Am I down with DST? No, you know me! Daylight Savings Time (DST) has been the scourge of my existence as a parent and educator (and shiftwork employer) for some time.
Actually, that’s not accurate! I’m a fan of DST and want to make it a permanent fixture; leaving us with an extra hour of daylight in the evenings simply by not setting the clocks back in the fall (and leaving them alone forever after).
Recently I was asked by a local TV station to share my thoughts on DST and the tourism industry. Here are my musings on why a permanent time shift forward in BC would be beneficial:
More outdoor play when consumers want it. Parks usage studies in the UK show that evenings are becoming increasingly popular recreation times (over mornings) as the local market seeks these activities after working hours.
Healthier for residents. A Washington state economist asserts that daylight saving hours in the evening lead to an increase in recreation and a decrease in screen time. And this is in addition to avoiding the well-documented risks of the time change which include heart attacks and traffic accident upticks.
Healthier for staff. I myself have had challenges with DST, as once per year I’ve experienced staff showing up late for shifts, or falling prey to sleep-related challenges. We’re a people-based service industry and this can only keep our front-line staff more alert and prepared.
On brand. As a recreation-focused, Super Natural brand, with BC residents constituting half of our own leisure tourism spending, this move would encourage more outdoors fun by the guests that matter.
Fewer administrative headaches. As an industry based on itineraries (departures and arrivals, reservations, or check-in times) we are forced to update our systems and records twice a year. By keeping a consistent time zone we save pain and effort (and errors) from having to adjust these twice a year.
Despite these advantages, the drawbacks might include:
Changes for small niche operators in transportation and other sectors. I’m not privy to the schedules of Harbour Air, but my guess would be that the shift in daylight to the evening would impact their operations (they only fly during daylight). This could also be a challenge for daylight-dependent wildlife viewing or fishing … although I can’t imagine guests objecting to an extra hour of sleep (over previous years’ itineraries).
The need for harmonization with other markets like Alberta, Washington, and Oregon. Our DST plan would need to be consistent with changes in these top BC traveler markets to ensure seamless transition for our visitors.
I’m far from the definitive expert in this area, but I did my best to bring these points to the fore. You can watch the piece here.
I pop up around the 10-minute mark in Part 1.
How do you feel about the time shift in BC? Let me know in the comments.
This Tuesday morning I joined fellow tourism nerds at a Tourism Vancouver presentation of Alex Hunter: The Art and Science of Wow.
Alex is a former Virgin America executive who travels the world as a branding and customer experience expert and keynote speaker. He’s also the host of Attaché, an award-winning online travel show, which brought him to the Vancouver Playhouse main stage.
Alex is a phenomenal storyteller; it’s challenging to take his fluid ideas and anecdotes and pull them together into something cohesive, so here’s what stood out for me:
The Internet Ruined Everything
Maybe it’s because Alex is a fellow Gen Xer who remembers the good old days of pay phones and print ads, but his statement that “marketing was the easiest job in the world until we ruined it with the internet” really struck home. He pulled up the following ad which summarizes the kinds of things Madison Avenue used to be able to get away with:
The internet comment was tongue in cheek, but he’s right that the good old-fashioned decision-making funnel has been obliterated. We can’t grab consumers with a big message (sexually harass her and you’ll be cool), hit them with some PR/evidence (doctors recommend Tipalet), and then do a little price-based sales promotion to nudge them over the line (Tipalet: now 2 for the price of 1).
Consumers today are in a cycle with more points of engagement. Marketers must strike a reasonable balance between pre and post purchase connection because our targets are not in a funnel, they’re on a see-saw adding and subtracting brands under consideration in any given moment.
We’ve moved from a push to influence at the “consider” and “buy” stages to an emphasis on talking with (not to) our customers at the “evaluate” stage (even if that means exposing them to other brands) and at the “advocate” step (encouraging sharing with their sociograph in person and online).
The Loyalty Loop
So if there’s no funnel, Alex argues, we need to pay extra attention to loyalty, which has been something of an obsession for him. The ultimate goal is to get your consumers into what he refers to as the “loyalty loop”.
You can’t have loyalty without someone feeling something, or in the words of Matthew Weiner on Mad Men:
“You feeling something. That’s what sells.”
Alex then called out Apple users (guilty as charged). When I remember back to my switch from the frugal but frustrating combo of a Microsoft Surface and a Samsung cell phone to a MacBook and iPhone in one day, I recall feeling free and relaxed.
And since that day, when I interact with Apple, I know I’m taken care of. I know where to go to get my problems solved, and they’re solved promptly, frequently exceeding my expectations. Prior to this, the tech devices in my life were a source of stress and confusion. Say what you will about the corporation, but Apple really does handle UX very well. By helping me to chill, they’ve got me in the loop!
Emotion is Greater than Reason
Alex also introduced us to Dr Donald Calne. Well, not personally, although Dr Calne apparently lives in Kamloops. Calne is a neurologist who discovered, through scientific study that:
“The essential difference between emotion and reason is that emotion leads to action while reason leads to conclusions.”
So if we want our guests, visitors, and customers to conclude something about our destinations and businesses, then we can use reason. But if we want them to take action, we have to appeal to their feelings.
Hunter’s example was that of Coke vs Pepsi (specifically Diet Coke in his case). As a Coke drinker, I understood his story immediately. Because if somebody offers me a Pepsi as an alternative I feel incredulous and, frankly, insulted.
Coke is a special treat. It’s birthday parties, summer vacation, going to the movies in a real theatre, and Christmas dinner. Pepsi is … overly sweet Coke substitute. I will stick with water if that’s the only option.
As Alex puts it, “if brown water in a can can produce that reaction, no product or service is immune.”
The Small Stuff
Back in ye olden days, when I was a kid (so, the 1980s), businesses used to interact with consumers one-on-one. This is another thing the internet ruined, for a spell. We got so fixated on broadcasting wider and wider on the web, that we lost this connection. But we can get it back.
And it’s not that hard to do well. You’ve heard my example of being bowled over with the gift of well-timed water on a WestJet flight. And Hunter is loyal to a hotel in New York City where, time after time, they’ve stocked the fridge with Diet Coke, left a basket of his favourite snacks, and a handwritten note. The first time it was a surprise (based on a questionnaire he’d filled out). But they treat him to this every time he stays – prompting the comment “I am no longer a transaction, I’m not just a room night, I’m a relationship.”
We Are Magicians
We have all this data and the capacity to use what we know to create delight. And so many opportunities (touchpoints) to do this online and in person. But Alex cautions us NOT to tell our guests how we do it. He shared the story of a famous airline that used iPads to produce out-of-this world personalized greetings and experiences for their guests. Except in a PR move, they published a white paper on how they did it. They ruined the trick (“you don’t love me, the iPad told you”), and forgot the context of the relationship. To create magic for the guest, never forget that you are a magician.
The Handwritten Note
Take the time. Get the pen. Write the note. And for the love of everything, if you’re going to do a mail merge, do it correctly. Alex quit banking with an institution that sent him a “Dear null null” letter. I’ve broken up with a car dealership that uses my two middle names in all their communication. Get these things right the first time.
People Remember How You Make them Feel
There were so many nuggets in this presentation and the Q & A that followed. Ty Speer joined Alex Hunter on stage and they wrapped the session up with a from Maya Angelou:
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel”
Alex Hunter made me feel excited to work in tourism, excited to bring the magic to my students, and pumped to be a better businessperson and host. You can check out his website here, or follow him @cubedweller.
WestJet’s Christmas Miracle campaigns, which combine corporate giving with strong public and media relations. Too numerous to mention them all, a recent WestJet effort in the Dominican Republic offers a good example. Click hereto watch it.
“Red Sucks”, the video from a small mountain in the Kootenays. This campaign was a tongue-in-cheek look at 24-hours in a guest’s life at the local resort. Watch the video here.
The transcendent nature of the “Super, Natural British Columbia” brand that has persisted through several organizational structures to touch the hearts and minds of hundreds of visitors. Students this year referenced the Wild Within video (here) as being particularly memorable.
Tourism Calgary, the Calgary Stampede and other stakeholders’ “Come Hell or High Water” statements, and “Calgary, We’re Open” a 2013 collective effort to invite visitors to the destination despite excessive flooding. See the official tourism video here.
5. UNILAD Adventures’ look at Zimbabwe, as posted on Facebook.
“Pure Michigan” radio campaign, particularly in the Windsor-Quebec corridor. Apparently to those who live there, these spotsare a near-constant presence.
Tourism Australia’s “Best Job in the World” campaigns. Starting with a 2009 contest for the NSW region, this grew into a national youth-focused initiative drawing global attention.
1. And the “winner” is? Incredible India. I promoted this to the top spot because my BCIT undergrad students also voted this the top brand in our destination development course. Click here for a 2013 commercial from the campaign.
To view the list we created in 2017, click here. And let me know what campaign springs to your mind (from any era) in the comments below!
One of the questions I get regularly is “how do I get paid to be a travel writer?”
This comes up frequently during informational interviews and at networking events. I’m by no means a prolific writer but I have had some success with it, and I sure do enjoy it. You can check out some of my recent work here .
Here’s what I share with prospective writers about my journey and what travel writing looks like to me.
Understand that for most, it’s a side job
I have never made a full living from travel writing, so as with many tourism professions, it helps to have a ‘day job’. If you’re starting out (e.g. early in your career) I recommend getting a steady job in accommodations, and then branching out in to writing from there. (Find out why I recommend starting in accommodations here.)
Know what perspective you have to offer, and provide samples
My daughter and I are planning a trip to Viet Nam so I’m pitching some ideas based on our itinerary, my perspective as a mom, and the “family travel” angle. I always provide a link to recent work published on another platform. I also try to pitch a specific concept to “e.g. Top 5” or “How to” and give the editors something to visualize. Note that in my experience, most of the time you’re going to want to plan the trip and then pitch the writing gig to the relevant publisher. I have been paid to take a trip and write, and it is awesome, but that came after I proved myself to that publisher.
Be a nice person (and as “real” as you can be)
This may sound trite, but it’s my philosophy for all things career (and life). Be kind to other people, and be yourself. I’m not the world’s most polished ‘professional’, and that’s ok. I’ve got a down-to-earth personality, I’m a ‘hugger’, and I’ve got a dirty mouth. I will rein all that in as needs be, but for the most part, what you see is what you get. I tend to end up working with people whose personality jives with all of that, and so far it’s working out.
Make lots of contacts at industry conferences, work, and school
Most of my writing gigs have come to me by way of industry events or via friends I’ve made in school (especially graduate school). If you follow my advice in terms of being a good person, and determining a point-of-view, you’ll start to attract gigs along the way.
Social plays a greater role than before
All that said, I started my writing career at a time before Facebook or Instagram even existed! People were using Ask Jeeves* for their travel plans. So my writing has had to evolve. The good news is, if you’re younger, the connection to social is automatic and instinctual. You know about keywords and being an ‘influencer’ and the importance of video. Harness that and share it with platforms that are crying out for better content!
Stick with it
Last bit of advice here, and that’s to stick with it. If you have a day job, set reminders in your calendar to reach out to new platforms and make connections at blogs and magazines. This is the hardest advice to follow myself – but if you make time for your craft on a regular basis, and dedicate time to developing relationships with publishers, you’ll get there faster.
*ironically, if you don’t know what this is, I suggest you Google it
Our illustrious tourism marketing management department head had another engagement, so he passed the torch to me. I’m not a morning person but I hope I did the sector proud on air – despite the challenge of distilling a very complex “overnight success story” into a couple of minutes.
I’ll admit I was geeking out at the chance to sit across from Stephen and speak on a show we listen to every morning at home. I mentioned I was excited. He cautioned me not to be “too excited”. How did I do? Was I, in Stephen’s words, the “right level of excited”?
Judge for yourself! Visit the Early Edition webpage here: