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By Dr. Peter Tarlow from Tourism & More

TOURISM & MORE’S  “TOURISM TIDBITS”

March 2018

With the Northern Hemisphere’s winter soon to become spring, on some level tourism officials can take a sigh of relief that there were no major pandemics. This season was however in many parts of the world an extremely difficult flu season that resulted in a great deal of discomfort, days missed at work, and even in some extreme cases deaths.

Tourism is especially vulnerable to contagious illnesses. People are in close contact, often both tourism employees and travelers are subjected to filtered, rather than fresh air. Additionally we are all subject to issues of jet lag, disrupted sleep patters and irregular eating. In some of the less well paid tourism jobs employees fear losing a day’s pay if they stay home when ill, come to work sick, and then infect others.

If travel were not hard enough on a person’s body, there are still other problems that must be taken into consideration. For example, hygiene standards are not the same around the world. The traveler often has no way of knowing the level of cleanliness in a restaurant, if waiters and waitresses wash their hands enough and with soap and hot water. People staying at hotels have no way of knowing the quality of the mattress upon which they are sleeping or the condition of the air ducts that bring air conditioning into their room.

Additionally a sick chambermaid may infect a visitor’s room while cleaning it or become ill from a person who is staying in the room and has infected that room by sneezing or coughing. Examples of some of these health and wellness challenges can be seen in problems experienced within the cruise industry due to the Nordau virus, or in tourism buildings due to legionary’s disease,

Tourism promotes travel and schedules are built around the assumption of wellness. A traveler cannot change an airline reservation due to a cold or feeling sick, a person’s hotel reservation may force that person to check out rather than rest, and often it is not easy to find a place to eat at odd hours of the day. Finally, in many parts of the world, it may not easy to find an international doctor, the local health agency may not accept foreign health insurance, and language problems may make it difficult for the ill person to describe his or her problem to the local health professional. These same problems do not only apply to leisure and business travelers, but also to first responders, international aid workers, and government agents. Often these people are so involved in their labors of love that they forget that they too are fragile human beings who are also subject to illnesses. In order to help you think about caring for your visitors and at the same time caring for yourself, Tourism Tidbits presents to you the following ideas.

  • Develop a tourism health task force. Keeping visitors and tourism employees healthy is different from keeping local populations healthy. Visitors have less information and often more stress than the local population. The task force should consider everything from medical availability to problems of foreign health insurance. It should also look at local sanitation and hygiene issues, and how visitors can access pharmacies without having a local physician.
  • Work with the local media. The can be great allies or become a major problem. There is always a need to have the media aid in spreading information, but this must be done in a way that neither panics the public nor become a problem in and of itself. The example of the SARS reporting a few years ago is a perfect example of what not to do. In that case, misreporting about an illness caused a great deal of economic damage and made the problem worse rather than better.
  • Involve government agencies in your overall health plan. Many tourism related illnesses are interrelated to issues of clean air and water. Be mindful of where garbage is stored and even first world tourism locations often suffer from rodent infestations. These of course are also essential issues for the local population but the visitor is more prone to local diseases due to water and air pollution. Visitors often do not know if they can drink local water, how long water has been boiled before being served or if ice cubes have been made from purified water. It is the responsibility of the tourist industry to inform visitors of these precautions rather than assuming that a tired traveler will know to ask.
  • Have a plan in place regarding the way that you will deal with travel related mental heath problems. Travel produces stress and stress may result in additional mental illnesses that may range from personal behavior issues to psychotic behavior. Often people believe that being in a new location will solve an anxiety or stress problem. The results are usually to the contrary. This means that tourism professionals need to know whom to call when faced with a person suffering from some form of mental health challenge. Often these problems are made worse by the fact that the person has no support system in place and that the visitor may not be able to communicate in the local language.
  • Take care of yourself. The airline industry reminds us to put on our oxygen mask before helping others. Their advice is both sound and sage. The tourist professional cannot take care of others if s/he is sick. This means that tourism professionals need to take flue shots, eat correctly, assure that they have enough rest, and see a medical expert for regular check-ups. The better the tourism professional feels the better that person can handle the stress that comes with caring for others.
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By Dr. Peter Tarlow from Tourism & More

 

Credit: Tourism & More Inc.

 

TOURISM & MORE’S

 

“TOURISM TIDBITS”

June 2017

Some of the Best Practices in Tourism Security, Risk Management and Crisis Recovery, Part 1

 

This June we shall be holding the 23rd Annual Las Vegas International Tourism Safety and Security conference and in honor of our conference, this month’s Tourism Tidbits focuses on issuesT of security and safety. 

Although the public, media, and politicians expect continuous 100% safety and security, reality is that total security does not exist.  What is true of the non-tourism and travel world is even more so in the world of travel and tourism. Not only are tourism and traveling security problems often more challenging, but the traveling public can also easily be frightened, and in the case of leisure travel decide simply not to visit a specific locale.  Furthermore, many tourism professionals are frighten by the topic and provide more lip service to the subject than real substance.

To help you think through some of the issues and finds methods to confront these ever changing challenges, Tourism Tidbits presents you with the following ideas for your consideration: 

-Never forget that all travel security and safety begins with a sense of hospitality and caring.  Customer service is the foundation of any security program. Employees need to remember that they should not treat others in a way that they would not want others to treat them.  Customers are not the enemy; they are the industry’s raison d’être.  From the moment a traveler leaves his/her home until the moment that s/he returns the industry needs to project an image of we care, of creating an environment in which customers know that they are not prisoners or cattle but respected guests.

-Understand that in most cases (drugs being a major exception) acts of crime and acts of terrorism are different.  It is rare that poverty is a root cause of either crime or terrorism, and the two social illnesses have a very different interaction with tourism.  Crime has a parasitic relationship with tourism that is to say if there is no tourism then there is no tourism crime.  Although, terrorists may use crime as a means to fund their projects, their ultimate goal is the destruction of tourism and the economic prosperity that it produces around the world.

 
-The most effective security is proactive rather than reactive. This means find ways to layer your security and be aware of where the security weaknesses may be.  Know your property layout and remember that there are no 100% safe places in any building Use combinations of a physical security presence plus technology, such as surveillance, makes sure all your bases are covered. 


-Know local laws!  Hoteliers must know their responsibilities for security within local laws and regulations. Knowing whether issues would result in criminal or civil liabilities can influence security protocols.  Be aware of terror trends: Not every attack is the same.  Over the past several years, many terror events have “evolved to be locally inspired or involve locally trained citizens”.  The newest “trends” in attacks against hotels are small-scale, high-body-count attacks that draw global media attention. Nevertheless, do not forget that terrorism is ever changing and what is true this year may be different next year.

-Partner Simple partnerships with local law enforcement are an easy, low-cost way to keep security top of mind. Invite your local police to spend a night in the hotel or have dinner there.  The better the police understand the property’s security and emergency protocols and see the capabilities, the faster they can react in case of an emergency or advise you on simple solutions as to ways to stop and attack before it occurs. Ask your police department to educate hotel staff on what their own capabilities are and what emergencies they can and cannot handle.  Then develop a formal plan with the local police department and be sure that they have a copy of the plan

-Tourism security does not exist in a vacuum.  That means that tourism security is part of the overall local environment.  If a particular city is not safe, then eventually that insecurity will impact the local hotels, attractions and transportation systems.  What that means is that the tourism industry needs not only to ask for protection but also that it needs to work with local community leaders to bring down the overall crime rates.  For example, communicate with local organizations that seek to lower crime rates.  The bottom line is that what takes place outside of the hotel impacts what occurs inside of the hotel. Regular meetings between government officials, tourism officials, and local managers can save time and lives, and it can reduce from what might have been a major incident into a minor one.   In today’s world security not only adds to the bottom line, it can be a major marketing tool.


-Have multiple plans in place prior to an event and not after the event.  In cases of crises, crisis management is essential, but tourism and travel officials need to ask themselves if the crisis might have been lessened in its severity or even avoided if they had had good proactive risk management plans.  Crises come in all sorts of sizes.  A terrorism attack is a crisis on a large scale, but there are a million small inconveniences that government regulators have imposed on tourism that have created a sense of continual mini-crises.  When tourists need to factor terrorism hassles into their travel plans, many people may choose other methods of communication, leaving the industry in a business crisis. The bottom line is that many small personal crises may produce large industry crises.

-In an age of insecurity tourism officials must make sure that their security agents are not only well trained in every aspect of security including the customs and cultural habits of their customers, but also well paid.  For example, some cultures tend to be more trusting than others and different cultures may have distinct patterns for what is acceptable or not for female guests. It is essential that tourism management develop security patterns that meet not only the local environment but also meet the cultural needs of their guests. In a business climate as unstable as the current one, it is essential that security personnel be the best, that they receive regular news updates, and be able to act not only quickly, but in a caring and professional manner with travelers.  It does no good to have people well trained and then leave the field because of low pay.

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A special reminder: The XXIV International Las Vegas Tourism Security and Safety Conference is June 12-14.  To register please visit: www.touristsafety.org

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Reviewing Some Fundamentals Of The Travel & Tourism Industry

Categories: Tourism Resilience, Tourism Safety & Security Issues
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fundamentals Tourism and more

February 2017: Part 2 of a two part series. Part 1 appeared in January

Last month we looked at some of the fundamentals of a successful tourism business or industry.  Although every local is different, and it is a basic principle to emphasize the unique and different aspects of your business or locale, human beings are basically the same around the world and the best principles of good tourism are the same across both cultures and languages.

Tourism is the telling of a story in which the visitor becomes part of the tale. To travel is to seek the different, to find a way to leave the humdrum of daily life and enter into a world of non-realities. This basic principal means that the tourism industry must allow its visitors to experience the unique and special in a safe and secure environment. Remember we are selling memories and it is our job to help our customers create memories that can be shared.

Do you understand your tourism product in the same way as your customers see it?  For example, you may say that you are a family destination, but if your customers view you from another perspective, it will take a tremendous amount of marketing change the image.  Before launching a new marketing campaign, consider how your destination makes its clientele feel, why people chose your destination over the competition, and what emotional benefits do your visitors receive when they chose your destination.

A smile is universal.  Perhaps the most important technique to learn in tourism is the way to smile.  A sincere smile can compensate for many an error. Travel and tourism is built around principles of high expectations, many of which never get met.  This gap between the image and the reality is not always the fault of the industry. There is little that the industry can do to make a rainstorm depart or to stop an unexpected blizzard.  What we can do, is show people that we care and be creative.  Most people can forgive an act of nature but few customers will forgive a state of callousness or lack of caring.

Tourism is a customer driven experience. In the last few years too many tourism and visitor centers have worked hard at driving their customers from human-based experiences to web page experiences.  The logic behind this move is that it will save large corporations such as airlines a great deal of money on wages.  The risk that these companies will have to consider is that tourists develop relationships with people rather than web sites. As tourist and traveler corporations drive people to web sites, they should be ready to accept the fact that customer loyalty will decrease and that their frontline personnel’s actions become even more important.

We may talk about educating our customers but remember that they are not in school and are not paying anyone to get a grade.  All too often, especially on guided tours, we have the false notion that our customers are our students.  Guides need to speak less and allow visitors to experience more. The average adult, on tour, stops listening after about 5-7 minutes. In a like manner too many police departments and security organizations falsely believe that they can educate the visitor regarding personal safety and security. Assume the visitor will pay no attention and develop security programs based on this simple fact.

Be authentic. Nothing gets unmasked more easily that a lack of authenticity. Do not try to be what you are not but rather be the best that you can be.  Tourism locations that are authentic and natural tend to be the most successful.  To be authentic does not mean only forests or beaches, but a unique presentation of cultural awareness.

Visitors may forget a sunset but rarely forget a good meal.  Emphasize the culinary aspects of your tourism industry. Use whenever local products, presented in both colorful and unique fashions, promote local recipes.  Food can change a good trip into a memorable one.

Seek out and develop new talent. Tourism is hard work and many people find the industry too hard. Be on the lookout for new and creative employees, seek people who are gregarious and extroverted, and people with both patience and a sense of adventure.

Use multiple methodologies to understand trends in tourism. There is a tendency in tourism to use purely qualitative or quantitative analytical methodologies.  Both are important and both can provide additional insights. Problems occur when we become so dependent on one form of analysis that we ignore the other.  Remember people surveyed along with computerized data are not always truthful. Although these methods may be highly valid their reliability factors may be lower than what we believe. Polling errors both in the US and the UK ought to remind us of the principle of “garbage in/garbage out”.

When in doubt, the right thing to do is the best thing to do. Don’t cut corners because times are hard. This is the time to build a reputation for integrity by doing the right thing. Make sure to give customer’s their money’s worth rather than appearing to be selfish and greedy. The hospitality business is about doing for others, and nothing advertises a place better than giving that something extra in a period of economic constriction. In a like manner, managers should never cut their underlings salaries before they cut their own. If reduction in forces are necessary, a manager should personally handle the situation, present a good-bye token and never be absent on the day of a lay-off.

When the going gets rough, be calm. People come to us for tranquility and to forget their problems, not to learn about our problems. Our guests should never be burdened with our economic difficulties. Remember they are our guests and not our counselors. Tourism ethics requires that your personal life stay in your home. If you are too agitated to work, then stay home. Once one is at the workplace, however, we have a moral responsibility to concentrate on the needs of our guests and not on our own needs. The best way to be calm in a crisis is to be prepared. For example, in the post-September 11th world, every community needs to have a tourism security plan. In a like manner, your community or attraction needs to train employees on how to handle health risks, travel changes, and personal security issues.

 

By Dr. Peter Tarlow. You can find the original article Tourism & More, Inc.
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Tourism Tidbits: Providing Tourism Cheer

Categories: Community, People and Places, Tourism Resilience
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Tourism and more

Wishing Everyone a Happy Chanukah and a Merry Christmas

December 2016: Tourism this past year has faced many challenges, from a slow economy in Europe to ISIS attacks, from medical issues such as Zika to waves of terrorism in Europe and wars in the Middle East.  For many around the world, despite the fact that this has not been an easy year, the month of December creates a great deal of “light” and “hope’. In the northern Hemisphere the lights of Christmas and Chanukah provide great beauty during the dead of winter. In the southern Hemisphere this is the beginning of the summer holidays and a time for rest and relaxation. December then is a time when most of the world seeks cheer and hope and looks to break the bleakness of everyday life with special events, with celebrations and with a chance to find beauty in life.

Tourism has a major role to play in helping all of us add cheer and a sense of joie de vivre to our lives. Despite the high cost of airline tickets and poor service along the continued weakening of the economy in many western nations, people seek the gift of travel.

Perhaps the greatest gift the travel and tourism industry can give the public is to find new and innovative ways to return at least some of the romance and enchantment to the world of hospitality. That means remembering that our guests are not mere statistical numbers but rather that each traveler represents a world unto him/herself and quality must always override quantity.

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

Emphasize the unique in your community rather than the standardized.   Do not try to be all things to all people.  Be 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?  If you were 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?  Emphasize unique shopping and dining experiences. If travel means nothing more than eating at the same restaurants no matter in where you are then it is merely a hassle rather than a memory.   For example, do not just offer an outdoor experience, but individualize that experience, explain what makes your hiking trails special, and your beaches or river experience with ideas from ecology, history or geology. If your community or destination is a creation of the imagination then allow the imagination to run wild and continually create new experiences.

Create enchantment through product development.  Advertise less and give 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. 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.

Take the time to get excited about your community and then share that passion with other.  Ask ten neighbors what places they most like about your community and then make sure that you visit these locales.  You cannot get other people excited about your community if you are not excited about it.  Play tourism in your own community. See what you like and dislike about it and then emphasize the good and fix the bad.

Think of why it is great to be a tourist in your location. Do you offer special types of food that want to make people forget for a few days about counting calories, provide unique experience, or give people a chance to unwind?  Does your locate have unique music or can a visitor have a once in a lifetime experience when visiting?  Can your locale provide the visitor with a chance to leave his or her schedule and turn every hour into a happy hour?  These are the basics that make being a visitor and tourist fun.

Assess the areas of your tourism experience offerings that destroy enchantment and then fix them.  For example are your guests subjected to:

  • lines that are too long
  • a lack of shelter from the weather, sun, wind, cold etc.
  • rude service personnel
  • personnel that neither listen nor care
  • traffic jams and airport hassles
  • a lack of adequate parking
  • no one who is willing to listen or own a complaint?

Remember that tourism is first about people.  Tourism is about fun and you cannot help others to have fun if you dislike your job!  Make your job something special, do something goofy every day and find new ways to break your daily routine.   Remember that you need to be less interested in yourself and more interested 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 that they forget the humanity of their employees.  Be with the visitors and see the world through their eyes.

Enchantment starts with caring and appearances.   The rule “people first” is an essential part of tourism, but along with good customer services, comes the way your locale, business and community appear.  In tourism appearances matter!  Develop a group of specialists in such fields as lighting, landscaping, color coordination, exterior and interior decorations, street appearances and city themes, parking lots and internal transportation service.  Utilitarian devices, such as the San Francisco trolley cars, can be vehicles of enchantment if they enhance the environment and add something special to place and help to differentiate it from other locales.

Create lists about what is special about your community and then make sure that the local population is aware of these attributes.  All too often locals believe that there is no reason anyone should come to their community and in fact there is nothing to do.  Run regular newspaper and TV spots that emphasize information such as:

  • What special attractions you community has
  • Special nature trails and outdoors activities
  • What to do when there is inclement weather
  • When festivals and special events occur
  • What are some of the special traditions and customs in your community
  • What are unique shopping opportunities

Remember hospitality starts with people so the more personal interactions that you can create the more positive is the memory that visitors take away from their visit to your locale.

Create a safe and secure atmosphere.  There can be little enchantment if people are afraid.  To create such an atmosphere local security professionals must be part of the planning from the beginning.  Tourism security is more than merely having police or security professionals hanging around a site.  Tourism security requires psychological and sociological analysis, the use of hardware, interesting and unique uniforms and careful planning that integrates the security professional into the enchantment experience. Enchantment oriented communities realize that everyone in the community has a part to play in creating a positive tourism experience and one that creates a unique and special environment not only for the visitor but also for those who live in the community.

By Dr. Peter Tarlow. Read more on Tourism & More, Inc.

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travel Tourism and more

October 2016 – Travel is no doubt a wonderful experience.  It broadens our horizons, permits us to understand new societies, allows us to see things about which we have only dreamt, and gives us the opportunity to see ourselves in entirely new ways and often as others see us.

Unfortunately, when some people travel they may also do things that are both foolish and harmful.  This month’s Tourism Tidbits addresses some of the things that when traveling we want to avoid.  For those in the travel industry, it is essential to understand these sociological phenomena so that they can be taken into account and planned for.  These principles are important because these same sociological phenomena often occur to both business and leisure travelers, to men and to women, to the teenager and to the senior citizen.  When these problems occur, tourists and visitors rarely blame themselves, but rather tend to blame the locale resulting in negative word-of-mouth advertising.

A key point for all tourism professionals is the realization that travelers have choices.  In the case of the leisure market this assumption almost always holds true. In the business word, business travelers are , finding ways to replace some business meetings by other forms of virtual communications.

Tourism industries that believe that they are essential can easily suffer calamities if they are not careful with their customer service and their creation of safe and secure locations.  In the case of leisure travelers, often these travelers assume that the place to which they are traveling is safe and as such often lower their level of caution.

The following principles often reflect some of the common mistakes that we make when it comes to travel and to those who are our customers. Tourism Tidbits offers for your consideration an outline of some of the common mistakes that we all make whenever we travel and phenomena about which we want to be mindful. Part of the challenge of being a tourism professional is advising visitors about security and safety while at the same time not scaring them.  This balanced approach is one of the reasons that tourism (TOPPs) units are so essential. These travel security professionals, be they public or private security officers, are an essential part of tourism’s front line.

– Travel is stressful. No matter what we in the tourism industry want to believe, travel is stressful and stress places us in danger.  Prepare your guests for the stress of travel by having reminding them to have alternative plans, to take needed telephone numbers, and making sure that they carry food and water in case of delays.  Criminals know that when we are under stress we tend not to think, leave things (such a wallets and passports) exposed and tend to speak louder.   Remember when the traveler is under stress; the criminal is not. That means, take the time to remind customers to put their wallets away, not to expose credit cards, and when using public phones or ATM machines to block the access so that someone cannot photograph the person’s code.

– When we travel we often seem to leave our common sense behind.  Part of the reason for this phenomenon may be that we assume that where we are going is safe, or that nothing will happen to us when we are traveling.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Crime exists everywhere and police departments around the world are understaffed and over-stretched. To add to this, recent historical trends have shown that terrorism is a growing problem. For example, the British Journal, The Economist stated that: “And terrorism is spreading. 67 countries saw at least one death last year (2014) compared with 59 the year before. The number of plots by jihadist groups against Western countries has leaped, in particular since September 2014 when an IS spokesman called for its followers to attack those Western countries involved in military efforts in Syria and Iraq. Most plots have failed, though a growing number have been successful. But the terrorists only need to carry out one big plot to succeed.” One new source reported that in 2001 there were some one thousand terrorism attacks around the world. By the year 2015 that number had climbed to 30,000.  It is important to realize that some sources count failed attacks as attacks, and there is no one accepted definition of what is or is not a terrorism attack. Good common sense dictates that it is important to take a two-tier attitude regarding visitors and staff.  Remind them to relax and smile but at the same time be aware and vigilant.

– It is a mistake to assume that people in other places are all good.  It is far better to assume that crime occurs in all parts of the world and take the same precautions that you would take at home.  In the world of travel, there are not only the generalized crimes that can occur anywhere, but also specific crimes that are especially prevalent in travel and tourism.  As such, be careful of such crimes as conmen and crimes of distraction artists (i.e., pickpockets, bag snatchers, credit card thefts). Remember that not everyone who works in the tourism industry is honest, and that violent crime can happen to anyone.

-Remember that when you are in a different place, you are in a different place!  That means that travelers can often be taken by surprise.  Advise travelers that they do not want to take a cab that has not been approved by the authorities, how much of a tip to leave at a restaurant, or even how to determine the value of foreign monies.  In a like manner, remind visitors not to walk down a dark street alone, take enough money with them that in case of a robbery the thieves will not become so angry that they do harm.  The bottom line is always remembered that even the strongest man can be taken down, especially if he is taken by surprise.

– Remember that in most cases, most perpetrators of tourism crime are not caught. That means that prevention is the best protection. Remind visitors to try whenever possible to blend into the local environment. Dress as others dress in that local, do not carry maps and cameras in such a manner as to make you noticeable, and have a sense of where you are going and how much it should cost to get there.

-Try to be respectful of nature.  All too many visitors believe that they are on a movie set rather than in the wild.  Blizzards, wild animals, hurricanes, and tornadoes all kill.  A perfect example of this principle of lack of respect for nature coupled with a lack of common sense is the number of drowning off of Hawaii’s (Ohau) north coast.  Despite the lifeguards and warning signs, there are all too many visitors to Hawaii who are convinced that the Pacific Ocean is a giant swimming pool.

Click here to find other Tourism Tidbits by Dr. Peter Tarlow.

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