Monday, April 20, 2009

Tourism Thoughts

I have a great interest in tourism. Partially because I love to travel, but also because I'm fascinated by the decision making process involved with travel. I know how I like to travel and I know others have different styles.

Last week I participated in a blogger familiarization tour in Hutchinson. I had nothing to do with organizing it, and was just invited to participate as a kindness since I already write a lot about the area, but I was very impressed with the idea and the execution of it.

Convention and Visitor's Bureaus (CVB's) focus most of their efforts on groups and it's understandable why - it takes the same amount of energy to bring a group of 50 or 500 to your town as it does to bring one individual traveler. You don't have to be a math whiz to see the logic in that.

The problem is that there's a hole in the travel market. The tourist is no one's customer.

When you look at a visitor's guide for any city, you see beautiful photos, listings of things to see and do, and lots of ads. This is a system that has developed over time and has served well for some time. However, the "customer" for the visitor's guide is not the visitor - the customer is the advertiser, who's ads paid for the printing of it.

I want there to be - somewhere - someone who is serving the needs of the individual traveler. I also believe the individual traveler is where the potential growth is. Now, maybe when I'm 70 I'll think it sounds like a fabulous idea to be traveling on a bus with 41 other people, and having my luggage packed and outside my hotel door by 6:30 a.m. I cannot imagine that will ever be the case. I think that traveler is not going to exist in a few years.

Instead I think the potential growth is in the individual traveler - the people who write me to ask about Las Vegas, NM, because I wrote on the blog about eating at a diner there. Or to ask about the catacombs of Paris because I blogged about visiting there. Those people are the future growth of travel, I think.

And communities/states/countries on the front edge of that, encouraging those in the new media to write about their places - on blogs, twitter, or whatever - are going to see a significant benefit.

Interesting things to think about...
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