Tuesday, November 20, 2007
Friday, November 09, 2007
Aesop once said, "Please all and you will please none."
Trying to please everyone is a tempting trap but doomed to failure. Chuck McKay at Fishing for Customers has a great post about the benefits of specialization. He makes the point that specialists are more successful than generalists but everyone is afraid of leaving potential customers behind. Chuck argues that it doesn't work that way. He makes a good case for rethinking your strategy and defining yourself more precisely.
This applies to hotels, restaurants, tours, attractions, museums, people and every aspect of the tourism business. What is your brand really? What are you known for?
Even cities have a certain quality, a distinct personality that sets them apart. Boston isn't the same as New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Miami or Washington, D.C.; the list goes on and on. They don't even try to be. But there is something I see more and more in my travels. The homogenization of many aspects of these cities. The loss of local flavor and personality. Starbucks is a classic and overused example. So is Walmart. But it exists on a smaller scale too. How many times can you visit similar sites, tours, eateries and experiences everywhere you go before it doesn't matter where you go. It's all the same.
Travelers today seem to want familiar and unusual. Variety and sameness. The opportunity lies in specialization whether for yourself or your tourism related business. Don't try to be like everyone else. Don't say "me too!" anymore. Decide who you are and be it with all your might.
Will you "miss" some customers at the end of the day...yes. The upside is developing a true identity in the marketplace and creating loyal, even rabid, fans.
Who are you and why should I give you my money? Better decide before it's too late.
Wednesday, November 07, 2007
Monday, November 05, 2007
Air Force Brigadier General Paul Tibbets just died. He was 92 years old and requested that no funeral be held and no marker be placed on his grave. He was concerned that these memorials might draw protest. Protest for what he and his crew flying the Enola Gay did on August 6, 1945. They dropped the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan. Three days later a second atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki, Japan. It's estimated that over 200,000 people lost their lives as a result of these two explosions. Six days later World War II ended with the surrender of Japan.
My Uncle Harry was one of almost a million U.S. soldiers staged in the Philippines at that time...waiting to see if the bombs ended the war. If they did not, an invasion was planned.
I learned this weekend about a program called Honor Flight dedicated to bringing the remaining World War II veterans to Washington D.C. at no cost to tour the WWII Memorial in their honor. They estimate that 1200 of these veterans are passing away each day. I saw a man in the street that wore a t-shirt saying "Freedom isn't really free." The Sky and Sea Spectacular took place in Jacksonville, Florida this weekend featuring the U.S. Navy Blue Angels. It all reminded me of my mother and my father and a visit I made earlier this year to the National World War II Museum in New Orleans. It all made me pause and reflect.
During these challenging times, I think it's important to take the long view. Now is an excellent time to look back on American history and see where we came from and where we are going. Here are a few spots to get you started.
There are thousands of stories and places and people but time is running out for some. Spend a little time with the Greatest Generation before they are all gone. Thank them for their sacrifices and humble service to America. Travel and tour the places where history was made. Do it now. Thanks, Mom and Dad...
Thursday, November 01, 2007
From my perspective, guests are getting larger in general. School groups now have ten year olds as tall as their teachers. This is a trend that is not going to decline. So, how do we accommodate this trend? As you'll see from the discussions, some believe we shouldn't at all. What do you think?
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
I love Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida because of the details. The extraordinary details of every experience within those walls. Yes, I understand that it is a created world. Yes, I will still visit Europe even though I've been to Epcot and yes, I get the part about the crowds, prices and merchandising. Still, I love it.
For example, I was there for the weekend and wanted to ride Expedition Everest at Animal Kingdom. Got there early and headed for "Asia" to get my fastpass (sweet). Imagine my surprise when I crossed the bridge, looked to my right and there was "Everest" rising up above the river. Everyone stopped to look and snap photos. No, it was not even close to the size and grandeur of the real Mount Everest but that's not what it's intended to be. I love Disney because I take it for what it is. A themed experience. A recreated wonderland of sights and sounds. An appetizer and a dessert and sometimes the main dish. Now that I saw the mountain, I couldn't wait to ride the ride and wasn't disappointed. From the fantastic Tibetan queue line scenery to the exciting runaway train premise that pushed us back in our seats to avoid the Yeti, this coaster experience delivered.
So many attractions and tourist offerings fall short for me because the details are missing. They just go part of the way with just a little theming or a mediocre program. Lackluster staff or dirty grounds. You can tell when effort is made and that's one of the ways Disney stands out for me. They make the effort every day.
My highlights for this trip included Expedition Everest at Animal Kingdom, Tower of Terror at MGM, Test Track at Epcot and of course, the Food and Wine Festival. This is my third year at the festival and I enjoy it every time. Started with pomegranate kirs and escargot in France and finished with sushi and Kirin Ichiban's in Japan. It's fun to speak to the staff from the native countries represented but I was baffled by Oklahoma this year. The whole staff was from Michigan! Go figure. Even Disney can miss the details once in awhile. More photos of my Disney adventure at Flickr.
Another great visit to Walt Disney World because I paced myself and took the time to explore. Hope you get a chance to visit the Food and Wine Festival before it ends. I can't recommend the lamb chops but I can suggest the 12th anniversary Sam Adams Lager. Good stuff. See you in Orlando.
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
Shuttle Discovery launched from the Kennedy Space Center complex at 11:38 and was a sight to behold! Up, up, up into the burning blue. A beautiful white trail with a little fire at the end and she was out of sight.
Don't forget that the Shuttle is soon to retire. Get it while it's hot. I got an email from KSC last week saying they still had a few viewing spaces available for today's launch, just a week out. That's good news if you want to see one of these modern marvels of technology before it's too late. Here's the latest from NASA
One small step...
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
It was my first experience at becoming another character, assuming another identity for just a little while. No, I didn't just put on a costume. I became that character. My early memories are vague and fuzzy. A hobo, a devil, a clown. As I got older the costumes became more sophisticated...more realistic. Now, I portray historical characters year round but Halloween holds a special place in my heart. Walpurgisnacht...All Hallows Eve...Samhain. Here is a roundup in one convenient location of our haunted tours and attractions at Trusted Tours. Enjoy!
Atlanta Segway Ghosts and Legends Tour
Boston Ghosts and Gravestones
Salem Witch Museum
Plymouth Historic Cemetery Tour
Plymouth Twilight Ghost Tour
Charleston Ghost and Legends
Charleston Historic Homes Tour
Chicago Colombian Exposition Tour (the White City)
Key West Ghost Tour
Key West Ghosts and Legends
Key West Ripley's Museum
Key West Harry S. Truman Little White House
Key West Ernest Hemingway Home
Key West Shipwreck Historeum
Las Vegas Hoover Dam Jeep Tour
Las Vegas Eldorado Canyon and Gold Mine Tour
Las Vegas Madam Tussuad's Wax Museum
Hollywood Behind the Scenes Tour
Los Angeles Go Card (Queen Mary. Really creepy)
Memphis Haunted Pub Crawl (Many Spirits)
Memphis Ghost Tour
Miami Go Card (Coral Castle, Vizcaya, Deering Estate)
New Orleans Voodoo Tour
New Orleans Vampire Tour (nice)
New Orleans Ghost Tour
New Orleans Cemetery Tour
New Orleans Cemetery and Gris Gris Tour
New Orleans Ghost and Spirits Tour
New Orleans Bayou and Swamp Adventure
New Orleans Garden District Ghosts and Legends
New York Madame Tussuad's Wax Museum (I think it's creepy. Good haunted trail here,too!)
New York City Pass
Niagara Falls Tour
Orlando Go Card (Ripley's Odditorium, Haunted Grimm House)
Philadelphia City Pass
San Diego Haunted Ghost Tour
San Diego Haunted Old Town
San Diego USS Midway
San Francisco Fisherman's Wharf Wax Museum
San Francisco Alcatraz Cruise
San Francisco Muir Woods/Sausalito
Savannah Ghosts and Gravestones
Savannah Owens Thomas House
Savannah Sorrel-Weed House
Savannah Telfair Academy
Savannah Ghosts Tour
Savannah Sorrel-Weed Candlelight Tour
Savannah Historic Homes Tour
St. Augustine Ghosts and Gravestones
St Augustine Old Jail
St. Augustine Lightner Museum
Washington DC Monuments by Moonlight
Washington DC Madam Tussuad's Wax Museum
Washington DC Georgetown Ghost Tour
Washington DC Segway Night Tour
Washington DC Mount Vernon Tour
Happy Halloween. See you in the Cemetery...
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
(Image by way of Seth Godin and Purple Cow. One of my favorite books.)
Nice post at communityguy.com by Jake McKee about respecting your customers. Turns out that when he worked at Lego sometimes folks there thought that passionate customers who bought huge quantities of Lego's were odd. His point is that all of us are odd and we should respect those differences.
I work with Creatives every day and think this analogy extends internally as well as externally for people in the tourism business. You should never have disdain for your guests or customers since we all have our parlor tricks and don't be so quick to dismiss your co-workers as "weird", "strange" or "odd" either.
I remember my 8th grade yearbook filled with comments about me like, "you're not like anyone else I know" or "you're the strangest person I have ever met". At the time, I wasn't sure how to take these remarks but now I get it. Of course, I was different. These critical differences have led to my success today. I managed to nuture my interesting qualities and navigate the real world at the same time. (I thank my family and friends for encouraging that process!)
I often think of the creatives I work with as the Island of Misfit Toys and born out of that stew of different viewpoints, backgrounds and approaches comes massive creativity. I'm often surprised, astonished and delighted at the ideas, fresh approaches and unattainable visions that come from these sessions which lead to real, measurable, outstanding tours, performances and presentations. Most days it's like herding cats. That scares some people.
Where would we be if everyone looked, thought and acted the same way? Pretty boring! We spend so much time with people in this business that it is easy to get jaded and look for the worst. So the next time you are quick to judge someone who isn't like you, take a moment and be thankful. What a wonderful world we live in filled with interesting people. Vive la difference...
Friday, October 05, 2007
Thursday, October 04, 2007
Tuesday, October 02, 2007
Monday, October 01, 2007
Thursday, September 27, 2007
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
Clear your schedule, pack a cooler and strap yourself in on October 19th at 9pm when the Travel Channel presents Most Haunted Live at the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, California, just south of San Francisco.
A Seven (yes, I said seven) Hour marathon of paranormal investigation and things that go bump in the night. I'm exhausted already. How will they maintain such an event before the channel changes? I do not know. Guess we'll have to watch and see...er...wait a minute. No doubt, it's gonna be a hootenanny.
The Winchester Mystery House was creepy when I visited during the day. I can only imagine how it will be at night. Interestingly you can interact with the investigation team online offering suggestions for room searches, etc. Great way to lead up to Halloween my Friends. Just don't call me for seven hours on October 19th. (Whew!)
Monday, September 24, 2007
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
Monday, September 17, 2007
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
Of course, the Johnny Depp, Pirates of the Caribbean, clone helps and snappy technologies imagineered inside are great but what I like best is the storytelling and authentic artifacts like the flag in the photo. This is one of only two, known, surviving Jolly Roger pirate flags in the world! In a fairly small space they have an astonishing collection of rare and interesting pirate regalia.
This just might be the museum attraction of the future combining authentic objects with recent technology, good storytelling and solid performance. It really strikes all of the senses. The debate rages on. It is important to preserve our past but I favor showcasing it in the most interesting way possible. (The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, Illinois and the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia are good examples.)
I predict with shrinking audiences and increasingly short attention spans that this trend will blossom and morph. "Don't bore me!" is the battle cry from today's guest.
What can you do to be more interesting? Let me know.
The Wild Animal Park , which is part of the San Diego Zoo in San Diego, California just celebrated the one year Birthday of this Baby Elephant, Khosi. (More pics here courtesy of NBC San Diego) They made the cake out of vegetables and ice with a carrot for a candle! Something about baby elephants just cracks me up. They look like old men in suits. Khosi now weighs in at 850 pounds. Enjoy...
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
Monday, September 10, 2007
Thursday, September 06, 2007
Wednesday, September 05, 2007
Friday, August 31, 2007
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
I live and work in St. Augustine, Florida. The oldest, continuously occupied, European-settled City in the United States. (whew!) The town was founded by the Spanish in 1565 and the local joke is that by the time the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock, St. Augustine was already up for urban renewal. It's a little, big town with lots of charm.
We're celebrating our 442nd birthday (Sept. 8th)this week with lots of festivities, including recreations of the landing of Don Pedro Menendez de Aviles to establish the town, the first thanksgiving feast, 16th century entertainment, arts, crafts and the "changing of the guard". Should be lots of fun. (I even get to dress up in period clothing!)
I've lived in St. Augustine over ten years now and always enjoy the festivities, activities and interesting people in our town. You never get bored here! I'm lucky to work for Historic Tours of America and participate in Old Town Trolley Tours, The Old Jail, The Florida Heritage Museum and Ghosts & Gravestones on their behalf. Through Trusted Tours and Attractions, I get to visit great attractions and sites here and elsewhere. St. Augustine is certainly worth a visit if you enjoy unique history, great beaches and eclectic, talented people. See you soon.
Monday, August 20, 2007
She is still sea worthy and takes occasional cruises in the Bay. On the 50th anniversary of the Normandy Invasion she sailed back to France for the ceremonies and is one of only two Liberty ships still in existence. Hundreds of volunteers keep her ship shape. It’s worth the effort to seek out this ship and remember the stories of WWII.
The staff at Electric tours is fantastic! They are funny, articulate and genuine. You feel welcomed and reassured no matter what your skills. The equipment is in great shape and the route is safe. The pre-tour safety session includes a short film and personal instruction until everyone feels comfortable. We then eased into the tour with lots of practice. Several stops included a nice café where you can grab a drink or snack. The experience is about three hours including 45 minutes of training. They also do a Sausalito tour and a Night tour. A great way to tour.