Few are those who look out of the box and dare to innovate by changing the paradigms of their industries. Those who dare have had the grace to see what others have not and that is why they have been successful. Key examples of this are, to name just a few, those of Airbnb, RyanAir and Uber, which revolutionized the hotel, air and urban transport industries.
But I want to dwell on a case of which I have been a user on various occasions and which very well exemplifies the fact of daring and, by the way, risking to put into practice a bold and innovative idea. This is the case of the Free Walking Tour, with which its creator, Yale University graduate Chris Sandeman, gave birth in 2003 to a new way of tourism. This man did something unthought until that moment: it took the power from the tour guides and returned it to the travelers (clients). It is they who decide, with total freedom and autonomy, if the service of the guide deserves or not to be remunerated in money and in terms of, depending on how satisfactory the experience of the service received.
This formula has been a success and the guides of these tours really do an exceptional job because they understand that, otherwise, they will not receive an economic reward for their services. Incidentally, I have done many tours of this type and it has never touched me to see that somebody does not want to pay on the basis of poor quality, but on the contrary, all customers are very satisfied and happy with the experience and also have the possibility To pay what they consider fair and fit their budget. It’s a perfect win win.
Thus, what made these tours exceed the average of the classic tour in the market, is that they redefined the expectations of the market as a whole (guides and customers) through this paradigm shift. The free model (which in effect should be called a payment determined by the customer after the service) allows users to promote and reward only the high quality of the tours to ensure that they meet their expectations. This concept means that low quality city tours simply will not survive because the modern traveler will not demand them.
This company, today has more than 170 employees and is associated with more than 400 freelance guides who serve more than 1.5 million visitors per year in 18 cities in Europe, the Middle East and the United States. An example of innovation.
I wonder if such innovations could be generated in Chile. There is no reason why they could not. However, for this to happen, one must dare to think without bias or prejudice. Doing so many times is necessary questions that were sure to be made Chris Sandeman: how I earn my client; How I get their trust; How do I create a more fair and symmetrical relationship. All key issues in the service business.
Promoting innovation in our country is indispensable for accessing the League of Developed Nations from a double perspective: increasing productivity and transforming our economy into a capable exporting intelligence, not just natural resources with limited added value. However, according to the latest National Survey on Expenditure and Personnel in Research and Development, designed by the Innovation Division of the Ministry of Economy and the National Institute of Statistics (INE), R & D expenditure in Chile would be equivalent to 0.4% of GDP, a figure that is lower than the 2.4% that the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries allocate on average.
Although institutions such as CORFO have launched a series of programs to promote innovation, this at the level of companies, still does not take dynamism. I think that in Chile we still have too much fear to innovate, to think outside the box, to be different, to risk with something unknown, to detach ourselves from the established and to look beyond our noses. Thinking freely, being critical and reflective is what makes creation possible. The companies that understand this and promote it are the ones that will always go forward. Those that will not, will be increasingly vulnerable, risky and less valuable. Innovating is undoubtedly a good business.
Juan Pablo Bórquez Y.
BY I BórquezYunge Advisors