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!

 

Reflection Poem.

Reflection Poem.
Dad studying
Dad studying

So, I was working on my page today for the students, and of course, my mind is running amok with other ideas while I manipulate code and try to create what I need. WordPress doesn’t really give great help for what I wanted, so it took awhile.

Now my mind focuses on the upcoming week of new classes. But let me backtrack a bit and explain. I am in Scotland with Wisconsin in Scotland Program this fall, and we teach on a modular system. I have fourteen days to squeeze and cram sixteen weeks of information. Not an easy task by a long shot. It can, and is overwhelming.

My first class is a 100 level course, jam-packed with a host of information. I will have to focus on the most influential concepts while expecting the students to be highly reflective and rigorous with the info. So, I contemplated how to explain reflection best. I thought a poem. It’s a brainstorm in five minutes, thinking about being in a coffee shop and focusing on the process. Apologies.

I sit and think, understand
Watch and observe
Listen and hear, more than words
I dip and dabble, postulate
Wondering the connections
The pathways explored
Past, present and yet, to be
I soar on ambiguity
Coast on reality
Dribble without syntax or grammar
Various viewpoints, arguments, my own
I write gaining speed, opening doors
Organize and snip apart
Structure
Rebuild, reconstruct
New, even old
Gaining ground and more
Clarity
And questions
Always questions
Left in my wake, before me
Tangents and diversions
Yes, even frustrations
And extrapolations
Reflections
Inward, outward
Lost on the Journey.

That’s five minutes.

Back Home, Again

Back Home, Again
Dalkeith Country Park, Scotland
One of the trails in Dalkeith Country Park, Scotland

All of us like or love to travel. Whether our footsteps take us about the pebbles of our own backyard or farther afield to unfamiliar landscapes, the want and need is innate in each of us to explore. Perhaps visceral, traveling has its roots in both necessity and hedonistic want.  Where will that journey take you?  What place whispers to your heart?

Scotland always whispers to me.

I have been here before, but do not know all of its paths.

I am still exploring, search the different paths.

I am back home again.  Back to my second home.

And yes, it is different.

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.

We don’t live or work in a box…

We don’t live or work in a box…

What...?

We don’t live in a “box”. Life Moves at a pretty fast pace around us. Life is about movement and change. Organizations are organic, living and breathing entities.  Therefore, change is inevitable.

Constant is never guaranteed, even with steadfast core values and behaviors.  Just as nothing in life is guaranteed.  Core values are a foundation, but that doesn’t mean the house can’t change over the years of existence.

One day even that foundation may crumble and erode away.

The box isn’t permanent.  Some days, I don’t think any one item has permanency.  There is an end point.

The other day here in the department, one my colleagues was roaming around testing us if we remember the ‘Tab’ drink and the jingle.  For the life of me, I couldn’t remember the music, but I do remember that ugly old can and awful aftertaste.  Not many could remember the jingle.  Just one of those lighthearted moments to break up a stressful day.  Illustrates a good point.  Somethings in life stay with you, others don’t.

Tab isn’t around any more.  Products have a shelf life.  Most do. A product life cycle.

Everything has a life cycle, even tenure on this planet.

So, what is left behind?  A moment. A memory.  An experience.  An interaction.  An action.
Experiences, interactions, take hold in the consciousness and remain.  Some stronger than others.   Hence, if organizations are living, breathing structures they thus have a complex ‘personality’.  A complex matrix of interwoven personalities.

Life isn’t breathed into a company until you add the human element.  Or is it that founder, that person with the original idea that is exerting their personality over others?  So, maybe then this goes to the development of that mission and vision statements.  That are supposed to articulate the personality, the core values of a company.

Therefore, I question if we assimilate the personality of organizations into our own core values.  Or our own values present and melded together with the companies.  Threads of commonality. (Chicken and egg debate?)

Sort of like leadership.  What is leadership?

Leaders are ahead of us, beside us, with us that we might not even know we have commonality, and are behind.
Behind us–because we as employees and managers are so innovative and creative, so forward thinking, we are head of the company thinking. We have ‘progressive thoughts’.  The child has far exceeded the parent.

Box Cat
From past experience, I can tell you that several work places did not have my same common core values, and I would never take up their value system.  I had more integrity than that.  My integrity was more important.  So, which is more important organizational cultural values or your own?  Hints at acculturation conflict.  Is that the point you know, that this job won’t work out and it is time to find other boxes to inhabit?

So, how do we work with a variety of cultures, even our own work system.  How do we navigate such waters?

How do we keep the workplace from becoming a stagnate pool of water?

As I reread our book, I am caught between reality and the body of knowledge presented in the book.  This is nothing against the writers or their work, but I, as researcher, have been trained to question everything I read.  I critically analyze.  I study the craft of writing from different angles.  I study the world in which I live.  And that life has two different paths, professional and personal.  I study human behavior.  I study.

Just as you should.  You should develop your independent thinking skills and do not take anything at face value without thorough examination. And just make sure you back up your opinions or conclusions with factual information or other peer-reviewed evidence.  The book is a good example of how they have used a body of knowledge to support their hypotheses.

Recognize that you will have an emotional reaction to what we read before we sit down and critically analyze.  And I was having one of those moments.  My emotional inner self was boxing it out with my rational side.

The questions that arose and keeps pinging around in my brain are about organizational culture…p. 19 to be exact.

Typically, employees incorporate organizational values into their own value systems and prioritize them in terms of their relative importance as guiding principles (Rokeach, 1973 as quoted by Kersten and La Venture).

I had flippant remark tingling my lips after reading this.  I took a breath and realized my mistake.  This is 1973 thinking. I was a teenager back then.

I have to remember–1973 mode of thinking about organizations and culture was far different from today.  Just as 1950s culture is different from today.  Just as 1920 is different…conundrum potentially averted.  It is not that we don’t have commonality among generations, that we don’t all celebrate and suffer the same given life’s little nuances.  Okay, example.  1920s saw the evolution of dress for women.  Hemlines went up.  Every older generation was suffering apoplectic moments.  Fast forward to 1940s and the first vestiges of the bikini.  Get the drift.

Let’s return to that resource.  I don’t think I have ever incorporated the complete organization’s cultural values into my own core values.  I had established core values and looked for common ground, commonality.  I’m not a blank slate when I step through the doors of any company.  No one is and we come toting our own baggage, good and bad.

The word conformity doesn’t exist in my nomenclature, but I have to be honest–I do conform.  I loathe the word.  It exists and I will give it its voice, but I hate it like I hate blue cheese.  (I know, not everyone hates blue cheese.)  Everyone approaches life in their own manner.  Different points of reality and so forth.  But if I’m sitting in my favorite pub and everyone is having buffalo wings with blue cheese, and I’m the only one ordering ranch, that should tell me something.  How can I use this example to illustrate my point?

Get back to that point!

Innovative culture
One definition of innovative culture.

Yes, conformity and routine kill innovation and creativity.  So, can the mission and vision of a company that doesn’t evaluate and test their values.  As I said earlier, companies disintegrate, erode away without seeing how all the parts of a company work together, especially the human element.

What I like about Marriott is that they do articulate their values.  But do we just see the bright and shiny?  Why don’t we talk about the plausible cracks and holes in the system?  Those employees that fail and fall through those cracks.  Those that pack their bags and leave?  Who created those cracks in the fist place?

Is that then an organizational cultural failure?

Then who is to blame?

Who sets the standards on which to judge?
The benchmark on which to measure?
No two people learn the same.  No two people work, manage the same.  No two people are alike.
No two people are motivated to work the same.
Can a value system still be weak and work?
Can a value system be too strong, and thus rigid to stifle creativity?

See my problem…I’ve got a host of questions running through my mind.

Therefore, there has to be some form of commitment between parties.  There has to be a mutually beneficial contract that allows for individual identity and commonality.

This can lead into further discussions about innovative culture and positive organizational scholarship.

 

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.

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Everything in life is negotiable…

Everything in life is negotiable…

Everything in life is negotiable…

Not necessarily.

Negotiation or the act of negotiation is an art form.  Some would argue that life is nothing but black and white.  I would then ask that person, when was the last time you noticed the range of colors around you.

Colorful pens
I love my pens

Spring break is upon us, and the week will be spending time catching up and reading several new books on event management that just crossed my desk, trying to organize the event management curriculum.  After break, we start in on the financial side of international meeting planning and then, negotiation.

Negotiation starts with research.  You need to know the person, the company, or the destination that you are dealing with.  You can’t go blindly into the negotiation room without understanding all the nuances and laws.  You can’t design an event without knowing all of the stakeholders and their needs, their wants.  Or you need to have the right team behind you to accomplish the goal.

Know yourself and your limitations.  You can’t be an expert at everything.

Construct an extensive profile of your stakeholders, the country in which you will operate in order to ask the right questions.

Do not think that what you did in your home country in terms of negotiation will work in other countries.  Keep an open mind, and do your research into the cultural norms of your host country.

Test those people you hire to aid you in the process.  Don’t blindly trust any liaison and think that they are the right person for the job.  Do background checks.  Ask for past clients to gain testimonials.

Especially overseas.  The legal maze is just as complicated, if not more so than at home.  Again, know thy self and your limitations.

So I am considering bringing ethics into the debate as well as cultural intelligence.

There are ten ethical considerations in hospitality/tourism managers (from Jaszay and Dunk (2006) Ethical Decision Making in the Hospitality Industry, p2-3):

  1. Honesty:  Hospitality managers are honest and truthful.  They do not mislead or deceive others by misrepresentations.
  2. Integrity:  Hospitality managers demonstrate the courage of their convictions by doing what they know is right even when there is pressure to do otherwise
  3. Trustworthiness:  Hospitality managers are trustworthy and candid in applying information and in correcting misapprehensions of fact.  They do not create justifications for escaping their promises and commitments.
  4. Loyalty:  Hospitality managers demonstrate loyalty to their companies in devotion to duty, and loyalty to colleagues by friendship in adversity.  They avoid conflicts of interest; don not use or disclose confidential information; and should they accept other employment they respect the proprietary information of their former employer.
  5. Fairness:  Hospitality managers are fair and equitable in all dealings; they do not arbitrarily abuse power; nor take undue advantage of another’s mistakes or difficulties.  They treat all individuals with equality, with tolerance and acceptance of diversity, and with an open mind.
  6. Concern and respect for others: Hospit­ality managers are concerned, respec­tful, compas­sio­nate, and kind. They are sensitive to the personal concerns of their colleagues and live the Golden Rule. They respect the rights and interests of all those who have a stake in their decisions.
  7. Commitment to Excellence: Hospit­ality managers pursue excellence in performing their duties and are willing to put more into their job than they can get out of it.
  8. Leadership: Hospit­ality managers are conscious of the respon­sib­ility and opport­unities of their position of leader­ship. They realize that the best way to instill ethical principles and ethical awareness in their organi­zations is by example. They walk their talk!
  9. Reputation and Morale: Hospit­ality managers seek to protect and build the company’s reputation and the morale of its employees by engaging in conduct that builds respect. They also take whatever actions are necessary to correct or prevent inappr­opriate conduct of others.
  10. Accountability:  Hospit­ality managers are personally accoun­table for the
    ethical quality of their decisions, as well as those of their subord­inates.

The question is how these 10 principles can be a launching pad for successful negotiations.  Students need a foundation on which to start.  Therefore, they will need an extensive understanding of their own self, and where they stand within these boundaries to effectively work with others.  If there is commitment to these principles, then those students can progress successfully through the negotiation process.

Our department has designed five core values that complement and mirror these ten principles (Dictionary.com)

  • Respect:  a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements.
  • Diversity: the state of having people who are different races or who have different cultures in a group or organization
  • Servant Leadership: Caring for people
  • Integrity:  the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness
  • Innovate: the act or process of introducing new ideas, devices, or methods

The last innovate extends those initial principles.  That we must go further and farther in our efforts to understand.  To gain a greater awareness about the whole process, and not just one aspect, one point.  To gain a greater awareness of the world in which we operate in.  You can’t develop a plan of action; be aware of potential problems without opening yourself up to learn, to broaden current skill set.  To ask the right questions.  Don’t make assumptions, especially when working in an international arena.  You’ll fall short.

Excellent article on 6 Steps to a Successful International Meeting