Thursday, June 30, 2011

Importance of Couples Time...

On Tuesday I got the opportunity to have a date day with my wife.  It has been a long time since we got to spend significant alone time together.  While I love my children, the opportunity to go for a walk together and not have to worry an assortment of children related paraphernalia and keeping a constant vigilance on someone else's behaviors and movements.  It was nice to be able to hold hands with someone, that I don't pretend to know where their hands have been.  Further, it was nice to have a dinner whereby I didn't have to 'walk' someone around a restaurant because they are bored.

Most importantly, it was nice to spend some time reconnecting with each other.  In the parenthood world it is easy to lose focus on being a couple when your so focused on being a family.  It felt incredible to spend quality time in which the conversations didn't involve organizing schedules, homework or chores.  It was a nice reminder of just how special that last 13 years has been.

So thanks to both sets of grandparents for keeping the kids overnight.  I know it is challenging for you.  


Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Airport Pet Peeves

I am flying back to Charleston today.  As a tourism professor, I do love travel but I can not fathom how anyone loves air transportation in its current form.  Being a solutions oriented guy, here are my suggestions for improving air travel:

  1. Security should have a 'knowing what you are doing' line versus a neophyte.  They TSA agents are announcing loudly that nothing can be in your pockets among other rules.  Believe or not, they are not lying.  Please listen to the nice agents.
  2. For the love of all things good, I encourage all airports to have non-cell phone seating.  I am sick of sitting here and having people have inane conversations on their cell phones.  If you have to make a call, please go away from others to make it (or at a minimum please keep it short).  
  3. I do like that they have plugs available for lap tops but $7.95 for wireless access?  By the way, for fellow patrons, please remember it is rude to read over peoples shoulders.
  4. If however, you really need to make money, it would be really nice if you could put your baggage into a 'check.'  I have to sit here for four hours, it would be nice not to have to lug my bags around if I want to go for a walk.  There could be a good business opportunity here. You could also rent pillows, iPads, and other distractions for those waiting as well.
I may have more later today but so far so good.


P.S. While we are on the topic of improvements:

Bathroom stalls - you know people have luggage they have to carry around.  Why not make them slightly larger than the standard stalls as a result?

Monday, June 20, 2011

TTRA conference

Some quick observations about half way through the conference.

1) I love having my iPad at the conference. I have been able to write notes to myself, send emails and of course Facebook and blog. It really has made conference going to be a much more connected event.

2) I have enjoyed reconnecting with several people. Conferences are very good in that respect. It is nice to catch up.

3) This conference has been particularly good for new contacts. There is some potential there.

Overall, I have notes to being back on listening research, website atmosphereics, conference planning and canonical coefficients. All of which I think will be very useful information.


Thursday, June 16, 2011

Interesting tourism and tax issue

We stayed in Gatineau, Quebec the other night. The room rate was $122.55 with $6.13 Federal sales tax and $10.94 provincial sales tax added on for a total of $139.72. I was okay with that and was even okay with the $2.00 accommodation tax that was then added on. I was not okay however, with the .10 federal sales tax and the .18 provincial sales tax that was then added onto the $2.00 hotel tax leading to a final bill of $141.90.

I know it is only $.18 but did they really need to put a tax on a tax? This is the kind of stuff that drives potential visitors mad and make them feel like cash machines as opposed to guests. I do love my home country but if they tried to do this tax on a tax in the USA there would be strong opposition. It kind of makes the $6.66 room tax we had in Virginia seem less evil. So good job to the politicos here. You can make 666 not seem so bad.


Sunday, June 12, 2011

Blue Jay game complaint

Yesterday, I took Liam to the Blue Jays game. Their promotion was as a Jr Jays day with kiddie tickets being half price; As I knew Liam would only last six or seven innings and knowing there would be a large number of families in the building, I thought it was the perfect day to introduce him to the Blue Jays. I forgot however, they were playing Boston which meant it would be a large crowd.

So I decided two get two tickets in the no alcohol section thinking it would be less popular and a little more quiet for my noise sensitive child. We got to the ticket booth and I explained to the lady that I needed aisle seats as I had a special needs child and that he would consistently need to leave and come back. So what do I get? Two tickets right in the middle of a row. By the third inning, our row was completely full leaving my child feeling very uncomfortable. So we went to ask an attendant if we could move seats. I really wanted to move into 'worse' seats. I explained to the attendant the problem and the bored face basically recited policy to me and told me I was out of luck. I guess I could have just moved without asking and no one would have said anything but I was hoping my hometown team would be accommodating to my special needs child.

So I basically spent another inning of trying to get Liam not to kick the guy in front of me (his feet couldn't touch the ground in the seat) and him 'dancing' trying to get the sense of space. So we left. In total Liam had a lot more fun riding the TTC then going to the game. I could have just spent the $7.50 on the TTC instead of the $25 on nose bleed tickets and $13 for over cooked fries and a Coke. I can honestly say that I have an even deeper appreciation for the Charleston Riverdogs. I know they will always provide my family with good valued for money.


Friday, June 10, 2011

Third Article

This was a paper that came by accident.  This is while I was working at Cape Croker doing a visitor survey.  My research assistants who were both of First Nations decent were getting different answers than the mailbox and I when collecting surveys.  The truth was, that one does usually go to a party and tell the host it wasn't perfect.  See the results below:

The purpose of this paper is to illustrate a case in which social desirability bias may have affected exit survey results. In this case, an exit survey of visitors to a First Nations (or aboriginal) campground, the results varied according to who collected the data (two aboriginal or First Nations research assistant versus a Caucasian researcher or mailbox). Overall, those who delivered the results to the First Nations research assistants provided answers that were more favorable than those delivered to the Caucasian researcher or mailbox. Many of results were found to be overly positive especially in regards to questions related to staff performance. The results of this study indicate that tourism researchers must be wary of data collection procedures (especially when attempting to measure cross culturally).  Finally, this paper examines methods to counter act situations, which may produce social desirability bias.

Vacation observations...

Today was the first real day of my vacation. As a professor of hospitality and tourism you would figure I should be good at this. Well this is the perfect case of physician heal thy self. I have not quite found the ability to relax yet. I do not know why it is so hard for me to relax and enjoy myself.

In the case of this trip, I have enjoyed being around my parents. I love seeing the way my parents eyes light up when the kids around. I think the kids being here help keeps them young. I love seeing my parents at play with the kids.

Back looking in the mirror again. I keep trying to turn it away because it is easier. Perhaps, so much of my identity is linked to my job. It is so much more than a paycheck to me. It is part of who and what I am. Once, again I am not sure if that is healthy or not. It is curious to consider that so many work so hard to escape what I miss dearly when I am not there.

Do not get me wrong. I am loving spending time with the kids. I realized today that I stopped going on family vacation when I was 15 because I went to work in the summers. If Robyn follows my path, this means that we have this summer and next to enjoy her being with us. So I am not lamenting the opportunity in any way. I am just noting the strange perspectives at least I have. I will have to ponder this more.

Sorry for the rambling but this is a steam of thought post.


Thursday, June 9, 2011

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

On the road...

Here is how much tourism has changed. We have been on the road all day today and are ready to stop for the night. We do not have a hotel reservation so what do we do? Find a McDonalds with free WiFi and search the local hotels on my iPad. We book online and walk into the hotel five minutes later. The moral of the story...have wifi connection available - it gets you business.

Other notes from today's travels:

1. It is amazing how valuable it is to pre-plan when traveling with children. Having lots for them to do makes life so much easier (I.e. New DVDs for in car player, new books to read, a fun stop to take a ride on a real life thomas the train).

2. It is worth paying extra for a nice hotel. Two queen sized beds, wifi access, indoor pool &hot tub (to tire out the kids & help work the kinks out).

I hope tomorrow is a good day. We still have 10 hours of driving left.


Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Getting Ready for Canada

Tomorrow we leave for Canada.  It is always strange going 'home'.  It is amazing the variations that do exist between Charleston SC and Toronto ON.  A few examples,

  1. While it is hot in Charleston, everyone has air conditioning.  In Toronto, few have air conditioning and those that do leave it turned down because it is so expensive to run.  So while it is technically cooler, it really is not.
  2. The difference in prices.  With the gas at my corner in Charleston today is $3.55 a gallon.  In Toronto avg. $1.24 a litre or $4.71 or gallon!  That means an extra $16.24 per fill up for our car!  This is not even getting to the HST.
  3. It is so nice to have family and good friends around.  I do miss them.  Charleston is nice and I have good friends but it is not the same as having family close.
  4. I also like having the library, parks and other amenities that aren't nearly as accessible down south as they are in Toronto.
  5.  In Toronto, the multicultural space and the vibe of the city is totally different than down south.  In Toronto the pace is brisker, the people are friendly yet detached (no I don't have to tell every teller my life story) and it is a much more permissive environment in general.  In Charleston, life is slower, relationships are very important with everyone and the customer service is 1000 times better in general.  
So I look forward to going 'home' and then I look forward to coming 'home'.  It is nice to have so much home in my life.


Friday, June 3, 2011

2nd Article...

My second article came from an idea I developed while working on my master's thesis.  I have always been one to enjoy strange topics so to study non-travelers seemed perfectly normal to me.

A couple of thoughts about this work; 1) this concept lead me to develop products related to women's only travel (before it became vogue); and 2) to develop product for the Toronto Asian market.  Both of these groups very under serviced and today close to a decade later are prominent and important marketplaces.

Tourism Geographies: An International Journal of Tourism Space, Place and Environment
Volume 7, Issue 3, 2005, Pages 257 - 271
Authors: Wayne W. Smitha; Barbara A. Carmichaela


The purpose of this study was to classify and segment non-travellers across the regions of Canada. This was achieved by empirically testing Haukeland's (1990) model of non-travel. The study revealed that while Quebec had the lowest incidence rate of non-travel, those who did not travel were socially constrained at a much higher rate than in the other regions of Canada. Those not born in Canada were most likely to be both financially and socially constrained and concentrated primarily in Ontario. Non-travellers in Western Canada were most likely to report being financially constrained. Overall, this study found that Haukeland's (1990) model assisted in the discovery of regional differences in non-travellers across Canada. If non-travellers are understood more clearly, some of their market potential could be realized by the tourism industry.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Kids School Year 2011 in Pictures

A Pretty Good Year if I do say so myself!

Photo by Tom Steenhuysen

Photo by Tom Steenhuysen

Photo by Tom Steenhuysen

Trying something new...

Just got my new iPad. Thought I would try it out with a blog post. Yesterday.was the kids first day of summer holidays. Liam was at home all day and is already driving Heather nuts. Heather is already looking forward to heading to Canada and Grandparent distractions. Robyn has one more day of school left and is wanting to go for each minute in order to hang out with her friends. She is at that age. For me, I am trying to get some writing done and be ready for the TTRA conference at the end of the month. I am also trying to get two more papers out this summer. Decisions, decisions.


Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Tenure Journey...My First Article

As this is my tenure year, I thought it would be fun to reflect and show my work to date.  So over the next few weeks, I am going to submit to you some of my favorite pieces of work.  Let's start at the very beginning, it is a very good place to start with my first journal article.  It has been cited by 14 other authors and is a neat piece of research.

Canadian domestic travel behaviour: A market segmentation study of rural shoppers

  1. Barbara A. Carmichael and
  2. Wayne W. Smith


Rural shopping is emerging as a tourism market that is under-researched and offers potential for the economic development of rural regions. Therefore, the purpose of this paper is to investigate the role and importance of the domestic rural shopping market in Canada as a ‘niche’ market in rural tourism, and to provide a description of the characteristics of rural shoppers. Secondary data analysis of the domestic Canadian Travel Survey (1998-2001) reveals that there are many rural visitors who also participate in shopping, and that rural shoppers display different characteristics from average Canadian domestic travellers. Market segmentation using cluster analysis identifies five activity-based groups that differ on the basis of demographics and trip characteristics.