Dec 25, 2012

Touristology in Consilience

I’m a stronger believer in Consilience and each one of the science has to bring something new.
What does Touristology bring?
1) People (not Touristologist) working in tourism field usually focus on the tourist destination and try to offer products / activities for the inhabitants or for tourist already there.
On the other hand, any Touristologists know that in order to be successful a tourist destination or tourism enterprise needs to create a chain of value able to get the trust of the tourist from anyplace in the world and then provide something valuable in order to provoke the travel and avoid to be competitive just with low prices.
2) People (not Touristologist) working in tourism field usually focus on tourism companies. On the other hand, any Touristologist know that you have to complement the chain of value with enterprises, associations, mass-media, Social Networking Sites… related with the motivation of the tourist.
For instance, it’s a Catalan company working in the field of cloud computing (they provide a cloud desktop to be precise). At first glance you could think that this company has nothing to do with tourism BUT if you organize a trip for students around the world willing to learn how young entrepreneurs people create and manage a company obviously the visit to eyeos it will be part of the travel and a Touristologist would have to arrange everything to make the visit possible and interesting. You can visit this link to see something similar
So, what is part of the tourism sector is not defined for the offer BUT for the demand. We must see reality from different perspectives. This picture by Escher maybe helps you to open your mind!

First they ignore you, then they laugh at you,
then they fight you, then you win.
—Mahatma Gandhi

Dec 20, 2012

Smiling and hard work beat laughing any time!

The other day I was in class (my natural environment as I’m a “class animal”).  A couple of my students were presenting their project in English. They had some pronunciation problems, some grammar mistakes, some difficulties to convey their ideas BUT they started and finished their presentation in English!!!  Other students were laughing (curiously, the ones not brave enough to make their presentations in English!).

When they finished their presentation I congratulated them. They were worried, uneasy, having bad thoughts about their grade… I smiled and said “ I appreciate, the effort Touristologists good presentation!” …They smiled back!

Now… YES! They work hard and smile. This is a very powerful combination!!!

I’m sure their next presentation will be better. I’m sure they will express their ideas in English in their professional environment. As sure as practice makes perfect! As sure as Touristology is a science!

I remember when I began to talk /write/THINK in English. It was difficult BUT rewarding at the same time. There were people laughing at my strong accent, my silly mistakes… I smiled and kept working!

I remember when I began to write code, to think like a programmer does. It was painful, stressful BUT… when the code works (not always in the way you plan, never in the schedule you promise!!!)  you feel like master and commander! There were people laughing at my slow pace, my tendency to use graphical interfaces and to avoid command line editors (not anymore!)… I smiled and kept working!

Nowadays, I convey my ideas in English! Far away from perfect and with strong Catalan accent. As I always said at the beginning of a class, seminar, conference… “I speak something similar to English BUT enough to convey my ideas!” What about the People who were laughing?… Well they are still laughing!!!

Nowadays, I plan internet oriented business models and technological schemes; I help to do the programs. I understand the problems that appear during the process and I know how to choose the right solution and approach. I found that it’s easier to convey my ideas to other programmers and to get almost exactly what the customer wants and near to the schedule we agree upon. What about the People who were laughing, saying that it is not possible for an old chap to learn new things?… Well they are still laughing!!!

Are you working hard enough Touristologist? Are you smiling in the process? If your answer is yes forget about the naysayers, the “I-laugh-even-though-I-don’t-know”.  You will be ready for the next quantum leap while they will be laughing in an eternal circle!

Do you think that smiling and hard work have something to do with this beautiful Montserrat Caballe’s  performance of "Chi il bel sogno di Doretta" La Rondine by… Are you kidding me? Puccini, of course!!!  


Dec 13, 2012

Machine Learning and Quantum Leaps for Touristologists!

Long time ago I wrote and, finally, turned in my doctoral thesis. It was about how to apply intelligent systems in the tourism sector (What else?!?!?!). At that time, intelligent systems was the flavor of the month. You can find more information here and  here .To me, their features/benefits were clearly applicable to service sectors. In a nutshell:

1) Intelligent systems /softcomputing can cluster elements. This can be useful for tourism packages creation. You also can use this feature to create segments. As any Touristologist knows, the most important variable /criteria of segmentation in tourism is travel  motivation. Based on this, as we saw in this matrix ,

you can add more variables, from people (tourists) that just like the kind of activity which motivates the trip, to pro-am or professionals. You can add, as variables, special necessities that travelers have during the trip (I think this video about meet and seat from KLM is worth to see) and also the benefits travelers can get through the trip.

2) You can also link together members of different sets. This can be useful, for instance, to recommend specialized packages to specific customers. Can I express more strongly the importance of first specialized then generic?

3) Another feature allows you to forecast outcomes. For instance, sales of a specific tourism product. Possible expenditure in ancillary products can be interesting information when you are dealing with the task of a Revenue Manager.

4) You can also model the actions of an expert in a specific field. So, the intelligent system can pretend to be a human being and give good advice, recommendations, useful information…

Haven’t you read this incredible visionary article by Marc Andreessen? It is full of opportunities and threads to any sector! I strongly recommend it!
Nowadays a lot of articles, books, and courses appear about machine learning, when I read/watch them I soon realize that they are talking about the same idea!

I prefer Intelligent Systems versus Machine learning because apart from making sense of a lot of data, do forecasting and replicate intelligent behavior, the first implies a system and as you know I love Complex systems because to me it’s the scientific bedrock of the Chain of value in Tourism!!!
I love people’s tendency to change the name to something that is basically the same! I have the same feeling when people talk about Revenue Management instead of Yield Management. Or when I compare the evolution of web 2.0 and its possible pitfalls related to a lack of business model as it happened in web 1.0.

Time is not linear but cyclical my fellow Touristologists! Knowledge, professional careers, personal relationships…have an evolution that is better described as a circle than a line.  Like in this picture by the genius Maurits Cornelis Escher… we believe that we are going up or down but in reality we stay in the same place. You can see in this picture some people that have stopped walking. Maybe because they believe that is not useful at all.

Don’t be like them Touristologists! Be aware!  Something is missing in this picture!

Time can advance as a circle BUT from time to time you get a quantum leap and you will have a chance to pass from one average circle to a special one.
Be prepare, be ready and wait for the quantum leap that can transport you to another circle… a superior one. Do you know who will have the opportunity to pass to the next level?
That’s right! The ones that choose not to stop, to keep loocking for new opportunities, to try new things, the ones willing to leave their comfort zone!  
I still strongly believe that…  Intelligent systems, softcomputing and Machine learning…Yield and Revenue Management,… Web X.0… Had, have and will have an incredible transformation effect in our lovely sector. And I will be here surrounded by MY Touristologists to accelerate this transformation and to be sure that it respects our definition of Touristology: “Touristology is the art and science of travel motivation promising improvements in quality of life, international contacts and broader perspectives for the tourist AND a way to take care of culture and create richness and employment for the tourist destination.
Are you ready for the next quantum leap Touristologists? I am!