Business Marketing TRAVEL

The best thing on my holiday you can do at home

Instagram dictates modern tourism, learn how to use it

It was our last day in Reykjavik and we headed past the scenic old port.  To a simulator.  That’s right.  After two weeks in Iceland and a whole lot of very impressive experiences, we went to a helicopter fly-over machine.  We had been on glaciers, inside volcanos, seen more waterfalls than you can imagine exist but here we were strapping ourselves in to a typical such ride.  It moves, it sprinkles you, blows air on you and you get a completely unique new view on the sights you have already seen as well as many you will never be able to.  It also features good weather which helps explain why it took so long to film it.  At the end they offer the typical cheesy fake photos of you in front of the Northern Lights or other options for anyone with too much cash.

If you only have fifteen minutes to experience Iceland I can think of no better way.  And you could have the same film anywhere in the world.  But the cheesy photos kill it.

One of the reasons Iceland is so popular lately is because it is Instagramable.  You just point at any of their attractions, take a photo and can be sure of a stream of likes and comments.  That simple.  You will look good.  It is unusual.  You seem interesting and adventurous.  It stands out in their social media.  I first experienced this effect last year in Norway.

It is much safer than it looks. To the left of my friend Shorty in this pic I took is a ledge from which you can climb onto the rock.

This is just a rock. I can think of a thousand equally impressive views in Greece where we could add a rock like this for Instagram.  And even though thousands of people probably post the exact same photo, mine still got hundreds of likes and comments.  So why don’t we go about putting rocks for photos in more places?  Make it as safe as you want, just make sure it looks impressive.  And make it easy for the photographer to get to the right angle.  It is more important these days than the actual experience.  People don’t care how you got there, if you cheated or took a ride, nobody will check.  “Pics or it didn’t happen” only refers to the finish line, the final result.  No matter if you posed for ten minutes or waited two hours for the clouds to lift, the sun to be at the right place or whatever else you needed to do.

I think someone has actually died falling off this rock, but it still rare considering how many thousands of people go there and pull silly stunts like me there

In fact if I had one criticism of Iceland and the way they have set up their national parks it is that they don’t have enough photo opportunities.  Too many of those great waterfalls have fenced off the ideal semi-dangerous-looking spot or the ideal photo angle position.  Nobody has (yet) fallen off that rock in the picture.  This other one (with me jumping) I think one person did; too many think it is cool to dangle their feet off the ledge.  Why? Because someone posted it on Instagram! In a way it may actually be the Norwegian Tourist Board’s fault that person fell off.  If only they had set up the angle for photography better.  He wouldn’t have to go so close to the ledge for an impressive photo.

Me in front of a waterfall. Not even a famous waterfall, no filters, just a good angle.

The currency is “likes”.  No point complaining, that is how it goes.Work with it.  It is the most natural viral promotion there is.  People take the photo, others are envious and want to go get their own ultra likeable photo.  No need to chase so called “influencers”.  Instagrammable locations work like a pyramid, sucking in more and more people.  Even the ones that didn’t like or comment are opening a Google search about travelling to that destination in another tab.  Come on, admit it, you probably started back at half way through this article when you saw my picture of my friend on that rock…


(If anyone in tourism needs my help making their location more Instagrammable, feel free to contact me.)


Time travel now available in Greece

Many of my friends think I hate Greece.  It is true I am very tough on its people, businesses and government.  I openly support the famous marbles from the Parthenon taken by Lord Elgin staying in the British Museum.  I fully justified austerity measures as well deserved.  I even downplayed the massive recent success of containing the pandemic by claiming it is mainly due to the fact that hundreds of thousands of lazy civil servants are happy to officially do nothing and get paid for it whilst others are simply protecting older people because they live off those pensions.  I am also a vocal critic of Greek tourism, always harping on about the lack of infrastructure, short term profit causing destruction and horrible rate of decay of anything Greek tourism touches in its unplanned and unregulated ways.

But right now it is pure bliss.

I just got back from a five day stint around Central Greece.  Kudos to my partner and all the kids that tag along, we just hop in a car and follow our hearts.  Feel like walking to a spectacular waterfall?  I was in Norway last summer but we can compete with the best of them.  Prefer an alpine valley, do you want to camp under the stars?  You got it!  Some of the least light polluted places in Europe are in the Greek mountains.  And of course if you want beaches, heck, we have all kinds of beaches.  Not just the ones you see on the posters.  Beaches with sand, beaches with pebbles, “I want a beach to find pretty stuff to make a necklace” said my daughter and hey presto, here you go darling, I just needed to drive around a couple more corners.

The real treasure right now however is the freedom.  You get that beach to yourself.  You can walk all day and not meet a soul.  All the tourism infrastructure is there and working, just without all the tourists.  It is a unique opportunity.  A friend once explained to me that the Greeks that own most seaside resorts are actually descendants of the least able offspring of people that lived in mountain villages.  Back then, cultivatable land was the prize.  So the second son got the lots by the sea which were considered worthless.  I liked the theory, it justified all the damage I have seen done to these places over the years by short term thinkers out for a fast buck, the ones that like to take advantage of tourists.

Well the good news is that they are not around now.  It is mainly the more modern, friendly, better grounded hospitality operators that decided to make a go of it right now.  The long term thinkers.  The ones you will like.  If there is one cafe open in the village, it is the nice one.  Add to that freshness the fact that nature is refreshed through quarantine keeping humans away for a couple of months and this is the most ….springy Greek spring ever.  

So take it from someone that isn’t afraid to say it as it is even when it annoys all my Greek friends.  Right now is truly the best Greece anyone has seen in the past half-century.  If you visited a long time ago, you know what I am on about.  If you don’t just take my word for it and visit Greece as soon as possible.  This won’t last forever I’m afraid and I will have to go back to bitching about it again…


Lightly disguised insults

At Miletus, the people aren’t stupid.  But they always seem to do the things that stupid people would do.

(Nicomachean Ethics – Aristotle quoting)


Losing track of our sites

At a place called Elis, there was a building in the marketplace.  It looked like a temple, had no walls and its roof was supported by columns of oak.  I asked the local people about this and they all agree it is a memorial, but nobody remembers what it is commemorating!

Guide to Greece – Pausanias