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Returning New Fascinations to Travel and Tourism Again

Dr. Peter Tarlow

These last two years have not been easy. Tourism professionals have seen tourism industries that just a few years ago were highly successful now needing to fight for their survival.  Certainly, world pandemics play a major reason for this decline.  It would be, however, a mistake to blame all of the industry’s problems solely on the pandemic.  Careful observers of the travel and tourism scene were already noting potential problems, from poor customer service to over-tourism just a mere 24 months ago.

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Often a reason cited for this decline is the high price of airline tickets and the fact that businesses had begun to find alternative ways to communicate that were less costly and more efficient.  Due to Covid-19 the need to communicate without travel accelerated this trend.  When we couple travel hassles with weak economies and health issues such as a pandemic it is clear that the tourism and travel industry will have to find new and creative approaches.  The travel and tourism industry can no longer be passive.  It must cease thinking that things that happen to the industry, and instead become the motivator for new and creative initiatives.  If the travel and tourism industry is to succeed in these unusual and challenging times, it must do more than merely see itself as a victim of the economy or other people’s evil; it must also examine itself to see where it too can improve. 

Perhaps the greatest threat to the leisure industry (and to a lesser extent to the business travel industry) is the fact that travel has changed the fun of travel into a world of regulations and requirements. During the recent pandemic, former travelers stated too often that they were relieved not to have to board an airplane or take a long road trip  In the industry’s rush for efficiency and quantitative analysis the travel and tourism industry might have forgotten that each traveler represents a world unto him/herself and quality must always override quantity. 

Especially in the leisure travel industry, this lack of fun and pleasure has meant that there are fewer and fewer reasons to want to travel and to participate in the tourism experience.  For example, if every shopping mall looks the same or if the same menu exists in every hotel chain, why not simply stay at home?  Why would anyone want to subject him/herself to dangers and hassles of travel, if the journey’s enchantment is destroyed by rude and arrogant frontline personnel?   These are deep questions that travel & tourism professionals need to ask. 

To help your locale or attraction put a bit of the romance and fun back into your industry, Tourism Tidbits offers the following suggestions.

Emphasize what your community offers that is unique.  Do not try to be all things to all people.  Represent something that is special.  Ask yourself: What makes your community or attraction different and unique from your competitors?  How does your community celebrate its individuality?  Were you a visitor to your community would you remember it a few days after you had left, or would it be just one more place on the map?  For example, do not just offer an outdoor experience, but individualize that experience, make your hiking trails special, or develop something special about your beaches or river experience.  If, on the other hand, your community or destination is a creation of the imagination then allow the imagination to run wild and continually create new experiences.  Try to see your community or attraction through your clients’ eyes.

-Be a bit outlandish.  If the other communities are building golf courses, then build something else, think of your community or destination as another country.  People do not want the same food, language, and styles that they have back home. Sell not only the experience but also the memory by being different from other destinations. Sell yourself and not someone else! 

-Create fun through product development.  Advertise less and offer more.  Always exceed expectations and never overstate your case. The best form of marketing is a good product and good service.  Provide what your promise at prices that are reasonable.  The public understands that seasonal locations have to earn their year’s wages in a few months. Higher prices may be acceptable but gauging never is. 

-Make sure that the people who serve your customers have fun on the job. If your employees hate visitors, then the message they are giving is one that destroys a sense of being special.  Often managers are more interested in their own ego trips than in the vacationer’s experience.  An employee who is unique, funny, or makes people go away feeling special is worth thousands of dollars in advertising.  Every tourism manager and hotel GM ought to do every job in his or her industry at least once a year. Often tourism managers push so hard for the bottom line than their employees are also human beings with aches and pains, aspirations, and needs. 

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About the author

Juergen T Steinmetz

Juergen Thomas Steinmetz has continuously worked in the travel and tourism industry since he was a teenager in Germany (1977).
He founded eTurboNews in 1999 as the first online newsletter for the global travel tourism industry.

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