Thinking Differently About Tourism
Yes, yes, we know: we are living at a time when ‘things’ are changing faster than ever. We are reminded of this every time we buy the latest phone, tablet or computer only to be told six months later (when we have finally learned how to use it!) that it is now “the old” model.
And the point is truly highlighted when considering the fact that 60% of the jobs available in ten years don’t even exist yet.
As individual tourism businesses, organisations and an industry as a whole, it is imperative that we are keeping up with changes, and not just surviving but actually thriving. Thinking differently is required by all of us, as what has worked in the past may not work in the future.
“Trendlines Not Headlines”
Stealing a quote from Bill Clinton, “consider trendlines not headlines.” This is what I would consider a “grand way to think differently”.
There are a number of examples of this in our industry. Let’s take the motel industry headlines as an example. If we were to follow some of the headlines, they often read that the motel industry is being undermined by the unregulated holiday homes market and talk about the government’s unwillingness to force them into compliance.
If we instead look at the trendlines, we see that the largest growing accommodation sector internationally is the holiday home/vacation rentals. This sector is becoming more commercialised, more organised and fanatically more innovative than any other sector. There is a reason why HomeAway has over one million listings and the peer to peer site AirBNB has the fastest growing inventory online.
So if vacation rentals are the trend, motel owners should be looking at what they can do differently to keep up with this trend (without ignoring their current market). What do vacation rentals offer that motels could? How are vacation rentals booked and marketed that motels can adopt or perfect?
Agents are another example of how the rapidly changing world of both travel distribution and purchase are affecting a sector. In this case, headlines may sometimes sing the blues but trends indicate an increase in revenue for those agents who are productising and promoting differently and/or being innovative.
Examples include those agents who are becoming more a “lifestyle concierge” providing more ‘local’ and authentic experiences. While others agents are thinking differently by investing in technology to allow quicker responses and price transparency for those who want to book quickly at the best price.
So what can we all be doing in our tourism businesses that ensures we ‘keep the gold’ that works while also thinking differently to create something to ensure our prosperity?
With this ever-changing world requiring us to provide our products and services more seamlessly and in an accessible format, all the while being authentic and transparent, it is important to be thinking differently by looking at other silos, industries and perspectives.
If we don’t, we run the risk of not evolving and going the way of the dinosaur or worse, becoming a fad like the waterbed!