My first foray in front of a camera

Learning Glass
Learning Glass

Fridays will be a busy time for me this year as I utilize the Learning Glass technology.  Today, I was there an hour, and did three short videos.  As there is with all technology, there is, for a better word, a learning curve.  The first time I wore a bright color, and you couldn’t see the words.  This time I wore black, and hopefully will be a better wardrobe for the filming.

I haven’t got the energy level yet for this format as I do in the classroom.  It’s awkward for me because I would rather be behind the camera than in front.  And I would rather be in my own home than have to record in front of others.  I told the students to laugh along with me…

Wish me luck

Tourism and geography: Understanding the Landscape

Powerpoint Presentation Scotland's Landscape: The Making of Scottish Tourism
Powerpoint Presentation Scotland’s Landscape: The Making of Scottish Tourism

Last year I was granted the privilege of speaking in a geography class on my favorite subject, Scotland and its’ landscape.  I wanted to talk about the making of the tourism landscape, and I knew some of my own students would be in the class.  And had to put a different twist on it to keep their attention.  It is hard, but I persevered.

I started off the discussion with one of my favorite quotes from Neil Oliver and his book, A History of Scotland:

But there is a way of feeling about a place, about home, that transcends nationality and geography.
Sometimes the right words are found in the wrong place and remembrance – the reach of memory – matters as much as history.

~Oliver, Neil (2009-12-17). A History Of Scotland (Kindle Locations 145-147). Orion Publishing Group. Kindle Edition

I then showed them the brief intro from his TV show, because it is a powerful example how a landscape changes over time.  From a tourism perspective, landscape is more than just the geographic representation of green spaces and cityscapes.  We derive, as does geography, a complete picture from understanding three prime environments: the economic, the socio-cultural, and the natural/man-made world.  Yet, Oliver delivers something more.  He asserts the time element into the equation.  That over time our point of view of those landscapes change, and are morphed into something with mythic tones.

Before memory or history – beneath everything – is the rock. We are shaped and tested by it. Just as we are of the people we call family, so we are of the land we walk on every day. Magic is elusive stuff, but in the ancient landscapes of Scotland there is the genuine shimmer. It’s also a tough and demanding place – much of it made more of storm-swept rock than anything sun-baked. This is important. It is the landscape that has authored the story of this place, and this people, far longer and more indelibly than any work of our own hands.

~ Oliver, Neil (2009-12-17). A History Of Scotland (Kindle Locations 147-151). Orion Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

It is hard from students, at first, to understand the complexity that is tourism.  Mill and Morrison (2012) assert that tourism isn’t really an industry.  System, yes.  But more.  It isn’t just one entity, but a collection of entities within a specific landscape (a destination).  That it is more of an observable event, a phenomenon.  Yet, they articulate that “industry is a collection of entities producing the same goods and services (1)*, and tourism is nothing like an industry.  Here is where the waters become murky.  Tourism utilizes resources to create a collection of choices for individual travelers.  They produce goods and services to fulfill the expectations and wants of tourists.  Some of them don’t produce the same tangible and intangible elements.  But it is an industry when that collection of enterprises strive for the same goal in maximizing the capture of revenues in order to reward stakeholders and reinvest in the firm, destination.  Yes, tourism is a dynamic action; a behavior; a migration of people and resources to fulfill a need or a want, and thus creating loyalty.  We make promises every single day in tourism, and if we don’t deliver on those promises, more than likely our customers will go some place different.  They will choose another destination.  Tourism is an inter-woven tapestry of businesses.  They are inter-dependent and co-dependent on each other.  I would agree that they complement each other, but they are striving for one goal.  Tourism is rooted in promises, that intangible variable that is unique to each individual.  Promises are both input and outputs, associated with before, during and after travel.  That the observable event is ongoing, never-ending.  That as a business, no matter what area, we strive for mutually beneficial partnerships, and linkages to create value.  That is another promise.

Maybe industry isn’t the right word, and we need something more?  How is value measured with such shades of gray?  Is there black and white?  In today’s day and age of technology, an arm-chair traveler could be considered a tourist because they are utilizing and consuming resources from a destination.  What if they order a souvenir online and have it shipped to their place of residence, post travel?  What if they order up unique items from a destination because they want a bon voyage party?  Value has not been fully recognized from these individuals because they haven’t made a choice yet or their conversion doesn’t happen till a future date.  Tourism is complex.  When exactly do travelers enter into the system?

Crazy thought?  Sure, but with the advances of technology, and global uncertainty, will the Internet Highway be the destination of the future?  Will that be a new landscape?  Will a new even more complex tourism entity grow?  What about the value of these arm chair travelers that convert others?  Word of mouth, eWOM, is becoming critical with the application of technology.  Technology is another resource that needs to be addressed in that umbrella.

It is hard to measure total impact when tourism actions mirror every day life.  How do we know when a person pulls into a petrol station and fills the tank his purpose for that purchase?  Unless we ask, and gather that information as to the purpose of his trip will we understand exactly what is happening within that observable event.  This illustrates the point that perhaps we should not solely measure the value of tourism by numbers alone.  There is more to that confining digit that we readily see or imagine.  Ask the right questions.

So the debate continues.  Governments can continue to give tourism lip service, and stipulate that it isn’t important enough to the GDP.  We can’t discount the numbers.  We can’t discount the good that tourism does.  But that is for another post.

From that landscape, the resources for tourism sprout, and grow.  As managers, we strive to put heads in a beds, and butts in a seats.  We have to remember that we are a collection of individuals working together, and in competition for traveler choice.  A destination will utilize resources and the landscape will change.  Simplicity turns to complexity with continued development.  We must understand the parts of the puzzle as well as the whole puzzle to gauge impact.  To plan and strategize for the future.  As a manager we must remember the mantra:

Recall you are selling to the right person, the right product at the right time, for the right price, for the right location, having the right promotion, and employing the right people utilizing effective and efficient processes, and truthful, physical evidence, that is the right stories or testimonials to engage with the right customer.

Perhaps tourism is about creating and writing the story of life? (Another post)

Mill-Morrison. The Tourism System,  7th Edition. Kendall Hunt Publishing, Co., 08/2012. VitalBook file.

“Heritage is a thoroughly modern concept” *…

Heritage is a thoroughly modern concept ~ McCrone, Morris and Kiely (1995, p. 1)

As McCrone, Morris and Kiely assert in their seminal work on Scotland – the Brand: The Making of Scottish Heritage (1995), heritage as we know it today is not the same concept of heritage from hundreds of years ago. The depictions of plaids, and other Scottish icons can be traced back to the early 19th century (1822), to Sir Walter Scott’s pageantry of King George IV’s visit to Scotland. Scott was well ahead of his time regarding the marketing of a destination. He put Scotland on the map with his writings and romanticism of the country. I can’t blame him for he is reacting to the historical events that happened in the late 17th and 18th century that stripped the country of its pride and self-identity. I would say those events, to a degree, bent but didn’t break the country. If anything those events helped to make it stronger.  This isn’t the first time I revisit the discussion of ‘manufactured’ tourism.

Let’s revisit Starz Outlander. Don’t get tired; this is a great show to demonstrate concepts, even the ‘built’ world of writers, and the film/tv industry. Saturday night was episode 210: Prestonpans was aired, and of course, I visited the subsequent talks on social media on Saturday, and Sunday. Of course, some of the chatter had to do with Bonnie Prince Charlie’s wardrobe.

Outlander Bonnie Prince Charlie
Bonnie Prince Charlie, Outlander Season 2, episode 210; ©2016

Some of the fans were arguing over what tartan he was wearing. Some thought it was the Wallace tartan; others weren’t sure. Whatever they utilized in the show, I would hazard a guess that there is host of historical inaccuracies. Again, what makes for good television. Any tartan or plaid we have today is a manufacture representation traced back to that demarcation line when Scott created the icons for Scotland.


This is one of my favorite paintings of the Prince by Pettie and is in the Royal Collection. Pettie lived from 1834-1893, in the age of romanticism. The Prince is wearing the Prince Charles Edward Stuart tartan. The Prince is emerging into the light of Holyrood Palace after taking Edinburgh in the early days of the ’45. If this tartan had any historical accuracy, which it may or may not, then the tartan used by the wardrobe on the show has thoroughly got it wrong. But more importantly, these two depictions demonstrate the concept of modern heritage.

I am amused by the show. Heck, I just watch it to hear the accents and see the beautiful scenery, and it does have a great storyline. The acting is well done, but I cringe every time for the bastardization of representations of heritage and historical events. I know, let it go, it’s just entertainment. Usually, I do several days later. I have to remember what Beveridge and Turnbull, 1989 stipulated in their works. That the truth of Scottish cultural is that mystical entity that has been ‘eclipsed’ over time. That we will not truly know the genuine character and can only ‘create’ our own interpretations. McCrone, Morris, and Kiely argue that Scottish heritage and its associated icons are malleable. That they are distorted and susceptible to interpretation.

Bonnie Prince Charlie and James Fraser
Bonnie Prince Charlie and James Fraser, Starz Outlander Season 2, EP 210 Prestonpans ©2016

The romanticism of Scotland is a glamorous depiction of historical events. And I have to say makes for great entertainment. Students you must dig past this glamorous representation, do your homework, find primary sources and research for yourself the truth behind destinations. Understand how history, those that influence the development of tourism and its associated marketing to understand how we can differentiate one destination from another. To benchmark against those that are successful and those that are not. Scotland is successful in its marketing efforts and has Scott to thank for that. Tourism is one of the leading industries that aid that countries economic vitality. Go further, farther in your examination to understand just what heritage is, and how it supports a country and its tourism products.

Should we even get into a discussion about authenticity? Maybe next time.

Finding that right corner of the world…

Every day I’m asked by students about finding employment, the right job for them.  They slip into my office, some tentatively, others boldly, and with frustrated snarls and whispers, ask, “How do I find a job?”  Or they sigh deeply and say, “Help me find an internship?  I can’t find one.”

I get it, I’ve been there, I have a trunk load of tee shirts sitting at home.

Finding that right corner of the world, that right niche is hard.

Especially in today’s complicated world.

And that is when I tell them, hopefully, with a bucket load of optimism, persevere.  The right job, the right position is out there…and yes, there is always that lingering ‘but’, that momentary pause that tells them there’s a catch.  Sometimes you have to step outside the box, and your comfort zone, to find that niche.  To find that corner, and occupy.  I really think we need a one credit course on job hunting in today’s employment environment.

It’s brutal out there, and you have to take the punches in order to gain what you so desire.  That hasn’t changed since we could walk upright.  I then shift, and ask them what are they passionate about.  That is when I get the blank stares, the lack of emotional response, and emptiness.  My mind drifts too at this time period back to the days when I was first in grade school, and the teacher asked every one of us, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

I wonder what I answered, because I really can’t remember.  The earliest point that I do remember is a 4th grade essay, and I was into the National Park System, John Muir, and such.  I devoured a book on Muir that year, taking it out of the library several times.  I can still picture the library at Southmont to this day, and roaming the stacks of treasures.

So then I go into concentrations, and what they are taking.  I ask them why are they taking this area, and I get the usual replies.  Most days its I want to be an event planner.  I want to plan weddings, and then I hit them with the cold reality of day.  Competition is hard, and getting to that point, difficult.  But it is doable.  You just have to think outside the box.  And this is where I get frustrated, because I already know the answer more than half the time.  My next inevitable question is, “Have you done research on the career?  Where you can find jobs?”
Nothing, nada, zip.  Big fat zero.

I’ve data mined for information, and I realize then that students need a bit of boost, a shove to find resources.  And not only research about their career path, but about themselves.  They need to dig deep and find out that intrapreneur within themselves.  They need to dig deep, and soul search.  Set some goals and objectives and obtain them.

And remember nothing is set in stone.  There is always that ability, and opportunity to change.

I found a great video on Linkedin, a nice presentation on Intrapreneurship by Nancy Lyons of Clockwork.  Hopefully this might help them in that step…

Weekend fun…

Visited Mall of America this weekend to shop and to see the new JW Marriott hotel attached to the Mall of America. Awesome property, and employees so welcoming. The design of the front desk caught my eye because I have been saying for years that eventually we will be getting rid of the front desk as we know it, especially with the advanced application of technology. We are tethered to our gadgets, but this Marriott is an example of how to integrate technology, function and design with luxury and style. Other hotels are doing the same, notably Hyatt and Hyatt Place. I’m looking forward to see what the concept will eventually manifest into.

Sense of Belonging…

Stormy skies over Ring of Brodgar

Stormy skies over Ring of Brodgar, Orkney

So my tourism class has finished up for the most part motivation and I am sitting here reflecting on what we talked about.  I tried to convey to the students that they have to develop their own understanding of the functions of motivations for their own career aspirations.  To apply what we learn to their own passions, and how this will aid in becoming a better overall manager.  Yet, I continue to ponder the questions in my own life as a tourism researcher, as a tourism educator.

Why do people travel?  Why do we feel a kindred spirit with certain destinations?  Why are we tugged towards something that we have never really been before, and feel at home?  Why do we have a physiological, psychological, and cognitive response to a destination?  Finding out those answers is gold for a destination marketing organization.  If we can hook the heart of people, and have them make a decision, choose one destination over another, then we have succeeded at the function of promotion.

Yet, I always thought there was more to this behavior.

What are those feelings that tug at the heart, that sense of belonging that makes you return again and again to the same space, the same landscape?

What is that longing for a place?

It isn’t easy to articulate truthfully for some of us.  We are all drawn to a destination to fulfill some hierarchy of need.  Some hedonistic want to ‘see’ for ourselves what all the hype is about.  Sometimes, I can’t understand some over the top reactions to the elements of life.  I was never one to like concerts.  The behavior of participants that this was the be all to end all, that if they weren’t part of the equation, their life would somehow be less fulfilling.  I have only been to two rowdy concerts in my life, and sat in wonderment at the behavior of people.  It was nuts.  More than half the time I couldn’t hear the music for all the screaming.  I didn’t appreciate or enjoy those experiences at all, and will never again participate in such an event.

Outlander Season 2 EW photoshoot
Outlander-Caitriona-Balfe-and-Sam-Heughan-photographer MARC HOM for EW

I wouldn’t pass a moment to utilize STARZ’s Outlander as a teaching tool.  And I can’t understand some of the fan reaction to the program.  As I have stated before, the Scottish landscape figures as a character in the books by Diana Gabaldon’s series of time-travel books, and in the television show.  The marketing people are having a field day trying to gage and understand their audience.  Both participants flit from one spectrum to the next, and it is fun to watch from the sidelines.  Sometimes even take part.  Granted I am a fan of the show, for the most part the books, but I’m more of a ‘fan’ of the landscape, the country that it is based upon.  Scotland means more to me than words on a page, or the characters created and brought to life in a TV show.

But to each his or her own.  More than likely those words, just like Scott’s are an embellished representation of the genuine nature of a land, of a people, of a society.

Sense of belonging to me is not so boisterous.  Sense of belonging isn’t some fad that comes and goes.  True appreciation and enjoyment is long-standing, loyalty and more.  You know the bad exists, but the good overrides any hyped up contextualized or marginalized representation.  The true heart of the three environments that tourism and its properties are derived from (economic, sociocultural, and natural/man-made {built}) runs through deep layers of complexity.  Marketing isn’t an easy function of promotion, understanding motivation even harder.  Sometimes people get it wrong, but we hope we get it right.  Sometimes we won’t fulfill the implied promises, and people will be let down.  Their expectations won’t be met, but sometimes…you have to leave what you have envisioned through books, movies, tv, and even word of mouth, and look for yourself what is there.  Let go of all your baggage that you bring with you, and look, immerse yourself in the landscape to find that fulfillment.  As our part of tourism credo goes,

“travel with an open mind, and gentle heart”.

There is a shift in today’s marketing environment because of the interface of technology, and the use of differing platforms.  We are more in-touch than those that came before, those that had limited technology and accessibility to the variety, the diversity that is our world.  People see more, do more, have the capability of understanding more, and broaden their horizons.  Marketing is becoming more complex and transparent.  Creditability and trust are rooted in the genuine.  More and more are deciphering fact from fiction, and acting on it.

The Mantra I teach my students, and I hope that they remember is this…

Recall you are selling the right product [to the right person] at the right time, for the right price, for the right place or location, having the right promotion, engaging the right people, utilizing efficient and effective processes, and using truthful, physical evidence, that is stories and testimonials to engage with your customer…

So sense of belonging is as complex as any other concept I strive to impart.  And it will take a lifetime to understand.  Heck I haven’t even touched on this part of inter-relationship to authenticity.  Shudder…

{There is a case study in here somewhere…ha ha ha}

Trade Show Management

Developing Goals and Objectives
Developing Goals and Objectives in Trade Show Management Class

My trade show management class is tackling the project of creating a booth for our School.  On Tuesday we mapped out initial objectives, and sub-divided into teams.  I am looking forward to helping them with this project.  We need to re-evaluate and cohesively articulate these goals, and match them with the type of trade show we want to participate in.

I am hoping that we can find some booth design software to utilize in class, and really construct a depiction of their ideas.

Then have the school vote on several depictions, and the project and see which one they would prefer.

Place Attachment and more…

Place attachment, sense of place and more #tourism #place #senseofplace #Outlander #definitions

Doune CastleDoune Castle, Scotland by Lost in Scotland

Today in class I continued our discussion about tourism, the tourist, the supply/value chain, and started in on place attachment for our guests, and then the tourist organization develop and promote a destination.  This will lead into tourist motivations, and economic and socio-cultural impacts of tourism on a destination.  For this post, let me again dive into Scotland, and use Outlander as an example.

As I stated in a previous post, throughout the ages, storytelling has been an intricate part of tourism development.  19th century authors like Scott, Stevenson, Burns, Barrie, and their modern-day counterparts, Rankin, McDermid, Banks and others, and even US writers like Canham, and Gabaldon have created literary works that use the landscape of various destinations, most notably Scotland, as a secondary character.  Landscapes figure heavily in the development of their characters.

If anyone understands the process of writing, research is a must.  Joseph Campbell’s life work was understanding the intricate nature of mythology in all cultural realms, and how storytelling was developed to communicate those unique nuances.  His Hero’s journey explains to a certain extent how we move through the landscape, the three environments. That is the socio-cultural, economic, and natural/physical (man-made) environments, and how they shape our behaviors.

Writing ProjectThe Writing Project by Lost in Scotland, feature the Hero’s Journey as developed by Vogler, and Campbell

For instance…

The Grand Tour has been around for centuries, long before its commercialization in the early, and middle 19th centuries.  It really had its origins well before the 16th century, if we care to argue that point.  The form and function were different, but still an idea that evolved as society evolved.

So, back to understanding place attachment, and really authenticity, because I spent a lot of time covering those two aspects in class.  Place attachment really is about understanding ‘place’.  Whether you travel for business, or hedonistic reasons, place figures prominently in any decision-making.

I can’t explain this any better than by using stories.  As a child, young adult, I wasn’t the one that had posters on my wall of the latest and supposedly greatest rock star, or bands of the day.  I had maps from Nat Geo.  I would covet them from the magazine well before my history teacher of a father could garnish them and take them to school.  I studied them and the magazine.  And I fondly remember being enthralled when examining the pictures.  They are what hooked my eyes, drew me in to explore, and read.  I’m sure there was an article featuring Scotland in those days, and I was drawn by the mystical nature of Glencoe Pass, or Eilean Donan Castle.

Eilean Donan Castle PanEilean Donan Castle by Lost in Scotland

To date, I don’t think genealogy figured into that first ‘hook’, though today it does since I can now trace my lineage back to the early King’s of Scotland, and several noted historical figures…I was more hooked by the pictures, than the words, the surreal beauty, hungry to know this place, to know how to take such pictures.  If I was 9 years old, and had received my first camera, then yes, I wanted to be the next Ansel Adams, and that is the place I wanted to take pictures.  (And yes, Ansel Adams was on my wall too).

Fast forward to now, and what I’m trying to convey.  That evolution of thought on my part, the evolution of my understanding, and immersion in a certain place developed my sense of place, my place attachment, and therefore the variable that is place.

Why do we have this intangible understanding that we need to be some where?  What is it that draws one to a country other than their own, and feel a need to visit?  What is that ache that draws you to a destination, and makes you want to stay?  We can and can’t articulate place or sense of place very well, because it evokes an emotional response that makes us do something.  Creates an action in us all to move.  Even to migrate to and live.  I lived in Scotland for almost seven years, and if someone would give me the opportunity, I would move back there in a heartbeat.

Tourism developers, marketing personnel use sense of place, place, place attachment, and your emotional need to induce one to make a decision over another.  Tourism is a highly competitive industry, and any marketing firm, any destination tourist board, wants you to pick their destination over another.

And film, tv figure in that game.

We read books, we ready magazines, and watch films.  We immerse ourselves in our hobbies, our other needs and wants, and develop a sense of identity, a sense of self by extending our understanding, and range of exposure.  We gather tidbits, and trinkets about these stories.  We gather other people around us with like interest, and listen to their stories about their adventures, which may include visitation to the destination depicted in the story.  Okay, I will freely admit, I have read Outlander by Diana Gabaldon.  I enjoyed the first and have read about three of the books, maybe four.  I started back in 1992/3, well after my love affair with Scotland started.  My first real foray into literature with the landscape of Scotland as a character was Scott, Burns, and Stevenson.  And then Marsha Canham’s, The Pride of Lions.  Alright, so I like romance novels, and action.  All of these authors hit on my need and want for excitement, and a bit of sexiness.  Heck, the landscape is sexy.

I couldn’t get into more of Gabaldon’s books because life happened.  I had plans, and well I have to say, her research was flawed in that first book (that she has supposedly fixed) and that irked me no end.  Especially, after I was conducting my own research later on as a Master’s student and PhD student.  The books lost a bit of the luster it had once I found those parts.  After my first visit to Scotland in 1993, and a kind, petite elderly lady encounter in a garden in Inverness, I had to make it back permanently to Scotland.  As the lady told me, “Ye need to return again.  Scotland needs ye.”  Don’t ask, but I had chills for days after that meeting.  Being compared to a ghost is not to my liking, and that is another story altogether.

So back to place, sense of place, and place attachment.  I knew from that first visit to Scotland, I was, using the old Scots vernacular, ‘hame’.  It ticked all the boxes, and I felt a certain attachment, link to the land and the people.  I can’t explain it.  And that is what destination marketing does.  It takes all these elements, these pictures, sounds, emotions, and develops promotional material to aid you in realizing this connection.

Doune Castle used for Castle Leoch in STARZ original series Outlander.
Doune Castle used for Castle Leoch in STARZ original series Outlander. Adapted and based on the books by Diana Galbadon.

Heck, Outlander, the STARZ show, adapted and based on Gabaldon’s books, illustrates a time-honored tradition.  Thomas Cook, whether he realized it or not, and subsequent writers, and tourism suppliers have created hooks to draw you in.  To connected you with the place, the landscape depicted in the books.  Even VisitScotland is on the bandwagon, connecting the dots, the supply chain, marketing, and creating itineraries that take in the tv filming sites for tourist.

Blackness Castle (my picture and then used as a set for Outlander)

They are creating an experience, even though that representation might not solidify with the actual truth of a people.  History has been muddied by more than one historical fiction writer, this writer included, though most ardent authors will stay to the facts, and twist them into their own reality.  Too many readers will catch them out if they don’t do their homework as I did with Gabaldon’s first edition.  I love maps, and don’t get me started on the map in the latest edition of Outlander that has Culloden in the wrong place.  But that’s my hang-up and not lose sight of the enjoyment.

Doune Castle in the background of STARZ Original Series Outlander.
Doune Castle in the background of STARZ Original Series Outlander.

But the people who inhabit a landscape are shaped by that landscape.  On Wednesday, I get to speak to two geography classes about Scotland and the landscape.  How the topography of the land more than helps to influences the development of a culture, of a society.  The history of Scotland and its people are more than just tied to the land, the land helped to meld and form the culture.  The variety of that culture is tied to the division of land and its markers.  Now, today the Scottish people would be affronted by the way I have explained that.  Yet, the Highlands, and the Highland culture have their nuances, as compared the Borders that were highly influenced by their neighbors to the south, England.

To explain more would take more than one blog post, and I am again diverging onto another tangent.  Let me suffice in way of explanation, that the land defines a nation.

We wouldn’t have the iconographic representations of Scotland, the souvenirs based on certain elements if it wasn’t for the land, and the resources one could exploit.  Think sheep, think wool, think the process of making that wool, think plaid, think tartan, and that leads us to souvenirs.  Souvenirs, whether commercial or otherwise (think of the sea shells you pick up on the beach, or the rock you pick up in the national park), they are private representations of a hedonistic past time.  They relate back to that experience, and a tourist want to be able to relive their past experience.  Outlander has a shop online for the fans to dive further into the show, and such.  Even purchases that are latent or after the fact.  Recently, I indulged my love for Scotland by ordering back bacon (bacon sarnies) and Balmoral smoked salmon from my favorite shop, and even purchased a Jacobite era glass that is a historical rendition of the ones used during the mid-18th century.


So in tourism, place, place attachment, and sense of place has a host of meanings.  The question I left with the students though now is authenticity, and how we define it now in a modern world.  What is truly an authentic experience anymore?  Has it changed.  And what about heritage?  Historical tourism…Good questions for next time.

On the road again…

On the road again…#tourism #tourismeducation #journey #historyoftourism

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.

Understanding Service Execution

Initial Mapping out of the Guest Cycle
Initial Mapping out of the Guest Cycle
Guest Cycle
Guest Cycle

We have been talking about the process of the guest cycle in Lodging.  Talking through what happens with the guest, the hotel, different departments, and managers.

Initially, we mapped out what we talked about in class, and then I put it into a mind map to aid the students in their understanding.  I uploaded a pdf copy to our D2L site, and hopefully, they will take the map and work with it.  Hoping to see them interweave the importance of service execution.

Heritage, Image and Branding…

Talking about the creation of tourism destination brand

So the first week of the Spring semester has come and gone.  We have skimmed the upper ice berg of the definition of tourism, and now diving below the waterline to see all the complexity associated with that definition.  Today, my 8am class (I know, ugh 8am), was awake and raring to go.  I had taken the time to map out some of the concepts we had been talking about, and diagram out the pieces we needed to start to examine before they arrived.

Mapping out tourism
Mapping out the definition of tourism, tourism umbrella, and diving into the tourism system

I posted the tourism umbrella, leading to the three environments in which resources, tangible, intangible are drawn from.  From those three environments we also derive our stakeholders, guests, host community, employees, governments, investors, and other.  These stakeholders have a vested interest in our industry, even if they are arm-chair travelers.  In today’s globalized knowledge economy, our industry has three drivers, information, money, and promises.

Now I hinted at some of the impacts on those three environments, controllable and uncontrollable.  That we have this moment of truth for all of our stakeholders to fulfill (keep our promises), and if we don’t manage these relationships long-term, more than likely our stakeholders will shift their loyalty from one destination to another.  Tourism is a highly competitive global industry.

Introducing the first concepts of tourism to class
The rest of the map…mapping out the initial discussion of tourism…Introducing the first concepts of tourism to class

The rest of the morning was spent on dissecting the rest of the map as well as defining these first important concepts.

Now, Friday will be devoted to a discussion online in terms of understanding value.  What does it mean?  How important is it to our industry and the stakeholders.  They will accomplish this online, and I am looking forward to the lively debate.

Next week, we slip along the currents into the history of tourism, and the development of heritage.  Scotland is my area of expertise, and use it in all of my examples.  Modern tourism can be traced to Sir Walter Scott, and his quest to design a grand experience for King George IV in 1822.  Scott had a major hand in organizing all the activities, and what the King would see.  It is the demarcation line (the end of something, and the beginning of another) when Scotland began to turn away from its rebellious nature, and was beginning to be incorporated into the socio-cultural landscape.  It is also a point where Scotland realized what it had in terms of ‘tourism’, whether they understood tourism at that time or not. Scotland was emerging as a brand.

VisitScotland has derived three adjectives (action and non-action) to describe its brand:

  1. Enduring ~ in the buildings and architecture, history, culture and tradition
  2. Dramatic ~ in the scenery, beautiful light and the drama of the changing weather (you can have all four seasons in one day.
Isle of Skye, Scotland
Isle of Skye, near Neist Point

3.  Human: The Scots are seen as a down to earth, innovative, solid, and dependable, but full of integrity and pride. Tourist express that they ‘got’ the genuine article when they came to Scotland, and that they was nothing synthetic about Scotland.

Two seminal works I use when I’m discussing branding…

Imagining Scotland
Imagining Scotland: Tradition, Representation, and Promotion in Scottish Tourism since 1750 by Gold and Gold.
The point at which a destination becomes a brand...
Scotland the Brand: The Making of Scottish Heritage by McCrone, Morris and Kiely.

Yet, Scotland has a disparity, or disgruntled attitude towards the icons that represent its brand. Most notably tartan. The tartan you see today, is a manufactured representation by Scott, based on traditional plaids (though not completely the design). But it isn’t the only aspect of the Scottish Culture that tourist should understand.  Tourist expect such icons to be slathered about and in the public view.  But there is more that is Scotland.  More to the brand.

Pudliner (2006) and Hamilton (2000) articulate that the Scottish brand is easily recognized on a global scale. It has a distinctive nuance in the tourism industry.  But all information, all imagery can be highly interpretative.  From a marketing standpoint, these icons, this representation have been developing for hundreds of years, based on the enduring landscape, and the people who inhabit it.

Neil Oliver argues in his work, “A History of Scotland” (2011) that history and time of a landscape, creates a mystique, a mythos that pulls, and pushes tourist towards a destination.  I can’t argue that Scotland has a good foothold in our popular consciousness.   Braveheart helped boost Scottish tourism in 1995.  The television success of Starz’s original series, Outlander, has again drawn fans to the country.  VisitScotland, the nation’s tourist board is designing and developing themed experiences about that show, and its filming locations.  Diana Gabaldon has ‘played’ with history and transformed it much as her contemporary Sir Walter Scott did in the early 19th Century.

These interpretation of the iconographic, or image of a destination is important for the marketing to tourist as well as meeting their needs and wants.  We can see how other destinations have benchmarked against others.  One of Minnesota’s own TV stations has ‘creatively’ swiped a Pennsylvania tagline associated with Penn State.  “We are” is an iconic representation of that institution and its alumni base.  Yet, the slogan is transferable.  Pure New Zealand the brand existed well before Pure Michigan.  So branding is a tricky processes and function of tourism.  What is truly a genuine article?

So we move on to the next elements in the effort to understand a destination, understand how a destination becomes a brand.

Pudliner, B. (2006) Analysis of Technology Facilitated Relationship Building in the Context of the Scottish Tourism Industry. Scottish Hotel School. Glasgow, Scotland, University of Strathclyde. PhD.

Hamilton, K. (2000) Project Galore: Qualitative Research and Leveraging Scotland’s Brand Equity.  Journal of Advertising Research. January-April, 2000; 107-111

Oliver, N (2011) A History of Scotland: Look Behind the Mist and Myth of Scottish History.  Phoenix.  (as well as DVD) BBC


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….


Successful College Essay Writing
Successful College Essay Writing

Mid-terms were handed out two weeks ago, and finally now all are uploaded to our educational management system.  Some of the students asked about constructing an essay, and thought I’d provide another resources.  Found this infographic on the web.  Yes, I know after the fact, but some were asking right up to the last minute.  I had provided other resources within D2L, and well thought I’d provide one here.  Why essays?  Well, you can demonstrate your understanding better than traditional forms of assessment.  You can connect concepts, and theories, and use personal experience to illustrate points.  And it’s about research.  Getting into other source material to understand concepts, making connections between on thought to another.

Identity in tourism

In my Intro class, we have been doing presentations about cities, given a particular scenario, a particular tourist, and understanding the tourism system; the big umbrella of variables that comprise the tourism offerings of a destination.  We are now shifting to tourism motivation, and consumer decision-making.  This inevitably leads to a conversation on identity, both from a consumer standpoint, and destination.

Identity is one of those concepts that may be hard to articulate.  Which then could inevitably lead to a discussion of lifespan, and concepts in travel motivation.  The push and pull factors.

Mapping out thoughts
Mind mapping out thoughts on social research

I enjoy teaching Introduction to Tourism and Hospitality.  I have given examples about my own motivations and asked them to keep in mind their own reasons to travel and use the tourist system.

I had one of the moments of truth of why I like Pennsylvania. I tell them the story of driving home from my former place of origin.  Here is the story:

Why I loathed Illinois and its flatness. I am transformed at that demarcation line that separates one reality with another. On the drive home, along route 70, just past Columbus, I start to hit the Appalachians. I feel this giddy sense of home looming in the distance, tugging, pulling me to hurry. Even though I have a standard sedan and long for something with a little more zip (like I see on BBC’s Top Gear), my car handles the new textures of the landscape pretty well. I hit the West Virginia border and the broad smile that cracks my lips will soon turn into bouts of sporadic laughter as I hit the gorges and mountains. I know they aren’t as severe as other places but I’m home. I’m back in my mountains.


Pittsburgh is next and the Turnpike from New Stanton to Donegal. Fourteen miles separate me from Ligonier and it is one of those drooling moments in anticipation of the mountains that flank either side of my car that has me intoxicated to roll down the window and breathe the sweet air.

This part of western Pennsylvania reminds me of Perthshire in Scotland and that might have something to do with my ‘lang for hame. I can take a breath as I hit the crossroads that bisect over Route 30, drive past the Fort and hit the center of town. I careen counter-clockwise around the island that holds its famous bandstand of old Ligonier and hit the road that will take me up to my mountain. I used to take Route 30 (Lincoln Highway, which even extends into Illinois) from Greensburg, but a severe rear-ender in ’09 limits my desire to use that route any more. Yet, I know once I am past Latrobe, past Derry, I hit the winding roads that our ancestors used to go west. I traveled it this past summer while at home with my mother and her gal pals to lunch at Latrobe airport. I rolled down my window then, and drank in the smell of the pine, mountain laurel, and sweet wild garlic. I am glad to see Sleepy Hollow Restaurant being rebuilt and Idlewild Park still going strong. But I digress. Memories tug at my heart, and I tell them.

Band Stand Ligoneer, PA
Band Stand Ligoneer, PA

I tried to express to the students how it feels to be pulled by a destination. How it tugs at your heart and makes you act. I stood before them, my hands outstretched as I explained the drive under the

“lush canopies that crowned my beloved paths. …find my way home to the places of my present and my past… (Pudliner, Home, 1987).”

My hands glided one way and then another as I mimicked the drive over Route 271 or Menoher Highway (Menoher pronounced Men-ocher), visualizing it in my mind as I darted one way and then another as my tires hug the curves. My eyes ever watchful looking for that fluff of white tail of a deer before it crashes from the foliage and ruins a perfect drive. Or the blare of blues and twos, and I’m caught for lack of concern for the drive, and driving ability.

I hit the top of Laurel Mountain and realize I have held my breath. We have hit close to 3,000 feet in elevation and the views are breathtaking on a ‘good’ day. I am back in my Highlands–the Laurel Highlands and memory slips into recalling driving through Perthshire, from Pitlochry and north to Inverness.

Laurel Mountain
Winter on Laurel Mountain

I know now I am on the downward drive to Johnstown and my home atop Westmont Hill. I love the curve at the bottom of the hill, know the line of sight, know when I have to pump the brakes ever so slightly and ease into the curve, allowing centrifugal force to pull me around the curve. I love the rush of adrenaline, the thrill. Even when it is winter, even when I know I have to slow to a crawl to take that curve…I cannot best explain it and sometimes, as I tell my students, you can’t. You can’t explain entirely why people love a destination. It just is. But if we don’t ask the right questions, how will we know what they expect and want.

And that leads back to identity.  From that passage you can obtain a sense of my own identity.  From stories, conveyed online, or through traditional delivery, we can gain a sense of a traveler’s identity.  Who they are?  What they like?  What might motivate them to make a decision?  For a destination, it is the promotional currency of images, the written word that engages us to act.  We can construct an identity from various forms of information, and the nuances of destination.  Constructing that identity is imperative in the marketing function to push and pull people to engage, and act, to make a decision…

More later…

Tourism and Crisis Management

The Turkey Bombings this past weekend demonstrated the worst of our society.  In my lodging class this week, we are weaving the elements of communication, security, and safety.  We are examining the effects of current events such as the Boston Marathon Bombings, 9/11, and other crises on hotel management.  What should you do in the event of….?  Bringing reality into the classroom.  The probability of such a crisis happening on their watch might be relatively low, but in today’s world, you can’t think like that.  You can’t think that something like this can’t happen in your neck of the woods.  Every contingency should be addressed, and preparation taken.  My old health ed teacher, Mr. Matsko, used to say, as probably my parents, who grew up in the age of World War II, and the Cold War, “it is better to be prepared, to be safe rather than sorry.”

Action plans must be developed for every type of emergency.  You never know what will happen, whether you are a tourist or work in this industry.  You may be called upon to act.  You may be the one to ensure that your guests survive.  You can’t rely on others to prepare, take the initiative and inform yourself on procedures.  You can’t run away from responsibility.  The ramifications and implications are far-reaching to your operation, your organization and yes, we know we don’t like to talk about it, but also the financial side.

I can see the look in their eyes now as I stand in front of the classroom, the look that tells me, “Wait, I have to do what?”

“I have to do all these tasks?”

“I have to remember all of this?”


How do you prepare, tell me what to do?  How do I be an effective manager?  I can’t give you everything.  Sometimes it is experience (which I hope they never have) that gives you the confidence, and the ability to act.  Some have an innate ability, and capability.  Others, it takes time.

I can only give them so much.  The way I prepared for this, is I armed myself with information.  I actively read about these situations, and consider questions.  I took courses, I talked to friends, and I have experience.  For instance, the Boston Bombings, happened near several hotels, one in which I worked during my internship.  My first question that filtered through my head, is what did they do?  How did each level of the organization handle guests?  What was the scene like?  What would I do in this situation?

If you are in a position of leadership, in all of its varied forms, others will be looking to you for direction.  During stressful, difficult times, the cream does rise to the top, and people will surprise you.  In honesty, on certain things, I don’t know how I would act.  I just hope I am prepared for anything.  And working in this industry for as long as I have, I have been witnessed to a host of nastiness.  It has changed me, and helped, and hindered my point of reality, and what I am capable of.

Do my students think like this?  Do they ask the right questions?  Do they visualize themselves in this scenario in their minds, and plant themselves there, run through what possibly could happen?

I’m a writer by avocation, and professionally.  I create worlds, and incidents that challenge my characters.  Most of my heroes, and heroines, are modeled after my own personality traits (Not all…).  I ask them, given these traits, what would you do?  How would you react?

I am an avid reader of genres that are close to what I like to write in order to learn the craft.  Any manager in our industry that wants to develop to be top of their game needs to READ!  Needs to find out how others reacted to these scenarios and learn.

Be proactive not reactive.  Therefore, you must engage in some mental preparation and construct plans to address crises.  And then you must test yourself.  Test your employees, train and test.  Finally, reflect on actions, and adapt.

Again, another favorite saying is, “Do not put off what you can do today…tomorrow…it may be too late.”




What does 2020 look like…for tourism industry

Sometimes I wonder at the evolution of tourism industry.  What it will look like in 2020, 2050.  I can noodle around Google, and garner snippets of trends, and ideas, but that is just the tangible that will change.  Back in 2000, 2020 seemed like so far in the distance, that it was too hard to extrapolate the nuances.  I can, to a point, articulate the technology changes I want, but really get to the heart of how life changes, hard.

We can crunch numbers.  We can put words to paper, and try to envision our lifestyles, but really in the end, it is about today.  This moment in time, this moment of truth that counts.  Marriott has argued for decades now that if we take care of today, the people, tomorrow will take care of itself.  (Okay I’m paraphrasing, but let me take some license.)

It is good to plan.  It is good to strategize, but if we lose sight of what is important at this moment, we lose how many opportunities?  We lose the potential for that future.  Don’t we lose the moment of truth in every experience happening at this instant?

Moment of Truth
Moment of Truth

I could sit in front of my computer for several hours, and view videos on the new productivity technology that will aid our lives.  I could sit and read about the applications being developed.  Most of it is coming true, like that in Microsoft’s Vision 2020 video that was published back in 2010.  

But we forget the human element in that technology.  That that technology is only as good as the person using it.  That our ability to deliver on the expectations of our customers depends on our common sense more than the gadget we have in our hands.  What we do matters.  So any vision for the future must entail that aspect.  It is certainly argued in these videos, and we can chart and map out the flow of work, the contact points in the moment of truth, but in the end, the difference is the human element that exerts force on those steps.  The core value of tourism is the people that deliver on expectations, and desires.  That they more than meet, exceed the moment of truth.

We’ve come a long way…baby…

At the Airfest today We’ve come a long way …baby.  That is in tourism.  No conversation in tourism can escape the history and development of the industry.  It is one of the oldest industries in the world, and will survive even in the hardest times.

Fairey Gannet XT 752
Fairey Gannet XT 752
Fairey Gannet XT 752
Fairey Gannet XT 752

If you map out a historic timeline, especially innovations in transport, or the use of money & credit, lodging, and every other aspect of tourism,  these advances are mirrored with the advances of man and their need, want to travel. We as an industry have pushed for a host of technology to aid in the planning process.

What is the next big innovation?  What are we going to develop to take us to the next level?  Do we even have the innovators out there to see us to that level?  Everyone is so caught up in developing apps, and other platforms for mobile technologies that they fail to recognize or even acknowledge that travel is now becoming far more expensive for a host of people.  Expensive even in the basics, like maintaining your own car, putting gas in the tank, and utilizing the poor roads that crisscross this nation.  That a form of isolationism is creeping back into our society.  How many would rather stay at home now then face the roads, and the headaches it could cause?  Or even the airport with its congestion and delays?  Sure our backyard is full of wonders to explore, but like many, I want to travel further, farther than my current zip code.

My wander bug crickets loudly and is becoming more pronounced.  Yet, I am strapped for cash due to other responsibilities.  That vision of traveling every three years to Scotland is in the past, and must be re-evaluated.  I may not be the only one with such ambitions, but reality takes a chunk of change out of the planning process.  This begs a question.

Have we reached a stagnation point in the tourism life cycle?  Are we on a decline?  Is travel abroad or even domestically reverting back to a luxury item?  Certainly, our eyes are bigger than our stomachs at the moment.  And the new planes, the new innovation to use a form of space travel, is far too costly and an elite luxury item.  Maybe that has even stalled.  Who said, “the road is paved with grand intentions…” ~ mind the pot holes…

What if we got back to basics?  What if we returned to simpler motivations, and apply them today?  What if we applied common sense, and people started to wise up, especially those bent on destroying a good thing.  The average cost of an airline ticket hovers around $350 if you examine the statistics published by the Bureau of Transportation.

Avg Cost of Airline Ticket ~BoT
Average cost of airline tickets for three major areas…

As you can see it has come down compared to 1995.  Yet, is this skewed?  Those numbers for 1995 are adjusted to inflation.  And any economist will tell you, what you bought for a dollar yesterday is not the same as what you bought today.  There are a host of variables when it comes to understanding value, especially from a consumer standpoint.  And this doesn’t take into account the seasonality of tourism.  But are companies hurting not just the consumer, but also, themselves by not understanding value?  Have they lost insight into what value truly means?

I priced out several tickets to Scotland for next summer, and the hidden fees were astronomical.  I was surprised that Virgin allowed me to see the breakdown of the $1200+ ticket for peak season.  (Believe me, I know that you are going to be paying a hefty price for peak season, and distance is a factor.)  Carrier imposed charges were more than 38% of the total cost.  Is that for fuel (they say so, but um…that seems a lot, especially if you fill every seat and at different class prices…$7000 for a seat in upper class, and includes a chauffeur? (can you hear me saying whoop de do???))  Is that for services on the flight?  Is that for food?  Is that for security? (actually no, security is built into the taxes and only cost a measly $5.60 for the 9/11 tax).  The base price of the ticket to just step on the aircraft, and sit down in economy was $510 dollars (42% of the cost).  To me that is for the service, that is for all the quirks, and nuances…that Virgin delivers.  It should also cover the fuel…let’s just say the mystery of how the cost structure is broken down seems a little fishy to me…but then again…I don’t have all the information and can’t give you true, informed opinion.  Virgin posted at $22m dollar profit before taxes last year, up from the year’s previous losses.  Um….

So the question remains, are we stagnating in the tourism life cycle, especially in transportation.  Are airlines, and other transportation offerings gauging prices to control the consumers?  Are they trying to keep most of us from traveling?  What about the promises of other alternatives, like high-speed rail in the US?  We do have an aging infrastructure, and not much is being diverted to help that area.  Even back home in Pennsylvania, the conditions of the bridges are horrible, and I cringe every time I drive across the older construction.  This past summer we had a Bridge Collapse in Ridgeway that sent three construction workers to the hospital.  If 80% or more of our population loves their cars, and we want the economy to strengthen, tourism can be a healthy contributor to that end.  I question the management of funds at all levels, nationally, statewide, regionally and locally that are invested in our infrastructure.  We want the next development in cars, but not at the expense in the lack of decent roads to travel upon or an understanding of the consumer.

I’ve given out the next assignment that underlies the economic impacts of tourism to both the host community, and the consumer.  The students are given a pseudo plane ticket to a remote destination, like Savergre, Costa Rica.  They are given variables, like a budget, and now have to map out their plans, and the effects.  I want them to see the frustration.  To see that it the frustration not only lies with the consumer, but also the destination.  That if you don’t have healthy numbers traveling to your area, services suffer.  And some don’t want a lot, just enough to keep the small entrepreneurs in business.  What happens if you don’t have those numbers coming?  What happens to the livelihood of the host community?  What happens to the consumer?  What will they do?

So…still left with lots of questions…


Four Points to Successful Meeting Planning

Coca Cola


Four Points to Successful Meeting Planning 

  • Know you client–that means asking open ended questions, and some closed ended questions
  • Know the product you sell–and it is more than what you really think it is…(know the breadth and depth of the product offerings)
  • Know the community in which you are embedded and operate, as well as those feeder cities that might provide you with clients.
  • Know yourself

Recall you are selling the right product at the right time, for the right price, for the right place or location, having the right promotion, engaging the right people, utilizing efficient and effective processes, and using truthful physical evidence, that is stories and testimonials to engage with your customer…

Tourism is a journey

White House
The White House, Washington DC

It seems I’ve come full circle several times in my life.  Heck, life is a journey, and it is not about sitting back and waiting for things to happen.  It is about the time that we have on this earth, and using it properly.  Tourism symbolizes that philosophy.  We can use our time to explore the world, to gain knowledge and information, to meet and to experience all sorts of extraordinary things.

YALI Friends
YALI Friends

This summer I returned to DC after a twenty (20) {WOW} year absence.  The place has grown, and changed.  I used to live there.  There is still this eclectic vibe about the place, something that draws you there, and want to stay awhile.  I wish I had, had more time to explore and see the old haunts, especially in Alexandria, VA.  I just wonder if the old Scottish tobacconist is still in Old Towne.

Why do we travel?  Why are some places more appealing to others?  I’ve posted this before, but let me shift gears.  My reason ‘why’ this year was to accompany the Mandela Washington Fellows that had attended the YALI exchange at UW-Stout.  These are a fantastic group of people, and I made a lot of lifelong friends.  As part of this summer program of young entrepreneurs, I had the opportunity to accompany them to Washington for a Presidential Summit.  Dad was having some health issues, and I really wanted to spend time with him before returning for the fall semester.  I know how hot and muggy DC can be especially in August, and I have never done well with the heat.  And I wasn’t sure I could afford the trip, unless the University graciously paid for it.  Luckily, I was able to go, though to be honest, I really wanted to be home in Pennsylvania.

Mandela Washington Fellows at UW-Stout, 2015

I enjoyed my time, and I am glad I got to spend that last week with my new friends. I wouldn’t have missed that for the world, showing a city I love. I will admit, I even got to meet President Obama, and shake his hand. (No big deal for me, I’ve met other dignitaries and celebrities working in this industry, and they are just like the rest of us, people too.)

So bringing this back to tourism…

There are many reasons for travel, tourism.  Definitions encompass a host of variables, centered around particular motivations.  For me this summer, one, was business, two, economic, and three, low push, pull factors, and time.

Understanding the different definitions also helps or hints at other constructs, and concepts of tourism.

I wanted to go to DC, and be with friends sure.  I really wanted to see the city as I wanted to see the city, see the history, the heritage, and do something fun.

I wanted to meet up with old friends, and make new ones.

I wanted to escape, and go someplace that I have a far greater place attachment to ~ Pennsylvania, and recuperate, rejuvenate, and relax.

My time is my own, and wanted to be able to use it wisely.  Two weeks with parents wasn’t enough in my book.

Ford's Theatre
Ford’s Theatre in Washington, DC

But it isn’t always about what you do, but about the journey that you take. The footsteps that take you through life, and the experiences you undertake.

Now the question is, how do these impressions change over time…Yes, I still like Washington, DC…but at my age (another variable to define tourism), I want it on my terms..

Welcome to the new school year…

Well another school year has started, and I always love meeting the new students and spying the upper class persons roaming around the halls.  I had a great summer, working, and spending time with family.  I hope my student’s summers were just as special.

So to start out the new year…remember the mantra:

In tourism…

Recall you are selling the right product at the right time, for the right price, for the right place or location, having the right promotion, engaging the right people, utilizing efficient and effective processes, and using truthful physical evidence, that is stories and testimonials to engage with your customer…



Key to understanding the industry, and all that is happening is to search out and read as much as you can.  Find the authors of your book.  Find the authors mentioned in their references.  Look for trade publications.  Bookmark web pages.  Research your interests.  Because I will tell you, prospective interviewers might just ask you questions concerning the industry and these people.

Many of you are interested event planning.  Here is a brand new article by one of the authors I follow…

Professor Buhalis is one of, if not the leader in eTourism research.  His latest is on event planning.  

Professor Dimitrios Buhalis
Professor Dimitrios Buhalis

Today we talked about tourism motivations…

Why do we travel?  Why do we want to get away from it all?  It is different for all of us.  Our motivations are particular to each of us.  The key for the tourism destination, their marketing staff, and those part of the greater value chain, are to develop a message that tugs, and pulls you to make a decision.  It is hard though.  It is hard to understand why people choose one place over another.  There is a plethora of research out there, hinting at the various angles.

Motivations change over time, even minutes.  It is not an exact science, but more relative, and qualitative.  It will always have air of mystery.  The crystal ball will be murky, clouded by the mist that is our minds, those internal and external forces that exert some influence on that decision.  What drives me today, is not the same tomorrow?

So how do we get into the mind of the consumer?  How do we dig for nuggets of information in order to craft experiences that they would want?  What goes in to making those marketing messages that bombard us on TV, and other distribution channels?

Can we employ words, videos, music, and other methods to create visuals that plant kernels into the minds of our potential consumers?  That means we need to dive into the breadth of the soul of a destination.  Not just from a customer’s point of view, but also the destination itself.

I know you might get tire of my ongoing use of Scotland, but Scotland is the birthplace of organized tourism in modern times (IMHO).  Think Sir Walter Scott and the search for the honors of Scotland…just noodle around Google.  Their representation of the country align the tangible products of the country with the mystique, and mystery, the colors, the culture, the taste, the music, the words…the soul.

If we understand ourselves as a destination, then strike out to understand our potential customer, who they are, what drives their motivations; their lifestyle, then we can pinpoint on the mosaic of products all that they might be interested in, and craft an experience.

As I said in today’s class, 140, we are visual thinkers.  Books, words, transform into pictures as we read.  Therefore, the image is currency. We develop a sense of that destination from what is on the page.  Likewise, any encounters with the people of differing backgrounds, those conversations can give you a sense of their background, their lifestyle, their home.  It may just be enough to prompt us to investigate, even if it is from the arm-chair in front of our computer.

After we get them to move, make a decision, we wonder how their stay was…and that gets into a whole different arena

So, enough to chew on….more on the conversation later…


Looking inward, looking outward…Cultural Intelligence

As students and professional in tourism and hospitality, in every facet of our industry, we will be able to interact with a host of people from all parts of the world.  As I stipulate in class, we must remember that anyone can walk through that door.  They will speak a variety of languages, walk different pathways than your own, and have different customs, different points of reality, points of view.  This thought hints at the notion of Cultural Intelligence.

Tourism is a global industry.  Success hinges on acquiring and developing a cultural intelligence.  It is more than just a strategy, but a way of life.  Those that succeed will be cognizant of the need for cultural intelligence.  And this isn’t just cultural competency.  Cultural competency is part of cultural intelligence.  To best illustrate, and set the foundation for understand here is a video…

Cultural intelligence percolates through the multilayers of the three legs of business effectiveness and efficiency:  Operational, Organizational and Financial.

Can you map out those connections?

Here is another great video…

Welcome back students…Spring, 2015

This semester is energized with the opportunity for new thoughts, and new ideas.  We will be challenged, both in the classroom, and with external forces from local, regional, national and international factors.

I am teaching four courses this semester, Principles of Food Service, Purchasing, Principles of Tourism, and Lodging.

I wanted to start the new year out with an interesting video from Michiel Bakker, Director at Google Food Service…


What does Service mean in Hospitality?

So I have been noodling around YouTube, Google and other materials to find out more about service.  There are a host of resources out there, both factual, and opinionated.  So I went to the source for an example of exemplary service.  There is perhaps one name, that has stood the test of time for consistently delivering on their promise of quality guest service.  And that is Ritz Carlton.  Yet, do their promotional videos get at the heart of what service really means?  For instance, here is their latest video upload to YouTube:

Of course any promotional material will be from the point of view of the customer, but here are host of promises from business to consumer.  As I have stated in class, there are three drivers influencing our industry, money or financial, information, and promises.  Service is a promise.  Service is a human element; a coordinated effort between all team members to deliver on a promise.

Okay, but what about the definition:

According to Brymer and Johanson (2014, glossary), Service is:

A type of product that is intangible, goods that are inseparable from the provider, variable in quality, and perishability.  The reason why private clubs exist; members receive high-end, personalized service at their club.

The authors go on further to define Service Experience:

Sum total of the experience that the customer has with the service provider on a given occasion.

So, we can draw several inferences from these two concepts.  One, that service is an intangible element, varies in delivery, and is perishable.  That would mean that is has links to the human element of our industry, that it may or may not be consistent, and that it may or may not last.  Yet, perishability, in terms of service, needs a little more thought.  How do we draw turnover into this concept?  If service is perishable, part of the human element, could that not mean that we have a tenacious grasp on retaining valuable employees, that understand service, and its effect to the bottom line (profitability), and loyalty?  That employees, if not seen as a valuable asset to our company, could easily jump ship and migrate to another company that values their efforts.  Therefore, how we plan, how we coordinate, how we train, the matrix of our corporate culture, envisioned in our mission and vision statements, should relate back to that core concept of service.

So let us revisit The Ritz’s Credo:

The Ritz-Carlton Hotel is a place where the genuine care and comfort of our guests is our highest mission.

We pledge to provide the finest personal service and facilities for our guests who will always enjoy a warm, relaxed, yet refined ambience.

The Ritz-Carlton experience enlivens the senses, instills well-being, and fulfills even the unexpressed wishes and needs of our guests.

That is a solid promise to guests, that must be communicated down through the layers of an organization.  Every day this must be reinforced, and understood.  It’s not just about the job, it’s an ideal, an attitude, that must percolate consistently through every employee’s mind.  This also extends the argument to empowering the employees with clearly defined promises.

Yet, what is that empowerment to the Ritz employee?  We must visit their motto.

At The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, L.L.C., “We are Ladies and Gentlemen serving Ladies and Gentlemen.” This motto exemplifies the anticipatory service provided by all staff members.

Here the culture is proactive, already a thought in their mind, even before a guest decides to stay with them.  They understand the moment of truth, that at any contact point, they can and will make a difference.  The Ritz further articulates this into the Three Steps of Service:

  1. A warm and sincere greeting. Use the guest’s name.
  2. Anticipation and fulfillment of each guest’s needs.
  3. Fond farewell. Give a warm good-bye and use the guest’s name.

Again, these steps illustrate the need to understand your guest, before, during and after their stay.  We need to understand their decision-making process, their needs, their wants, even if they don’t understand quite what they want themselves.  It is about relationship building, CRM (Customer Relationship Management); about asking the right questions in order to understand, to progress from a limited awareness to a greater awareness.  To be cognizant of our world around us.  If someone family suddenly pops into your establishment without a reservation, and Mom is holding a three-year old, and Dad is trying to coral and maintain order with the other two youngsters, you know to ask a few questions to make their stay more comfortable.  Look at the people, look at what is going on, note the time, note the weather, even if you are sold out.  Service is about going that extra mile for your guest.

These steps can be further broken down into objectives or values:

Service Values: I Am Proud To Be Ritz-Carlton

  1. I build strong relationships and create Ritz-Carlton guests for life.
  2. I am always responsive to the expressed and unexpressed wishes and needs of our guests.
  3. I am empowered to create unique, memorable and personal experiences for our guests.
  4. I understand my role in achieving the Key Success Factors, embracing Community Footprints and creating The Ritz-Carlton Mystique.
  5. I continuously seek opportunities to innovate and improve The Ritz-Carlton experience.
  6. I own and immediately resolve guest problems.
  7. I create a work environment of teamwork and lateral service so that the needs of our guests and each other are met.
  8. I have the opportunity to continuously learn and grow.
  9. I am involved in the planning of the work that affects me.
  10. I am proud of my professional appearance, language and behavior.
  11. I protect the privacy and security of our guests, my fellow employees and the company’s confidential information and assets.
  12. I am responsible for uncompromising levels of cleanliness and creating a safe and accident-free environment.

What these are,are goals and objectives, in developing a corporate culture.  Something that is deeply rooted in the psyche of every employee.  Not only for the guest, but also, in how all employees are treated.  And thus a promise is made between the company and their employees:

At The Ritz-Carlton, our Ladies and Gentlemen are the most important resource in our service commitment to our guests.

By applying the principles of trust, honesty, respect, integrity and commitment, we nurture and maximize talent to the benefit of each individual and the company.

The Ritz-Carlton fosters a work environment where diversity is valued, quality of life is enhanced, individual aspirations are fulfilled, and The Ritz-Carlton Mystique is strengthened.

So, what have we learned.  Service is about promises, about experience for both the employee and the guest.  And that leads to the final definition offered by Brymer and Johanson (2014, Glossary):

Service product: Entire bundle of tangibles and intangibles in a transaction that has a significant service component.



Empowering your employees…

Empower your employees, don't rule over them
Empower your employees, don’t rule over them

Richard Branson’s recent blog post on Empowering your employees, don’t rule over them is an interesting read.  I agree, we need to treat employees like responsible adults, but one question remains:  Are employees mature enough to understand their responsibility to that policy and the company?  Do they understand the ethical and moral obligations that, that entails?  Maybe I am over thinking this.  Maybe I need to get to the root of what empowerment really means.  But then again, I promised you to be brutally honest, and not sugar coat the world.  Or hand out rose-tinted glasses.

Sure, as an operations manager, supervisor, and fellow employee, I recall the days when colleagues would call in sick, and know perfectly well, they were skipping out.  We called them ‘mental’ days and I took my fair share.  We just had enough of work, and needed to just be ‘bums’.  Now don’t take offense, it’s a fact of life and we all must understand why this behavior occurs.  We all have a threshold of productivity; a pinnacle of use before we slide into procrastination.  And that threshold varies from one person to another.  Believe me when I tell you, this week has been challenging in that capacity.  Half my brain is on an island in the middle of no where, or strolling along the streets of my favorite cities in Scotland.  The other half is tugging, pulling, pushing, and screaming at the procrastinating side to get to work, reminding me I have plenty to do.   I have reached a saturation point, where I need to step away from the desk, the computer, from most things and recharge the batteries.  I need a mental day.

But empowerment is a bit more than just needing a day off.  There are a host of other factors, and considerations to process.  Virgin is a service company, rooted in helping people.  Let me rephrase that, helping its stakeholders.  And as I have discussed in class those stakeholders include employees.  JW Marriott had it right, “If you don’t take care of your employees, they can’t take care of the customer.  They can’t take care of the business.  Profits won’t follow.”  In today’s information overload, our brains are working over time.  And couple that with other hard work of the body, and something has to bend, even break.

How do you create a balanced life?

I have mentioned this in class.  How do you balance your work, your professional career with personal needs, desires?  How do you give 110% or more to all the ‘hats’ you wear?  How do we develop and attain effective and efficient employees, that genuinely care about our business?  How do we demonstrate a caring attitude about our employees as persons with lives outside of work?  How do we create an innovative culture that allows our businesses to remain fresh, and progressive without high turnover rates?  How do we keep our best employees?  How do we hire employees that have the same value set, and beliefs?  All these questions and more are the layers that is empowerment.

Innovative businesses and culture must have fresh ideas, fresh viewpoints, and fresh perspectives on the dynamic world.  We can’t see the good, the bad, the ugly unless we are focused and cognizant of the world around us.  We can’t take advantage of opportunities, address threats, and weaknesses, or exploit strengths, unless we let the muddy waters settle, and acquire clarity.  We can’t recognize that precarious edge when a decision has to be made before we tumble over into deep, dark pits of stagnation, and potentially worse.  Empowerment is giving the employees the right to make decisions and more.  It has its roots in ethics.

Empowerment is about employing several of the ethical principles I mentioned in my last post.  We are definitely extending the hand of trust (trustworthiness), in that we have hired the right people, that understand that our business’ success and failure hinges on their work ethic.  That they will be honest with their employers, and their fellow employees, even customers.  That they have integrity in that they are courageous enough to recognize their responsibilities.  They will be fair, and not abuse the privilege granted them.  That there is a two-way street, a concern and respect for others, in that we employ the golden rule–that they respect the company, their fellow employees, and the guest/customer–basically, all those stakeholders that effect the company and its continuation.  That the employees have a commitment to excellence, that they give more than 110%, even more before they are even called upon to do so.  That they are all leaders, that they must walk the walk, talk the talk.

Such a policy can succeed and reinforce the corporate culture, and propel the reputation and morale of the company if this culture becomes ingrained in the psyche, and there is self policing of the policy by all individuals.  That corrections are identified and made before that behavior abuses said privilege.  And the employees are made accountable for their actions.  This in turn will build a loyal following within and outwit the company itself.  That they might set the benchmark for others to follow.

So empowerment encompasses all of these principles.  It is an action on the esteem, and self actualisation scale.  It is a difficult concept for some, easier for others.  It can’t be one of those concepts that is merely understood, but needs to be discussed and argued about.  Committed to paper, and more.

Virgin isn’t the only company that has put such a belief on the shoulders of their employees.  Ritz-Carlton, and other firms have clearly stated in their corporate culture and policies what empowerment means to their companies.  That is why it is important to research the corporate culture and core values/beliefs of those companies you want to work for.

Thoughts on Leadership and Ethics

At one moment in your life, during your career or personal life, you will have to make a decision based your code of ethics.  In determining your career, you should align your own code of beliefs with that of the company you have chosen.  You should research to see if the company has an ethics statement.  Research to see how the company has handled ethical situations.  But what is that?  Do you know your code of beliefs?  What is important to you?  How will you know it is a question of ethics or something else?  Where do I start?

Well there are 10 hospitality principles of ethics:

  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
  3. Trustworthiness. Hospitality managers are trustworthy and candid in supplying
    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; do 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
    neither 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.

(Jaszay, C. & Dunk, P. (2006). Ethical Decision Making in the Hospitality Industry. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.)

These ten principles can be utilized in all aspects of leadership.  Some would say they are common sense, that one already understands these words.  But, again, the fact that they are down in paper, gives them a concrete voice.  And we aren’t questioning ourselves for a definitive definition when situations occur.

There are other code of ethics, and you can find them on the Internet.  The World Tourism Organization has a code for the tourism industry.

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….


So, you are embarking on a career in hospitality/tourism, and your worried about terminology.  You are in classes, and your professors are using words that are foreign to you, and you wonder what to do.  Read.  The simplest action you could do is read.  I explained to you on the first day of class that you need to read more, that you need to immerse yourselves in the books, in trade publications, even Yahoo, and read, listen to conversations.  Listen to what is going on around you.  Try to rephrase what your professors are expounding on in class, and apply it to the problem at and.  Make your own dictionary and try to use one each day.  Create your own blog and write about these words.  Jot them down in a journal, and see how they relate to each other.

So, terminology:

1.  Read

2. Use them to understand.

3. Use them every day to become familiar.

Why Case Studies….

I have shifted back to my roots of teaching.  Teach by example, and utilize real world problems.  Why?  Case studies of real world problems immerses the student into situations that they actually might encounter.  A manager learns by doing, rolling up their sleeves and getting dirty, even with information.

We want to be better managers, rise to the challenge and engage with the world around us.  We need to learn new concepts, see them in action, and try to understand potential solutions to minimize damage, and create a positive service recovery.  Case based learning helps you to put you innate knowledge to work with the foundations you are learning in class.  Recall the days your teacher, your parents helped you figure out that 1 + 1 = 2.  It maybe simple representation, but those problem solving skills have been evolving since the moment you dropped from the womb.  I am not going to pull punches, we have, deep down, within ourselves the capability to do more than we know.  Did you know the simple art of balancing your checkbook is really problem solving skills to manage money.  You may not have had accounting yet, or are just now learning the fundamentals, but you have been learning about debit and credits since the moment your guardian, your parental unit took you to the bank that sunny day and opened up your first account.  The secret is understanding problem solving is to put the problem into perspective, into action.  Is there a real life experience out there, that you can visualize, or read about that would give you insight to your own common sense, and intelligence?  I bet there is?

All of you have experienced bad service.  How many times have you sat in a restaurant or in a hotel, and ripped apart what was going on about you?  How many of you made the comment, “You know what I would do…”

Just the other day in Rite Aid, as I waited in line, the gentlemen behind me was trying my patience  I was taking deep breaths over his constant, and loud berating of the pharmacy staff, to basically, “Get a move on!”  Words were batted around like a tennis match.  “They need to hire more people.”  “This is ridiculous!”  I was standing in that line, and he asked me why I was there, very rudely.  I explained I was obtaining a flu shot.  “Well stand right there (on this advertisement on the floor that says get your flu shot), and they’ll give it to you.”  Did he not know that this was a diversion tactic by the pharmacy to remind customers to get their flu shot?  I had to wait, I had to update my information, and I kept my lips tightly closed, and did not come back with several witty, sarcastic remarks to his constant complaining.  Even suppressed my chuckle, when a lady sitting in the chair opposite, made eye contact, and we both rolled our eyes.  The man droned on, and had to talk to anyone that would listen just how horrible the service was.

It didn’t matter that it was just at the Noon hour, that there was probably several aides out on their lunch.  Stupid me for going at Noon, but well, it was Saturday.  It didn’t matter that the gentlemen behind the counter might have been new, maybe he wasn’t, and the system was slow.  But there are a host of variables that might have contributed to a slow service day.  As employees, all we hear though is those complaints, and frustration of the guest.

How many of you, standing in that line or sitting at the restaurant, realize that here is a teachable moment.  Here is an opportunity to watch what the managers and service staff do.  I watched the pharmacist that day, and the service personnel.  Why didn’t the pharmacist on duty step out and say, thanks for waiting.  We are glad you are here, please be patient as our staff is in the midst of lunches and shift changes.  Is it not their policy to engage with the customer?  Are they just to go about their work, and let the sour faces deepen?  Why are they sacrificing an opportunity to tell the customer something?  Why didn’t he get on the phone and call another employee to aid him?  Or do they have policies specifically stating that only trained personnel (which I would believe) to work in the pharmacy?  Maybe someone called in sick, and they are short staff?  Maybe a host of them have the flu?  Again, a host of questions.  Believe me, I was ready to turn to the customer behind me and say, “Is it a great day outside.  Nice weather we are having, looks like everyone is out.  Boy they are working hard behind the desk, just bear with them, we all have to wait.”

As a manager you have to develop that sixth sense.  Return to those days of your toddler years, up to age seven, when you annoyed your parents with so many questions.  Service, and service execution, recovery from service failures is about asking the right questions.  To continually evaluate and understand the world around you.  Examine yourself, examine those around you, be constructive and figure out what you could do better.

And case studies helps you to return to that ability.  To see beyond the problem, and get to the heart of why is really going on.  So as you read and digest these case studies, ask the hard questions of the case and of yourself.  Read books about management, biographies about successful managers.  Read about ethics, and morality.  Read how someone tackled a financial situation.  Every day the news is packed with information about similar situations, you just have to noodle around Google, to find insight.  Seek out and find similar stories that might be posted on the Internet.  Ask a mentor, ask your parents.  Tweet with members of our community.


Richard Branson on Linkedin
Richard Branson on Linkedin


Here is a post from Richard Branson, on his Linkedin account that I happened to just see, as I was composing this post.

Sometimes, rather than sitting back and complaining about lousy service it really pays to get out there and find a way to improve upon it by reinventing it yourself.

How true he is….

Looking for that dream job….

How often have I talked about capitalizing on your passions to find that dream job?  Today, as I skimmed Yahoo for news, as I hoped my students do as well, I came across two articles that rang true.  One was about the oldest workers in America finding their dream jobs in the later part of their lives. American’s Oldest Workers Who Refuse to Retire I took heart at one of those they interviewed. A 93-year-old woman, who in her late 80’s, took the job as National Park Ranger. My first thought on what I wanted to be in my life occurred in 3rd grade, at the ripe old age of 9.  And it was just that, a forest ranger.  Today, it would be a Park Ranger.


During that year, I was tasked on doing a small paper for my reading class on what I wanted to be when I grew up. I still have that memory of cruising through my grade school’s library, examining the shelves for books about the National Parks and about their founder, John Muir.  I am sure if someone would look back at the records, if they even existed, I probably took out that book half a dozen time.  I was obsessed with the National Parks at that age. I was into two television shows at that time. One was the classic medical drama on NBC, called Emergency! and then a spin-off called Sierra, that took place in Yosemite Valley.

Of course for any young person, TV is an impressionable instrument, exposing us to information.  It sparks our interest, and in my case, thoughts about the future.  Yes, even at 9/10.  Okay, I’ll admit, it was my first crush on Johnny Gage that kept me coming back, but deep down, there was something that ignited a fire about opportunities.  I could see myself in such a career, helping people and taking care of them.  Prime ingredients for our industry of tourism and hospitality.

Sierra NBC
Sierra NBC

When Sierra was introduced, and sadly didn’t last even a whole season, it clicked with my love of the outdoors.  I was immersed in the familiarity.  As a kid, unlike today, and the tug, and pull to get kids outside and into things, the outdoors was my playground.  I fondly remember biking at least two miles to a friend’s house, weaving through the roads, and along major highway to their house.  There we trekked down, even repelled down the slight grade to the trails to Stackhouse Park.  We bounded through the brush, ignoring the bugs, ignoring the potential for snakes, and hit the burn that meandered through the woods at the bottom of the grotto.  We searched the rocks, pulled over stones, looking for salamanders and crayfish.  We found them, and when we did that was our treasure.  I remember the black slimy salamanders crawling over my hand till I had to put them back in the water so they could live.

My Dad, a history teacher, told me about the National Parks, and we had some material lying around the house.  I was hooked.  I wrote letters to each of the National Parks and asked them kindly to send me their brochure.  Envelop after envelop arrived from the individual parks, and I’m sure I drove my Mom crazy.  To her credit, and my father’s, they never discouraged such actions.  Life is to be explored and be engaged in its motion.  I snarfed up my Dad’s National Geographic’s, stealing out the maps, which he hated (the only time he raised his voice in the house–“Where are my maps!”; after all he used them for his classes), and tacked them to my bedroom wall.  I laugh now, because you could see the demarcation line that ran through the bedroom that my sister and I shared.  My sister’s side marked by posters of the latest heart-throb, the other my maps.  It was “Where in the world is Waldo” met American Bandstand.  (I can see you quizzical faces now….noodle around Google.)

So getting back to my original thought for this post.  Play to your passions.  Always, forever.  Life is not to be half measures.  Passions are at the root of our happiness.  Those in that Yahoo article never stopped searching for theirs.  And so I come to this generation of students on the search for their careers.  It is not about the end game, it is about the journey.  Never stop searching as those seniors in that first Yahoo article have done.  You all are avid users of technology.  Most, if not all of you use several social media platforms.  Some of you could care less, some wish they could use it every day and make money, make a living.  Well, again, Yahoo has posted some insight.  Yahoo shows the way…


How many of your are avid users of Instagram?  How many of you like to travel, and wish you could do full-time?  Ever thought you could merge the two into a cool way to merge your passions?  I am an avid photographer, and always wish I could merge that with travel and writing.  I told you in class, during the 1990s, I worked in DC.  I worked not a few blocks from Nat Geo at the Mayflower Hotel.  I would walk over there on my lunch hour, and stand there, gawking through the window at the revolving globe in the lobby.  I drooled, wishing I could work behind those sacred walls.  Maybe I will one day.  Maybe I’ll become that forest ranger that I wanted to be at the age of 9/10.  Could I merge my passions for travel, writing, photography, the National Parks, and service into something unique?  I love to teach…..oh the possibilities.  I’m sure there is away.  I just have to map it out, and look for the possibilities.  I have to orchestrate my objectives, tailor my resume, and stomp the pavement.

I counsel all of you to map it out, to get it down on paper and commit to achieving your dreams.  You can’t let it stew, and fester in your mind, in your heart.  Half the start of any dream is bringing it to life.  And that starts with one page of paper, and a pencil.  A stylus, and an iPad.  Even your phone.

Go for it…


Crossing the Glenfinnan Viaduct

We have been talking attractions in Tourism (HT100), and in hospitality, will be delving into singular entities of the industry (like hotels, resorts) that make up a part of the man-made or physical landscape.  What is landscape?  How does it define us as tourist?  How does it define tourism as a whole?  Is it a motivator?  Is it a supporting character?  Does it stand on its own?  These are all valid questions.

Landscape has variety of definitions.  Weir (2002), ( In Mike Robinson and Hans-Christian Andersen (Ed.) 2002, Literature and Tourism: Essays in the Reading and Writing of Tourism. London: Thomson) expounds hints at this variation with regards to literary tourism.  Landscapes are those within the vision of the writer.  For instance, JK Rowling in her successful Harry Potter series, recalls:

Although J.K Rowling already brought three completed chapters with her when she relocated to Edinburgh, I strongly believe it was Edinburgh’s charm that further influenced the world of Harry Potter. After all, as the age-old saying goes, a writer only writes based on an extended version of their experiences (

Furthermore, VisitScotland has a page devoted to the landscapes created within the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

The magical world of Hogwarts with its spectacular Gothic architectural features set against sprawling rural surroundings has an unmistakably Scottish feel to it. The Scottish Highlands therefore provided the perfect location for production crews to recreate the magic of Hogwarts and the Harry Potter books on camera. The beautiful landscapes surrounding Hogwarts were filmed in the picturesque Glencoe and the school’s spellbinding quidditch games were brought to life against the mesmerizing backdrop of Glen Nevis(

People are motivated to connect with the mind of the writer.  To find that part of the story they played upon their heart-strings.  One such for me was the Hogwarts Express and how it meandered through the Scottish landscape.  I recognized the viaduct that the train traveled over.  I had to find that train, I wanted to experience what the characters were feeling.  Was there a train?  Yes, there was.  It is called the Jacobite Steam Train and it runs from Fort William to Malliag.

The Train at Mallaig
The Jacobite Steam Train, in Mallaig

It runs that famous route you see in the each of the movies, in one form or another. You feel the magic, your heart aches at the green scenery passing by your window.

One of the most memorable moments in the movie series is the stunning journey of the Hogwarts Express from London to Hogwarts, seen at length in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002).  This scene was filmed on a real steam train route across the epic Highlands — visitors to the region can recreate the same journey as their fictional heroes if they jump aboard the Jacobite train and travel from Fort William to Mallaig over the iconic Glenfinnan Viaduct. The route has been voted twice by Wanderlust Travel Awards as the most beautiful train journey in the world (


Yet, there is more to the landscape than the literary sense.  Landscape is about the natural beauty, and the human built world.  It is about the rural, urban and city landscapes.  These landscapes influence the evolution of society.  No one can’t argue that our thoughts, our beliefs, our cultural centrism is not developed by what happens around us.  Weir gives us quiet the adjectives.  He states:

“Landscapes may on the one hand be taken as a given, a primordial element, a set of natural facts or a backdrop against which events occur, the result of processes, which exist or pre-existed before the intervention of man (2002:119).”

So landscapes is more, it is an interweaving of elements, tangible and intangible that gives meaning to events, to culture, to actions. Yet, how do they related to sense of place, authenticity and contrived aspects is another story…



Stewardship is not a new concept.  It has been around as long as people understood that resources are used, and consumed.  That the landscape can alter, and change with time, and use.  The dictionary definition of the word (dictionary.come):

the responsible overseeing and protection of
something considered worth caring for and preserving

Tourism is about consumption, about people shifting from their normal every day existence into something different.  Our resources are not infinite.  There is a carrying capacity for each area of the known world.  That moment when we extend invitations for use, and demand exceeds our viable resources.  When that happens, damage occurs.

If we don’t organize, plan, and control those resources, eventually our ability to continue as an entity will come to a close.  This hints at the product life cycle.  That there is a moment of birth, a moment to live, to stagnate, and die, or to be reborn into something new.

Tourism Life Cycle
Tourism Life Cycle ©Slate/WVU

Our product has a perishable element. In terms of time, and assets. Each 24 hour period, we have an opportunity to capitalize on use of that product, and capture revenues. Yet, if we fail to adequately plan for events, time is our enemy. Our product will skirt on an even plan for so long, unless we find a way to rejuvenate its existence. This can be seen in the example of the Great Barrier Reef off the cost of Australia. Too many tourist travel to the area, threat this natural phenomenon. The reef begins to change, even die. This is a product, an attraction that draws visitors to Australian shores. If it is not there, what has Australia lost? What has the world lost?

So we are stewards of this land, of its resources. To continue in our business, we must understand just what that means.

The Tourism Business Environment, part 2

The Functions of Managment

Functions of Management
Functions of Management

So as we tumble into the first areas of hospitality, understanding careers and the different opportunities, I want to expand on the business environment (part 1).

In hospitality sector, if we are talking about any business entity there are several different departments that comprise operations.  In a hotel for instance, we have Rooms, F&B, Sales & Marketing, Facilities, Administration, and Security.  At golf resorts, sometimes the Golf area is under a leisure heading or stands on its own.  Each of these departments work interdependent on another.  Yet, each execute three core functions:  planning, organize, and control.

These core functions can be broken down into efficient and effective processes that equate to staffing, evaluation, directions or delegation, coordination, reporting and budgetary.  These process my demonstrate the fiscal responsibility of the department to the stakeholders.  Managers must maintain and build positive employee relations, engage in social responsibility, and finally the goal of each team member is to develop and maintain mutually beneficial relationships with quality service execution.

How do they compose the goals and objectives to achieve these ends?  These strategies are developed from a conceptual standpoint, based on qualitative and quantitative data mining from the exchange of information, money and promises fulfilled during service execution.  These strategies are influenced by trends and issues, external forces exerting influence with the dynamic nature of the industry.  Technology in all its forms helps to ‘crunch’ the numbers, analyze the information, and communicate that information to all interested parties.  Leadership cannot rise to the challenge without this information, without synthesizing with all exchanges formed and developed in the guest contact cycle.

This stems back to that moment of truth, which is basically the fulfillment of strategic goals and objectives for a parties.  Management has overcome any objections, or adversity of problems to recapture and retain quality.  They utilize the diversity of this industry to its positive end.  Mistakes are lessen with time, experience, utilizing perceptions of that aforementioned analysis, to address the future.

Promises are kept and made today, and in the future.  Our product lines are validated and value created.  We have delivered on what we say, and the expectations of the consumer.  We have fulfilled our contracts, both physical, psychological and social.  We have executed a successful transaction, and created loyalty.

What is value?…

What is value to our stakeholders?  How do we define it?  How does this relate to mutually beneficial partnerships?  Who is more important the customer or seller?

Trouble with the Curve
“Show ’em the curve.”

We think life is black and white. It isn’t. It has many shades of gray, and colors, we really can’t decipher. It’s all about curve balls, and how you handle them.  And therefore, trying to pinpoint an actual definition of value is varying shades of reality. McNeill and Crotts (Selling Hospitality: A Situational Approach, 2006:32-34) would have us believe in a simple equation: Value = Benefits – Costs.  Is it all that?  No, I don’t think so.

From which vantage point, point of reality, do we define it?  Can we really articulate value?  This ties back to tangibility and intangibility attributes of tourism.  Sure there are attributes of a product we can measure.  We can see something of quality.  Such as a hotel room.

Bedroom in Braid House, Gleneagles
Bedroom in Braid House, Gleneagles

Yet, value falls into that ‘curve ball’ functionality. We can calculate a room rate for this room based on a host of factors (i.e. how much it costs for FF&E, labor to clean the room, building the room, the hotel itself, marketing) and set a standard price. But what happens to that standard rate if a special event takes place. Well, this is a room in Gleneagles, and you know it will be booked this coming weekend, September 23-29, possibly longer for the 2014 Ryder Club. What happens to that rate now? Economics injects a healthy dose of optimism. As a revenue manager I want to obtain a healthy return, and will increase the rate to achieve maximum profit.

Value is created with a positive exchange between parties.  The management of that relationship is becoming even more important for both parties on either side of the table, than what it once was, given the nature and proliferation of technology and its use in today’s society.  What motivates a customer to make a decision?  Is it the money involved?  Is it the experience itself, regardless of the return on investment (aye, from both buyer and seller)?  Is it what you do?  What memories you bring home?  That relationship is hard to articulate, and therefore, communication is more than important.

It is about asking the right questions to understand what value means and having that conversation, to establish mutually beneficial partnerships.  We need to understand points of reality of each stakeholders.  What they need from the relationship, what are they looking for in terms of quality?  And so value has hooks in service execution.  And that is another conversation.

Studying tourism…

Sense of Belonging

I am frequently asked, “Dr. B…what are you looking for on a test?  What should I study?”  Sometimes these questions are hard to answer.  But from experience, I know you need to understand the inter-relationship this information has with the information gleamed from your other studies.  Everything you take for credit in school, and your life experience counts for something.  It’s not always about taking notes.  It’s about understanding the patterns, the connections that are established within the context of the material.

Everything that my students read are embedded within the contribution of knowledge set over time.  And that time is a rather deep hole.  Imagine if you dug that hole, the history and knowledge of our industry would be more than twenty feet deep.  I am affixing an arbitrary number because the metaphor is more important as an illustration.  I remember Time Team visiting the states and discussing American history versus British History.  If you dig a hole two feet deep to represent the combined history, only two inches of that hole would represent the United States.

Yet, history does play an important role in tourism.  The development of our industry mirrors the development and evolution of society.  It is not so important to remember the dates, or just a few key ones to understand how tourism evolved.  Today, I spied an article online about the discovery of the first computer.  My students if I pose this question, and they haven’t read this blog, might suggest the answer of the 1950s.  When in fact, that first technology appeared in 60BC.  60BC.  Our minds, and many scientist might not equate that technology was so advanced.  I would differ.  I am in that camp that believe that exceptional people, with exception talent have lived through the ages and contributed to our evolution.  Sometimes, it is just the fact that we have lost that information.

Would you remember this date for a test, a quiz?  Probably not.  Would you remember that the first organized tour operator was Thomas Cook?  Probably the name, but not the date in history.  Or that even before Thomas Cook, Sir Walter Scott envisioned modern organized tourism in Scotland as he was designed the Prince Regent’s visit to the Capital in 1822.  The elaborately designed pageant effectively helped to erase the laws after the battle of Culloden that crushed the Highland way of life.  Tartan was again allowed to be worn.  How would we not have a Scotland without the kilt, the tartan today?

So back to the original thoughts for this blog post.  How to study?  It is not about taking notes all the time. It is about reading for the sake of understanding in the context of this time, this place.  Read for the enjoyment of reading, and visualize, if you can, what they are saying. When a term is mentioned, and a definition delivered, put that term, and its definition into the context of your own experience.  If they talk about accommodation, most if not all of you have gone on vacation with your friends, your family.  What does that accommodation, that hotel, that resort, that camping venue, represent.  It is a place to park your butt in a seat (in a restaurant to have food) and your head on a pillow.  Yet, some hotels, you know, from staying in the varying product lines, might not have facilities.  Is there now a word that is associated with those type of products, can you find it?  Then it is key to word associate, and have your notebook, or computer nearby.  If a hotel doesn’t have a restaurant, it is known as a limited service hotel.  And by its limitation, you can’t do everything you need.  Does the destination you are visiting have such attributes to support you need to eat?  These are the attractions or facilities of the destination.

Do you now see a pattern, connections from one term to another.  Do you see the house being built?

Read the material first.  I know it might be boring, but read it with the ideal in mind that you are going to finish it.  How many times have you read a story and wanted to toss it across the room, against the wall because you just can’t finish it.  And then later pick it up to really see what happens.  Read the material first one time through, then take notes.  If bright and wonderful light goes off in your head as you read, on some term or concept, mark it in the book, market in on the pad of paper next to you.  Then go back and revisit it after you read.  Start trying to create a visual depiction of how those words are related.  Can you put it into context of your own personal experience?  Jot down that story.  Before you know it, patterns will start to emerge and you will remember definitions.

I construct mind maps to connect concepts, and ideas.  But that is another story.

The Tourism Business Environment, part 1


The first day of class, I alluded to the dynamic nature of our tourism industry.  This involves the interaction and exchange between key players.  The goal of each is to develop and maintain mutually beneficial partnerships that meet or exceed the expectations of the participant.  On both sides of the aisle.  We want to create value.

Sure we are a 24/7/365 industry.  Our open sign remains in the ‘on’ position for that period of time.  Exchange happens at any time of the day, given the exponential development of technology.  Money, information, and promises are the drivers of that exchange.  Time is expended, and must be maximized efficiently and effectively on both sides of the equation.  Remember, tourism is defined as a movement, in space, and time by individuals and groups.

These stakeholders are directly or indirectly involved in tourism.  They may be guests that convert interest to actual use, employees, government entities, and others.  Others, could be those indirect individuals, those arm-chair travelers that take a moment out of their day and post to Twitter, or Facebook, about desires.  That tweet, or post may go viral and prompt another person, or group of people to act.  The arm-chair traveler has indirectly influenced someones decision-making, whether they know they did or not.  They have created value.  Our dynamic nature is a constant stream between players, constantly moving.  If exchange doesn’t happen, our product’s ability to capture value is diminished or eliminated.  Our product has a 24 hour shelf life, perishable without use.  If we don’t sell that product, put a head in a bed, or a butt in a seat, we will lose those revenues, and never have the opportunity to gain them back.  If that cycle continues, we could stagnate and die.

Our stakeholders are unique.  They are matrix of individual personalities with differing motivations for travel, to engage in tourism.  Their expectations, some tangible and others intangible, may not be easily articulated and measured.  But in the exchange we have the opportunity to develop relationships that allow the flow of information to create an experience that could meet or even exceed those expectations.  Without knowledge, service failure looms ever-present.  That pendulum ever ticking in the background.

Stakeholders, guests, those that consume our products as well as others, each come from varying backgrounds melded and shaped by the three environments:  Natural/Man-made landscape, economic, and sociocultural.  These environments shape our sense of self and sense of identity.  Inner forces, our intellect, beliefs, values, lifestyle, gender, age, all are formed and influenced by external forces.  Products, people, information, experience, etc.  These forces define who we are, and our decision-making.  Our awareness, and understanding will vary over our life span.  Choices we make today will be different tomorrow, twenty years from now.  Change is a constant.  Adaptability a must.

Success in our industry, for the most part is measured by our profitability.  But profitability doesn’t always indicate a measurable outcome.  Money can be counted, but promises not so much.  They have tangible and intangible elements due to the insertion of the human factor.  Promises are made before, during and after experience.  We should strive to create more, create loyalty by fulfillment of those promises.  Service success hinges on that aspect.

More to come…

This history of tourism…

Travel in the Ancient World
Travel in the Ancient World by Lionel Casson

Tourism and hospitality, travel has been around since man has emerged from the ethos and could walk on two legs.  We traveled for the basic necessities to survive in those early days, scavengers for food, fuel and shelter, companionship.   Those basic needs (physiological and safety, to an extent social)  have been ascribed by Maslow and Murray’s description of the hierarchy of needs (link to more information).  Once our basic needs are fulfilled, we as an individual and as a society can progress to higher level fulfillment (self-esteem and self-actualization).  What prompted humans to travel farther afield is uncertain, but there are a host of motivators.  These motivations parallel or even prompted the development and/or advancement in technology.

Casson (1994: 21) describes that city states, those in the Mediterranean, flourished near water avenues.  Commerce was established along the major rivers and tributaries of the day.  The Tigris, The Euphrates, along the Nile, saw the development of the first ‘unified states.’  As those city states expanded, so did their want and need for commerce.  They took on the adventure of travel to take their products to markets in different lands, different cities.  Travel for the sake of  enjoyment slowly emerged.  Why? People needed to fulfill their basic needs, before they can even begin to think of engaging in the fun side of travel. Travel for the sake of enjoyment, escapism emerged as society became more advanced.  What set destinations apart?  Just as it does today?  Quality of experience.  Therefore laws were established to govern the road.  Questions that prompted the first evolution of hospitality laws, concerned pricing and service.

Code of Hammurabi
Code of Hammurabi

Yet, travel has never been easy.  There are pros and cons, advantages and disadvantages.  We have gained and we have lost, just as humanity has evolved over the centuries.  But one philosophy has always dictated the mantra of our industry:  Quality Service.  Value is held from the perspective of the individual.  Expectations can and can’t be articulated.  Thus quality service as led to development of code of conduct for those in the industry.  Such as, the Code of Hammurabi (1750 BC); one of the first organized documents to stipulate the management of taverns and inns.  Specific rules and regulations for the handling of customers.  A code of expectations to ensure that every one had an enjoyable stay, and payment received.  Hospitality laws, some very old, are still on the books throughout the world.  Several civilizations have specific definitions for what it means to be a tourist, traveler.  Hospitia has its origins in Rome.  Oígidecht is from the Celtic world, from Ireland and means stranger, or one that is on a journey away from home.  Written history records exceptional hospitality, and at other times, the tradition has been used to execute nasty deeds.  The Glencoe Massacre in Scotland is one such incident that cast a nefarious stain on hospitality.  Regardless, some of these codes are still in existence today.  

There are vast chronicles of early tourist life.  Of people moving from one place to another for a specific reason, at a specific time.  Tourism parallels our own evolution and has even sparked the development of technology.  Whether the reason was solely for tourism, is debatable.  Yet, the functionality of a cart was more than just the transportation of good across great distances.  Someone, somewhere saw that cart and envision a chariot.  Someone saw a conveyance to help passengers.  Someone saw pilgrims on a road, with that cart, and wondered, where are they going to stop? Could I capitalize on their needs?  Could I build something that would aid them in their journey?  A city administrator, heard complaints from those on a journey, and constructed, enacted laws to govern the delivery of quality service so all parties could derive mutual value from that interaction.  That same administrator saw what was happening about him, something that they possessed of interest, and organized structures and services around that object, and made sure others conveyed a message to other travelers along the road.

The roads traveled served several functions.  But they were routes of information.  Information delivered from point A to point B, because someone had a letter.  Someone had a message about their every day life.  Stories were told around camp fires, in the streets of cities, or while drinking wine or ale in a tavern.  Stories became myths, and legends, and fueled a future generation to explore.  The Grand Tour became a 19th century pilgrimage of the emerging middle class to find spots that they had read about in books and newspapers. Serial stories published in papers became the focal points of travel, and led Thomas Cook to develop the first organize tour that exploited the use of the newest form of travel, the railroads.  As popularity grew, other developments helped the traveler in their quest for the unknown.  Modern cinematic films have spurred travel to a host of destination such as Scotland and New Zealand.  Traveler checks, tour guides, post cards, itineraries, coaches, cars, buses, airplanes, handheld PDAs, cell phones, computers, all of these technological developments helped to educate and inform society to the travel opportunities out there.  How far could we go?  How about to Mars?  How about to outer space?  Is space tourism our next adventure?  

Our lives are marked by moments.  We are born, we live and we die.  Travel has transformed from a luxury to a necessity.  Once only experienced by the rich; now experienced by the multitude.  The reasons, the motivations are uniquely our own.  How do we learn about the past, but by asking questions of those here.  How do we learn what we have gained but by examining the time in which travel has existed in its earliest form, till now, and for the future.  The history of tourism is part of us, it is our story, and woven into the mosaic of our existence.  It is our journey.

Our journeys begin with just one step…