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Innovation typology in tourism

Moreover, these organizations diversify the modes of knowledge production. As a result, they have a high level of absorptive capacity. Therefore, they are able to acquire knowledge from different sources and transform them into innovations.

Knowledge intensive tourism organizations are less demand driven. Since they usually deal with the production of knowledge through research processes, they habitually base their activities on the opportunities that offer technology.

Innovations produced by these organizations are habitually used by other tourism organizations in the sector. Knowledge intensive tourism organizations are the main providers of innovation based on research in the sector. In this context, product, process, organizational and marketing innovations are developed. In developing such innovations, knowledge intensive tourism organizations have several objectives. They do not only aim to improve quality and efficiency in the tourism industry. They also invest in research in other important areas, such as sustainability, needs of the local population or environmental protection.

Trajectories in such organizations are based on research processes. Accordingly, the development of radical innovations is preceded by cumulative development processes and a series of incremental changes. Innovations in such organizations are often new to the market.

Destinations can be highly influenced by the existence of one or several important knowledge intensive tourism organizations. Innovations emerging in such environments are habitually alternative products. These innovations can be very successful. Furthermore, since they are steered by public institutions, they habitually take into consideration the cohesion of the several actors in the destination. Furthermore, aspects that enhance sustainable development and benefit the local population are taken into consideration. Accordingly, innovations are developed on the basis of internal competences. In contrast, although demand needs are important, they are not the main inputs of the innovation process. Therefore, the success in the market of product innovations developed by knowledge intensive organizations is related to high levels of uncertainty. Examples at the macro level of such innovations are the transformation of old railways in tourism paths, the creation of routes among small villages with important cultural heritages, the development of the services in a national park with the aim of receiving tourists, or the adaptation of old industrial villages as tourism destinations.

Network Intensive Tourism Organizations

This category is mainly formed by private firms. Within the tourism industry, large intermediaries such as Central Reservation Services and tour operators have network intensive characteristics. Besides, in order to enhance innovation performance, several SME’s such as entrepreneurs may also rely on the linkages with the environment. Outside the tourism sector, network intensive activities that support innovation in tourism are consultancy, financial services or IT-services. Furthermore, some public institutions can be included in this category as well. For instance, innovation activities of tourism offices in large cities are based on the knowledge provided by the tourism industry as well as by the demand.


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