10 Questions For (37): Martin Schobert of Tourismusdesign

Continuing the series with Martin Schobert of tourismusdesign
Martin Schobert

1. Who are you?

Traveling and innovative ways of communication fascinate me. I have been working in tourism for more than 13 years and published more than 4.500 tweets about experience-, communication- & service- design in travel & tourism and two Social media guidelines, Travel 2.0 Austria and Travel 2.0 Reloaded for the Austrian Travel Industry.

“How to communicate a touristic product” has been my main experience by working for Austrian National Tourist Office for almost 12 years. After different marketing jobs in Vienna and Paris I have been heading the marketing- and pr-team at the domestic market for 6 years. The following 3 years I have been Head of Research & Development leading the teams “Internet Strategy”, “Tourism Research”, “Business Intelligence” and “IT Service & Support”. In this capacity I have been responsible to develop the worldwide online- and social web strategy of the Austrian National Tourist Office.

Sharing my knowledge as speaker at international conferences in travel & tourism like ITB Congress, FVW Online Marketing Day, Enter, US Travelcom, Eyes for Travel Social Media Summit or the ITS International Tourism Symposium is my passion, as well as guest speaker at different universities in Austria and lecturer at University of Applied Sciences Vienna.

I am managing director and co-founder of tourismusdesign, a consultancy for communication and experience design. We assist touristic organizations to develop their online branding, online PR and – important in the era of social web – to improve brand attraction points or create memorable outdoor-experiences for travelers. Our secret: If touristic experiences are likeable, shareable, linkable and easy to remember our guests will act as spokesman of our companies and spread the messages of our brands and products…
We currently engage in product development of touristic brands, experience design in travel areas and alpine sceneries, service design and optimizing the “customer journey” of travelers and coaching the travel industry to communicate efficiently to guests & partners (by focusing on storytelling, online-PR, social media design).
Simply great: We started in March this year and have already lot’s of big and international players in the tourism and service business as customers of our “tourism design company”.

I am married, proud father of two children, living and working in Tulln, Austria – a fantastic country, full of remarkable experiences in alpine sceneries and cultural heritages in our cities.

2. What do you like about what you do?

I love to be a temporary external employee of touristic organizations. Sometimes just for a workshop, sometimes as an online expert for a couple of days to develop an online communication strategy or innovative ways of doing Public Relations. And then – two days later – I discuss with my colleague (she is a landscape architect with a couple of experiences in touristic development projects) how to improve experiences of a specific touristic destination in Europe. Guest-centric, sustainable and service-oriented! It’s simply a great job!

3. What don’t you like about what you do?

If my partners or potential customers just are talking around the topic. If they want to use our knowledge and experiences they should say it. If they only want another offer to compare with their existing suppliers it is also ok and they will get one. But I do not like if someone has no idea how to develop and takes our time and money just to grab some ideas.

4. Please tell us all about your blog and your aims with it.

There is a simple goal: To blog (in German) and tweet(in German and English) to share our knowledge in our fields of experience: innovative ways to communicate touristic product, optimization of touristic services and creation of meaningful, remarkable experiences while travelling outdoor destinations. Because we know: if we share our knowledge, the demand to it will increase …

5. Your top 3 destination experiences you’ve ever stayed to date and why?

1) Where the reef meets the rainforest – Port Douglas, Great Barrier Reef, Australia. At no other point in my life I had the possibility to experience two Unesco Nature Heritage at one point. And – at the hotel I stayed there where fresh mangos from a tree which fell “in your mouth” while swimming at the pool – amazing …

2) Cabo da Roca – for a long time the most western point in my life. It is fascinating to discover portuguese tradition in Lisboa, one hour later watching youngstars at praia do guincho, one of the most popular surf-hotspots in Europe and 15 minutes later to visit this special point for a European – the most western point of Europe where lot’s of seaman started to their trip to the unknown …

3) Each time new it is fascinating to have a 360 degree alpine panorama in front of your feet while exploring the fantastic glacier platform in Sölden, Tirol, Austria. Especially because you did it by ski with a blue sky on a sunny and warm winter day at the end of March / begin of April. Austrians call this special variety of winter-sports “sun-skiing”. Magic.

6. Your top 3 accommodations you’ve ever stayed to date and why?

1) The Standard Hotel, Los Angeles. The most strange hotel I ever stayed. Great. If you explore their website, you know why …

2) A hut for ten people friends in the tyrol mountains near Lienz, Eastern Tyrol, situated in a wood, 50 meters beside the slopes, equipped with a fireplace, a finnish sauna…

3) Olympic Villas, Oia, Santorini (Thira), Greece. 200 meters above the “caldera” and the agean sea. Unforgatable sundowns and a real experience when busses with tourists left after that …

7. Your top 3 most memorable food / wine experiences to date and why?

1) Just visit the “Wachau” Valley along the Danube in Lower Austria at Spitz. Walk up to the “Red-Door”-viewpoint on the hill upside and open a fresh bottle of a Riesling Smaragd, Singerriedl (alternative Grüner Veltliner Rotes Tor) from the famous vinemaker Hirtzberger. A firework in your mouth and heart while enjoying the wine and the scenery …

2) Discovering an italian food market in Ancona with the former austrian travel magazine “Reisemagazin” in my hands, tasting a breathtaking (because spicy) sausage. The memorable experience wasn’t the food. It was the joy of the marketer who remembered the interview and was happy about his fotostory in the magazine …

3) Life is too short and beautiful to drink bad wines. My favorite wine I ever drunk: Marienthal, Blaufränkisch (red), Ernst Triebaumer, 2004.

8. Your 3 worst destination/ accommodation /food experiences to date and why?

I prefer to remember positive ones, everybody knows how to make bad experiences. So – don’t do that!

9. Can you offer the readers 3 destination/ food / accomodation / things to do tips about the city you are currently living in?

1) Sodoma, Tulln – best “Wiener Schnitzel” of Austria (recommended by lot’s of food-journalists)
2) Der Floh – Langenlebarn – one of the best fish-meals in the country (member of jeune restaurateurs du monde)

3) The best way to discover Lower Austria is doing a bicycle tour alongside the Danube, one of the largest rivers in Mid-Europe. Certainly you have to stay in Tulln (I suggest Hotel Nibelungenhof and visit the Egon Schiele Museum, one of the most important painters of the 20th century, who was born at the railway station here (you can visit the room where he was born).

10. Any Question(s) you’d expected me to ask that you would like to answer?


My Take

Thank you very much Martin. I’ve many notes to compare but save them for our next meeting or for Twitter:-)

L.O.V.E. Maurizio Cattelan’s Finger (Street Art 18)

Via Designboom I came across Maurizio Cattelan’s finger which is on display in front of the Italian Stock Exchange in Milan. Maurizio is know for his tongue in cheek sometimes controversial art installations. The big question here is whether it is the vox populi against the bankers or the bankers against the people…Notice the two status symbols parked there, the Mini and the Fiat 500 retro editions.

The statue was created especially for and donated to Milan, but immediately refused by the city’s administrators.

‘We want to be confirmed as the capital of contemporary art’, the city’s administrators officially stated, ‘and we have to not only mediate but also accept what we do not like’.

Therefor it is only on display during the 10 days of Milan’s fashion week….

Interview Magazine has an insightful interview with the artist provocateur as the Italian Media have coined him.

10 Questions For (36): Craig and Linda Martin of Indie Travel Podcast

Great to continue the series with two real nomads, Craig (@Craig_Martin) and Linda Martin of Indie Travel Podcast, and who especially during the start up phase of TBEX have put tremendous effort to gather several of our fellow travel bloggers over there.

1) Who Are you?

We’re Craig and Linda Martin, two Kiwis who started traveling the world in early 2006. Some of the year we teach English, but most of the time we travel wherever we want, creating travel media like stories, videos, photos and audio podcasts.

We host one of the world’s best independent travel podcasts at Indie Travel Podcast and use our network of creative travellers to create a range of media through our business, Indie Travel Media Ltd. We’ve also started publishing digital books, like the Art of Solo Travel.

2) What do you like about what you do?

We love being able to visit dozens of countries each year; being able to spend as much or as little time in each as we wish.

We can work from a café in Berlin or a beach in Vietnam with equal ease (and equal problems!), or pop home to New Zealand for a bit.

The people we meet along the way are definitely the highlight of travel, closely followed by the wine we drink. There’s some thing really special about dropping in on an old friend after a few years away from each other.

3) What don’t you like about what you do?

At the moment our business is quite young, and with that comes problems: business strategy, sales and marketing are not our strong points, so we sometimes struggle to allocate enough time to those aspects… They’re not so fun! As you might expect, cash flow gets a bit tight at times too.

We’re much more adept at the creative and people-focused side of things!

4) Please tell us all about your blog and your aims with it.

Our flagship site,Indie Travel Podcast is an online home for long-term travelers, digital nomads and people on gap years, sabbaticals and career breaks.

We help people to travel in an independent, socially responsible and culturally engaged way. We focus on real cost-saving and practical advice for people who are preparing for and taking part in mid- and long-term travel.

We also run several other sites, including Must Learn Spanish and Make Money Travel Blogging.

5) Your top 3 destination experiences you’ve ever stayed to date and why?

That’s tough I’d have to pick:

1. Walking the Camino de Santiago in northern Spain. The simplicity of this hike/pilgrimage walk was something very special. We felt at home every step of the 1,000 kilometer journey.

2. Road-tripping through New Zealand. Travelling New Zealand by car or camper van is an amazing experience: friendly people, amazing wildlife and vistas, and great food and wine.

Chachapoyas found at Disclose.tv

3. Exploring three towns in northern Peru – Trujillo, Chiclayo and Chachapoyas. I’m sick and tired of hearing about the tourist-ridden Machu Picchu. This was a welcome break from crowds of tourists and offered some of the most amazing pre-Inca cultural experiences we had in South America.

6) Your top 3 accommodations you’ve ever stayed to date and why?

1. Krumlov House, a small hostel in Cesky Krumlov. This was one of the most beautiful hostels we’ve ever stayed in, both in terms of the staff and the light wooden interiors. The setting, in one of Europe’s prettiest towns, certainly helps.

2. Casablanca Hotel, New York. We stayed at the Casablanca during the Travel Blog Exchange conference earlier this year. It was an expensive splurge, but very well-priced for New York. Staff were excellent; complementary and extensive food and wine were served every afternoon; and the location, just meters from Times Square, was perfect.

3. A Spaceship. Not the kind that flies into space, but the New Zealand campervan made from a people-mover. Sleeping between the mountains and a lake while the snow fell, and waking up on the beach were two very special memories.

7) Your top 3 most memorable food / wine experiences to date and why?

While in the tiny town of Sankt Anna am Aigen in the south of Austria, we managed to have two very special nights in one week. On the first, everything in town was closed, so we walked, by the light of the moon, down the hillside and through the vines to reach a farmhouse restaurant. There we feasted on cold-cut meats, cheeses, pickles and bottle of local wine.

Later that week, we attended the Junker Festival, where dozens of local wine-makers presented their =93young=94 white wines. This is a tradition in the region and, while Junkers might cost several euros a glass in Vienna, I think we paid six euros for entry, and that was all. It was an amazing week.

I would be remiss not to also mention our days in Champagne, where we were hosted by a multitude of high-ranking people and walked away with some very nice vintage wines.

8) Your 3 worst destination/ accommodation /food experiences to date and why?

I try not to remember those. Bucharest, La Paz and Sankt Polten have especially failed to excite us.

9) Can you offer the readers 3 destination/ food / accomodation / things to do tips about the city you are currently living in?

I’m currently on a flight between Barcelona and Vienna so..

1. The sandwiches on Vueling flights are really small. The croissants very dry. I don’t recommend them.

2. Sitting on the right hand side of the plane during a morning flight allows the sun to come right in the window and warm you up. Sit on the left side if you want to avoid that.

3. If you have longer legs (say you’re around 160cm tall or more), try not to sit behind someone who’ll recline their seat. It’s quite painful.

10) Any Question(s) you’d expected me to ask that you would like to answer?

Apart from travel and blogging, our current passions (or, rather, preoccupations) are learning Spanish (for Linda) and playing chess (for Craig). We’re slowly getting better at both.

Our newest online project is MatadorU review, which looks at the MatadorU writing and photography courses. We’re also working on the final manuscript for a free ebook on how to travel the world like us, and brainstorming another called the Art of Couples’ Travel to complement Stephanie Lee’s Art of Solo Travel.

Craig and Linda on the Line of Capricorn, near Antofagasta, Chile

My Take

Thank You Craig and Linda. It was great fun meeting you recently and taking you for a ride along the Dutch river Vecht where the well to do traders of our Golden Age (17nd Century) used to have their country houses, and for a bite at a “Beach Club” at a lake (Loosdrechtse Plassen) where I took your portrait:-)

A great way to meet Travel Bloggers

I regret having missed TBEX’10, the gathering of the travel bloggers in New York City this summer, just as I had missed TBEX09.

In he past, in my own way, I’ve developed several initiatives here to cause travel bloggers to communicate with each other directly. I have booked some progress, but when TBEX was set up in 2008 by Kim Mance (TBEX | Kim Mance and @Kim Mance) and Maren Hogan (TBEX | Maren Hogan and @Maren Hogan), they offered the Travel Bloggers a platform to form a community that worked and and communications between travel bloggers have thrived ever since, especially after they had very quickly put together a venue in Chicago (TBEX’09).

This video of Nancy D. Brown is a great way to meet some of those travel bloggers. Inclusive Nancy herself the video features 4 Travel bloggers that I have interviewed here in my 10 Questions For series of interviews. Do you recognize the other 3?

BTW You can find me over there as TBEX | Guido J. van den Elshout (aka Happy Hotelier). I’ve signed up for TBEX Europe and for TBEX’11

Short Stays – 3 Nice videos for Hotel Promotion

Short Stays (Trailer) from Short Stays on Vimeo.

I came across Juliana Loh’s site JulianaLoh.com and found the link to these 3 poetic short stay films, used to draw attention to Chinese hotels.

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