Tourism



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Tourism is an industry about sharing, sharing experience - culture, history, nature, each other; tourism is all fun all of the time. It is often asserted that WW2 saved the economy and brought the world out of a depression - if that's true, it should be the tourism industry's mission to effect prosperity through a happy human exchange. 


To some degree it is the case that tourism is generating prosperity, tourism's "multiplier effect" is better than most industries. Tourism has a good return on capital invested versus revenue generated relative other industries - good margins. Tourism has an excellent environmental footprint versus revenue generated, in the main tourism's environmental footprint is light or rides on what's in place anyway - by way of example - the transportation network is there anyway.  Tourism holds as a priority the aesthetics of its operating area, in British Columbia, it has been the tourism industry that has lobbied for visual quality maintenance and enhancement along major transportation corridors for example.   
    

The tourism industry spans camping at one end of the use continuum and 5-star resorts at the other, the common theme throughout is people. People and expectations, meet expectations - people have what they expected, exceed expectations - people are pleased. The definition of excellence is as diverse as the people involved, this is both the challenge and the interest of the business. The key to success in the tourism is an intimate and in-depth understanding of your patrons. In provisioning opportunity for enjoyment, becomes necessary to know the patron better than they know themselves. People live with ostensible interests, the ones that market them socially and then they have their real wants, needs and desires. It is the marrying of the ostensible with the underlying interests while ensuring expectations are exceeded, that finds success. 

         

My background in tourism stems from operating a fly fishing resort for a number of years, the resort was remotely located, fly in or horse in only. The largest number of guests was 20, but rarely did we exceed 12 people, the day rate was $200 / day plus transportation, normally helicopter. It was a highly personalised environment, one came to know the guests - this was a unique industry circumstance in that many guests came for years. The ostensible rationale for attending the resort was fly fishing, and there were some fly fishing fanatics to be sure, where I witnessed the most joy, however, was at the dinner table or visiting at the lodge. For the most part, the joy emanated from a fresh social environment, the unique coalescence of a social opportunity absent history or baggage and a socioeconomic natural zone - it really gives people the opportunity to be the best version of themselves. The point of this discourse is that the underlying interests were more important than the ostensible interest for coming, this was particularly true in this operations case, as this fishing resort was atypical in that a large number of our patrons were women. An effort to engineer a group of people to facilitate fulfilling exchange was, as important, perhaps more important, than people having the opportunity to catch fish. 


In life, people have needs, wants and desires, in tourism people have wants and desires - see to them and success will come.  


As tourism is a business about people, it is, like no other, a marketing dependent business - unless you've established a clientele. A start-up tourism enterprise requires a large marketing budget, and in a normal tourism offering with flux and change in clientele, maintenance marketing efforts need to be as high as 10% of gross revenues. In pursuing marketing venues or avenues, vertical efforts nearly always outperform non-specific or horizontal venues - this industry likes targeted efforts. The goal, of course, is to establish a steady group of patrons that share the love of the experience offered, this can happen readily in some operating circumstances. 


In Canada, we have seasonality that affects our offerings, likely to a larger degree than other jurisdictions. The challenge we face in the industry is to ensure complete asset utilisation - destination resorts often see assets at or near idle for half the year. The key then is to seek means by which to build out usage into the shoulder seasons and off seasons. In designing a business approach to tourism, one needs to be cognizant that the excellent margins in the business can be challenged by overhead and plan accordingly. 


I've always been a believer in essentials, invest in essentials because people always need them, the tourism industry has challenged that thesis - even in economic downturns, people need fun and seek it out. There are instances where the utilisation generally migrates to areas of less compensatory requirement, but if you've positioned yourself in the right space you can skirt this as well. 


The tourism industry is an exciting space, people pursuing their passions, escape, adventure - it is all people all of the time - you just have to get to know them.     

   

  
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Neil E. Thomson,
Dec 19, 2015, 3:11 PM
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Neil E. Thomson,
Dec 15, 2015, 7:26 AM
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