We all take the same photos

I’m guilty. Partially. Of taking the same iconic tourism shot as everybody else. Though I also learned this lesson back in my tourism marketing days – so I’m much more interested in taking photos of people, or odd angles, or trying to do something unique, than I am in taking the same picture that features on post cards you can buy for a dollar – though those do have a place if you’re on a study tour (hence their appearance in the albums from the Greece and Turkey trip we went on last year).

When an artist named Corinne Vionnet noticed that everybody in the world seems to take the same photos she put together this exhibition of overlayed photos of some of the wonders of the tourism world.

“Switzerland-based Corinne Vionnet is our guide to the world’s most famous landmarks, monuments millions have visited before. Her art is created not by acrylic, oil, or watercolor, each piece is made by combining hundreds of tourist photos into one. After conducting an online keyword search and sifting through photo sharing sites, this Swiss/French artist carefully layers 200 to 300 photos on top of one another until she gets her desired result.”

Including the Parthenon, on the Acropolis in Athens.

Here’s my shot from that spot.

This composite shot of New York is interesting too, just because it still has the twin towers.

How Should Jesus Smell? Scent branding church

Scent branding fascinates me. It seems so obvious. Appealing to all the senses – especially when taste is so related to smell. It’s like nailing two senses with one blow. I went to a tourism marketing seminar with Tom O’Toole, the owner of the Beechworth Bakery. One of the first things he did when turning the bakery into a landmark tourist attraction and nationally renowned bakery was to pump the smells from the kitchen out onto the street. I read elsewhere that fast food joints use similar strategies (which is why they always smell so good).

Smells effect us all. They trigger memories, comfort us, stimulate us, warn us off dodgy food… Jasmine is apparently as effective as valium. Smells are chemically complex – the aroma of your freshly ground pile of coffee can be formed by as many as 800 different aromatic compounds. Smell is powerful stuff – and besides food chains and deodorant manufacturers its been a pretty underutilised element of branding. Sure, we describe new purchases by their scent (cars, leather etc) – but this seems more a marker of quality than a factor in the purchase decision (though you wouldn’t buy a stinky new car). Scent marketers Air Aroma cite research that suggests that 75% of our daily emotions are triggered by smell.

The practice of creating artificial smells is pretty controversial (unless you’re a celebrity launching a perfume brand – ala Bruce Willis… because smelling like a sweaty male action figure is awesome.

Hotels have trademarked fragrances that get pumped into their lobbies and rooms take this little anecdote for example:

Since Le Méridien was founded in 1972 by Air France, Penot and Roschi took a very old copy of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s Le Petit Prince—the author was a pilot—and had the rich smell of the book’s pages analyzed. (Capturing the scents of familiar objects is quite standard in this industry, though presumably the choice of this particular old book for the testing was more whimsical then determinative.) They used the results to create a scent, which they took to Ziegler. She decided it would be Le Méridien’s signature fragrance, its olfactory logo.

Scent branding isn’t new, the article above dates its use in travel to the 1970s – it even has a name for the part of your brain that the method targets: “Singapore Airlines has a branded scent… used in all of its planes, a light sweet scent like pure steam from fresh rice. If you’re booking a flight…you’ll find it that much harder to go with the competition because the Singapore scent builds the brand in the limbic system.”

The future of the hotel industry will apparently involve us selecting a scent for our room at check in, and the room smelling of roses (or whatever we choose) by the time we get to the door. Some people see this practice as a form of subliminal manipulation, or have problems with the ethics of the perfume industry.

Natalie Dee, a designer, very usefully put together this periodic table of smellements – a grading of smells we find pleasant or noxious.

And, incidentally, it’s now possible, through the availability of precise scientific measuring tools like mass-spectrometers (made famous by NCIS), to analyse a person’s “scent print”…

“Florida International University chemist Kenneth Furton studies the smells that might be of greatest use in a crime investigation. These, he says, are the ones that come from the hands. (Murderers rarely wield weapons in their underarms.) For the last five years, Furton has been cataloging the many chemicals that compose hand scent, including odoriferous acids, alcohols, aldehydes, hydrocarbons, esters, ketones, and nitrogen-containing compounds.”

Robyn tells me that using aromatic oils in the classroom also helped moderate behaviour – lavender calmed the kids down, lemon and eucalyptus perked them up.

Which all adds up to a compelling case for harnessing smells in branding – but is this an area churches should be playing in? Should we install ventilation systems dedicated to pumping the odour of a well read bible through the auditorium at reading time? Should we be pumping the smell of morning tea onto the street to entice people in on a Sunday? What smell do you think captures, or enhances the church experience? What did Jesus smell like? A mix of sawdust, dirt, and after his anointing a liberal dash of perfume. Was that the first case of scent branding?

Australian Traveller – goes to town on Yamba

I received an email today with a media release from Australian Traveller magazine. They’ve named Australia’s 100 best towns. Top of the list is pretty close to my childhood stomping ground of Maclean, Yamba. Awesome. Go the North Coast.

“Residents of Yamba, the sleepy and secret fishing village (population 5600) at the mouth of the Clarence River on NSW’s North Coast, may be upset at being named the Best Town in Australia. Their idyllic secret is out and they may have to share.”

If you’ve never been there you should definitely go. After holidaying in Townsville of course.

Dalby didn’t make the list. A travesty, obviously, but Picnic Bay on Magnetic Island did.

The methodology was pretty scientifically sound:

“A panel of tourism & travel experts decided the 100 Best Towns. The panellists were presented with a shortlist of 300 towns and asked: “On a scale of 1-10, how likely are you to recommend a friend add one hour to their trip just to visit this town?” The answers were tabulated and the 100 Best Towns revealed.”

The full list will be available on the Australian Traveller website tomorrow.

Gruen man

The Gruen Transfer returned to TV tonight. It’s a brilliant show. Tonight’s topic – tourism advertising. A subject close to my heart. Made some interesting observations about how tourism marketing works and the basic formula.

A couple of years ago at a marketing workshop with Virgin Blue marketing guru Sean Cummins (from Cummins and Partners) showed two tourism advertisements from different states with the soundtracks switched – and it was almost impossible to tell the difference.

Tourism ads are by and large formulaic and in the past were too focused on iconic shots of postcard landmarks – and apparently what we’re really into is collecting experiences rather than pictures.

Tourism marketers are limited by government funding and the fact that the tourism industry is a disparate bunch of small businesses who don’t really want to throw much money into advertising a destination rather than their own businesses.

I’m going to make my own tourism ad on their website and figure out how to put it up here.

Lost in Translation

The “Where the bloody hell are you?” campaign went down like a lead balloon. So tourism boffins in Spain will be a little worried after this little slip up. From the Spanish Prime Minister. When announcing a new campaign.

“”There is a big increase in the number of Spanish tourists heading to Russia, the number is at 500,000, we have therefore decided to sign an agreement to stimulate, to favour, to f—,” he said, pausing briefly before ending the sentence with “to support this tourism”.”

Apparently the Spanish words for “to support” sounds very similar to the alternative he used.

Lake Tekapo, Mount Cook

Today is national bad similie day. I’ve just declared it. Hence this post will be filled with them – like a flea circus on the back of a mangy dog.

Our little car that could, a red kia Picanto, chews through fuel like a fire breather chews through kerosene – quickly and in spectacular fashion.

We made the 100km journey from Lake Tekapo (a quaint lakeside village) to Mount Cook (New Zealand’s highest mountain) in double quick time – like tinned food on pension day…

Actually, we were slowed unexpectedly by a chain of cattle at muster time. These cows – we guessed there were about 200 of them (a fifty/fifty split between adults and calves) – were travelling between paddocks – along the road. We spent some time travelling in cattle class – and some further comic release was provided when an add for a local butcher came on over the radio. We promptly wound the window up so as not to scare the locals into some sort of frenzied stampede.

Mount Cook is a glacial behemoth. It has killed over 130 people. So deadly is it that the Visitor Information Centre includes a book listing those who have died – and a video of a recent rescue effort that ended with the untimely demise of the rescued climber.

The base of the mountain is also home to the Sir Edmund Hillary centre – a museum dedicated to the kiwi mountaineer.

The coffee at the Edmund Hillary centre’s cafe was bad – like a similie without a corroborative noun. How hard can it be to make a palatable coffee?

The cattle were still lowing on the way back. En route I was surprised by the amount of roadkill on New Zealand roads.

The only billboards we’ve seen on our travels have been for road safety – and it seems that sentiment doesn’t extend to animals. The distance between Mount Cook and Lake Tekapo was 106km. On our journey we counted 136 individual pieces of roadkill. Birds, possums, rabbits, unidentifiable fur balls.  That’s a road kill index of 1.28 animals per kilometre. I’m sure that’s high. In fact, there was a 20km stretch about 10 minutes out of Mount Cook that accounted for 48 pieces of roadkill – a significantly higher roadkill index of 2.4. Is there anywhere else that boasts a figure like that? If so, I haven’t seen it.

The township of Lake Tekapo is a small town on a big lake. There’s not a whole lot of exciting stuff there. There is a Peppers Resort – which is where we stayed. Our track record with Peppers hasn’t been great. It was a Peppers Resort that lost our booking on our wedding night – almost leaving us sleeping in a stable… before upgrading us to the one available luxury room. This Peppers experience was much better. On our second night in Lake Tekapo we dined in house at the restaurant, and enjoyed a fine sirloin steak and superb lamb rump.

One of the township’s famous attractions is the Church of the Good Shepherd – an old stone chapel built right on the lake. We spent a bit of time at twilight last night taking photos in what was pretty photogenic light.

Some photos were more serious than others

Some photos were more serious than others

The chapel is a working church – shared by the Anglicans, Presbyterians and Catholics in town – outside the chapel there’s a little letterbox styled post – asking for donations. There’s no need to pass the plate around if your church is a tourist attraction.

Heres one we prepared earlier

Here's one we prepared earlier

Actually, this afternoon we toured the Christchurch Cathedral – having only seen the outside on our first stop. They “encourage” a five dollar donation, and those looking for a “truly memorable” experience can donate a church chair for just $320.

As I’ve already pre-empted – like a US president’s foreign policy – this morning our trip came full circle – back to Christchurch. We’re at the Off the Square boutique motel which is the first place we’ve stayed to offer free broadband. Tonight’s dinner was probably the best of the trip. Bailies Pub, just around the corner from the hotel and the cathedral, cooked up a sensational sirloin steak with mashed potato. And Robyn’s lamb shanks were cooked to perfection.

Hanmer Springs

Day three of our New Zealand adventure began with an early morning departure from Christchurch. We picked up a quick caffeine hit from the now thrice mentioned Honey Pot café and then hit the road. Christchurch has an inexplicable array of streets with changing names. Streets change names without warning for seemingly no reason at all. This made following googlemaps directions hard. We got a little lost. Tempers were frayed because we were late, late for a very important date. It wasn’t Alice in Wonderland and we weren’t risking decapitation at the hands of the queen of hearts – but we did receive an icy welcome when we did arrive at Hanmer Horses – the specialists in horse tours of the surrounds of the quaint ski village. We were asked to arrive with half an hour to spare, and got there with 20 minutes up our sleeves. Not a bad effort considering we’d run the risk of quite literally “running on empty” to get our troupe of equine adventurers to the ranch on time.
Hanmer’s very own Queen of Hearts greeted us with possibly the grumpiest reception I’ve ever experienced from anyone in the tourism industry. Actually, make that the second grumpiest. The grumpiest was a deckhand on the Dunk Island to Mission Beach ferry – who when informed that the journalists and Tourism Australia media representative I was travelling with had not been issued tickets upbraided us with a series of cuss words that only a mariner can truly command. But I digress. Tourism is a people industry. If you’re not into people – but like the company of a horse – perhaps vet science is a better career path. This lady yelled at her staff and then quite literally “took the reigns” before they’d had a chance to heed her commands. She harangued us for being late. For having the nerve to expect to pay with credit card using a signature rather than a PIN and was abrupt and sour the whole time she interacted with her customers. She was a blight on what otherwise was by all accounts a pleasant ride through picturesque New Zealand territory.
I was left to my own devices for a couple of hours while the intrepid “four horsemen” where off gallivanting and galloping around the hills, I used the time wisely acquainting myself with the birds and bees of Hanmer Springs. Literally. For that to truly make sense you’ll have to check out some of the photos in our web album – I’d link to them, but we’re very close to running out of time with our hour of wireless internet.
The riding experience left our party saddle sore and weary – and it was time for respite and repast. We made haste to the Springs Deli – where we supped on salads, and other such delights. All this eating and merriment left us in need of a nanna nap – so our troupe trouped off to our holiday house to emerge hours later ready for dinner. We decided to head back to the town centre to pick up some meat from the supermarket but decided to make do with an antipasto platter when we determined meat was not so forthcoming in these parts. The platter sated our hunger somewhat as we tried to negotiate a recalcitrant wireless hotspot.
We decided to go for some real food – and experienced what was roundly acclaimed as the best food we’ve eaten all trip, probably all year in most cases. Stone grilled meat is something I’d never experienced before – and I can only wonder why. This pub specialised in the fine art of stone grilling – which means they basically bring you a really hot slab of stone and some raw meat and you cook it yourself, to your liking. It was superb. The Moroccan chicken pizza we had along with the meat was also superb – and you’ll hopefully find pictures of both in our album – or here if we locate reliable internet before you’ve digested this post.
After this meal it was time for a movie and bed. We had to be up the next day (today – or yesterday depending on your timezone) for some whitewater rafting thrills and spills at the appropriately named “Thrillseeker’s Canyon”. Thrillseeker’s Canyon seems to have its approach to staffing just right – our experience there was nothing but positive. We were a little nervous to begin with because we’d been told this was a category 4 rapid run – and that apparently meant some serious rapids and danger. In reality the journey was smooth sailing with just a few bumps along the way. Our Maori guide – Darren – was excellent, and made sure we had an enjoyable trip with some forced “abandon ships” to make sure we had the rescue and recovery process down pat should problems arrive further downstream. The typical rafting run covers about 7km and includes stops for jumping off high rocks into water, and general aquatic frolicking. Our atypical trip ended with a nice surprise. The trip ends at a swimming hole – and I had asked at the outset how we’d be getting back from b to a. A to b seemed pretty straight forward. Our very helpful kiwi leader told me with a straight face that the river was round – and we’d just paddle back. That was all the answer we were given – and I was inclined to believe this was the case, however improbable it may seem. We were pleasantly surprised then when a jetboat arrived to pick us up. Generally these jetboats ferry passengers back to base – in this case we were treated to a surprise jetboat experience. It seems there’s a rafting/jetboat combo, and some of the group we paddled with had purchased that option. It’s a case of one in, all in. If only a couple of passengers on a trip order the combo everyone gets upgraded (shame airlines don’t offer the same level of service). We scored. All morning I’d been watching these boats hoon past with a sense of envy. We were given the run down at the outset – these boats sport twin Lexus V8 engines, at full speed they glide in just one inch of water. They’re aluminium, with the walls just 4mm thick. Our very experienced driver had been handling the boats, and the rapids, from the age of 13. This would have been comforting to know before he’d hurtled upstream drifting towards and away from the rockface at incredible speeds. There are photos of these boating adventures (or there will be soon) in the picasa album.
Hanmer Springs is a nice little village – and it’s easy to picture it filling up during ski season. Hopefully the coffee improves during peak time. We didn’t manage to find anything spectacular – and suffered through a couple of shockers picked up in pubs. Even if a pub advertises its coffee on its roadside A-frame it’s unlikely to be good coffee. I can say that now, with the benefit of hindsight.

shoe croc, don’t bother me

Ok, so these ones do. And that title is a really bad pun. But fresh from talking about a sticky situation involving the Coogee Bay Hotel, we have been confronted with our own PR crisis.

For those of you not familiar with the story here’s the précis, the tourism dependent community of Magnetic Island was recently in lock down as a rogue crocodile terrorised the bays and streets of the island. But the plot thickened – it turned out the EPA, in its infinite wisdom, had captured the crocodile in Far North Queensland and released it near Townsville. Then, as it began wreaking havoc upon the poor island, they couldn’t catch it. This of course led to calls from the ever reliable walking quote machine, Bob Katter, for a croc cull. Crocodile leather is desirable for shoes, hand bags and other accesories – they also interfere with our right to enjoyment of nature – or so the argument goes. It was eventually caught – only to die in captivity a day later – an autopsy revealed that the croc’s stomache was lined with plastic bags, and other rubbish which led to its untimely demise. Untimely, arguably because it should have died three weeks earlier.

This was a PR nightmare for all involved (except Bob Katter).

In particular:
The EPA now stand accused of killing some small businesses due to their ridiculous “crocs in space” program. They had an electronic tag on the crocodile and still couldn’t find it. They mishandled the situation allowing operator after operator to front the media lambasting them and demanding compensation – the State Government pretty much ruled it out on the spot – and now can count on no votes from Magnetic Island at the upcoming election. Even the greenies hate them because the croc died. It’s all their fault.

The Magnetic Island operators themselves have done as much as possible to tarnish the region’s image – by yelling “CROC” from the roof tops and going about dealing with the Government in an inappropriate manner. They shot themselves in the foot (they should have just shot the croc). The local tourism industry – Magnetic Island is the “jewel in our crown.” That’s the official line. I know because I wrote it. Now, in the mind of the uneducated consumer it is no longer a pristine island destination with safe beaches – it’s a garbage filled wasteland populated by deadly crocs. The tourism minister proclaimed crocs as “good for tourism.” That, according to those on the ground was untrue. That line only works when describing Australia Zoo and other crocodile farms. Crocodiles on public beaches are bad for tourism. The plastic bags, in all likelihood, came from far north Queensland, where the waters are messy. I wanted to run a media release on that basis titled “Far North Queensland full of old Cairns and plastic bags” – but I was outvoted. Common sense prevailed.

and another thing…

I went to a workshop today about the future of tourism marketing in Queensland. The state body – whose name I won’t mention to avoid being picked up in their newscans – is moving to a “need oriented” market segmentation – identifying the desires of consumer subsets and marketing accordingly, and doing away with traditional demographic research.  

It made me think about what I want in a holiday – and why.

The following are five holidays I’d like to go on before I’m old… a lot of them are currently coffee focused.

1. I’d like to go to England to watch Premier League matches and visit the home town of awesome British bands like Radiohead and Muse.
2. I’d like to visit a coffee plantation in Africa or South America.
3. I’d like to go to Italy and drink Espresso in a little cafe in the middle of nowhere, and visit coffee machine making factories…
4. I’d like to go to Germany and drink German beer in German Beer Breweries.
5. I’d like to do a road trip around and through Australia.

Apparently I’m a “Social Fun Seeker” by market segment – the others are Active Explorers, Unwinders, Self Discoverers, Stylish Travellers, and Connectors.

I’d be interested to know how other people plan their holidays… most of our holidays now seem to be taken up with visiting family members in South East Queensland.

  
 

Censored

Apparently some students from Washington State University were less than happy having their accidental emails to yours truly posted online. Something about privacy issues, stalkers and the like. I’d post the email I received from the student, and the lecturer – but they would probably feel violated. I have removed names and student numbers from the original post. I don’t like censorship – I’m a freedom of speech advocate myself. Did you know that Australia has no constitutionally enshrined “freedom of speech” we’ve just stolen the concept from the US. Interesting stuff really – censorship can be a necessary evil, obviously certain sections of society need to be restricted from accessing particular content. A lot of Christians are pro-censorship when it comes to areas like the arts without really thinking through the issue – what if one day censorship swung around and tried to restrict religious discussion (ala the “Catch the Fire Ministries” court case on religious vilification) – we can’t have our proverbial cake and eat it too at that point – you’re either with free speech or you’re against free speech.

One person who probably should be censored is Joe. His blog is a fine example of that which we should be seeking to keep out of the hands of innocents. There are probably a number of things that really should be censored like Channel 7’s Sunrise program which last week ran an obviously fake photo of the Strand in Townsville under flood water believing it to be real. I emailed them several times seeking a retraction on behalf of Townsville’s tourism industry and they ignored me. Channel Nine ran the Sunrise story in their news bulletin last night after we got Tourism Queensland to put out a statement about the photoshopped picture. Funny stuff.

I was going to write about political activism and piracy (the nautical kind) but I’ll leave that until this afternoon or something.

Attack of the clones

Finally. The opportunity I’ve been waiting for. I can finally play God. I have a terrible illness. An illness that leads me to believe that I’m half man, half shark – now, thanks to the wonders of therapeutic cloning, I’ll be able to grow the shark fin I’ve always imagined gracing my back. Surely therapeutic cloning stretches to include therapy for “mental” illness – in fact the line probably extends much further – you have a bit of a cold at the moment sir, no problem, here’s a new lung – buy now and we’ll throw in an extra kidney for free. The real concern I have as a result of the passing of the bill is an economic concern. Legalised organ harvesting will kill the black market organ trade. Organ harvesting is big business in the South American slums. Those economies rely on the export dollars generated by criminals and spent in local communities – it’s the ma and pa operators who are going to cop this on the chin – but at least they’ll be able to go out and get themselves a new chin if the blow is too heavy.
Medical tourism is the next predicted boom market – if Australia becomes a one stop shop for vital organs we’ll be right at the heart* of this emerging market. The gall** of those people who complain about this revolutionary new legislation. Their shortsightedness is astounding. We will be at the forefront with our willingness to travel into ethical grey areas. I hear Amsterdam has the drug travel market cornered – why not legalise drugs and turn Nimbin into a tourism hub. Why stop at pot – we could be top spot (I only chose those words because they’re all anagrams of the letters T, O, P, and S) for crystal methamphetamine (ice, ice baby…) , then our middle class users could kill all their organ functionality and invest their left over cash into new organs. The possibilities are endless. What a Pandora’s box our wonderful polititians have opened. Realms upon realms of possibilities (or for the paper users among us – reams upon reams – again the possibilities are almost endless – limited only by the number of pieces of paper).

* Pun intended
** and again