22 February 2010

Virgin Galactic could be a real space line

Spaceport America impression
This is either a blinding 'flash of light' moment, or a real 'duh' moment cos all you guys saw it coming already and I'm the last to join the cluetrain.

Like most people, I've been fascinated by the advances made by Burt Rutan & Richard Branson's space programme - though at the same time deeply irritated by its constant appearance in travel publications just because it is being marketed like another Branson airline. My line has been that "space tourism" will only exist when they start selling room nights in orbit or on the moon! For now it is simply a "space experience".

But I'm now wondering if I was slightly...wrong. Maybe it is about travel.

I was writing a short item this morning about hard-hat tours of the construction site in New Mexico for Spaceport America, the new home for Virgin Galactic, and I remembered I had seen something recently about plans for a Spaceport Scotland in Lossiemouth.

At the time I just thought: "Ah, interesting. Branson may expand his thrill ride operations to Europe, just like Disneyland!"

But now I find there is also a Spaceport Sweden.

So here comes the duh/flash moment...

Wait a sec. Just because a Virgin Galactic spaceship takes off from Scotland, doesn't mean it has to return there. It could land in, say....New Mexico, less than an hour later. Now THAT is the beginning of an airline! Or rather a space line.

UK, Italy & South Africa slip in Easter Break popularity

Car, money, keys mash
Interesting anecdotal evidence from the car hire people, Holiday Autos, about advanced booking trends for Easter.

Their top destinations for the Easter period (customers booking online, vehicles to be picked up w/c 21 & 28 March 2010) are...

  1. Spain
  2. France
  3. United States
  4. Portugal
  5. Switzerland
  6. Italy
  7. UK
  8. Canary Islands and Balearics
  9. Australia
  10. South Africa

The changes in popularity of Easter break locations year on year are noticeably that Italy and the UK have dropped out of the top five list, with USA and Portugal moving into their place, possibly the result of people wanting to guarantee warmer weather following our snowy winter.

And South Africa has dropped. This, suggests Holiday Autos, could be because fans may be planning on visiting in June for the World Cup, or waiting until flight prices drop and ‘World Cup fever’ dies down.

14 February 2010

Where holiday choices are really made

Dad and daughter reading newspaper and laptopI'm feeling vindicated this morning as I read a Press Association article based on some research that Best Western have conducted:

Laptop-loving teenage boys are proving the driving force when it comes to deciding on destinations and activities for family holidays, a poll has revealed.

OH REALLY! What a suprise! (not) I've been saying exactly this, over & over for ages. Most recently in November here (1st bullet point, 2nd para).

Travel companies and their marketeers need to grasp this. Purchasing decisions on family holidays are made differently now...

  1. Children have a much greater, often final, influence on the decision.

  2. They don't read newspapers.

Best Western's research keypoint on this, was that 14-year-old boys are much more likely than their fathers to choose vacations.

The main focus of the research was about Internet use while on holiday - very interesting for those involved in the free/not free hotel wi-fi debate.

It shows that a quarter of the people surveyed would not go on holiday without a computer and, not surprisingly (again), that over half of teenagers spend up to 90 mins a day online when on holiday. For a quarter of them, having access to the Internet in their hotel room is more important than having a TV or free food.

And 'heads up' local tourist boards and attraction owners...

What do those teenagers do when they are online, in destination?

After, keeping in touch with mates on social networking sites, they research things to do locally.

11 February 2010

The most influential music videos for tourism

This is not my idea. This is Steve Keenan's idea, but I was the catalyst.

Steve saw my tweet yesterday about the video for a new single (EP) being released on 1st March. (which is great BTW, I luv it!)

It's called "Home" by a guy called Colin McLeod aka The Boy Who Trapped The Sun and it was shot on the Isle of Lewis (his home).

I was suggesting that perhaps VisitScotland should consider getting behind it because it would make an excellent, moody, destination promo video. If nothing else they could ask for a licence to use it.

Steve re-tweeted and asked for more suggestions of "Great film/music videos that promote destinations?"

He suggested another beach-based film... Jane Campion's The Piano (with Michael Nyman's music), though on reflection I'm not sure how big an impact it had on New Zealand's tourism market, especially compared to the wider ranging scenic influence of The Lord of the Rings.
... which made me think of yet another beach-based film, Ryan's Daughter, which I bet sent tourists in their droves to the Dingle peninsula!

North by NorthwestBut then there are loads of mainstream movies that have done wonders for destinations all over the globe. Think of all those films, not least Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark, that have featured the treasury in Petra. It must now be one of the most popular tourist sites on the planet! Or what Lawrence of Arabia did for nearby Wadi Rum and Aqaba. Or what North by Northwest did for visitor numbers to Mount Rushmore. Or what The Sound of Music (ugh!) did for Austria.

And some tourist board's have been quick to exploit them. I seem to remember Missouri State Tourism even incorporated A river runs through it into their logo didn't they?


Let's ignore all those examples of film location tourism - not least because, as regular as clockwork, we all get those press releases promotionally linking next month's movie to a particular location or activity (hehe, they had their work cut out with Avatar!) - and concentrate on music.

What music videos, or just songs, have caused people to want to visit a particular destination?

Did Enya's Orinoco Flow trigger a rush for Venezuelan visas? ;) lol, no. Just kidding!

...but I bet the US National Park Service will confirm that visitor numbers to Joshua Tree Nat Park blossomed after U2's visit!

I'm struggling to think of many examples. I know tourists still clog up the zebra crossing on Abbey Road and that there are tours of Bob Marley's Trench Town in Jamaica (No woman no cry), but what influential songs & music videos can you think of?

Post them here, or tweet them. How about #music4tourism as a tag?

08 February 2010

Brilliant paint job

I'd love to post a photo here, but these are just not mine to publish, so a link will have to do.

It's a collection of photos on Flickr - hat tip to shanairpic - of the new Kulula livery on their Boeing 737.

It's totally brilliant and no words will describe it...you have to go view it for yourself. I'll just say I love the "Captain, my captain" label.

If Kulula.com is new to you. It's an online travel agency and low-cost airline in South Africa - their equivalent of easyJet. In fact that's pretty much what it means. Kulula is Zulu for "easily".