watch and monitoring are increasingly strategic practices in a time of globalization.

However, these topics are barely taught or promoted in France, and remain limited to a few insiders in the CAC 40 companies.


- Raise awareness to the importance of economic intelligence, strategic watch and monitoring in school and in higher education.

- Establish national and regional networks of strategic watchers, led by representatives in the sector with organizations like Atout France and the CRT.

- Offer tourism professionals lower training cost to economic intelligence, strategic watch and monitoring courses.

6. Facilitate the testing of innovative products and services in France

Observation: One of the major problems of tourism start-ups is to not be able to test their products or services with their potential customers, in a real situation, on areas visited by tourists, due to the lack of awareness among government and large companies.

Reminder: experimentation can be done out of public procurement procedures in the 4 following conditions: it must be limited in time, reversible at any time, not dangerous to the public, and without financial exchange between the start-up and entity responsible for the space of experimentation.

Proposals :

- Raising the awareness of French administrations, especially municipalities, to an interest in opening their territories to experiment with innovative products and services. Same logic for companies that manage large tourist flows: airports, train stations, ports, exhibition spaces, department stores, amusement parks , hotels, museums, theaters, etc.

7. Promote a culture of open innovation and encourage the creation of Open Innovation clubs in tourism

Observation: innovation is too often practiced by only some insiders within innovation or R&D, which significantly limits its development, especially in a globalized society where innovation comes mostly from exchanges and confrontation between several companies.


- Encourage the creation of Open Innovation clubs in tourism, allowing French tourist companies to share their methods, discuss their problems, to unite some processes, pool testing procedures.

8. Make France an international model of tourism innovation

Observation: the tourism image of the France is not traditionally linked to innovation, while some French initiatives in this area deserve to be promoted internationally.


- Organize an annual international conference for "Innovation & Tourism".

- Create Innovation Days, mirroring the national “Journée du Patrimoine” [Heritage Days, translator’s notes.]

- Create an international network of a tourism breeding ground.

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