Translator: Annika BidnerReviewer: Mile Živković Travel has gone from this — brave, uncharted, uniqueand authentic destinations to this — (Laughter) — safe mass market destinationsand big business.
And by big business, I mean 1.
4 trillion dollars last year, in international travel alone.
OK, it's making money.
But let me ask this:are we making travel better? Better for the traveler, better for the destination, better for the stakeholders? My theory, and what I planto demonstrate today is that we can usesome of these driving forces, uniqueness and authenticity, and a profitable business model, more profitable than the onethey use today, to help fix some of the key problems with travel.
And by the end of this presentation, you're going to learn what you can do as travelers to have a more enrichingand unique travel experience no matter where you go.
OK, so if you look at the trends, travel's gotten a lot cheaper.
In 1939, a basic transatlanticeconomy ticket cost 12, 000 dollars, if you injust for inflation.
Today you can getbasically the same flight, with improved flight safety, a movie of your choice, for less than 10% of the cost.
You just have put up with this.
(Laughter) It hasn't just gotten cheaper, it's gotten faster and more comfortable.
You can now get fromyour ice-cold apartment in Stockholm to the heart of the Amazon rainforestin less than a day, where you can ride aroundon a jungle boat, in a jacuzzi, and sip mimosas.
I'm not making this up, you can actually do this.
(Laughter) And the longest partof that entire journey could very well be in the airport, where you had connecting flights.
Getting back to my original questionabout making travel better.
Comfort and convenient are nice, but these things have some side effects.
Just 50 years ago, if you wentto any of the major destinations of today, you had to learn the local language.
Not just to ask for directions, but to order a meal, even check in to a major hotel.
And today there's this super highwayof tourist-friendly stuff, English signs everywhere, guidebooks, apps, tourist information centers.
All these things, by the way, done with the best of intentions, but they keep visitors from having any real organic reasonto interact with the locals.
And when I mean organic interaction, I'm not talking about this.
(Laughter) Let me pause for a secondand ask a really important question.
Why do we travel? The reason I do, and I don't think I'm alone here, is to experience something different.
Something we don't have at home.
And destinations wantto offer something different.
That's their unique selling proposition.
The reason you should visit them, and not any of the other hundred thousandsof destinations around the world, that also have sun, beachesmountains and good food.
So we want something unique, and they want to offer something unique.
But what really happens? Well, it may be easierfor us to get there, but it's easier for everything elseto get there as well.
So it's not surprisingthat destinations get a tourist wheel, hop on-hop off bus, water slide, convention center, historical museum, aquarium, Madame Tussauds wax museum, Hard Rock Café, H&M, Starbucks, Hilton, Dunkin Donuts, Fridays, Marriott, Subway, 7Eleven, KFC, Pizza Hut, McDonalds, Benetton, GAP, Disney Store, Häagen-Dazs, Burger King, IKEA, and of course, a segway tour.
Ladies and gentlemen — (Laughter) I present the modern uniquetourism destination.
(Applause) There's another interesting trendyou'll probably spot as well.
Here's how many Pizza Hutsare currently in Manhattan.
Here's how many are in Beijing.
Here's how many KFCs are now in Manhattan, and how many in Beijing.
Here's how many Walmart superstoresare in Manhattan and how many are in Beijing.
Yes, it would seemthat Chinese don't seem to mind Americans sellingtheir own crap right back to them.
(Laughter) (Applause) The one place you won't seeany of these chains is on the Beijing tourism website.
They understand that you might ventureinto a KFC while you're there, but you're not traveling to Chinato experience a KFC.
They're not alone in this, I'm not picking on Beijing, this is just standardoperating procedure for any DMO, a Destination Marketing Organization.
They're the ones tasked withinspiring you to go visit them.
And there are over 4, 000 of themaround the world, and it's growing all the time.
They understand not every destinationhas a Sistine Chapel or pyramids of Egypt to attract people, so when they hire an ad agency to help bring people in, they mightdress up the destination a little bit, show things that you might havea hard time experiencing when you're there.
Like a rainbowon their website or brochure.
Hard to replicatewithout a rainbow machine.
(Laughter) Or they might showsynchronized whale breaching.
It happens probablyonce every 50, 000 whale tours.
(Laughter) Or they might show this colorfor the ad in India, when the water actually looks like this.
(Laughter) Too many tourists on the beach? Just crop them out.
Or in this low pix resolution image, of an actual brochure from Brazil of the same beach, they simply hid the touristson top of a hill.
(Laughter) Of course it's hardto live up to the advertising, partially because no one's policing it, but imagine how this would workwith a real company? Could you imagine, you see the ad for this, you go out buy one, you get it home you open it, and it looks like that? (Laughter) You take it back to the store, “Hey, this is just a piece of cardboard!It doesn't do anything.
” And they go, “We're justa marketing organization.
” How is that any differentfrom showing that on your website, and providing that? That's why I believe the DMO is going to have to evolveinto a management organization.
And some places already are.
This is the island of Guam.
This beach was cleanedwith tourism promotional funds.
And it's already paying off.
They've already goneto number one on Trip Advisor.
And they're getting great word of mouth.
I think I have shown that diversityand quality control can go out the window as a destination grows.
But let me take a second to looka little closely at the growth.
Here's how much the world populationhas grown over the last 63 years.
In that same time, international travelhas grown over 4, 000%.
So there's over a billioninternational arrivals today.
In just ten years, that's expected to double, to nearly two billion.
Now you've been to Gamla stan, old town here in Stockholm, you've seen how busy it is in the summer, you can barely walk on some days, what's that even going to look likewith twice as many people? It's hard to imagine.
And forget about Stockholmfor a second, what will Rome look like with twice as many people? Or Barcelona, with twice as many people? It's tricky.
And as professor Östberg just explained, sometimes we can't even see it, because our viewsare so shaped by the marketing.
Here are two cruise ships, the Escape and the Getaway.
Nothing against the cruise line, I just like the names of the ships.
You see, the population densityis about a million people per square mile on these ships.
In some of the most crowded slumsin the world, like here in India, it's 800, 000.
The cruise line has managed to convince usthat we're getting away from it all, in some of the most crowdedconditions in the world.
(Laughter) (Applause) And that's not the only marketing oddity.
You might wonder, how do the small guys compete, how does this little place compete with a marketing powerhouselike Paris or Las Vegas? Often they go this route, they say how unspoiled they are, or undiscovered, and even when they don't, the media likesto jump on to that as well, and also tout how undiscoveredor unspoiled it is.
What are they trying to say? Hurry in and help spoil what's left? (Laughter) What kind of strategy is that? If that's our clever approach to tourism, why not just come outwith something like that? (Laughter) Visit China, shoot a panda, while supplies last.
(Laughter) Wouldn't it be better to help protectsome of these cultural treasures? And if not just for us, what about for the locals who suddenly wake upand find they're living in an overpricedand overcrowded tourist center? The airline see trendy new places, and they add more flights.
The hotel industry see strong occupancy ratesand they add more hotels.
And these two segments of the industryare very influential, and can help grow a destination quickly.
The thing is that they don't really carehow many visitors are at the tourist centers, or at the attractions, as long as the number of people in their hotelsand on their airlines is just right.
In fact, you'll never see a hotelsuddenly jam more people into your room.
And you're not going to see an airlineselling standing room only, or tickets to sit on someone else's lap.
Except maybe Ryanair.
(Laughter) (Applause) But even Disney closes their doorsa couple of times a year when they hit maximum capacity.
The thing is, they're not alone.
It's not just the airlines and the hotels.
Other stakeholderswant more tourists as well.
The thing is, they've takentheir eye off the ball.
Which is in this case, a quality visitor experience that starts the momentthey arrive in that place, and lasts until they leave.
And not doing thatcan shortchange the visitor and mean it's not a greatlong term strategy for growth.
Now we've all seen night clubslose popularity and go under.
We've seen entire shopping malls get abandoned.
We've seen hotels go bankrupt.
And despite the general growth in tourism, we've seen entire destinationsgo into decline.
In fact, here's a reportfrom the European Commission called “Destinations in decline.
” And the number one reason: congestion;it's another word for overcrowding.
Go to Trip Advisor, put in overcrowded, you'll get almosta hundred thousands results.
You can see what they're saying, it would have been good, but it's overcrowded.
Even at resorts where peoplego into so called “beach rage” from other people puttingtheir beach towels too close to them.
And academics paintan even gloomier picture.
It gets popular, and then it goes off.
Or this one, that came aboutsix years later, by professor Richard Butler, which shows that you get inthis overcrowded range, and then it either goes down, or somehow, it goes back up.
So how does it go back up?What's the magic formula? What can destinations doto keep it going back up? Here's the first step: be unique.
That means standing up to the franchisers, especially in your cultural city centers, we don't need to have a McDonaldsin downtown Milan.
It means that if youare creating a destination, make it unique to the place it's in.
Like this one, the Stockholm'srelatively new Abba Museum, a great example.
The other thing is growing organically.
Wouldn't it be great if you could claimyour destination was never overcrowded? The first step in doing thatis figuring out how many visitors your destination can actually hold.
And it's not as simple as just adding up the number of people that fitinto the hotel rooms in the city.
Which is the traditional way of doing it.
You want to think of it more like this: you could jam a hundred peopleinto your home, if you had a dinner partyand everyone held a paper plate, and you did it buffet style, and everyone stood like this.
But if you want to have peoplesit down right there, and you've only got eight seatsand eight plates, there's your capacity.
In tourism, capacity is getting defined by how many airplanescan land on the runway.
Or how many busesthey can jam into the parking lot, without much regard to how many touristscan actually get into the attractions, or that the city centers are startingto feel like tourist ant farms.
Go back to thislittle dinner party analogy, they're thinking standing room when they should be thinkingseats and silverware.
It doesn't matterhow culturally sensitive the visitors are.
You could put 500 eco travelersinto your town, and it's going to feel overcrowded.
There's a tipping point, from when it goes from being really cooland authentic to feeling touristy.
And it's largely due to the numberof visitors per local or per square kilometer.
Let's take these examples, Reykjavik, they get 5.
7 annual visitors for every local, San Gimignano, Italy, gets 43, 000.
Which do you think was recently describedas a cool authentic place to visit in a travel magazine? And the thing is, here's the trick.
But how can we grow tourismand limit it at the same time? That's what's going to worry these places.
But wasn't this a tough sell? We're going to speed up trafficby stopping it.
Certainly we can, with smart ideas, we can learn a lesson from Reykjavikor Iceland, in their fishing industry, which became extremely lucrative once they self-imposeda quota system to limit the catch.
And like fish, tourists belongto everyone and no one.
And they often go after them to the pointwhere it becomes unprofitable.
Spending too much on marketing to attract visitorsthat are reluctant to go.
Too many hotel roomsthat stand empty in off-peak season.
And these long lines -people aren't just tired and upset that they have to stand in a long line, they are also not able to eat, shop or otherwise inject their precious tourist moneyinto the local economy.
We have think carefullyabout providing a better experience.
And if tourism hopesto have a lucrative future we have to treat touristsand visitors with respect, not jamming them into different situations of manufactured experience.
(Laughter) So the solutions to this –One is just to impose visitor permits.
It doesn't have to be a rich clubwhere you have everyone paying a lot of money to get in.
You could give them away, or have some paid, some for students that are cheap, free ones that go with a lottery, or very cheap passes that go to people who've taken the time to learn the languageor have family in the area.
I think a more interesting solution is simply this, the free market.
Plus a little transparency.
When you're booking a flightlike this to Stockholm, you have the supplyand demand right there.
You can see it, make a smart decision.
Same when you're purchasing a hotel.
The thing is, when you're booking here, what you can't see, say six months in advance, or even next week, is how busythe attractions are going to be.
We don't know.
So maybe you show up, and there's an awful lot of demandand not much supply.
And we couldn't make an informed decision.
But imagine if we could.
If we could know that, and see they were full on the date we were thinking of going, so we just change the date.
Its availability, we book it.
Yes, that does mean more advanced planning, but isn't that better than goingto an overcrowded destination, maybe waiting all dayand not even getting in, or just using upyour whole day in a queue? So what can you do to have a more authentic experience, no matter where you go? The first step is to look inward, at your interests.
Say you like whatever.
You're going to Stockholm.
Look online for an ultimate frisbee club.
They happen to have one -the Stockholm Syndrome.
(Laughter) They even have a mapwhere they practice, and a calendar.
You can get in contact, ask if you can join! You like fencing? See if you can join a local fencing clubwherever you're headed.
Just shoot them an email in advance.
And hotels can get in on this.
Ask your guests what their interests are, and help connect them.
Oh, you like birdwatching? Let me connect youwith a local birdwatching club.
For free! Make friends with people, in an organic way.
And you're going to create a uniqueand enriching experience for everyone.
Travel like a guidebook writer, not a guidebook reader.
Let's say here in Stockholm, you want to go outto a new, cool place to eat, are you going to buy a guidebook? I hope not.
The information hereis nearly two years old, at best.
What do you do, you look online, or you go to a newspaper.
You can do that when you travel, even if you go where youdon't know the language.
Go to a local newspaper, and there's something called Google Translate.
One click, and it's inwhatever language you want.
Book a table, you'll bethe only travelers there.
Is doing everything I explained today going to solve everythingthat is wrong with travel? No, of course not.
But I hope it can serve as a framework to fix some of the key things, and create long-term sustainable and profitable growthfor the tourism industry, and help you get an enrichingand authentic experience, no matter where you go.
Thank you so much.