Tag Archives: touristgeography

City PubCall – Calling the shots!

Why crawl the shots if you can call them?

City PubCall is a completely new way of creating & market pubcrawls, connecting travellers to the local!

Your place isn’t just anywhere

And neither are you

It takes understanding your customer, their movement and expectations, but also the pacing of their day and time and their perception of “homeness” . In that respect, the locations travelled through some of the locative games, are consumption zones, without semiotic narratives or meaning, other than the often very real sense of fun, associated with it. However not as authentic.

Creating Homeness with more than optional thrillseeking

Due to several factors such as better infrastructure and public transport and commodification of rural difficult to reach areas- formerly the realm of the adventure-backpacker, the thrill and exitement for the actual act of traveling, has decreased. At the same time, the desire to engage in other specifically designed activities within a smaller scale, has increased greatly. A sense of authenticity is still very important.

Backpackers want to feel the real atmosphere of the destination and therefore do not fit within the the package arrangements, often intended for mass tourism.

Remember, there is a difference between backpackers, travellers and tourists. I will go into these differences some other time, but the point is: they all share the same infrastructure. Different needs, wants and expectations.

Travel and the body

The mind does not only exists within the bounderies of our skulls. We experience the world and the act of travel through our bodies aswell. Mediated by, guided by, formed and transformed by the landscape and our bodies.

Through walking, we are allowed to know the landscape in all its features. Step-rhythm generates thought rhythm. The path through the landscape activates a path of thought.

A new thought often looks like an old landscape feature, as if thinking were travelling» (Solnit, 2000). There is a vast body of knowledge on the relationships between travel, the body and mind and landscapes. It is quite impossible to create a singular structure within the boundaries of this blog (and my expertise). However, a few founded and grounded topics, I shal not withhold from you.

A lived experience

Backpackers use their body as an instrument of passage, not just movement. The act of leaving for a new destination and arriving there, through travel, is as much meaningful to his sense of selfness, as is the pre-travel dream and its representations. There is a shift in research towards the multisensory experience and corporeal engagement. Big hotel chains have yet to embrace this, which gives them an immense backward position. Embracing new and less common insights, does not make everything else obsolete! As experience designer and concepter, I find this highly remarkable and ignorant. Furthermore is the tourist not just gazed upon as a mere consumer, but approached from a wide variety of scientific research.

As a professional, I find this highly remarkable and ignorant.

The bodily sensation, corporeal experience has gained in interest and popularity, also by professionals such as myself. I use all manner of research from different scientific sources, to be able to do my work as best I can. The deliverables usually, are written in the language of the client and stakeholders. I can acknowledge the fact that a more holistic approach in the deliverable, usually conjures up more questions than can be answered in a few oneliners.

Tourism research is very much focussed on the visual. By commodification of image culture, place branding, city marketing, placeboosting, this was very much about politics of representation.

To be perceptive of the landscape, is more than just travelling in it. The landscape has given us- since the time ot the hunter-gatherers -ways to make meaning and to remember. To remember more than just the individual life and lifespan. To cite Ingold:

‘‘To perceive the landscape is to carry out an act of remembrance, and remembering is not so much a matter of calling up an internal image, stored in the mind, as of engaging perceptually with an environment that is itself pregnant with the past.’’

Landscape, travel, mind and body are very much culturally linked. Vast distances to travel between families for instance, will produce a totally different sense of space and distance, aswell as time. Tourism has both spatial and temporal dimensions. After the journey people describe themselves as being wiser and emotionally and more socially adept. A very noticeable characteristic of backpacking narratives is the way they describe deep and profound personal changes, after having made the trip.

The experience of mobility is conditioned and co-produced through interaction and engagement (willingly, non-willingly, accidental, subconsciously) with ordinary structures, shapes and materials, such as a folded newspaper, a laptop, mobile phone. Not to mention the circulation of affects such as stress, being tired, irritated etc. They all play roles in the creation of a particular travel atmosphere.

Although backpackers seek to connect with different cultures and localities, they have the tendency to very easily become part of an isolated and self-contained community of travellers, with little to no local connections. The backpacker enclaves have become important surroundings for exchange. The provide an important source of information and information-exchange.

The backpacking sociability and presence as ” a community on the road” was in the past a fleeting and short-term sight, as a perceivable community. Now, in the age of social media, not only the tourist-geography but also the construction and location of social bubbles and hubs, are more visible and traceable.

As traveller by train or bus, your perception of time, travel time and transit, is part of a delicate interaction-sequence and performative structure that defines mobility; Complex socio-technical systems, that afford, restrict or prevent particular mobile practices. Refer to Wilsons Affordance theory here.

These can be seen as the design-structure of your mode of transport. This design-structure includes not only the above and you- it is comprised of different materialities. Textures, movement, hardness, colour etc.

Tourism research is very much focussed on the visual. By commodification of image culture, place branding, city marketing, placeboosting, this was very much about politics of representation.

The Nature of Cities

To be perceptive of the landscape, is more than just travelling in it. The landscape has given us- since the time ot the hunter-gatherers -ways to make meaning and to remember. To remember more than just the individual life and lifespan. To cite Ingold:

‘‘To perceive the landscape is to carry out an act of remembrance, and remembering is not so much a matter of calling up an internal image, stored in the mind, as of engaging perceptually with an environment that is itself pregnant with the past.’’

Volunteering abroad: New tourist or passers by?

Changing travellers and work

Whether be it from loving to travel. doing things for others, having a cheap alternative to travel and stay in another country, having something to do for the summer or fleeing from everyday life and home… All people working as volunteers abroad, have their own reasons for doing so.

Usually, it is a combination of backpacking, wanting to do something for others and sheer opportunism. A combination of both being there for others, and by doing so, implying an reasonable reciprical action. This works usually through social travel and social accommodation. Much like Couchsurfing and houseswapping, the need for symmetrical swapping or exchange, does not apply when bound by certain common qualities. Contact through a community, trust, mutual interests and being endorsed by others, are commonly seen as deciding factors for housing someone, either on their sofa or as guest with more freedom in movement and stay.

Volunteers, working abroad, are usually not familiar with the term volunteer-tourism and don’t like to be called `tourist’, which indicates- similar to backpackers -volunteering abroad is still seen as (partially) idealogical in nature. Baring in mind ofcourse, the idealogical traits can be interpreted as being “social currency”  for travel and staying abroad.

Motives

On the subject of motives for volunteering abroad, there are numerous studies and theories to be addressed. In a study by Tomazos & Butler (The Volunteer Tourist as ‘Hero’; 2010), participants explained their engagement in a programme in different ways:

  • a wish to get away from the everyday routine at the permanent place of residence,
  • a fondness for travel.
  • a wish to repay one’s life of privilege and the need to give help to those who are poor and whose poverty is no fault of their own.
  • growing distrust of all kinds of charity organisations which bring help to victims and collect funds in developed countries.

As the backpacking community changes, so do the parties that provide in voluntary work, that work on a voluntary basis and exceedingly so: the go-between party. Often providing extra services that require payment and registration and work along reciprocal routes that have less bearing on peoples willingness to exchange things without currency, in a symmetric way. When such parties require payment, they can no longer rely on the willingness of travellers, to be as open as they were before. They become “customers” instead of traveller or volunteer, providing and demanding different qualities altogether. People volunteering abroad, increasingly use more bi-directional reciprocity to get where they want to be, meaning that an exchange is made based upon more or less the same value: work for accommodation and food and drink. One example I can mention is the new startup Amons.

amons.co

The way people make use of working abroad as volunteer is highly bound by cultural differences in leisure-experience, the experience of time, global routines and seasonality. American students for instance, will have a summer break for a specific duration. Having a gap-year has more flexible time boundaries and often involve a combination of paid and voluntary work.

You walk the voluntary walk of a pilgrim

Volunteering is specifically popular in Europe. This has a very interesting bit of background. Doing volunteering is related to pilgrimage and religious travel. Although obviously many other factors are important, volunteer-tourism is often been associated with being interested in other cultures; wanting to get to know them better. The length of stay is quite long. Many tourism volunteer projects are also based on the conservation or restauration of heritage. The cultural routes have a strong potential link to volunteer tourism through heritage and through the desire to have intensive experiences with local people. (Greg Richards, 2011)

Poland

In Poland there is a high rise in movement-possibilities, due to emergent new ways of very cheap travel like Polskibus, covering long distances for a very low price. Polish people themselves are as yet less familiar with the concept of Couchsurfing and social travel and are quite pragmatic in their use of transportation and covering large distances, putting an emphasis on the act of arriving, rather than the travel itself. In the past 3 years, the use of and familiarity with social travel and accommodation has increased greatly in Poland.

This brings me to the ideological aspect of social travel within Poland. As much of voluntary work in Poland is regulated through Non Governmental Organisations with quite good and large networks, the possibilities for cultural exchange are huge and rhich in meaning. They provide excellent opportunities for artists applying for grants for cultural exchange programmes and for volunteers abroad, to engage in more spatial experiences, not particular to one single space or place of work. A very good example on a cultural low-threshhold scale, is the work of Kinderzirkus Wanjanini in Germany, with affiliated organisations.

Scholarly travel

Researchers also find an increase in scholarship schemes, to provide Polish young people to travel, work, stay and study. The two largest programs now, are Erasmus and CEEPUS, covering most of Europe. (Joanna Kowalczyk-Anioł)

In commercial tourism, research is often directed towards conversion, to understand motivation just enough to earn money.

In my personal opinion, the tourist geography of both backpacker and volunteer-tourist, should be seen as an organic entity, bound by structures that rise above and flee from the commodified nature of spatial and experiential structure of the everyday world. Don’t forget, travel is an act of cultural production, of meaning making and placemaking along a network of incorporated symbolic boundaries.

Angloville banner

Zach
Volunteer at Angloville (Poland)

Circus-game-in-Malaysia

Polskibus routes
Polskibus routes

Music-travel and opportunities

Working abroad as an artist or busker? There is an increasingly larger amount of academic funding you can apply for, for working and work-exchange on an academic level.

There are numerous reasons why art in general and street theatre and busking, are important in everyday life. Music travels through time and space through a number of modalities, most of which are nowadays considered to have “un-natural” rhythms, in the sense that we are so much attuned and formed by the commercialisation of both music and rhythm that it is hard to concentrate on, and be influenced by sounds that matter for wayfinding, for instance.

Ofcourse, music transforms particular places into tourist hotspots. If you’ve been to Rynek square in Krakow, you know how throughout the day, the square is filled with music. The place is filled with sound and the sound of a place, enters the consciousness of the tourist and becomes part of the experience of the place.

Some links

Interested in more background? A few (of many) readings:

  • Tourist product in experience economy (Institute of Urban and Tourism Geography andrzej.stasiak)
  • The role of experience in consumer behaviour in the tourism market: concept of experience economy and experiential marketing; (Agnieszka Niezgoda)
  • Motivations and Behaviour of Independent Travellers Worldwide (Greg Richards and Julie Wilson)
  • The Volunteer Tourist as ‘Hero (Tomazos & Butler; 2010)

Interested in putting everything into practise and see welldevised concepts turn into proper, unforgettable experiences? Contact me! 

Renk van Oyen

Contact me

Mediation of homeness

an-introduction-to-marketing-semiotics-8-1024.jpgMediation of homeness

You as a hostel, are the mediator of homeness. Some of these commercially led immersive locative games, miss one very important factor: sense of place. The hostel- although not the actual home of the traveller -is able to recreate a setting that is very near a home situation, familiar to the young backpacker.

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