Welcome to Sightseer: Letter from the CEO

“Not all those who wander are lost.” ― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

Travel is the world's largest industry. A whopping $8 trillion of economic activity is driven each year by the world's wanderers. That’s 10% of the GDP of the planet. Over $2 trillion of it on direct travel spend: the planes, trains, and automobiles; the hotels, motels, and Airbnbs. We all yearn for travel.

So as one might imagine, we suffer from no shortage of wanderlust-inducing magazines, blogs and social media accounts chronicling the world's most desirous locales. One might reasonably conclude that the world does not need yet another travel publication.

But what of the actual marketing of those destinations, hotels, methods and modes of transportation? Of hobbit holes to luxury abodes? What of the $200 billion dollars spent each year attempting to awaken our napping nomad, cajoling us to empty our wallets to hunt for adventure and gather new memories? The promise that we shall achieve longer-lasting value from an investment in a luxury hotel than in a luxury handbag? That we are better off not filling out closets but our camera rolls?

At Sightseer, this is our fascination: the industry that drives travel. Here, we will dissect and analyze how marketers are spending the aforementioned $200 billion. And the travel industry is at quite the crossroads: the intersection where globalization must meet personalization.

While there are many travel marketing themes that capture our attention, our focus will revolve around the enduring challenge of travel marketers competing to provide the right content to the right consumer at the right place and the right time. But what is the right content? Issue by issue we will try to answer just that.

Travel marketers attempt to answer it each day as their content marketing efforts play out. We see this in the ways Destination Marketing Organizations (DMOs) from TravelNevada to Visit Palm Springs leverage deeply authentic and personal storytelling, including leveraging actual visitor photos and videos, to inspire interest in their destinations above others.

And from the The Ritz-Carlton to Ramada, we see hoteliers battle to grow direct bookings after largely ceding the consumer booking experience to the online travel agencies. We are interested to see how they evolve not only loyalty to drive this reverse migration, but the story making that will allow them to lift the personalities of their properties off of a price-sorted page of listings on an OTA site onto the bucket lists of their travelers.  

On a personal note, I believe we need travel now more than ever. Only travel has the power to bend the earth to create neighbors from strangers across the world. While we devise more ways to turn people away from our borders, only travel gives us the power of shared stories. Shared stories that lead to shared understanding. And what can’t we accomplish with shared understanding?

For those inner nomads to wander, however, we need strong travel marketers. We need all of you to coax us out of our shells. We need you to help us overcome our fears to wander to places we wouldn’t dare imagine to go until you ‘incept’ it into our minds. So celebrate your travelers. Tell your stories. Find us wherever we are and make sure we hear them. We will all be better off for your efforts.

We thank you for joining us on this journey, and we hope to tell the story behind the story here.


Ranvir Gujral