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Tourism: a complex system

Di Antonio Caneva, 9 Luglio 2004

The customers of tourist facilities are generally not aware of the complexities of the system which has first prompted their choice of a certain establishment at a certain location, and then has allowed them to make use of its services.
I often reflect on the number of players that are involved in the “tourism system”, and a few weeks ago I had the chance to experience the complexity of the system all during one particular day.
I received an invitation from the German Tourist Board, for a media presentation of the cities of Berlin and Dresden at the historical Grand Hotel et de Milan in Milan, and later, in the evening, Best Western had organised the presentation of its new General Manager and of the international Reservation Centre, which had been moved to Milan, around a mega screen showing Italy’s inaugural match at the European soccer championship.
Taking it as an example, let’s identify how many parties have been involved in these presentations, and look at the complexity of the structures they represent.
The presentation of the two German cities has made it necessary for the representatives of those two (extraordinary) areas to travel to Milan (transport and accommodation), where the German Board organised the event and the hotel supplied a cocktail party and a luncheon, during which a nice plush teddy bear, symbol of the German capital, was offered as a gift. But that was obviously not all: the event required the presence of the German structure of Milan, and an interpreter to facilitate communication. Not only: the action was further supported by organising a journey to Berlin and Dresden for the press.
In order to implement its own communication project, Best Western rented a venue, leased a mega TV system, organised a cocktail party and a dinner, hired a musical band, mobilised its structure’s resources to promote the event and to assist its guests, all of it for a service which travellers who see “Best Western” outside the associated hotels are probably not even aware of. In addition to introducing the new Manager, however, the meeting was intended to present the European Reservation Centre which was being moved to Milan, which means that wherever in Europe you call Best Western from, it will physically be an operator in the Lombard capital to provide information in the caller’s language. This has involved the technical outfitting of a complex call centre structure at a location that had previously not been available, in addition to the presence of 60 operators speaking about twenty languages.
Should I continue? I don’t think it necessary. These are but two examples of the complexity of the system, which is well known to the field workers, but sometimes (excuse my man-in-the-street tone) seems not to be known to those who have institutional responsibilities.

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