Revisiting Value Chain…

Revisiting Value Chain…

Understanding tourism goods and services can be deceiving. We can articulate that they have a tangible and intangible divergence. It is when we get into that thinking on higher and complex terms that it becomes blurred, complex and competitive. One can argue that a tourism’s tangible products cannot be consumed until the prospective tourist evaluates an intangible depiction or representation. No one can argue that more and more people are booking travel and tourism products using mobile technology 1. I am not certain that all tourist see the complex inter-relationships that exist between all sectors of our industry. Or do they even think about it. Yet, what about the students in my classes, those studying tourism. How should we envision this complexity?

cobweb

It is an intricate web of connections. Some strong, some strained, some thin filaments that aren’t as apparent as others. Murky waters indeed. As we have discussed, value is not so easily deciphered, applied or understood. But it is a value chain of products that are aligned and transformed into an experience when packaged together. Validation of the wealth of that package, tangible and intangible value, occurs with use. If we have met and exceeded expectations developed before, during and after the trip and travel process, then we have delivered on each contact point during those moments of truths. And moments of truths profoundly affect the exchange process.  If those connections are strong, those cogs in a wheel working in tandem, the industry will have a strong presence even in a highly competitive environment.  They will stand out and be a first choice among a host of consumers.

Tourism is a communication industry.

We communicate to every stakeholder that has a vested interest in our products and services. (Moment of Epiphany: That moment when something hits you, whispers in your ear of understanding…just happened. More on that later)

Communication is a constant throughout the process, even if it happens behind the scenes or we don’t think it is even occurring. Information is exchanged and processed during those moments.

What we do during those moments of interaction can be vital for capturing interest, converting interest to purchases, and then use.

We need to create linkages among all those involved in the process.

That is a value chain.

 

 


Footnotes

1. 70 travel & tourism statistics to know about in 2016 [Trends Report]by Lucy Fuggle

If you build it, will they come?

If you build it, will they come?

Yes and no, and if they do, not always will tourist return.

Tourism, like any other industry, is a complex set of functions, processes, and activities. You can’t develop an attraction without some thought to why you want it in the first place.  A feasibility study should be conducted of the area and thus, an audit of other similar attractions should be included.  The carrying capacity of any destination, big or small, should be analyzed to know the resources you have and lack.

Resources are important, in their raw and refined form.  What are they and how will they sustain your development today and tomorrow?  How much do we need to develop to make an entity a viable point for visitation.  Something just doesn’t grow up over night or decline and close.  Disney started planning for Walt Disney World more than a decade before he even started to build.

Here is a short video about that process.

What if those resources, and tourist are scarce?  What are you going to do?

Tourism by its nature is seasonal and perishable.  There are peaks and valleys of movement.  Our products have a 24-hour use, and if we don’t attract the numbers to our attractions, revenue is lost.

I ask my students to consider their own experience when answering questions in order for them to apply context to the problems I pose.  As I stated before, I sifted through my Dad’s colored slides while I was home over Christmas break.  Our 1967 trip to Montreal included the Upper State New York, and a place called North Pole, NY.  There is a Christmas village aptly named after the North Pole.  The park opened on November 1, 1949 and is still in existence today.  That’s almost 70 years old.

Visiting North Pole, NY and the North Pole
Visiting North Pole, NY and the North Pole
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Visiting North Pole, NY and the North Pole

The place hasn’t changed all that much.

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Visiting North Pole, NY and the North Pole

 

But the North Pole isn’t in the bustling mecca of Orlando.  It is nestled in small corner of the Adirondack’s with one way in, and one way out.  If you are going to get there, you are going to have to drive.  Limited accommodation with Lake Placid, NY 12 miles away.  Accessibility, challenging but doable.  But what makes it successful to stay in business for almost 70 years?

Good question.  What variables do we use to judge a successful destination.  That is another post for another time.

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.

Why Study Tourism Goods and Services…

Why Study Tourism Goods and Services…

One of my students from my online course strolled into my office an hour ago to ask several questions.  This led to a the prompt for today. Why study tourism goods and services?  In my HT 140 classes, I introduce them to the concept of the ‘tourism umbrella‘.  They know that there are various products associated with tourism, and this course dives deeper into understanding the intricate and complex nature of those products (goods) and associated services.

I expose them to the concept of value (value = benefits-costs) of tourism to both business and the tourist.  Yet, in goods and services we try to articulate that value in all of its nuances.  That means dissecting the quantitative and qualitative nature of goods and services.  We can see the bricks and mortar, the physical of the tangible.  We can begin and understand how service is more important in differentiating tourism products.  But how do we really value goods and services?  What does value mean beyond benefits minus the cost of doing something.  How important it is to a local community, regional entity, or government.

That is why we need to study Tourism Goods and Services.

Back to work…

The Field Burger and Tap at Toftrees in State College, PA

Christmas break has wound down and this week it’s back to the classroom. Time to remove my email notification sign, akin to “gone fishing” and open it up for real work. Finish off projects for the semester and organize my educational environment.

I am always grateful for my time off. This year I was able to return to Happy Valley or Penn State and visit with friends.

How much the small town has grown since I departed in 2000.  New buildings spring up every year, and I am amazed at their architecture.  Yet, some old stomping grounds still exist.

The chilled wind of winter still barks across the expanse of dirt from Beaver Stadium down to Shortlidge road, and I wonder how ever I survived the frigid, hibernal winds without my current goose down coat.  Trekking over the landscape takes on new meaning with all the new guide posts.

This semester I’m teaching Tourism Goods and Services and ask the students to pick a city in a state or country, even an event to investigate.  I want them to make the connections between the infrastructure and human element.  To see how everything should work in tangent.  If one point is out of sync, then we fail.

I can’t give too much away too soon, utilizing the blog to aid them in their research.

 

 

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

Daily Prompt: Promises in tourism

Daily Prompt: Promises in tourism
Moment of Truth
Moment of Truth

When I begin classes, I have to revisit the tourism business environment.  I explain that the drivers of that system are information, money and promises.  Promises are paramount in meeting the expectations and wants of the consumer.

A destination’s marketing organization as well as individuals within the infrastructure, can paint this rosy picture, and beautifully wrap up a package of potential.  They can set the price, design the products, and wait for the phone to ring or chirp of an in-box email with a processed receipt.  They can actively seek out and sell their destination attributes far and wide, especially in today’s global environment.

Working behind the scenes, that may be known and unknown, expressed, or implied, even assumed is the vague and concrete form of promises.  The action is an exchange.  Communication is vital for understanding.  Miscommunication can mean disaster.

And yet there is undefinable aspect of promises and that has to do with expectations–point of view, point of reality of each individual tourist.  Quality and quantity, value mean something different to everyone.  And therefore, it is hard to measure, hard to understand, hard to define value for each individual.

The only concrete is in the written terms to any agreement, and we all know we should read that fine print.  Ask that question to gain knowledge.  But there are unwritten promises executed every day.  Usually this in the interaction between human beings.

What we want in tourism is to have the guest return to our destination.  Promises are made throughout the guest cycle–before, during and after.  If we as host, do not live up to those promises articulated, and implied, the probability of return diminishes with each negative incident.

Therefore, promises are important to create loyalty and competitive advantage.  They are our moment of truth that distinguishes us from others.  We cannot survive without them or the partnerships they create.

via Daily Prompt: Promises