Conscious Travel - not more but better Summary


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Conscious Travel is presented as an alternative model to industrial, mass tourism that deploys a community-based, collaborative action learning program to transform tourism hosts into active change agents. Objective: higher net benefit for all stakeholders engaged in tourism and hospitality.

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Conscious Travel - not more but better Summary

  1. 1. Conscious Travel not more, but better, better for more SUMMARY Anna Pollock Founder, Conscious Travel 22.03.2014
  2. 2. 2   Anna  Pollock  ©       2   Anna  Pollock  ©       WHY? Conscious Travel is based on the belief that, mass international tourism, based on an industrial operating model, is falling far short of its promise and, as it continues to grow, is at risk of doing more harm than good. While this model has been successful and supported amazing growth, it is now producing diminishing returns for providers and host communities; placing excessive pressure on scarce resources of land, water and energy; failing to take sufficient responsibility for managing and minimizing its waste; or preserving the environmental and cultural resources on which it depends. Its application of industrial practices has commoditized unique places into similar products and viewed guests as targets to be exploited. Because industrial tourism depends on price-led volume growth, it is on a collision course with the rising costs associated with fossil fuel, food, infrastructure and ecosystem services that will undermine its viability. Critical to the future sustainability of tourism is the need to generate higher yields, more stability and resilience - in short, develop an antidote to commodification. Change cannot occur from centralized agencies (political, social, media) entranced by the old materialist growth model and who are distanced from the unique people and places that extend hospitality. Real, pervasive change can only occur one community at a time when individual hosts providers wake up and revere the sacred qualities of the place they represent; grow up by taking responsibilities for themselves and the whole; and step up and forward by becoming agents of change and regeneration. WHAT? Conscious Travel has three aspects: 1. It offers a new model or approach to destination and business development based on the understanding of tourism as a human, social and economic system operating within a fragile biosphere. 2. The principles and practices associated with this new model are shared through a community- based, collaborative action-learning program designed to create conscious hosts who act as regenerative change agents in their community. 3. Conscious Travel is designed to grow into a global, diverse network of self-determining destination communities capable of transforming their tourism economies into positive contributors of stability, plenty and sustained well-being. HOW? Conscious Travel is developing the framework and curriculum for a unique active learning program that evokes and nourishes the innate problem-solving, creative capacities of hosts and enables them to express their desire to provide hospitality in a manner that reflects the unique essence of their place and the values of its residents. Conscious Travel is an aspiration and a work in progress. The past two years have been spent travelling and speaking with many destination communities to test validity of the concept and approach. Now is the time to build. I am actively seeking: 1. Mentors to serve on the Advisory Board who wish to see their contributions applied to the travel and hospitality domain 2. Specialist co-creators of the 12 elements of the transformation program, 3. Pilot destinations to test out learning materials as they are developed 4. Sponsor or sponsors willing to help build the network and realize the vision A longer version of this introduction with more information regarding the rationale plus all relevant papers and presentations can be obtained here.
  3. 3. Anna  Pollock  ©     3     Anna  Pollock  ©     3     WHAT WILL A CONSCIOUS TRAVEL DESTINATION LOOK AND ACT LIKE?   A “conscious travel destination” will comprise a core community of hosts (providers of a cross section of tourism-related service providers) committed to learning, collaboration, leadership and to becoming agents of change and renewal. Their focus will be to nurture the emergence of a visitor economy that produces higher net benefits for all stakeholders; operates in harmony with nature and does so in a way that expresses and respects the unique cultural and spiritual values of a specific place. As "No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it." conscious hosts acknowledge that for tourism to flourish, they must SEE, BE and DO tourism differently. As a result of participating in a 12 Step Transformation Program, hosts take responsibility for both themselves and the whole and emerge as active change agents leading local renewal and regeneration. Being involves becoming conscious of one’s personal values, assumptions, beliefs, strengths and weaknesses; making mindful choices / decisions; and getting clear about purpose. As existing or future leaders, conscious hosts must “walk their talk” Seeing means waking up, becoming aware of the context in which tourism operates and perceiving/conceiving tourism differently – not as a machine that utilizes resources for the profit of a few but as a living system nested in a broader human community and natural ecosystem. Conscious hosts will need to become both ecologically and digitally literate. Seeing enables us to choose how we wish to be in the world. Doing means ensuring that both their individual enterprise and their tourism community make a positive net contribution to the health of their community through converting the Conscious Travel Principles into impactful Conscious Travel practices. CONSCIOUS TRAVEL PRINCIPLES Seven principles are put forward as signposts and pointers to the types of behavior stemming from a systems way of seeing, being and doing. They were designed to contrast with the established five “Ps” of traditional marketing that have shaped industrial tourism namely Profit, Product, Price, Placement & Promotion. Hosts will learn to explore the meaning and implications of these principles but be allowed to express their implementation in a way that reflects and expresses the uniqueness of their place. These principles inform and shape the Transformation Program and through action learning will lead to a set of practices.
  4. 4. 4   Anna  Pollock  ©       4   Anna  Pollock  ©       PURPOSE Conscious Hosts will share a deeper, higher sense of purpose that expresses who they are and what they value. They understand that: “Profit follows the passionate pursuit of purpose.” The ultimate purpose is the health and well-being – the flourishing - of the systems of which they are part. They will develop a set of performance measures that work for their community and that track effective expression of the conscious travel principles. PEOPLE The value generated by the visitor economy rests on a successful, mutually beneficial encounter between people: the guest and host. Encounters that enable the system to flourish involve: • Happy, fulfilled guests who rave about their experience, refer others, and return over time; and • Happy fulfilled hosts (owners, managers, employees) enthusiastically encouraging and enabling their guests to explore more, stay longer, value more and care more. Implication: the provision of place-specific, professional and authentic hospitality (i.e., customer service) assumes primary importance as a method of attracting and taking care of guests. The traditional boundaries between marketing, sales and customer service blur within the individual business and the group of businesses in the destination. Hosts prioritize the development, motivation and creativity of their employees to maximize engagement and high levels of service/hospitality. Newer simpler methods of measuring success are implemented. The role of management is to create the conditions in which those encounters can be successful – i.e., less scripting and more enabling. Thus new approaches to leadership are also needed. PLACE The value generated by the visitor economy can rise when each place is recognized as unique, special, precious and vulnerable. Then both guests and hosts will show they care. This means all participants will fully understand, appreciate and be able to express the factors that make a destination unique and which shape its personality – the mix of culture, history, geography, landscape, ecology. Hosts will know who they are because they will know where they are. Implications: “place branding” will become a shared activity with the personality of the place emerging as a result of enabling local expertise and passion to be expressed. It will not be left to external agents or superimposed. Time will be invested in enabling a cross section of community residents to learn how to design, market and deliver a diversity of rich Place-based experiences that delight guests and generate tangible value to hosts and the host community. PROTECTION Successful businesses and destinations will show that they care about the places, environment and people on which they depend. The P of Protection has been used for alliterative purposes and includes: operational practices that limit waste and pollution; reduced dependency on fossil fuels and scarce minerals; the re-generation and revitalization of damaged cultures and ecosystems; ensuring quality livelihoods and fair labour practices, sustaining quality working conditions and ensuring personal safety for guest and hosts. Again, it will be for each host community to determine local need, priorities and action steps that reflect who they are and where they are. Implication; conscious travel destinations go way beyond CSR as a compliance issue to embedding ecological principle of balance, limits, vitality, resilience, adapatability and sustainability into their DNA. PULL Conscious Travel turns traditional push-promotional approaches on their head and assumes that a place, whose hosts are expressing a strong, clear sense of identity and welcome, will attract the right customer for the type, scale and nature of experience on offer. All business is now social – and that includes the marketing function.
  5. 5. Anna  Pollock  ©     5     Anna  Pollock  ©     5     Implication: an investment in digital literacy and infrastructure is crucial to the success of a conscious travel destination. Hosts must be comfortable acting in two spaces: the analogue space of inter-personal encounters and the virtual, digital space where people also encounter host and guests at every stage of their journey. PACE & PROXIMITY These are “P” words for SLOW and LOCAL. Conscious hosts will endeavor to slow down the visitor experience in order to activate both all senses, and all faculties (body, mind, heart and soul) in order to better appreciate what is proximate (local and nearby) and present in the moment. A focus on pace provides the means whereby visitors stay longer, derive greater satisfaction, and generate deeper, more immediate benefit to the host community. Finally it is the means whereby wonder and awe can be evoked – two necessary conditions for loving and caring. PERFORMANCE How will we know when a destination is acting consciously according to the aspirations has identified for itself? While it is important that the hosts set their own operational goals based on their local needs, they will all subscribe to • Measuring impact not by volume growth, revenues and jobs created but the net impact (ie net revenue less costs of attracting visitors and providing support) and net benefit In terms of community health and well-being • Measuring growth not in terms of more visitors (quantity) but higher yield (spend per visitor) • Measuring propensity of visitors to rave, refer and return • Measuring the overall ecological footprint of the visitor economy and movement towards achieving zero waste • Measuring the sense of welcome and enthusiasm extended by the host community SUMMARY OF PRACTICES & PROGRAM ELEMENTS Principles need to guide practice or they have no impact or value. But action must emanate from a realistic and accurate perception of the context that currently allows neither drift, paralysis nor stubborn continuation of “business as normal.” The core value contributed by the Conscious Travel initiative is the collaborative, action learning program: • Collaborative because no enterprise can go it alone – especially in tourism and because creativity flourishes when diverse perspectives and skills are brought to bear. • Learning because unless hosts understand why they need to change and how they can adjust to a rapidly changing, uncertain and chaotic world, action may be mis-directed or ineffective. • Action because learning is best done by doing – trying, testing, and learning from both successes and what may seem like failures. Each of the 12 Steps of the Transformation Program (see page 6) is designed to develop Practices that emanate from the Principles of the new model as illustrated below.
  6. 6. 6   Anna  Pollock  ©       6   Anna  Pollock  ©       PRINCIPLES, PRACTICES & PROGRAM ELEMENTS PRINCIPLE PRACTICE PROGRAM ELEMENTS PURPOSE Seeing differently – systems thinking Understanding consequences Communicating a different vision of health & value FACING REALITY (1) SEEING (2) PEOPLE Identifying shareholders and bringing into alignment Creating high levels of employee engagement, motivation and competence Developing authentic, place-based hospitality that cause guests to rave, refer and return Exercising shared responsibility to regenerate & respect culture & environment VALUES, PURPOSE & CULTURE (3) IDENTIFYING, ATTRACTING & ENGAGING EMPLOYEES (6) BECOMING A PLACE THAT CARES (7) PLACE Identifying and expressing unique attributes of a place Expressing hospitality in a way that reflects place Experiencing and expressing a sense of connection with and wonder for nature POWER OF PLACE & STAKEHOLDER ALIGNMENT (4) BECOMING A PLACE THAT CARES (7) DESIGNING EXPERIENCES THAT TRANSFORM (8) PROTECTION Identifying the environmental /cultural fragilities in the destination Identifying and implementing ways of reducing tourism footprint & minimizing waste of the business & community BECOMING A PLACE THAT CARES (7) PULL Identifying the right customer Designing experiences that will attract the right customer Enabling guests to use social media to rave and refer Give multiple reasons for guest to return DESIGNING EXPERIENCES THAT TRANSFORM (8) ATTRACTING & ENGAGING THE CONSCIOUS TRAVELLER (9) USING SOCIAL MEDIA AS THE PRIMARY MARKETING TOOL (9) PACE & PROXIMITY (LOCAL & SLOW) Providing more local experiences that require the guest to slow & savour Using and presenting local suppliers – guides, food, transport etc. Creating experiences that engender wonder, awe and affection for nature Mix nature with theatre, food, performing arts, local poetry etc. DESIGNING EXPERIENCES THAT TRANSFORM (8) PERFORMANCE Developing & applying new performance measures MEASURING WHAT MATTERS (11) GENERAL Conscious leadership and conscious culture HOST AS CHANGE AGENT (12)
  7. 7. Anna  Pollock  ©     7     Anna  Pollock  ©     7     Elements of The Conscious Host Transformation Program STEP CONTENT OUTCOME 1. FACING REALITY Global and national content; change forces, issues, challenges, sources of hope and inspiration. Key strategic and local tourism facts and issues Industrial versus Conscious Travel model Informed awareness of context; motivation to learn; commitment to become active, aware, awake & alert. Awareness of stakeholder interdependence 2. SEEING (PERCEPTION) Investigation into individual and shared but rarely examined assumptions beliefs and world views and their impact on values, choices, actions. Examine alternative worldviews & their impact. Ability to self reflect; look at a world through fresh eyes; see from a different perspective, exercise curiosity and judgment i.e., wake up 3. VALUES, PURPOSE and CULTURE (BEING) Identify the core values underpinning the actions of the individual and their business; their higher purpose and aspirations for their business and the community. * Who am I? * What do I care about? * Why am I in business? * What difference do I wish to make? * What are my strengths and * What are my weaknesses? Examine new objectives of business and society (plenitude, happiness, well being) A clarity around the why of the business and the kind of customers, employees, suppliers they wish to attract and the nature of their contribution to the community. Re-think measures of success A recognition of community capacity 4. POWER OF PLACE and STAKEHOLDER ALIGNMENT Who are we? Whom do we serve? What are the needs and expectations of all our stakeholders? Where are we? What is this place all about? What is its essence or personality? Sacred Ecology. An in- depth investigation by participants into what makes their place different and unique – an experience of and connection with the land, its culture, stories. How does my business reflect, and amplify the spirit of this place. The sacredness of place and the power of wonder and reverence to transform. What is our collective vision for this place – what needs to be healed? What kind of tourism do we want, can we handle? How fast do we wish to grow? Idenification of stakeholders, impacts of business decisions on stakeholders and need for multi stakeholder alignment. Developing a shared understanding of who we are in terms of place is vital to developing community and being able to provide guest with a sense of difference, wonder Note: items 2,3 and 4 contribute to an authentic, shared and experienced sense of brand – as in emergent personality 5. IDENTIFYING IDEAL GUESTS Whom do we wish to attract based on what we now know about ourselves, the market; the competition Learning different ways of attracting guests (PULL) Understanding of practical possibilities and a prioritization plus confidence in the ability to attract the guest who will value what the community values.
  8. 8. 8   Anna  Pollock  ©       8   Anna  Pollock  ©       6. IDENTIFYING, ATTRACTING and MOTIVATING IDEAL EMPLOYEES Only when the business is clear about its values, its personality and those of the place, and the kind of customer they wish to serve; can they attract and motivate the right employee who will best express those characteristics in an authentic and empowered way. An approach to people “management” that engages, inspires and empowers and has the capacity to deliver highest service levels but which are expressed consistently in accordance with values and place. 7. BECOMING A PLACE THAT CARES (PROTECTION) Host as Steward / Protector What are the environmental/cultural fragilities in the destination? What can the individual business do to minimize individual footprint? What can the community of hosts do to create awareness and change behaviour in their community? Commitment to leading several community and business based projects – with tangible and measurable outcomes – that regenerate and support both biophysical and local ecosystems 8. DESIGNING EXPERIENCES THAT TRANSFORM (PULL) How can hosts work together to create compelling and transformative experiences for their guest that reflect the uniqueness of each place A range of unique experiences that reflect the place and enable the guest to see their world differently, return home rejuvenated, transformed. 9. ATTRACTING AND ENGAGING THE CONSCIOUS TRAVELLER (PULL) An inside-out approach to marketing, selling, cross seliing and up selling Based on identification of the ideal customer, learning how to develop the conversation, use new media channels, to attract, sell and serve guests in ways that lengthen stay and increase yield. Higher yields; referrals, more net benefit to host community 10. CREATING CONSCIOUS TRAVELLERS Host as Advocate, Teacher. Leader Exploring ways in which hosts show their guests how to become a more discerning, mindful travelers. Creating opportunities for two way learning between guest and host. Guest will return home with a different approach to travel; share with peers and apply when considering other destinations. 11. CONSCIOUS LEADERSHIP While the principles and practices of conscious leadership will have been introduced throughout the program, this element will enable participants to step back and reflect on their learning; their shift in perspective and assess the extent to which they are applying them. Awareness that leadership responsibilities cannot be confined either to the business or the tourism domain but that hosts can and should make great community leaders 12. HOST AS CHANGE AGENT COMMUNITY LEADERSHIP Preparation for the community role of “leader as host”. Identification of key projects and roles needed to ensure the host community is viable, healthy and resilient. Identification of local projects that need leadership and action with Hosts playing a key role in affecting change. Lesson learned from Sacred activism