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.

 

Why do I travel?

Why do I travel?
Walk along the Esk
Walk along the Esk

We are discussing motivation in class this week. The big question asked, and attempting to answer is–Why do we/I travel?  What impetus spurs me to leave the familiar, my home, and wander out into something different?  Why have I always wanted to explore and discover?  Get lost, escape from humanity and the built places of society?  Why do others? Why do I or others strive to find that place for quiet contemplation or exhilarating thrills?  Why?

There are a host of tourism and psychological concepts that deal with trying to answer these questions.  But to really understand, I need to dig deep within myself.  I need as a researcher, or operations manager, or those working alongside our industry, to ask the right questions.  We need to get to the heart of something that might not be fully articulated.  Fully realized or explained.  Most times we will get straight-laced answers, but other times, not.  There is the mystique about travel.  There is still some form of mystery in the process.

Visiting the Lost Words exhibit at Edinburgh Fringe, 2018
Visiting the Lost Words exhibit at Edinburgh Fringe, 2018

Life is about experiences. A bundle of moments in time that define our lives. They have various forms of risk, levels of excitement. Some are more poignant than others. They leave more than a mark; they change us. They let us see the world in all its various colorful shades. The good and the nasty. The subliminal, cerebral, the intellectual, and the balanced, the physical, concrete. It helps us reach that inner psyche when other tasks might not uncover such breadth or depth.

Tourism and its processes suffuse the different layers of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Pearce’s travel ladder goes beyond that original work and takes it to the next level.

And yet, we are still left with a host of questions to answer.

Maybe life is about questions and subsequently learning. Rings true for that old cliché. Tourism opens the doors, even if it is just a jaunt across town to familiar places with family and friends.

Family picnic Prince Gallitzan State Park
Family picnic Prince Gallitzan State Park

That interaction is an opportunity to uncover those layers through moments of interaction. We travel to find new relationships, to strengthen existing ones. Not just with other persons, but the land in which we inhabit. To create or renew that relationship with a place.

It is complicated, and I don’t think I will ever have a true answer. But that is okay. At least, I’m asking the questions.

 

Tourism’s transformation qualities…

Tourism’s transformation qualities…

Tourism and the act of travel has a way of transforming your life. From the moment you are born, your life revolves around change, exposure to new and exciting objects, experiences, and points of reality. Curiosity governs the exploration of babies, toddlers, and young children. As we mature, we develop a more sophisticated decision-making process. This progression through life, this life-span has different stages, and we can inter-relate this progression of aging with the tourism life cycle.  Figure 1 represents Plog’s mode of traveler type and destination life cycle.

Plog's Model
Figure 1.  Life Span and Plog’s model of destination Life Cycle to Traveler Type

Basically, as we age, we develop different mentalities that govern our travel choices and behavior. What type of trip we take, when we take it, how take it, where we decide to go, depends on where we are in our lifespan. If you are young, you may or may not have the money to travel to far off places or stay closer to home. You may or may not have the capabilities, the skills, the physical strength to accomplish the activities you decide to undertake. You may or may not have the tools you need to commit to a particular activity or trip. But everything is bright and shiny. The world is your oyster, and the want to consume it, may or may not be significant.

Yet, as we grow older, our desires for the bright and shiny may diminish due to the aging of our physical bodies. Or the needs of our family. Or the requirements of our job. We are governed by a host of external forces that help us define our choices. We may or may not need more services from the tourism system. The umbrella of products that make up a destination tourism product line. Maybe safety and security are an issue, and we want to travel with groups of people that have the same hobbies and interests. We all have different wants and needs, and this will govern choice. Those needs and wants change over the course of our lifetimes.

From infancy to the first maturity point, where we come of age and make our own initial decisions, we are governed by the choices made by our parents. Usually, those choices are contingent upon the wants of children or what the parents may find interesting for the children. Every generation is different.

From my own experience as a child, our travel behavior depended upon the time my parents could take off from teaching responsibilities as well as disposable income. It wasn’t much. Usually, it involved one big trip every few years. Most of the vacations centered around visiting family or friends, and then side trips to local attractions. So, choices depend on what you need, what you want, what you have, and what you don’t have. And are still shaped by internal and external forces.

These choices change over the course of your lifetime. Options you can and cannot control. At that first maturity point, as a tourist, everything is new. You may want the unexplored, the far distant places, but you are still governed by internal and external forces. Your parents, the state of world affairs, economic vitality–resources that you have and don’t have.

Travel during your life will open many doors not only to the world around you but within yourself. You change with each passage out into a new and exciting place. You shift from a limited awareness to greater awareness with each interaction. You progress to different maturity points and understanding of who you are as a person as well as the world in which we live.  You gain resources (information, economic freedom, and promises from the tourism business environment) that can alter your travel your choices.  Travel changes you both internally and externally.  Embrace that change.

Know your limits, listen to your inner voice and what is going on around you. Strengthen your intuition and be open to learning.

Change is a part of life…

Change is a part of life…
Flags over Edinburgh Castle
Flags over Edinburgh Castle during the Military Tattoo

It’s been nine long years since I was last in Scotland. Eleven years since I’ve lived here. Time continues and I grow older. I have always known that age is a great leveler in life, changes the playing field, and the participants. Life changes you, changes your point of view on the world and the type of perspective in which you wish to view it.

I can mark the change.  I can’t always articulate the moments, the passages of time, but I am more aware of them now.  I have some understanding.  I experience grief and uncertainty.  The whispers are different.  The voices have changed, and the language even more complex.

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Contemplation

Time affects us all and change is hard to accept, even fathom.  Scotland has changed.  I have changed.  The dynamic nature of life is in constant flux just as in tourism.  Our reasons, our motivations shift and morph with the progression of time.  Innately, the passion I once held for this place has transformed, no tempered.  It is not as mystical as it was nineteen years ago.

So, what does this mean?  What sense of this landscape do I now possess?  What sense of belonging?

The world outside my window has changed.
The world outside my window has changed.

I was an explorer twenty-five years ago to this place, this Scotland. Prior to stepping on its shores, I knew it only from literature, film and TV shows. It held a mystique.  My passion was shrouded in truths and half-truths.  I had a child-like curiosity and consumption.

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Time passes for us all

Seven years of planning, of working hard, and dreaming, my reality changed.  I returned and had the privilege of living in Scotland for seven years.  During that tenure, the world changed drastically.  It continues to change drastically for us all.  Relationships were altered.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Pondering life on Isle of Lewis

Sometimes, I wonder what I am trying to grasp when I try to piece together the visceral and cerebral.  To understand about this change within my heart and soul.  Do I belong here?  Can I identify with this landscape, this place?  Where on the barometer of life has my sense of self migrated?  Innately, the fields of home have a stronger pull for me, than lands farther away.  I haven’t been the only one that has changed, others have too.  I am pushed to consider others now more than myself.  I am sometimes in limbo, overwhelmed with that responsibility.  Those promises inherent with our relationships have a louder call.  I have reached another milestone, another moment of truth that can’t be ignored.  More of the complex layers have been uncovered, exposed, and choices must consider a new reality.

I never did like change.  Sometimes, it has a hidden, nasty smell.  Something you want to ignore and leave alone.  Let the world go past, without acknowledgement.  Brutal honesty, we all have those moments.  Scotland was that wonderment that I could call my own.  That luxury I could escape to and find myself, find that grounding of strength that seems elusive during questionable moments.  Scotland always made me happy.  Scotland has changed.  It is different.  I’m different.  That is good.

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New boots, new journey

Good in that I can search. The journey is about moving and embracing change, understanding fear, and looking. It’s okay to look, to search out, and find. I may not find exactly what I am looking for or the answers at this moment. Life and travel, tourism is all about experiences.  It is a circle of experiences, just like life.  And change is a part of that circle, and finding yourself during each of those moments.  Another layer of who you are.

New boots, new journey.  More me.

Defining Tourism

Defining Tourism
Edinburgh Castle
Edinburgh Castle in Edinburgh Scotland during the Fringe and Military Tattoo

Next week I start my first module here in Scotland, Principles of Tourism. It is an introductory course about the industry. The purpose is to gain an understanding of the scope and breadth of tourism, what it means to be a tourist, to travel, to be an active participant in the process, and the impact it has on so many lives.

One of our first activities and assignments will be to develop a definition of tourism. After completing the mechanics of the course, I will have the students sit and ponder their lives, who they are, what they like, dislike, what they want–basically, develop a short bio. Then we will progress into what it meant to travel with their families or friends, or by themselves. Again, asking a host of questions to get to the heart of how they envision travel, view the world, and tourism.

They will develop their own definition and then we will compare them in class with others, to tease out a formal definition. Then the fun begins. Well, I think it is fun. We will acquire the official definition and do some more analyzing to see how close they came or if they can argue for a better definition. Considering the official definition was designed a few decades ago, are there any generational differences or does the official definition stand up to scrutiny?

On the train to St. Andrews
On the train to St. Andrews

The inevitable question that is posed to me, and has been in the past, is what I think since I’m the professor. This is good. This is a start to asking for other viewpoints, opening your mind up to different perspectives. This opens a door. And I tell them, look, I’m just another viewpoint, consider all and then find more. Don’t just end the investigation with me. I may be one authority, but I’m certainly not the only person. Go further, and farther in that research. So back to my point. We are on the path to reflective practice. Something very valuable for my students.

At the end of the first day, we should have several concepts hashed out. Then I want them to get out there and observe, go see the concepts in actions. I want them to be creative, use the tools at their disposable to record and gain understanding. Can they see the elements of the definition in action, and how they change our actions? How our decisions are affected and effected by our choices? Can they make the connections between the definition and everyday decision-making? So many questions to ask and answered, which then leads to even more questions.

And that will be just the first day!