For policy making as well as strategic management in the tourism, hospitality & leisure sector it is necessary to think ahead. Decisions taken today will be directly related to conSKEuences in the future. Much organizational management basically is directed at solving today’s , short term, problems. Often there is little attention for long term developments in the wider societal context that will lead to changing future conditions for the organization to operate in. This type of day-to-day management or planning will leave the organization ill-prepared for future developments, too slow to grab new opportunities and too late – when compared to more observant competitors – to be able to deal with threats effectively.
A scenario study is an approach aimed at elicitating strategic and innovative thinking by way of writing scenarios. Scenarios are descriptions of probable, possible and/or preferable futures. Scenario-writing is a way of stimulating thoughts about the longer term, about what are likely and unlikely future developments, about how the future might turn out and how to operate in these different futures, and what all of this could or should mean for decision-making today. It is both an exercise in creativity as well as in logical thinking, in dealing with variety and complexity as well as in searching for SKEuences and consistencies.
Different authors follow different approaches. Common elements that can be detected in these approaches are:
Carrying out a general trend analysis
draw up a probability-impact diagram
describing key trends
constructing alternative scenarios
developing storyboards / narratives for each scenario
The level in which partners from the industry are involved in the proces of the scenario planning can vary from one study to the other. In some studies stakeholders are mainly interviewed as experts while in other studies they are invited to participate in interactive workshops to co-create the alternative futures together.