Recently I was on a wonderful trip to Switzerland with some friends. First, it’s a beautiful country, with extremely friendly people, very clean public restrooms and the best chocolate in the world– what’s not to love 🙂 During that trip, I learned the value of collaboration. There are multiple examples, not just one, that I want to share with you.
One day we went to the top of Mount Rigis and found a rock from China, from Mt. Emei, which was 8,013 KM east of Mount Rigis. A rock from Rigis is located in Emei, as well. Both countries had collaborated to help drive tourism to each other. If people went to Emei, they were now inspired to go to Switzerland to see the other half of the collaboration. Moving a rock that was 8 tons from China to Switzerland and a rock that was 2 tons from Switzerland to Emei, by land, was probably no easy feat. Who would have thought that Switzerland and China – an unlikely duo – would collaborate?
But what did they both have in common?
Really big mountains and tourists who love to visit really big mountains. You see, sometimes the best collaborations occur when you only have a small thing (or a few tons 😊) in common. In this instance, both had the same target audience they were catering to and, by collaborating, they were able to double their exposure without even trying. I’ve never been to China, but when I do go, I will now visit Emei and China had to do nothing to buy my interest.
Unless you have lived in a cave, every Indian born will know of DDLJ. It’s a movie, Dilwale Dulhania Leh Jayenge, the most famous movie in Indian cinema. There’s an entire docuseries about its creator on Netflix called The Romantics, and it’s the longest running movie in Indian cinema history. Yash Chopra was a frequent visitor of Switzerland and loved the country. That movie, and many others of his, were all set in this picturesque country. In fact, there is even a billboard cutout at Mt. Titlis where a famous scene between the hero and heroine was filmed. So why do I mention this? The collaboration with Yash Chopra and Switzerland has led to a huge wave of tourism for the country. The man has his own street named after him, was given honorary Swiss citizenship, and every time you see a man holding out his hand for a lady on a train as it’s about to leave the station, Swiss citizens smile as they pass by, all knowing the reference to the movie. In fact, they even have Indian restaurants in two of the most popular tourist destinations in the Swiss Alps, Mt. Titlis and Jungfrauch.
Now, the trip to Jungfrauch felt like I was leaving a train in Delhi. Why? Yes, it is the tip of Europe and a beautiful location, 10,000 ft in the sky, but it’s also the location of another very famous Indian movie, Chandni. In fact, there are signs referencing it as well. There is also an entire floor called Bollywood Bistro that is in this 5-story building. With thousands of tourists a day, a significant majority are from India during the spring and summer months. All because of a collaboration between a movie producer in India and a government that was smart enough to capitalize on the second largest movie industry in the world and one hit movie.
Finally, we spent our four days traveling across this country using a Swiss Pass. It is an all-you-can-consume train, bus, boat pass that also gave us access to museums and provided discounts to many of our tourist destinations. This, too, was an effective collaboration between the tourism industry. By getting us to buy the Swiss pass to travel across the country, they guaranteed that we would use public transport to travel. And who can pass up 50% off Mt. Titlis and 25% off Jungfrauch? So, even if I wasn’t planning to visit these locations, or the museums in the country, I was now incentivized to do so. Plus, they were able to keep their streets free of congestion because everyone was traveling on a train. Win-win.
I’ve traveled to many countries around the world, and I have to say, the Swiss have really impressed me. People were kind, food was great, and the chocolate … mmmhhhh….. enough said. But what really impressed me is how business-savvy they are. They understand the value of collaboration and, although many may make fun that Switzerland is a neutral country that never takes a side, even that is smart. It’s probably why most of the world’s money is in Swiss bank accounts and very few countries ever have a problem with the Swiss. They have a great public transit system, low-key life where everything is closed on Sundays, the cleanest public rest rooms, chocolate to die for, let us not forget cheese, and they understand Bollywood and cater to a country with the largest population in the world. Genius I tell you – and all because they know where and how to effectively collaborate.
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