Travel writing has turned into story telling. Can you remember the last time you picked up one of those good old factual travel guides and really found something inspiring? Neither do I. You know which ones I am talking about, those guide books with pages full of hotels and restaurants. Pages that become outdated the minute the book is printed. Ephemeral joy. These books cannot claim to have delightful and deeply personal opinions, they would rather state randomly compiled practical hints and statistical information.

In the pre-internet era we were all travel guide addicts. We needed guidance: names of places to stay, eat and visit. Travel guides were our desperately needed lifeline.

The rise of the internet changed things around, creating a waterfall of information. Facts and figures were thrown upon us where every single piece of information clinged together to form a curtain of data. Were we able to pick out what we really needed? Were we able to make links and connect pieces of information that would answer our questions?

Not really and the factual travel guides continued to play their role.

The internet 2.0 era changed things around again. The growth of social networks brought personality into the Web. With personality came engagement. With engagement came stories. Suddenly people were actively involved, sharing their ideas. And it worked. We all listened to the stories and forgot about the factual travel guides.

Hollywood & Seth Godin

Hollywood used to be our story provider in the pre-internet days. We traveled to the corners of the world and beyond by watching movies like Thelma & Louise, Easy Rider and The Sugarland Express. Hollywood still is an important story provider, but the current state of the internet allows us to look for the real stories behind the façade of commercialization.

Stories are hot! We see the importance of storytelling rising in marketing as well. Less and less consumers are interested in the facts and figures of products. We believe all available products are basically good but the brand preference is all about the story around the brand. Seth Godin is a great example of the new marketing evolution (revolution maybe). He believes in compelling stories that can create a tribe of brand enthusiasts. Customers listen and follow the story.

Travel

Back to travel, that’s what we are here for right? When I research a new destination I don’t look into the factual guidebooks that sum up the list of sightseeing spots. Do you? I believe the era of factual travel guides has ended, we need other ways of fulfillment. We need inspiration.
As I read in an article lately, “the bookshop of Hugh Grant in Notting Hill is about to go out of business”. The internet 2.0 has made redundant a classical type of travel book. But don’t worry, on the internet travel storytellers are all around. They move through the internet and social networks, making new friends everywhere. Trust me, these people will guide you even better than any factual guidebook can. They introduce countries and cultures and broaden your vision beyond everyday life.

Dear Mr. Godin, I am a strong believer of a Tribe of Travel Story Tellers. Stories for around the digital fire. Who is joining me in the quest for new ways of offering travel counseling?

 

By Emiel Van den Boomen

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