The Travel Guide

 

From Travel Educator Bijan C. Bayne

Interested in making your next vacation a memorable one? Planning a corporate meeting out of town? Looking to create more visibility or social media for your tourism brand? Please look into The Travel Guide for a suite of travel industry services and consultation:

http://bijanc.wordpress.com

 

 

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Watching the Elephant Next Door

Recession Strategies for the Travel and Tourism Industry

There are many advantages to having the United States as a neighbour, on the other side of what used to be called “the world’s longest undefended border.” One of the advantages is somewhat like the childhood game of follow the leader. While pursuing our own national programs and policies, we always keep a close eye on how the largest economy on the continent copes with the latest global crisis — in this case the worldwide recession.

As Pierre Elliott Trudeau, Canada’s most famous former prime minister, said to the Washington Press Club in 1969, “Living next to you is in some ways like sleeping with an elephant. No matter how friendly and even-tempered is the beast, if I can call it that, one is affected by every twitch and grunt.”

And whether we Canadians adopt a “wait and see what the Americans will do” strategy, or whether we just get on with our own business as best we can, the continental and new global reality is that all our “affairs of state” are interconnected and interdependent, especially in the travel and tourism industry.

Because the United States is Canada’s biggest travel market, we Canadians, like any nation, strive to enhance our marketability vis à vis our biggest customer, while at the same time remaining proactive in developing new markets outside the North American continent, because in the era of globalization there is whole new economic model out there.

This is especially true for the travel and tourism industry in these very troubling global economic times.

A generic comparative study

Although I am comparing how Canada and the United States conduct their respective (and very reciprocal) travel businesses, there are many generic lessons in this case study. The lessons of history must not be forgotten, but at the same time, as the U.S. Travel Association has articulated, innovation and renewal are critical survival strategies. And herein I think lies a lesson for travel journalists because as the principal storytellers in the travel and tourism business, we work in a highly collaborative and synergistic mode with our destination partners — and with our fellow travel journalists .

This is also why the Canada-U.S. case study is significant. Although Canada is geographically more or less as large as the United States (9,629,091 km² for the U.S. and 9,984,670 km² for Canada); it is population size that is the critical economic factor in terms of what our two nations have to win — or lose.

The population of the United States is currently estimated at 303,824,640, whereas the population of Canada is only 33,212,696. And this is where the principle of economies of scale is important. In terms of inbound tourism revenues, the more “product” you have to offer and the greater resources you have to get that product to market, the lower your marketing costs will be, and the greater your (global) market share.

And whereas Canada has depended to a great extent on the American market for the bulk of its tourism revenues, for the first time the United States is having to make a concerted effort to look beyond its borders as well as reinvesting in its domestic markets.

No matter what the industry — and travel and tourism is still considered the largest industry on the planet — how any nation keeps that industry alive and flourishing depends on many factors. As we have seen, the global economic situation has resulted in a travel and tourism industry that has become even more interconnected and interdependent.

But changing demographics (Canada and the United States are both “aging” societies) play an important role as well. Travel trends reflect new realities. Sustainable tourism is becoming an increasing priority in nations that recognize that their natural resources are finite but also the main reason why travellers choose to travel there.

In addition other previously unforeseen factors such as the emergence of new technologies like the Internet play a role. The relatively new electronic virtual communities can go a long way to creating a more level playing field in this business; Boise, Idaho can now compete with Boston, Massachusetts for the tourism “dollar.”

Travel journalism is generally supposed to be above and beyond politics, however, whether we like it or not, history and politics have always played a role in the travel and tourism industry. Emerging nations who have achieved a laudable degree of self-sufficiency, are consequently in a much better position to develop very viable travel and tourism industry. They therefore become competitors to traditional markets. This new reality is not lost on the renewed U.S. Travel Association.

And when there is a new Administration in Washington — the U.S. Travel Association has referred to it as “The New Washington” — this national travel and tourism body sees the change in national government as both a new opportunity and a challenge.

Strategies and bold statements

Roger Dow, President and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association, recently conducted a “transamerica” conference call of major players in the travel and tourism industry in the U.S. During his national appeal, he made some gloomy predictions, but at the same time he made some bold statements that certainly give food for thought to anyone in the travel and tourism industry anywhere in the world.

His overall theme was the same as that of Barack Obama — it’s all about change. But he also spoke clearly about the “real and perceived barriers to travel in today’s economic environment.” And as travel journalists, we are very much in the business of communicating realities while at the same time enhancing travellers’ perceptions of a destination through the mind’s eye. In this regard we strive to correct erroneous “impressions” about a destination and ultimately to eliminate attitudinal barriers to travel. We are therefore critical players in the growth of our global industry and it is incumbent on us to make governments and other national bodies fully aware of this fact.

Positioning and reorganization

By positioning or re-positioning itself in the nation’s capital of Washington D.C., the U.S. Travel Association has redoubled its efforts to make the travel and tourism industry a major player in the economy of the entire nation.

For example, Roger Dow points out that his association is making decision-makers in Washington aware that the travel industry provides 7.7 million jobs in the United States. A statement that I found especially significant was the following: “Washington simply plays too significant a role in the travel process and business of our industry for us to be anything short of aggressive, assertive and committed for the long-haul.” In short, the Association has re-positioned itself by “[firmly establishing] travel and our industry as Obama’s economic and diplomatic allies.”

The Association has also developed a vigorous strategy to encourage more business, meetings, and convention travel by educating Chief Executive Officers about the bottom-line value and positive return on investment of business travel. Also, the association has created an Economic Advisory Panel of prominent business scholars from around the U.S. who are studying and communicating to policymakers in governments at all levels, to the general public, and to the business world itself the competitive advantage of maintaining travel during difficult economic times. And one of its key modes of broadcasting this message is through the recently launched DiscoverAmerica.com, the official travel and tourism website of the United States.

Now a lot of nations have had official national websites for quite some time, but in the United States where states, cities, and regions have their own official websites (one has to understand American history and how this nation evolved to a great extent as a decentralized democracy in which regional differences deepened when the national government began expanding), creating a central virtual “port of entry” for travellers is a novelty for Americans.

There is also more evidence of a significant geopolitical shift as the U.S. Travel Association launches new efforts in what they refer to as “the potent markets of India, South Korea, and China.” And because the renewed marketing strategies emphasize both international and inland visitors, there is also a domestic version of the site. Working both sides of the travel marketplace, Americans are also encouraging their compatriots to travel more within their own country.

Above all the U.S. Travel Association is stating loud and clear that “We are a valuable resource and asset — not a collapsing industry in need of a bailout…”, and this is the universal principle and practice that we as travel journalists can also embrace.

Travel Matters: the fundamental message

There was a touch of the Wild West to the theme of the 4th Annual Travel Leadership Summit organized by the U.S. Travel Association from in which the rallying cry was “Stand Up for Travel!”

In the information and registration webpage for this national event, you will find this statement:

“The travel business is in a crisis. The recession is taking its toll, but the problem is much larger due to recent mis-characterizations by political leaders and the media about meetings and events travel. The industry has lost billions of dollars in cancellations, and communities across the United States have lost jobs…. The U.S. Travel Association is fighting back — turning the rhetoric around and focusing on the economic impact of travel…. Join hundreds of travel colleagues this fall in Washington to alert Congress about the recovery role that travel can play in our nation’s economy.”

I’m quite sure that, as usual, Canadians are watching what’s happening “south of the border,” feeling the twitch, and hearing the elephant grunt.

For more information on the new world of travel American-style, see the following:

Travel Green

The Power of Travel

See also…

The Impending Crisis in the Canadian Tourism Industry.

From the U.S. Travel Association website

(a) 1 out of every 8 jobs in the United States is linked to travel and tourism.

(b) In a recent survey, 87 percent of Americans say that encouraging people to travel recreationally within the U.S. could improve the country’s economy.

(c) Business travel accounts for $39 billion in tax revenue — federal, state, and local.

Tom Brokaw of NBC News Explains Canada to Americans

See this very popular YouTube video by clicking here.

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The Spatial Sense and Sensibility of Mexican Architect Ricardo Legorreta

From Travel Educator Bob Fisher

Architectural travel and playfulness

At The Westin Resort & Spa in Cancun, you are never entirely sure whether you are inside or outside; and this is the fundamental enigma and challenge that award-winning Mexican architect Ricardo Legorreta has not only conceptualized but internalized in this very human-friendly space.

It is a place in which you get a sense of permission-giving; permission to play. And in my experience, human play and playfulness are highly underrated; often misperceived as the sole domain of children. And yet at the Westin, it is very clear that Ricardo Legoretta has indulged himself and us in a higher order of play.

Play is how we learn the basics, how we discover and relate to our physical surroundings, how we become sensitized to the sights, sounds, forms, shapes, and feelings inherent in our personal and public spaces. And from the moment you arrive at this hotel, it is clear that what Legoretta has created is a liberated sense of space — and flow.

“Architecture is the learned game, correct and magnificent, of forms assembled in the light.” — Swiss architect and urban planner Charles-Édouard Jeanneret-Gris (known as Le Corbusier)

A multilateral space

For those who enjoy architectural-conceptual travel experiences, this particular work by Legoretta will heighten your awareness of the art form, especially because it is a highly sensory experience as well as a very clever contextual frame of reference in which numerous fundamental elements are constantly at play.

This is architecture that appeals to both cognition and the affect. The geometrical elements that Legoretta has incorporated into the hotel are proof positive of the relationship between mathematics and architecture. The lead photograph in this article, for example, demonstrates how the architect must have calculated mathematically in his mind’s eye the equivalencies that would create a harmonious, airy, and elevated space but which would at the same time preserve a human scale.

Note the telescopic effect of the view, which reflects the essential landscape he had to work with; the ocean on one side (behind us) and the lagoon on the other. And given that the space he had to work with was a relatively long (and very beautiful) beach on and equally narrow strip of land, the horizontal and lateral flow he has achieved throughout the entire multi-level series of buildings is quite remarkable.

And even though the actual property is extensive but not sprawling by any means, as you meander through the hotel you can easily get lost. This is part of the structural playfulness that is neither didactic nor pretentious, but instead invites the visitor to take alternate routes throughout the property. In this regards there is a touch of the whimsical in The Westin.

This open concept effect can also be achieved in part because the property is at the far end of Cancun’s famous Zona Hotelera and gives onto a wide beach that is also sheltered by a breakwater, thus extending the interior spaces both visually and literally. Furthermore, because The Westin is not “where the action is” in popular Cancun and has the ocean on one side and the lagoon on the other, Legoretta had a slight advantage in that he could create an architectural environment that can be more uninterrupted, and consequently more idiosyncratic and creative.

Principles, ideals, and ideas

Marcus Vitruvius Pollio was a Roman writer, architect and engineer. He is also a classical source on things architectural and is often referenced when defining the fundamental principles of architecture: order, arrangement, harmony of proportion, symmetry, congruity, economy, to mention the major themes.

As you will see from the slideshow (see link below), each of these principles has been integrated into this particular property. Because it is a resort where guests come in search of the proverbial “island of tranquility in a sea of storms,” the design has inherent in it a quiet sense of order but not the overly ambitious or even arrogant opulence that can actually intimidate some guests.

This understated order is in part created by the many private spaces that Legoretta has managed to insert here and there throughout the property. One does indeed feel far from the madding crowd but never isolated in an ambiance of luxurious excess.

Now don’t get me wrong, The Westin is indeed a luxury property (always a relative term) but Legoretta’s design features do not overwhelm nor intimidate. You never feel that you must make yourself “presentable” before venturing outside your room. This personalization of the space also adds to the spatial economy of scale and congruity of the hotel. It becomes a matrix in which diverse and surprising spaces seem to greet you at every turning. The guest is certainly indulged by this heterogeneity, but you never get the feeling of being overindulged.

Niche architecture

What I enjoyed most about this particular work by Legoretta is the way in which he uses rectangular and cubic shapes and spaces of varying size that give the property both a sense of that which is “inside” and that which is “without.” And herein lies the narrative of Legoretta’s work. All architecture tells a story; some more obvious than others, others subtle and surreptitious.

As I often say, landscape shapes culture; and Legoretta’s very Mexican expression of this form of “high culture” is a three-dimensional visual tale of the aspirations of Cancun and its bold plan.

One is reminded on many levels that The Westin Resort & Spa is also a property in Cancun, Mexico; a tropical environment in a nation with a very distinct culture and sense of place. And when you visit this hotel, you are always aware of where you are; you never feel that sense of cultural anonymity or contrived reality that other resorts sometimes project.

This is indeed “sunny Mexico” and with all due respect to mad dogs and Englishmen who go out in the noonday sun, Legoretta has created an architectural space that filters and diffuses light in many ways.

It isn’t just the obvious design features that allow indirect light to flow through the large airy spaces of the hotel, but there are other elements that use the laws of physics in reflecting and redirecting light to accentuate the interior spaces, and to bring the attenuated Mexican sun indoors. In addition, the carefully juxtaposed flow-through spaces of the hotel convey ocean breezes in which it seems to me both air and light coalesce.

Subtle “accessories”

This is the first Westin resort property to place great emphasis on artistic elements throughout the venue. And this too is in keeping with one of the main principles of fine architecture: the arrangement of “accent pieces” which includes the artful and strategic placing of them in “their proper place” in order to create a desired effect.

Now the accent pieces at The Westin happen to be fine art pieces and artifacts that collectively create a truly Mexican ambiance and a genuine perspective (another key architectural principle) on the art and artistry of the Mexican people both from ancient times and in a contemporary sense as well. The blending of art and architecture also enhances the cultural principles of historical reflection and indigenous self-expression.

And I must not forget to mention the architectural principle of symmetry which, as you will see in the images, is fundamental to Legoretta’s vision. But while he clearly emphasizes harmony, balance, and equilibrium throughout the property, he does not hesitate to experiment nor to integrate elements that are original, even asymmetrical, in their own right.

Legoretta also uses materials, furniture, and other design elements that are intrinsic in the cultural landscape of Mexico; creating an overall sense of purpose, common sense, and an affirmation of the culture that nurtured him.

A Mexican architect

The following biographical information is courtesy of The Westin Resort and Spa.

Ricardo Legorreta was born in Mexico City on May 7, 1931. He studied architecture at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM). His work is easily recognized for its brightly-colored volumes. Legorreta is a disciple of Luis Barragan who carried Barragan’s ideas of regional Mexican architecture to a wider realm. Barragan, in the 1940s and 1950s amalgamated local tradition and modern movement architecture in Mexico yet his work is mostly limited to domestic architecture. Legorreta uses elements of Mexican regional architecture in his work including bright colors, plays of light and shadow, central patios and porticated corridors as well as solid Platonic volumes.

One of the important contributions of Legorreta has been the use of these elements in other building types such as hotels, factories, and churches as well as in commercial and educational buildings. Among his most famous works are The Westin Resort & Spa Cancun, the Camino Real hotels, the IBM Factory in Guadalajara and the Cathedral of Managua. He now also has a growing presence outside of Mexico, particularly in the southwest of the United States.

The architectural eloquence of Ricardo Legorreta

To see a slideshow of architectural images of The Westin Resort & Spa, click here.

Resources

The website for the architect firm of Legoretta & Legoretta

Here you will be able to learn more about Legoretta Arquitectos which was established in 1963 and which has remained “faithful to our objective to achieve the best architecture inspired in human values.”

At this very attractive and user-friendly site, you will also be able to explore other architectural projects the firm has completed around the world.

The Westin Resort & Spa Cancun

For more information on The Westin Resort & Spa, click on the above link.

The Official Cancun tourism website

For more information on Cancun and its attractions, click on the above link.

Speaking of architecture

“Architecture is the learned game, correct and magnificent, of forms assembled in the light.” – Le Corbusier,  Swiss Architect

“The mother art is architecture. Without an architecture of our own we have no soul of our own civilization.”– Frank Lloyd Wright,  American architect

“Life is rich, always changing, always challenging, and we architects have the task of transmitting into wood, concrete, glass and steel, of transforming human aspirations into habitable and meaningful space.” – Arthur Erickson, Canadian architect

“Good architecture is like a piece of beautifully composed music crystallized in space that elevates our spirits beyond the limitation of time.” – Tao Ho, Chinese/Hong Kong architect

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Latin American Luxury Hotels Lead Way In Sustainable Tourism

When it comes to ecotourism, do upscale U.S. hotels take a back seat to their tropical counterparts? The following articles by Travel Educator Bijan C. Bayne cover an encouraging trend in tourism:

Hotel Parador, Manuel Antonio Rain Forest, Costa Rica-

http://www.justluxe.com/community/hotel-parador-five-star-hospitality-in-the-costa-rican-rain-forest_a_1649710.php

Hacienda Tres Rios and other resorts, Playa Del Carmen, Mexico-

http://www.justluxe.com/community/eco-friendly-luxury-in-the-mayan-riviera_a_1649513.php

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Travel Educator Bijan C. Bayne Shares What To See

Our own Bijan C. Bayne has been named the newest tourism blogger at View On Travel:

http://www.viewontravel.com/blogs/what-to-see

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Travel Educator Kelly Westhoff Nystrom Named Feature Blogger for Smart Talk 2012 in Minneapolis

Our very own Kelly Westhoff Nystrom has been a the feature blogger for Smart Talk 2012, where she will meet Ariana Huffington and Andie McDowell, among others:

http://www.haikubytwo.com/featured-blogger-for-smart-talk-2012-in-minneapolis/

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Travel & Tourism Businesses- Promote Your Product Here

Have a product, service, destination or blog to market? Through web links and guest blogging, social networks, and our own loyal readership, The Travel Educators’ audience is growing. If you have a service, blog, product, or business to promote, this is the space in which to do so.

Those interested in participating in our as part of our link text ad program, may contact bijanc@hotmail.com to inquire about our reasonable monthly or one-time rates. Choose your own anchor text to best drive traffic.

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