It starts very early in life! We learn to speak by mimicking the voice of parents and people around us. After that we will try to stand up and so on.
Later at school, we often follow the hobbies and sports of our friends. Girls are often influenced by hairstyling and teenage fashions of their contemporaries.
Suddenly people are trying to keep up with the Jones’s next door, buying the same cars as advertised by celebrities, same clothes, shoes, handbags or tennis rackets.
It used to irritate me no end, when friends or acquaintances would copy, without as much as by your leave, part of my interior design ideas from my house that my husband told me, “take it as a compliment!” Muttering “copycats”, I would eventually see his point of view.
Therefore it is not so unusual really, when we think about it, that travel is often a case of copycat solutions, mind you, it is also sometimes referred to as competition.
There is Dubai, the new Singapore, though Dubai categorically denies this statement, Abu Dhabi imitating Dubai’s golf courses and its successful airline, again strongly deny it. However if imitations is the highest form of flatter, people in the travel industry ought to be used to it.
When the first hotel opened a ladies only floor, I thought that was a great idea, which should be copied by other properties. Mind you, I did think, it had gone a little too far when a ladies only hotel was inaugurated.
Previously hotels offered special executive floors, and thank goodness most five star hotels followed the trend. Today, every hotel, big or small, five or three star denominated, offers Internet connections and wireless amenities throughout the hotel.
So, in the travel industry, it is good to copy the leaders in order to catch up with the current innovations. And in the travel industry, we are always looking for something unique, which has not become the flavour of the month, as we try to locate the next new fad.
Perhaps that is one of the reasons, why the Gulf region has become a focal point for inbound destination management companies. When they introduced sand skiing, I thought it was a great gimmick, but Dubai soon topped that one by introducing real skiing on real snow slopes. “Come to the Middle East to snow ski!” What a headline.
Bahrain splashed out on a Formula One track and won a Grand Prix and overnight it became a touristic sensation. Now Abu Dhabi will also have a Grand Prix and that’s good to know.
Dubai introduced the Dubai Desert Classic Golf Tournament, now Qatar also has a golf tournament. I also considered it quite a clever idea to introduce polo matches for visitors to the emirate. Dubai has now gone even further by staging camel polo (honestly). Let’s watch out for camel polo matches spreading throughout the Gulf.
Mimicking travel trends can also be good for the environment. In many countries environmentalists are trying to persuade governments to protect for example, the gorillas in Africa because the traders will make more money from the tourists than from a few skins from dead apes. Ditto for the whales! Don’t kill them-take hundreds of tourist to watch them instead, and earn money by protecting them and other species such as lions, tigers and rhinos.
Talking of the environment, today many customers want to know, if their suppliers are part of the new “green” world and travel is not going to be exempted from this scrutiny.
Much better to wholeheartedly grasp the nettle and squeeze it to revell in its sweetness, for many innovative holidays are on offer today, which embrace the protection of wildlife and the environment.
I would personally shun any safari company in Africa offering tours for hunters with guns and not cameras. I would also stay away from areas of the world pushing smoke and pollution into the atmosphere, even if they have grand scenery in other areas of that country. But again it is sometimes a good idea to follow the leaders closely in such matters. Being a copycat is an essential part of the travel trade.
Alexis de Tocqueville (1805-59), a French historian and politician once said, “History is a gallery of pictures in which there are few organisations and many copies”!
Speaking Out by Jonna Simon
TTN is the most established trade publication in the Middle East distributed on a controlled circulation basis to members of the travel and tourism industry.
Published monthly by Al Hilal Publishing and Marketing Group, the region’s foremost trade publisher, TTN is aimed at professionals in the industry, from travel agents to airline and hotel personnel.
TTN provides in-depth and extensive coverage of relevant issues in the Middle East and North Africa as well as in other parts of the world. Travel related news, analysis, and new appointments together with information on up-coming exhibitions, marketing and promotional campaigns are presented in an innovative and striking colour tabloid.
Every issue also contains a collation of international and regional news and topical features of interest to readers.