Attractions aren’t just pretty…

Attractions aren’t just pretty…
Visit to Jamestown, VA
Family vacation to Jamestown, VA, 1968

Attractions aren’t just pretty places.

For the most part they are the reasons why most people travel to a destination.  There is a whole list of different types.  Natural or man-made.  National parks to amusement parks to museums.

Even restaurants and hotels can be attractions in and of themselves.

So an attraction has a broad definition and can take many forms.

Something that draws people to travel–a reason for travel.

Something to see and experience.

Something that educates and informs.

They are a product stemming from the development and use of resources.  They are catering to the various needs of society.  They offer up interpretations of that society.  From a business standpoint, we are selling a product, and that product can manufactured in various forms and bought by all stakeholders.  Attractions can host and be an event itself as can be conference and other activities.  They can merge a host of attributes and actions.

Figure 1.1 Classification of visitor attractions
Figure 1.1 Classification of visitor attractions from (p.4) (Fyall, A., Garrod, B., Leask, Anna, & Garrod, Brian. ed (2003)1).

Ownership can be public or private.  It’s status can be a charity as well as voluntary.  Governance can be at the local, regional, national and international level.  But at the core, the focus of attraction is on a product moving people to that attraction.

So we have variety.

But what makes some attractions successful over others?

This begs the question about reasons for travel…

Footnotes

1. Fyall, A., Garrod, B., Leask, Anna, & Garrod, Brian. (2003). Managing visitor attractions : New directions / edited by Alan Fyall, Brian Garrod and Anna Leask.

Save

Daily Prompt: Underground

Daily Prompt: Underground
Buchanan Street Metro
Buchanan Street Underground in Glasgow, Scotland.

The other day, as I was driving home, I was contemplating all the states and cities I have lived in to this point.  My bags have been packed numerous times, moving between seven different states, their cities, and one country.  The average length of time I have spent in any one city is seven years.  Typical of someone who works in this industry.  We are constantly moving.  The early years of my career–especially one year– I moved nine times.

I didn’t grow up in a city with an underground.  We really couldn’t have one, due to the fact Johnstown was settled on a flood plain and water was a constant threat no matter what time of year.  It was only in the big cities where I encountered an Underground.  But Underground in tourism can mean a host of different things.  Transportation aside, the movement from point A to point B, undergrounds have been known to be tourist attractions unto themselves.  Anyone who loves to people watch, should take a circuit on a metro.  It is a wealth of fodder for writing.

Insecurities

But there is more than people.  When I lived in Boston or Washington, DC or Glasgow, there was always activities going on about these centers.  People would play music, sing, trying to capture loose change from commuters.

Music at the Underground
Music at the Underground. Buchanan Street Metro Stop, Glasgow, Scotland.

The metro is a way station for the movement of people. A stop-gap in everyday life. My first semester in Glasgow, was my first indoctrination into the football (footie) culture and their fans pouring out of the metro on their way to matches. The atmosphere was electric, and I was easily swept up in the excitement. Not unlike our American football games in the states. There is nothing like encountering Red Sox fans on their way to Fenway Park! Love that big, green wall.

Crazy Belgians Belgians Footie fans

The Underground is also full of history.  In tourism, we examine the historical timeline of development.  How we went from walking on two feet in search of food (and yes that is a part of tourism) to the complex infrastructure we have today. The Underground is a historical marker as well as a museum of information, both underground and above.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
St George at St. George’s Cross Underground

They are places to mark the passage of time and illustrate a vibrancy of living and dying.

Urban ExplorerBotanical Gardens Abandon Underground in Glasgow, Scotland

There is such a tourism market segment devoted to abandon places. We slip it into historical and dark tourism. Wanting to find that elusive piece in a complex puzzle to understand how life works.  They are a canvase conveying a sense of identity; a sense of self.  It also begs the question, ‘if you build it will they come?’.

Grand Central Terminal - Franklin Delano Roosevelt's Secret Train 

FDR’s secret underground tunnel and train car

And yet, keeping with tourist themes and life’s reality check, underground doesn’t necessarily mean transportation.  What you see today of Edinburgh was built upon, in some parts, older structures and vaults.  People actually lived there, and they have turned these old parts of the city into tourist attractions.  They represent cultural norms regulated to history.  They are their own landscape.  They represent a journey.  That there is life cycle in everything.

So the underground represents life, represents places to develop and utilize in the tourist space.  They have a history.  They are our own history. They are the current and the past, and represents the movement of time.  They are markers, canvases, and concert halls.

Underground
via Daily Prompt: Underground

If not now, when…

If not now, when…

If not now, when…words I contemplate every single day.  I want to get real about motivations.  To this day, I still don’t think we truly understand why people do what they do.

Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2016

Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2016
Performer on The Mound at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe on Flickr Edinburgh Fringe, VisitScotland Flickr

It’s that old adage, what comes first, the chicken or the egg?  When is that prompt, that kernel of an idea, that innate want to move originate?  To me its a constant white noise that lingers in my brain, in my ears, in all of my senses, and my soul that stirs the blood, and makes me want to shift into action.  I can sit in my car and just by reading my odometer ignite “the itch”.  I am a fidgeter, unable to sit still.  I have been like that my whole life.  My family, especially my siblings, loathe that part of me.

But why do I constantly have these emotional tugs, these pulls, and pushes to want to travel?  My reasons are a murky, muddy, misty, maleficent (mischief not evil people) to just flip-up my finger on my mundane existence and salute it goodbye.  I wish I had the funds to just take my passport to the airport, walk right up to the counter, and say I want to book a flight to Scotland.  Take me away from here, now, please before my grey matter oozes out of my ears and cascades down over my shoulders.  Before my soul dries up, and my heart bends beyond endurance for the want to see my second home.

My fingers are typing hard upon the keyboard, and my emotions are chaotic.  Questions running amok.  And still one remains. Why?  Why is travel so important?  Why do I want to do it?  Why do I want to escape my mundane life and find something real?  Och, why am I asking that last question.  Why is that perception of travel a point of reality more so than my current existence?

Tay Forest Park, Perthshire

Autumnal view over Taymouth Castle and Strath Tay near Kenmore, towards The Tay Forest Park, Perthshire, Scotland VisitScotland Flickr

Pennsylvania

Johnstown Incline Plane and Johnstown, PA by Lost in Scotland, Flickr.

The textures of the landscape in Scotland is not unlike the natural environments of my home in Pennsylvania.  Perthshire particularly is like the Laurel Highlands of Pennsylvania.  I have memories built upon my time spent immersed within the landscape.  I can describe the smells, the sounds, the sights, the interactions, and yes, even apply the mystical.  But the cold reality is, traveling and being a tourist centers, and focuses my spirit.  Maybe I’m not meant to understand the emotional need.  Maybe I’m just being too complicated.

The prospect of not being able to move, to travel is something I don’t want to fathom.  I need those moments, even if it is a day trip somewhere.  The reasons for travel are unique to each individual.  My sister and I diverge on genealogy tourism, the want to find our roots, and the places associated with our ancestors.  My sister isn’t in to that type of hobby.  Me, I would love to see where these people lived.  I know the first time I wanted to go to Scotland, back in 1993, genealogy wasn’t on my list.  I have to laugh about this story.

Dad's college grad pic

Dad, Lost in Scotland Flickr.

I was turning 3o and reached a point where I felt that strong pull, that tug for Scotland.  I had read, researched, snatched, and bought all the marketing material I could about the country.  Their words, their stories, their pictures was a great push to get me moving.  I have had this innate feeling since I was a youngster and (ahem) snatched Dad’s copy of National Geographic as it came into the mail.  I can’t tell you the joy I felt when that yellow and white covered magazine showed up in our mailbox.  I would snatch out those maps, those pictures and line my walls.  They were my obsessions as a kid, not the latest rock star.  But at 30, I had an epiphany.  I skirted finally over the edge into an adult mode of thought, and the freedom that came with it.  I made a decision I wanted to go to Scotland.  I went home, sat my parents down, and told them point-blank, “I’m going to Scotland.”

Dad’s reaction, and I love my Dad very much, was you aren’t going.  Remember, Dad grew up in a different era, and has a differing point of view about the fairer sex.  Women, especially young women, didn’t travel alone.  I was all for it.  I was still his baby girl.  That is the big bad ass world out there, and I want you safe.  God I love him.  So he made the promise to me that we would go together, Mom, Dad, my sister, and me.  “Give me the stuff, and I’ll make the arrangements.”

“Sure.”  I pushed over my bag of research, and settled the planning into his capable hands.  Remember this is the time before the Internet, and WWW.  They had a computer, but that was for writing letters, and doing jobs off-line.  They weren’t connected.  I didn’t even have one.  I sold 286’s at my weekend job for Staples, but at best had a typewriter to do work on.  Research was hard copy.  I went back to Washington, DC, worked a week, and called the following Sunday.

After the usual pleasantries,  we got down to business.  I asked how was the planning going?  He replied great, and explained the itinerary.  I listened and then cringed when he said that we would fly into London, tour England then go to Wales.  I asked what about Scotland.  No, no Scotland, England and Wales.  I explained I didn’t want to go to Wales, but Scotland.  I thought you wanted to go see where your ancestors are from.  No, I replied, I want, need to go to Scotland.  Long story short, we went to Scotland via London, then Liverpool, then Scotland.  There were no direct flights back then into Glasgow or Edinburgh.

Dad’s focus was genealogy.  That was his motivation.  That time period, he would have been in his early sixties.  How our interests change over the years, and mirror those that have an influence on our decision-making.  I am totally for going back to Scotland, because I just found out that our ancestors are not only from Wales, but also Scotland.  So my motivations have shifted.

I want to go to Wales, because there is one piece of the family genealogy that remains elusive.  I love puzzles, and I want to solve it.

So motivations are unique to each individual.  Why I think will be that elusive piece that we might not be able to adequately understand or find.  That proverbial sock that got lost in the dryer.  One day its one point of view, the next another.  Life, maturity, and experience will shift those variables around, shake them up.

On the road again…

On the road again…
Horatio Nelson Jackson
Horatio Nelson Jackson

And in tourism, we are talking about the history of tourism, and how the tourism umbrella, the value/supply chain has evolved in organization and complexity over the thousands of years it has been in existence.

Students are assigned a discussion question after watching the Ken Burn’s documentary about Horatio Nelson Jackson‘s road trip across the United States in 1903.  The documentary is called ‘America’s First Road Trip’.

Jackson, Crocker and Bud the dog, in their 1903 Winton
Jackson, Crocker and Bud the dog, in their 1903 Winton

The film depicts Horatio and Sewall K. Crocker, and eventually Jackson’s dog Bud criss-crossing the continent in a 1903 red colored Winton.  Throughout the film, the students will see the lack of roads, the lack of services, we take for granted today.  A real authentic experience.  How many of us have packed up the car, and gone on that long road trip?  My family did just that when I had just learned how to drive.  We went from east to the west, circumventing the north of the US, and then down through Rockies, and across the southwest, south to get back home.  Sixteen states one summer.

Dad and the station wagon
Dad in front of the old station wagon, late ’60s

Looking back at that time, I remember the fun, but also the cramped, conditions.  We weren’t in a station wagon, but an old Chevy Caprice Classic. Cramped space for five at the time.  Now that I examine that time period, I realized how much I have matured as a traveler.  How much our industry has gained over the years.

That our industry has a complexity.  That there are a lot of dots to align to create an experience that people will enjoy.  And what if they aren’t?  What happens?  Over the next few weeks we will be discussing this more, and getting into that complexity.  Discussing the needs and wants of the tourist, matching those needs, and the relationship to the three environments.  How place attachment is developed, utilized by the marketing efforts of a destination.  What value we can create and exchange.  The impact on the host community.

And how has authentic travel has changed, and taken on new meaning.

Veterans Day

Veterans Day
WWI Vet by Lost in Scotland (bap)
WWI Vet by Lost in Scotland (bap)

Today is Veterans Day (thank you to all that serve, or have served our Country), and another opportunity to dive into different market segments, and motivations for tourism.  Over the last few weeks we have been studying travel motivations, the tourist, and social & economic impacts of tourism.  After we finish social impacts, we are going to immerse into marketing, and promoting tourism and a destination.  On this day, I am reminded of my own family, my ancestors that have served their country in the armed forces.  Stories of their times as soldiers, stories of the campaigns, and other historical events shaped my life.  As I discussed earlier in the year, we are all products of three environment, social, economic, and natural/man-made.  Events that exert forces against those three environments shape the realities in which we form opinions, our understanding of a greater world.  And thus shape our travel lifestyle.

My parents, and grandparents are part of the Greatest Generation, growing up in a time of such conflict that it had a huge bearing on how they viewed the world.  If I construct a timeline of those events, and all that had happened, most of the innovations, their responses, shaped my world view, and several generations after that.  Both good and bad.  My travel motivation, my push, pull factors, can be traced to those specific incidents of knowledge, and experience.  We learn at the foot of our parents, grandparents first.  We gradually gain independence and learn, broaden our understanding through experience, even travel.  Motivations, therefore, change over time, and morph, to external forces.

This lends to the development of the tourism systems in destinations.  That these stories, these events, these forces exert some influence on a destination to construct structures to fulfill demand.  I wouldn’t go to Scotland, to specific places if I didn’t study its history.  A favorite place is Culloden Battlefield in Inverness.  I grew up traversing the United States with a history teacher.  His passions were American Revolutionary War, and Civil War battlefields.  Well, anything historical.  (Now that begs the question, what about Mom…since I understand a bit of that generation…I think her answer would be…”I was happy doing anything your Father wanted.  As long as we escaped…”  Mom wasn’t the primary planner.  I wonder if they even did any planning???  They only time I can remember when they did do any real strategic planning was in 1978, and that was foiled by certain events in the family.  I think they planned, as their parents planned.  They went to places they knew, given their limited budget.  AAA was a major factor in this planning, and for us kids, that triptych…to have control of that, you were in the primary seat of authority!!!)  That is motivation.  Motivated to the familiar, within a certain level of income.  I think we went to the historical places because both of my parents were teachers, and Dad wanted to enhance our education.  As children, I’m sure we saw the fun, especially locking up my brother in the stocks at Williamsburg.

Locking up brother in the stocks at Williamsburg, VA
Locking up brother in the stocks at Williamsburg, VA

Yes, the push of family togetherness.  The idea to spend time together, and enjoy life.  Another of Crompton’s push factors.  We utilizes these factors to make decisions as consumers.  Destinations need to understand this aspect of the consumer to determine and strategize marketing strategies as well as development of the infrastructure.

There are some misconceptions in tourism.  The number one being is the myth that ‘if you build it, they will come…’.  Sure you can build, and sure tourist will come, but not always.  What sets one destination apart from another is the currency of their promotional power.  And it’s all about the story.  What story can you articulate that will turn interest into actual use?  How can you use other tourists that have visited your destination to engage others that are on the fence?  What images can you collect to truthfully represent your destination, and fulfill the expectations and desires of your visitor?

What can spark that motivational switch in all of us to do something?  How can a destination turn that switch on, and pull tourist to their shores, instead of somewhere else.

This is illustrated uniquely recently in Scotland with the televised show from STARZ, entitled Outlander.  (By no means is this the first time a television show or movie has sparked travelers to travel  Braveheart way back in 1995 did this for Scotland.)  Literature has sparked the pull for travel for centuries. This is nothing new.  The Grand Tour, and Victorian travel, the emergence of the middle class as tourists was pulled by the increase in education, and the ability of other members of society to have access to novels, and novellas, journals.  Today we have the Internet, movies, books, TV shows, and other mediums that showcase particular destinations.  Initial Statistics are just out for Outlander, and Scottish tourism is reaping the benefits (see Hollywood Reporter, and The Guardian).  Scotland as a destination, the natural landscape, and its history are supporting characters in this show, even the lead in my opinion as tourism researcher.

Outlander STARZ
Outlander STARZ

So there is a relationship between the tourist, tourism motivations, and the tourist system.  And even storytelling, experience….

The story continues….

Tourism and Culture….

Tourism and Culture….
The Travel Needs Ladder (©2012, Goeldner &Ritchie, p. 206)
The Travel Needs Ladder (©2012, Goeldner &Ritchie, p. 206)

Why do we travel?  Is it just because we need to escape, and get away from our mundane lives?  Or is it more?  Is it to spend frivolously on souvenirs?  What are our motivations to travel?  Is there some underlying cause?  Perhaps one we aren’t aware of?

I remember my 20s & 30s were marked with a thousand questions.  I was trying to navigate the waters, trying to figure out what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.  I realized now, after much and continued speculation, I was searching for a deeper meaning in life.  All of my basic needs were met, and I was progressing up Maslow/Murray’s pyramid.  I thought life was a bit mundane, ordinary.  I wanted the extraordinary, and I always felt something ‘more’ when I filled up the gas tank, and escaped.  I still fill that way.

I wanted to get out and explore the world at large.  I wanted to see if people felt the same as I did about life.  I couldn’t live the life that my parents had chosen, my brother or sister.  I was conflicted at the traditional pattern of life.  I saw the merits of that existence, but I have always wanted more.  I wanted the “road less traveled.”

I realized that I wanted to know the world.  As a manager, I knew that any one person from around the world could walk through my doors, and I needed to have the cultural intelligence to have a conversation.  I realized that the US is not the center of our world.  That there were other countries out there with just as fascinating populace, and landscapes.  That prompt, that thought tugged at my heart, pushed and pulled me to act.

And you are at that point in your own life.  Your mind full of questions, and apprehension, that seem to be overwhelming.  Listen to that voice, because it will help you to be a better manager.  A leader in today’s tourism/hospitality environment is one that understand’s the greater context of our world, and can apply the underlying principles of cultural intelligence.

As Goeldner & Ritchie (Tourism, Principles, Practices, Philosophies (2012), p. 211) suggest, a student, and subsequent manager, one needs to learn to:

  • recognize that travel experiences are the best way to learn about other cultures
  • identify the cultural factors in tourism
  • appreciate the rewards of participation in life-seeing tourism
  • become aware of the most effective promotional measures involving an area’s cultural resources
  • realize the importance of cultural attractions to any area promotion itself as a tourist destination
  • evaluate the contributions that international tourism can make toward world peace.

Now, I know, that many can’t travel the world, but that doesn’t mean you can’t experience from afar.  You have an instrument in front of you, your computer, and access to the Internet to arm yourself with information.  As I said before information is one of the drivers of our industry.  It is the most important driver in the world.  Without information, there is ignorance.  And that ignorance leads to fear, leads to misunderstanding.  We can’t be afraid of tourism, our its different sectors.  As the aforementioned authors have indicated, culture will be the defining attraction variable of a destination (p. 212).

Tourism is about interaction, about relationships.  We understand ourselves, and others through tourism.  And that is the crux, to step out of the uncertainty of life, and into a greater light.  Progress from a limited awareness to a greater awareness, and be open to all the worlds uniqueness.

Tourism is a vehicle for peace.  Because we have eliminated the fear, the unknown, and see the world for its truth.  That all cultures have lines of commonality, and divergence.  That our story might just be similar to others.  That diversity is a good thing.

I told you the story of my visit to family in Germany.  That my cousins that I was staying with didn’t speak a word of English, and that I had to rely on their daughter for interpretation.  Yet, one night, my cousin (that was my Father’s age), and I sat down in front of the TV to watch Germany play England in ‘footie’, soccer.  We found a platform to communicate, because we both were soccer fans.  We could talk a common language, and break through the tension that existed, because of my lack of knowledge of the German language.  I knew my faults, and still wish to this day, that I had learned German from my father.  I know that to be a worldly person, I need to go further, farther in my own development to bridge the gap.  I must not wait for others, that I must strive for that higher level thought.

Berlin CathedralYet, during that visit, I made several trips.  I traveled to Berlin, and saw several attractions.  I have been a student of history, and wanted to know more about the trials Germans experienced during WWII.  I wanted to see the concentration camps, to understand the suffering of others.  Bergen BelsenI wanted to get back to the roots of my family, and understand the hardships they had to endure, and their own triumphs of spirit.

I was looking for the authentic, to find those remnants from our not too distant past.  I was really a combination of several tourist categories:  cultural, ethnic, and historical.

So, returning to that original concept.  The reason for your travel may not truly be entirely articulated.  When asked, you may tell the interviewer, you traveled for fun.  But deep, down in that part of you, that is always changing, evolving, you also came to experience a different place, a different culture.  You wanted greater meaning to your life.

And so do your visitors.  The purpose of their trips, their escape, their travel, has several reasons.  A manager will recognize that their visitors will have a multitude of reasons.  Again, it is about asking the right questions, not trying to assume you know for certain their reasonings.  Value will be realized if we take that extra step to be more present in our global village.

Tourism, travel is a journey…and life is that journey….