Defining creativity, innovation, invention and their differences

According to the business dictionary, creativity is a:

“mental characteristic that allows a person to think outside of the box, which results in innovative

or different approaches to a particular task”

Moreover, you may have found that, in many discussions, there is no homogeneity about the difference between creativity, innovation and invention. These terms may become clearer if we agree upon the following:

  • Creativity is the capability or act of conceiving something original or unusual
  • Innovation is the implementation of something new
  • Invention is the creation of something that has never been made before and is recognized as the product of some unique insight

We tend to think of an innovation as a new product but you can innovate with a new process, method, business model, partnership, route to market or marketing method.

Indeed, every aspect of accommodation service is a candidate for innovation.

   Key aspects

Theories of creativity and innovation have focused on a variety of aspects.

Companies can introduce the innovation process in five areas (Schumpeter in Otterbacher, 2008*):

  1. generation of new or improved product
  2. introduction of new production processes
  3. development of new sales markets
  4. development of new supply markets
  5. reorganization or restructuring of the company

As Drucker (2006)** said, innovation should be looked at as an opportunity. The result of these opportunities is the creation of a new product or service or changing a previous one. Innovation cannot only be an idea/philosophy, but innovation can be thought about as a practice, a process or a product. Individuals are very important in innovation, because they transform ‘a new problem-solving idea into an application.’ (Otterbacher, 2008, p. 343)

Let’s see it with an example: If you have a brainstorm meeting and dream up dozens of new ideas to improve your private accommodation then you have displayed creativity but there is no innovation until something gets implemented. Somebody has to take a risk and deliver something for a creative idea to be turned into an innovation. An invention might be a product or device or method that has never existed before. So, every invention is an innovation. But every innovation is not an invention. When you first published the website of your accommodation that was a major innovation for your business even though many other websites already existed.

*Ottenbacher, M. (2008). Innovation management, Handbook of hospitality operations

and IT (ed. Peter Jones). Oxford: Elsevier (pp. 340-366)

**Drucker, P. F. (2006). Innovation and Entrepreneurship. New York: HarperCollins.


   Building the future of tourism through innovation

Learn more about innovation in tourism from Philia Tounta, a travel and tourism consultant and ambassador of tourism in Chania, Crete, Greece (in English) here

   The value of technology and innovation in hotel management at glh

Watch the following video to understand more about the importance of technology in tourism accommodation: