Researchers in tourism studies try to understand how people enjoy holidaymaking.
Even the word 'holidaymaking' gives a clue that people are creating something and it is this practice of making that lies at the centre of an ethnographic approach. In the lab at the University we have been going further with this, and, as we discover which practices give enjoyment we have begun to experiment with ways of sharing these with new tourists.
Journey, Place, Narrative.
The way of sharing and communicating is to produce a new type of travel writing.
Good travel writing, we have found, is a catalyst that gives meaning to unknown spaces by populating them with characters and their stories. The challenges and the emotions experienced in these places, when skilfully retold, connect with the lives of readers who will go on to become visitors and holidaymakers themselves.
First, though, the researcher must accompany people as they pursue a tourist experience. In our workshop this is the guided walk.
Walking is in itself a step towards wellbeing. As researchers we are looking for experiences of wellbeing, value, accomplishment, understanding, pleasure and fun and seeking ways of eliciting these from those taking part in the science of the guided walk. You can be holidaymaker and researcher at the same time. Wellbeing, we have found, has a strong creative component; as we walk and see new sights we imagine new ways of living that free us from the restrictions that prevent fulfilment.
Wish you were here
Back in the lab, or in this workshop, the hotel, we examine these experiences and emotions seeking out the worthwhile moments and deciding how to communicate these to the next potential visitors.
In research terms this is the analysis and synthesis stage. In our lab work we discovered that presenting a lifeless museum piece of writing does not make you wish you were here. Instead it is a story, fact or fiction, that lends glamour to a holiday destination. Think of Poirot solving a mystery on the English Riviera, for example.
From our research we now know that the text that addresses you as if you were here already works most powerfully on its readers.
Consider these lines from a narrative, 'the voices of the mysterious couple carried quite clearly into this alcove in the hotel dining room.' Or this: 'The aroma of a freshly peeled orange invaded the breakfast room.' This we call skopos, the place in which you must be to grasp these lines.
Participants joined us at this event to explore the network of knowledge in holidaymaking and to develop their own research writing skills via narrative and interview.