The different scope of attractions

The different scope of attractions

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Is an event an attraction?  Is something like the Edinburgh Military Tattoo an attraction?  Are the Olympics?  The varying scopes of attractions.

Attractions can be the prime motivation for travel to a destination.  They can be a secondary reason for travel or as a stopover.  How many have navigated Route 66 in the US, only to stop over and visit some of the many curiosities along the way.

Time is relative.  It can span a good amount or very little.  The reasons for any visitation depends on the individual or market segment.

Who owns the attraction?  Who is the governing body that manages the attraction?  This may dictate prices or fees for entry.  What is on offer or not?  Will it be profitable or non-profit.

PICT1876Attractions can be classified as having various degrees of permanency.  Are they a permanent fixture in the landscape? Or is it just a building, that the exhibits are the attraction and can be moved from one place to another.

The Olympics and the Military Tattoo have a short duration, and can be moved from one place to another.  They are events.  Though there is some permanency by fixing it within Edinburgh.  The concept of Military Tattoo can exist in other cities, but there is only one Edinburgh (Scotland) Military Tattoo.

34E13A3A-71E5-4822-9C27-893069022A78But an attraction such as the National Football Hall of Fame has both fixed and movable permanency.  The exhibits are the attraction and can be moved if they outgrow their current housing.  The building, though a wonderful piece of architecture, is permanent, but can be repurposed if necessary.

So, attractions can be classified by the various degrees or scopes. I have just touched on a few here, and yes, they can be a matrix of complexity.

Complexity in that they can have scopes of permanency, cultural, and type of facilities.  That leads into the discussion of how do we measure success.  A question for another day.

Using video in Development of Tourist Attractions…

Using video in Development of Tourist Attractions…

Well, this winter has been the worst so far for me living in the north of center.  I haven’t seen this much snow since I was a child in rural southwestern Pennsylvania.  Those winters were brutal (see slide show).  North of center also has its brutal winters, just like back home.  But not this bad that university cancelled classes for a week, and some.  So, what do you do to keep the students progressing along when you have ‘snow’ days?  Videos and recorded lectures.

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Prime opportunity to test my idea of using Jurassic Park, Jurassic World and Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom in my Development of Tourist Attractions.  I can hear the ‘whys’ from here.  Well, the video illustrates the concept of development from the first movie.

Sir Richard Attenborough as John Hammond
Sir Richard Attenborough as John Hammond in the original Jurassic Park (c) 1993 All rights reserved

John Hammond (portrayed by the late Sir Richard Attenborough) had this brilliant idea to develop and open a ‘theme’ park for his now non-extinct dinosaurs. The opening minutes to Jurassic Park has Hammond convincing the other title characters to come and put their stamp of approval on his park. They are after all paleontologist and this is their expertise. Apparently, safety issues for the insurance companies are delaying the park’s opening. In John Hammond’s eyes, this park is a good thing.

Yet, how do I use it for my class?  Well, students are asked to watch the film, scrutinize it against their knowledge about tourism, tourism development and attraction management.  The main question–Is this park or its current inception, successful?  Could it be successful as it is designed from a tourism point of view?

Tourism Umbrella
Tourism Umbrella Walker, 4th Edition, 2006 Pearson; Fig 1.1

Are the elements of the tourism umbrella developed?  What is the degree of value chain apparent?  What about carrying capacity?  What about value?  And more.  All valid questions to ask when considering success.  How did Disney and the Disney company build and manage successful theme parks?

Fast forward to Jurassic World from 2015.  A long twenty-two years have passed and the first rendition of the park has given way to a realized attraction.

Making of Main Street in Jurassic World (see the full realized version of Main Street Here).  The young lads have made it to the island via air travel and boat, they are staying at a Hilton and have been given an RFID bracelet from their Aunt Claire.  There are restaurants along main street, souvenir shops, and the park is peppered with different rides and amusements to entertain the whole family.  Personally, I would have loved to pet the baby dinosaurs in the petting zoo.

We are taken behind the scenes and learn about the ‘success’ of the theme park when Claire is introduced in the movie.  As she explains, revenue continues to climb, but operating costs are starting to exceed revenue capture.  Shareholders are demanding a return on their investment.  The consumers or tourist aren’t ‘impressed with dinosaurs’ anymore.  Doesn’t mean that the park isn’t trying to listen to their consumers.  They know the tourist want ‘bigger, better, louder–more teeth.”  So, R&D or asset development saunters in with uncovering and ‘building’ dinos to the consumer’s wants.  As the movie progresses, things go drastically wrong with their latest and greatest asset.  The Indominus Rex sets off a chain reaction that destroys the park and injures, kills a lot of people (See for yourself).

The students did pretty well identifying the umbrella.  Some went so far as to question the safety and security of the different renditions of the parks.  This is testing their ability to see past the obvious.  Critically analyze from a management standpoint what the park did or didn’t do.  My biggest question left that some hinted at but not explicitly identified was–Why did they have to develop more assets?  Why not utilize the other management process for the park?  (I know it’s a movie, they needed something more drastic for a story line.)  But really, what about the other functions of management?

The Business Environment
Illustrates the three internal forces that drive business–organizing, planning and control.

Under planning, managers can re-envision the marketing function.  Why not package the park and its core activities into unique offerings?  Create value by another means other than dinosaur development.  A hint of this was discussed by several students.  This also begs the question of sustainability and carrying-capacity.  Did the park reach a point where the functions of management entered into a detrimental phase?  That something negative was about to happen.  As illustrated by the image above, the tourism business environment, communication was seriously lacking.  This leads to the belief that even though for all outward appearances Jurassic World was a successful and profitable enterprise, the measurement of that success wasn’t completely positive.

This leads then into our discussion in class for this week concerning their project and mid-term; the development of criteria in which to judge success.  As part of their project, they have to develop five (5) criteria and its subsequent variable to judge their attraction.  We utilize the Best Destinations: The Gold Standards: Proposed Best Destinations Evaluation Criteria and Standards as well as other peer-reviewed journal articles.  I may extend the use of these videos into this lecture.

London, before and now.

London, before and now.
London Bridge
London Bridge, October 2018

I haven’t been in London since 1993. And it has changed just like everywhere else. Seems more claustrophobic then I remember.  The skyline is a chessboard of old and new buildings.  A host more glass and steel structures that I like and not.

Maybe those old memories are now regulated to the depths of my subconscious.  Transformed into veiled illusions.  Snippets to be recalled for comparisons.

Last month, September marked module two in our study abroad program.  I facilitated the learning of our introduction to tourism class.  There we learned the breadth and depth of tourism, some of the most important concepts and theories.  Stressing how important it is that we in the industry craft a memorable experience.

Only a few memories stand out from my first visit to London.  A nice chap that did our

The White Tower
The White Tower

tour of the Tower.  He wasn’t one of the Beef Eaters, but a tour guide with a black bowler and black coat.  That is all I remember, except the crows and some of the tower itself.  I know I saw the crown jewels, but can’t recall individual pieces. Sparkle, nothing more.

Returning this past fall, it is like a bright shiny penny.  All new and glistening, beckoning to be claimed.  I set out for traitor’s gate, then the medieval apartments, and finally the White Tower to see the armor and examples of weaponry.  All for research and references for my writing.  And it struck me how tourist have changed.  How behavior has changed.

Everyone jockeying for that perfect position for a selfie.  Navigating through the apartments with several tour groups, wall to wall people.  I don’t remember it being this crowded last time.  Definitely not the technology.  Back then it was analog, or SLRs, no cell phones or DLSR.

This time it was about movement.  Moving quickly through the landscape, gain as much information as possible before moving on to the next.  I was caught up when I wanted to spend hours.  Hours to examine and study, both cultural assets and the people who populated the attraction.  But I couldn’t.  I couldn’t enjoy the Tower as I wanted, caught up in the flurry.  Move, move, move and move again.

Tourism has changed in the last twenty-five years.

Inside the Medieval Apartments in the Tower
Inside the Medieval Apartments in the Tower

Do tourist really see what they are looking at?  Do they know their history or the meaning behind the attraction?  Do they take the time in the place to understand and talk to the guides?  Do they appreciate what they are viewing?  How important the structure is to our cultural heritage, our past, our present and our future?  Or has these attractions come to mean something else?

That is what I cover in module 3–tourism, culture and place.  Tourism’s effect/affect on destination, the host-guest relationship and their impact on place.  Cultural tourism is one of the reasons people travel to places.  It pulls and tugs at you to make a choice, and move.  It may be the only reason.  For instance, ancestral tourism.  The want and need to find those places associated with our ancestors, our parents, grandparents, great-grandparents.  Answers the age-old question–Where do we come from?  Who are we?  What were they like?

Concepts discussed include authenticity, culture, identity, place, place attachment, place dependency, sense of self, sense of belonging, etc.  A lot to cover in just three and half weeks.  I traveled to London for two reasons, well three.  I wanted to see the city again and what it looked like now.  I wanted to visit key heritage sites for my writing research, and finally, I wanted to see the places associated with my genealogy research.  The Tower is just one because I have may or may not have a link back to William the Conqueror (apparently my 27th Great Grandfather).

So, London holds this place of interest for me now.  Or maybe it is the type of place.  Not just the destination.  Maybe my choices, my needs and wants have shifted to something more.  It happens throughout our lifetime.  I see London in a different light.  Every trip will be different because of the variety of choices.  But the mainstay for me at least is the history in one form or another.  The cultural heritage of the place.

 

How do we judge attractions successful?

How do we judge attractions successful?
The Magic Kingdom, 1977
The Magic Kingdom, 1977

We are passed the mid-way point through the semester. Students should be digging deep now to start on their projects to have them finished in the time allowed.  Their mid-term paper will be focused on developing two of their five criteria to evaluate their chosen attractions.  The criteria are based on several sources, notably from International Tourism Studies–“Best Destinations: The Gold Standards: Proposed Best Destinations Evaluation Criteria and Standards.”

Criteria are developed from their ten identifiers:

The 10 As of Successful Tourism Destinations (Morrison, 2013)

o Awareness: Related to tourists’ level of knowledge about the destination and is influenced by the amount and nature of the information they receive.
o Attractiveness: Number and geographic scope of appeal of the destination’s attractions comprise this attribute.
o Availability: Determined by the ease with which bookings and reservations can be made for the destination, and the number of booking and reservation channels available.
o Access: Convenience of getting to and from the destination, as well as moving around within the destination.
o Appearance: Measures the impressions that the destination makes on tourists, both when they first arrive and then throughout their stays in the destination.
o Activities: Extent of the array of activities available to tourists within the destination.
o Assurance: The safety and security of the destination for tourists.
o Appreciation: The feeling of the levels of welcome and hospitality.
o Action: The availability of a long-term tourism plan and a marketing plan for tourism are some of the required actions.
o Accountability: The evaluation of performance by the destination management organization (DMO).

They need to identify their criteria, state the definition by Morrison, and then interpret what that means.  Then derive variables, statements or questions from their research information about that criteria.  For instance, Attractiveness stipulates an appeal.  Appeal means you like something.  You found something agreeable.  We settled on a definition and interpretation.  And so I posed several questions.  Why do tourist like a destination or attraction?  We worked through this criteria in class as an example and utilized Disney.  Since most had visited Disney World in Florida, I asked them, as tourist, what did you like about Disney?  We gained a lot of different answers–location, climate, nice employees, variety of attractions, etc.  I asked what didn’t you like about Disney?  A few more questions were asked, and we teased out a host of verbs and adjectives.

Those verbs and adjectives become the variables that describe the criteria.  One student came after class to discuss it further and I rather liked how she constructed statements and questions surrounding those variables.  One that stood out was: “Does this attraction leave a lasting impression?”  As part of the project they need to articulate these variables, and what they mean from their point of view.  I don’t have insight into their thoughts without it.  My crystal ball is broken and I can’t read their minds.  I asked her what do you mean by impression.  Fifteen minutes later she had a good handle on what she meant.  And we were able to find more information for her to digest, namely visitor surveys and other statistical information already published about the attraction.

Within tourism, people travel to destinations because there is something to see or do.  Therefore, success hinges on the developing worthwhile attractions.  Something that will attract tourist time and time again.  Hence, why Disney is so successful.  They are constantly changing, updating to trends and taste, to their movies and interests.

Scenario based learning

Scenario based learning
Sense of Identity
Sense of Identity

Learning a new process, concept, or theory isn’t easy. People learn in different ways. I can remember 6th grade with vivid detail, especially math class. I have always been good with numbers. A few weeks ago I was sitting with my Mom and we were going over some of her accounting. She was astounded that I could rattle off sequences of numbers or amounts without looking at my notes. I don’t know why. I just can ‘see’ them.  But word problems at that time, stumped my young brain.  Until, I drew out what was being asked on paper into a cartoon.  I wasn’t approaching the problem correctly for my brain.  I wasn’t asking myself the question:  What is the problem asking me to do?  I was looking for the numbers to crunch.  I was fixated on the numbers.  I knew I had to calculate something, but there was more to the puzzle.  I know that now.  I had to visualize what was being asked.

I’m a visual thinker.

Research has shown that we are all visual thinkers (Buzan)

Therefore, grasping knowledge and acquiring understanding, is best ‘seeing’ the process, visualizing the process and actually immersing yourself in the process.

Hence, why I love projects.

And scenario based projects are one way of accomplishing that goal.

 

Student Project Notebook
Student Project Notebook

This semester all of my classes have a form of project, and I will be posting helpful hints here, and in our learning management system to aid them in completion.

  1. The success to any project is not to wait till the last-minute and know that you are the one that needs to complete it.
  2. You are either accomplishing this as an individual or as a group. What does that mean?
  3. Each has a dynamic element.  Know your role and research it.
  4. Thoroughly read over the requirements.  Clarity begins by asking questions.  Don’t assume anything.
  5. There is a formula for the process–the action of completion, but each journey is unique.
  6. Organize!
  7. Budget time.  Don’t wait till the last-minute. I’ve said it twice and that means something.
  8. It is quality, not quantity.
  9. Research to gain factual data.
  10. Examples are great, but this is your original work!
  11. Don’t go in with the attitude that you just have to get it done.  If you put in 50%, more than likely it will be reflected in the work delivered.
  12. This could be used for the future.  Think of it as a tool to demonstrate to potential employers your capabilities and skill level.
  13. Do not let dysfunction ruin working relationships.  I am a mediator and here to help negotiate, navigate the waters.
  14. Keep backup copies in three different places.  Back up often.
  15. Others are counting on you, don’t let them down.

 

 

Then that begs the question…

Then that begs the question…

In my previous post, I discussed why we study tourism goods and services, and as I sat at home last night, began to wonder, if I should not talk about my other classes, and their purpose.

Why study tourism, development of tourist attractions, and international meeting planning?

Why study the history of tourism as well as its impacts?  Why dive deep into the nuances of our industry?  Because this is a fact of our lives.

Tourism is one of the oldest industries on the planet.  It changes and morphs, evolves with the changes to society.  It even pushes society to change given the innovation of technology.  Even dictating to other industries to innovate for us.  (Think cell phones people.  If it wasn’t for Gene Roddenberry and his idea for a Star Trek communicator, we would have our little SMART devices nor could we make reservations on them.)  So tourism is interwoven into our lives, into our DNA.  We all need and want the process, the action, and the function of tourism, because we want to have a rich and fulfilling lives.

Swissair Motelodge, 1967
The year our family went to the Montreal Expo.

 

Over winter break I returned home to Pennsylvania to see my parents and give Mom a break for taking care of my father.  While home, I dug out Dad’s old cases of slides that he has accumulated from his 86 years on this planet.  I found some early slides of our family vacations.  One I vaguely remember due to my age was the trip we made through Pennsylvania, upper state New York, and over the border to Montreal for the Montreal Expo and World’s Fair.

As I copied the slides, I tried to recall this moment in my life.  The memories are vague shapes and snippets of images.  Visions lost in the mists of my mind’s eye.  I can recall nothing of the drive, nothing of the moments in Fort Ticonderoga, nothing of the beautiful scenery.  I can see a bit of Niagara Falls, because of those darn rain coats we had to wear and the spray from the falling water.  A picnic of Kentucky Fried Chicken on our hotel room floor.  Our family had never encountered that before, and my sister begged for a picnic.  That’s it, nothing more.

But my Dad’s slides were evidence of our family outings in the time span of our lives together.

Time is a variable associated with the definition of tourism.  Questions surrounding time should be asked to understand needs and wants, to design experiences and fulfill expectations.  Time cannot be discounted in the evolution of our industry.

Yes, Swissaire Motelodge still exists, but the Swissaire brand went out of business in the 1980s.  That doesn’t seem like that long ago, but its over 30 some years.  Wow, 1967 to 2017 is a fifty year span, and the motel of my youth is still there.  Still in existence but with a different name.  The Brookside Motor Inn.  The only amenity missing is the above ground pool in the parking lot.

Brookside Motor Inn in Jay, NY
This was the former Swissaire Motelodge of 1967.

So, back to my original reason for this post. Why study these particular subjects?

Tourism is a business and like any other we need to know how it evolved.  We need to examine the footprint in a historical context as well as today.  We need to understand the impact, both positive and negative, to understand what to do now, and in the future.  We need to learn from the past so mistakes can be learned from, and its lessons utilized today and tomorrow.

We need to understand the value in all its varied forms.  The quantifiable and the qualitative essence.  For a better analogy, it is a machine, and if we don’t know how it works, how to take care of it, and sustain it for today and tomorrow, we will perish.  Our product life cycle will come to an end, and the ramifications for all parties are huge.  Loss of revenues for not only the business but the host community.  Loss of jobs, loss of incomes, loss…and that loss will multiply across other industries.  Demonstrating the inter-connectedness that tourism has within the fabric of our lives.

So that is why we study it.