My Researcher in Chief recently sent me an article that got me thinking about two things. Both had roots in my days as tour operator offering travel to Australia and New Zealand to UK based travelers. The article was from The Washington Post (Click here if you’re so inclined) andwas about Campervans and how they are … Continue reading Under canvas or on four wheels?
We just spent a long weekend in New Orleans. We can’t get enough of the place. This time we went to see a show, Jimmy Buffett’s musical ‘Return to Margaritaville’ at the amazingly restored Saenger Theatre. The theatre is a tourist destination in its own right having benefitted from a multi million dollar restoration following the devastation of flooding after Katrina. The Saenger has been returned to better than original, as it incorporates updates to the stage and its public amenities. Well worth a visit.
New Orleans’ tourism is surging. The city has done a lot to encourage visitors with not only great marketing, but ensuring the various tourism and hospitality stakeholders work together to attract both new and old visitors alike. This has paid off with not only increased domestic tourists but attracted new overseas visitors via the new air services that have started over the past year.
While we were in the city we got to experience a service that you don’t immediately think of as being tourist oriented, but is probably essential. Beth my Lady Wife, Chief Researcher and personal travel agent, hurt her foot. Nothing too serious but very painful. We needed to get medical treatment and started to look for a walk-in clinic or something similar. Surprisingly, she found something called NOLA Doc.
This service is run by Dr Mark Berenson, a board certified Family Physician and a native of New Orleans. He earned a medical degree from Tulane University in 2003 and completed residency in 2006 at the UCSF Family Medicine Residency in Santa Rosa, California. Immediately after residency, he took on the role as hospitalist and an emergency physician at several hospitals around the bay area and has also become a member of the UCSF Clinical Faculty as an instructor of Inpatient Medicine at San Francisco General Hospital. In 2010, he joined Care Practice of San Francisco, providing acute and primary care in both the office and in-home setting. Having worked for years in both the hospital and in-home setting, Dr. Berenson has learned to clearly distinguish the role for a hospital visit and the importance of staying in one’s home for medical care.
The majority of his time during the week is spent visiting home bound patients, but he is available to make visits to hotels and tourists who find themselves in need of help. This can range from the unexpected illness to cases of, shall we say, over indulgence! The latter is obviously not uncommon in The Crescent City being as it is, the center for all sorts of parties.
Cycling round the French Quarter on his bike, Dr Mark makes calls equipped with everything he needs to cope with the anticipated illness. He doesn’t deal with insurance companies but does take credit cards and supplies an emailed receipt that can obviously submitted to your insurance provider.
His ministrations to Beth allowed her to carry on with the vacation virtually uninterrupted. So, not a ‘normal’ tourist service, but one that works well and if you’re planning a trip to New Orleans his number is worth keeping handy. Check out http://www.noladoc.com.
As for Jimmy Buffett’s musical (which opens in New York in early 2018) it’s a nice feel-good show particularly if you’re a fan of Trop Rock music. We were lucky being there for the last night of the run which featured a surprise appearance by Jimmy Buffett himself
It’s Fall and so we’ve begun our traveling season. We tend not to escape from the Gulf Coast during the summer months. Yes, it can be hot and humid (although that doesn’t worry us too much) it’s more as Jimmy Buffett would say “You can’t reason with hurricane season”. The tropical wind event season isn’t … Continue reading Have you thought this out?
Welcome to August! Here on the northern coast of the Gulf of Mexico, the peak of the summer tourist season is drawing to a close as the schools begin to return for the new academic year. The majority of the summer tourists to the area that stretches from Apalachicola on the Forgotten Coast through to … Continue reading August Newsletter
Can you believe that next Tuesday is August 1st? Labor Day is just a month away, and schools go back around August 10. Traditionally the summer tourist season here on the northern Gulf Coast runs from Memorial Day to Labor Day, what was called the 100 days of summer. These days, with schools breaking later … Continue reading The BEST season is just around the corner. Time to shout about it.
Sitting in tourism planning meetings you hear people say “let’s do what we did 10 years ago. It worked then.” Yes, it would be nice to do the same things. There’s something comforting in that, but a recent anniversary made me think that we just can’t roll back time.
The iPhone is 10 years old. It’s not the only smartphone, and wasn’t the first. But it has, like it or not, become the standard bearer for that kind of device. Not everyone has a smartphone, but enough tourists do that it has brought massive changes.
Just looking at the travel, tourism and hospitality businesses, what has the smartphone changed?
People still use printed airline boarding passes but a huge number use electronic passes. Flying into the US you can use a free app called ‘Mobile Passport’ authorized by Customs and Boarder Protection that allows you to pre-file your information and breeze through immigration and customs. I use it. It’s superb.
Where to stay, eat or what to do? TripAdvisor and similar sites offer peer reviews that people tend to trust over ads by hotels, restaurants or attractions. All in your hand, on your smartphone, now.
Book your accommodation? No problem. On your phone at the last minute to get the best deal. I’ve seen people sit outside hotels using their phone to negotiate and book. Same applies to tours and activities. These are usually booked within 48 hours of arrival and online sites like TripShock make booking easy, and the tickets are on your phone – no paper. All you have to do is guess that the weather will be OK. No guessing, DarkSky or a dozen other apps will give you accurate, hour by hour forecasts.
How do you get to where you’re going? Built in GPS with turn-by-turn directions, no matter if you’re driving, walking or on public transport. Traffic reports too – yeh, 98 is still blocked.
Don’t bother to carry a camera. Your phone has a camera that makes yesterday’s versions obsolete. Postcards too. You now share your travels to social media friends the world over and you can post your review of the restaurant you just experienced. In places like Jackaccuda’s you can scan a little flag in your meal and see where and when your fish was caught, and who by!
Don’t want to drive? Book an Uber, from your phone of course.
No transistor radios on the beach anymore. You carry your music library with you, and stream what you don’t own. Oh, movies and TV too.
That’s only scratching the surface. Virtual tours of museums and historic sites; payment from your phone; on line shopping; news, books. Oh, and it’s a phone too!
If those are the changes for tourists, think of the changes for hotels, rentals, airlines, car rentals, attractions, restaurants even, in our area, Charter Boat Captains.
Our tourism experience has changed massively in 10 years. But wait, coming soon, virtual and enhanced reality. I’m excited. How about you?
This article was first published in the Northwest Florida Daily News on Sunday, July 16, 2017. I don’t think any of us realize how much we switch our brains off when we’re playing tourist. As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, I recently took an overseas trip and did some people watching to see … Continue reading TALKING TOURISM: The strange things we do while being tourists
This article first appeared in the Northwest Florida Daily News on Sunday, July 9, 2017. Last week we started looking at different kinds of airlines and their effect on tourism. There’s always a danger of assuming, just because they fly planes and transport people, they’re all the same. That’s … Continue reading TALKING TOURISM: Match expectations to airline carrier choice
This article originally appeared in the Northwest Florida Daily News. By Martin Owen | Special to the Daily News Posted Jul 1, 2017 at 2:00 PM I recently had to take a flight back to England, and this allowed me time to give some thought to the changing face of aviation and its effect on tourism. Air services and airlines … Continue reading Talking Tourism: Lesser-used facilities open gateways to cheaper travel
This article first appeared in Northwest Florida Daily News on Sunday, June 25, 2017. Studies recently have shown that as a nation we’re not taking the full number of vacation days to which we’re entitled. Judging by the number of cars on U.S. Highway 98 and along County Road 30A, you’d think that the world … Continue reading Talking Tourism: Not taking enough days off.