The importance of collaboration, cooperation and partnerships

Collaboration, cooperation and partnerships are key to long term success.

As previously reported by Michigan State University Extension in the article Michigan travel industry plans to build on the success of “Pure Michigan,” the 2012-2017 Michigan Tourism Strategic Plan (MTSP) was recently completed and efforts to commence implementation of the various goals and objectives developed by the industry are underway. A committee has been formed to spearhead implementation of the objectives related to each of the eight goals, which relate to:

  1. collaboration, cooperation and partnerships;
  2. funding;
  3. product development;
  4. promotion, marketing and communications;
  5. public policy and government support;
  6. research and technical assistance;
  7. resources and environment; and,
  8. service excellence.

The committee charged with developing an action plan in the area of collaboration, cooperation and partnerships (CCP) is co-chaired by Travel Commissioner Julie Sprenger, owner of the Laurium Manor Inn, and Brad Van Dommelen, President of the Traverse City Convention and Visitors Bureau. This group met in Traverse City on June 27, 2013 to begin development of a plan of action for 2013 and beyond.

The MTSP goal relating to CCP is as follows: Foster a culture of public-private collaboration, cooperation, and partnerships – across the state and beyond – to continue to unify the tourism industry and help grow Michigan’s economy.

The CCP goal recognizes that the tourism industry is fragmented in nature, involving a wide variety of types and size of public, private and not-for-profit entities, and that it is hard for any one entity to succeed in isolation. Informal and formal collaboration, cooperation and partnerships between these entities is increasingly recognized as vital to the success of both individual tourism businesses and entire tourism destinations.

The CCP goal contains four more specific objectives:

  • Objective One: Grow and strengthen partnership programs and communicate their success to the industry. This objective relates to: (1) Travel Michigan’s advertising partnership program, which garnered $5.5 million additional dollars in Pure Michigan advertising dollars from 42 partners in 2013; (2) other Travel Michigan partnerships, such as those with NASCAR, the Detroit Tigers, and Coca Cola; and, (3) partnerships between other local, county, state, national and federal entities.
  • Objective Two: Establish an online statewide toolbox or clearinghouse to support collaboration, cooperation and partnerships. This objective will likely be approached via the development of a LinkedIn site, on which tourism professionals can share examples of best practices, post questions and seek assistance with the acquisition of novel ideas and critical resources.
  • Objective Three: Support the establishment or revitalization of regional tourism development organizations. Some regional tourism associations do exist, e.g., in western Michigan and in the Upper Peninsula. In other areas, however, industry members have indicated their desire for regional organizations to help structure and strengthen their activities.
  • Objective Four: Increase the number and diversity of participants in the annual Governor’s Conference on Tourism and in the associated industry awards programs. Attending the annual tourism conference – co-organized by Travel Michigan, the Michigan Lodging and Tourism Association and MSU – is an excellent way to stay in touch with industry news and developments, and nomination of industry entities and individuals for the Stars of the Industry Awards and the Awards for Innovative Tourism Collaboration recognizes the efforts of the highest achieving members of the industry.

Achievement of these four objectives will help continue to unite the industry and, ultimately, to grow Michigan’s tourism industry and broader economy.

The Michigan State University Extension Tourism work team is focusing on supporting these efforts locally, in collaboration, cooperation, and partnership with members of the industry, MSU Faculty, and the communities for which we serve.

For more information about the 2012-2017 Michigan Tourism Strategic Plan, please contact MSU faculty member Dr. Sarah Nicholls at

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