Keeping your business models up to date is important, especially during a crisis: a situation where the business environment changes dramatically.
I am seeing an increase in clients asking us to help them with updating their business models. But it is interesting to see that most of the existing business plans in the visitor attractions world miss an important factor: a clear statement of why they are on earth, or in other words a Mission or Vision Statement. A classic example is Nike’s original mission: Crush Adidas.
A story from the past
Picture the early sixties with two entrepreneurs starting a shoe company in their garage. They both loved athletics and started to trade relatively inexpensive quality Japanese athletic shoes. Their biggest rival was Adidas, which in the early sixties was already an international brand with huge factories.
For their new company, the entrepreneurs created a very bold goal. In fact, one of the clearest missions ever created: Crush Adidas. The Nike Vision statement was born. This simple Vision Statement enabled Nike to focus and kept the company on track to become successful.
Mission or Vision Statement?
Officially a Mission Statement describes what a company is doing now, and a Vision Statement describes where the company wants to get to in the future. The resemblance of both is that they set a certain direction and are essential to keep the company on track.
But how many visitor attractions and their suppliers work via a clear Mission or Vision Statement? To be honest, not many. In most situations I have been in over the last 25 years, I have only have seen a few that took these statements really seriously.
Maybe this is the reason that many companies in the visitor attractions economy have challenges to continue their businesses in the longer term. Often, throughout the years, they diversified too much or they couldn’t make the difference between their competitors to survive.
A clear Mission or Vision Statement could have made the difference for them.
There might be a few reasons why Mission and Vision Statements are not often used in the attractions business.
- Attractions are often hands-on. Having a Mission or Vision statement is often seen as “fluffy”.
- Businesses have grown from small to large, and there has never been a necessity for a business plan, much less for some fluffy statements.
- Often attractions or their suppliers are founded by creative entrepreneurs with a dream. Or they are started with help of creative consultants, without much interest in strategic long-term business planning.
The importance of Mission and Vision Statements for attractions
But that doesn’t mean that it won’t help. Here are some examples of companies in the attraction industry with a (published) Mission or Vision. Merlin Entertainment‘s vision is: “to create a high growth, high return, family entertainment company based on strong brands and a global portfolio that is naturally balanced against the impact of external factors”.
See also the vision of Efteling: “To become the only European Theme Park resort where every party has gone through a 9+ experience in a natural and fairytale world”.
Or for a company on the supplier side, the Mission Statement of BRC Imagination Arts: “We strive for excellence and create transformative experiences that exceed client expectations and that audiences love, share, and revisit.”
Three statements, which are attractive to stakeholders and provide a clear direction. Most likely having these statements are part of the reason why these companies have long-term success and are respected in the attractions industry.
In tough times
An important actual reason for a clear Mission or Vision Statement is that it will also help you in tough times. It shows the higher level of commitment where your staff, other stakeholders and potential investors are searching for. Especially when this is combined with a coherent business plan, explaining how to get to your Mission or Vision Statements.
It makes clear who you are and what your goals are. It shows professionalism and creates trust. But it also helps you to get out of the tough times quicker. By revising your Vision Statement you make clear what your new goal is, enabling your team to work towards that goal.
A clear Mission or Vision Statement will help you in tough times
Nike went through all of this: After 20 years Nike indeed did crush Adidas. Unfortunately, Nike was not then able to create a new compelling vision and was surpassed by Reebok. This changed situation made the company get back to its original Vision of the sixties, but slightly updated: Crush Reebok.
The clear goal made them the biggest again. With all competitors beaten, the vision of Nike is now more focused towards their customers: “To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world”. And Nike sees everyone with a body as an athlete.
Nike has changed its goal several times. This provides the company with a direction to continue and also allows it to adapt to new situations.
So, it doesn’t matter if you are running an FEC, museum, theme park, experience centre or any other place that guests visit during their leisure time. Or if you are a supplier. You are also a serious business on which many stakeholders depend. A professional structure for serious businesses starts with a Mission or Vision Statement. It will help you like it helped Nike.
Let’s start new businesses with a great Vision Statement before we start to think creatively. And let’s rethink about our existing businesses. Firstly, let’s define what we really should focus on now and what we like to achieve in the future.
What’s your version of Crush Adidas? Think about it! It will help you to create a better business.