Adventure Based Travel
Tourism is a powerful industry, one with the influence to transform economies around the world. So it’s only natural that sub-sectors develop and evolve within the tourism platform. Gaining strength and growing in prominence is adventure tourism. According to a George Washington University study, conducted in partnership with the Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA), consumers spent more than $89 billion worldwide on adventure travel in 2012 and it is expected to continue growing at about 16% every year.
One reason for this change is a global, cultural shift toward people wanting more transformative experiences. Explorative and innovative travel, community engagement and “dialing down the bling” are all part of the latest trends. Cementing this sector’s mainstream appeal is campaigns like Tourism Queensland, who teamed with pop culture figure Oprah Winfrey to market Australian tourism. Similarly, shows based on the evolution of expedition-discovery, like The Amazing Race, Survivor and the National Geographic Channel, have all played a role in creating a market for this category.
The momentum for adventure tourism revolves around a desire by participants to step outside their comfort zones and see the world in a new way. Its broad base includes not only those that seek physical challenge and risk, but also those looking for intellectual, spiritual and emotional adventures. The common thread of adventure-based travel is empowerment of travelers to awaken to, and ultimately transform their lives through a physical activity, cultural exchange or engagement with nature.
In its most traditional form, adventure travel is typically grouped into either "hard" or "soft" adventures. Hard adventures involve some kind of extreme sporting activity: paragliding, rock climbing, surfing, spelunking or scuba diving in remote and exotic locations. Soft adventures are leisurely and entail less strenuous activities where the focus is often on education. Activities such as archeological tours, culinary or wine classes, bird watching, canoeing, fishing and horseback riding all fall within these parameters.
However, the most significant finding in recent studies by the ATTA is the emergence of cerebral pursuits, consisting of adventures that don’t necessarily involve high levels of risk, challenge or physical fitness. Instead, they rely more on immersion and discovery such as historic exploration, volunteer tourism and religious pilgrimages, where cultural and environmentally sustainable activities are top priority and travelers have the opportunity to get personal with the local population. These first-hand experiences tend to leave powerful and lasting impressions, often inspiring thoughtful and helpful action.
Whether hard, soft or cerebral, adventure travel is gaining favor because it involves healthy-physical activities, allows for a deeper cultural exchange and an appreciation for the fragility of places. It is also more often viewed as a “guilt-free” holiday option given that money spent can penetrate more deeply into communities and contribute to local economies. In this vein, adventure travel focuses on a “triple bottom line” of people, planet and profit.
The tourism industry is quickly learning that consumers are becoming increasingly savvy and better able to identify the needs and activities to achieve their personal goals. Adventure industry providers, hoteliers and communities must create and market a broader range of products, refine current services and continually explore the preferences of target audiences to maintain and gain a competitive edge.
Stormwater As An Amenity
eReach Issue #5
There are few elements as essential to life as water. As a significant commodity in both natural and created settings, water provides a diverse range of aesthetic and recreational opportunities for new developments. Its sound, motion and cooling effect have universal appeal. It connotes refreshment and stimulates verdant growth. With its playful and therapeutic qualities, water is a resource we are forever trying to preserve, conserve, clean and reuse. Given the increasing emphasis on environmentally sensitive approaches to living, working and playing, water has become a critical, central resource in the design and planning of environments around the world. It is therefore a particularly pertinent time to employ new modes of thinking and practices that will change our relationship with this natural resource.
The need for creative thinking about water capture, diversion and reuse has accelerated as land consumption increases along with corresponding storm water run-off volumes. As such, opportunities are present for storm water systems’ design to transform from conventional solutions and thought of as a clear value-added component of good site design. On-site stormwater treatment systems can be designed in such a way as to create site amenities; that is, the rainwater itself becomes a feature – engaging, educating, and even entertaining visitors. Addressed as an amenity, a useful strategy for storm water management is to “start at the source”.
At EDSA, we are combining place-based aquatic design with environmental stewardship for stormwater systems design by employing techniques that focus on non-point source pollution, water balance and small storm hydrology. Design elements and treatment methods such as bio-retention, vegetated swales and rain-garden systems address stormwater management while adding distinct amenity value to projects. For example, beautifully designed retention ponds have long been recognized by developers and communities for their visual and recreational value. By providing conditions that are favorable for interacting with stormwater treatment systems, guests, residents and visitors can find the water-based features relaxing, amusing, refreshing and educational.
Numerous opportunities exist for artful rainwater management integration to contribute to the quality of landscapes. A rich aesthetic can be created through the combination of forms, colors and sounds that provide visual, auditory, tactile, and olfactory experiences by contrasting natural and built elements through a variety of aquatic rhythms of water related hardscape and plant material. By using water collection basins as features and focal points, people experience stormwater in different forms such as flowing, falling, splashing, standing and sheeting as a means of making green infrastructure visible. Interaction can be achieved through effective and strategically placed seating or viewsheds for those strolling or biking on well-placed paths. Downspouts, runnels and flumes draw attention to the line of the stormwater trail enhancing legibility as well as interest and curiosity. Overlooks, destination points, seat walls and off-site trail systems promote physical exploration that balance perception of safety with adventure.
Dealing with runoff strategically and effectively is of paramount importance to property owners and developers both financially and aesthetically. Now more than ever, it is imperative to integrate stormwater improvements into the surrounding community fabric as part of a socially and ecologically responsible development.
Today’s complex environment requires that we constantly readjust our mindsets by responding appropriately to changes as they occur. As problem solvers, this is where design thinking and innovation play a significant role. It’s about grasping incremental changes in technology, science and society and converting those changes into ideas, concepts and ultimately places that get people excited. It’s not about saying yes to everything. It's about saying no to all but the most crucial of elements.
At EDSA we view innovation as shaping positive change. One could say increasing the lifespan of a battery or the ability to convert refuse to a new energy source is positive change. But on the most basic level, innovation begins by simply identifying a problem and seeing an opportunity. In this context, innovation drives our approach to creating a sustainable future.
Sustainability is a fundamental part of the challenges that face every industry today. Planning and design are at the forefront of resolving how the need to consume can be offset with the need to be good stewards of our planet. It’s about addressing and resolving how businesses can deliver a superior experience while reducing waste and carbon footprint. In the long-term, solutions must be ambitious and feasible for implementation. Otherwise, the potential benefits are limited.
While our design philosophy has evolved over several decades, it has always been based on a human-centered approach. As design innovators, we first examine who we are designing for, then formulate an appropriate, yet fresh and creative design solution. Finally, we explore new methods of implementation. The resulting measure of success is directly related to the value it brings real users in their everyday lives.
Take a look at any of the top global brands – consider Coca-Cola, Apple, and GE, among others. It's no accident that many of them are also considered design leaders. Design is a fundamental part of creating an image and experience of luxury, exclusivity and belonging. We believe that design thinking must begin with empathy and that the major context for any innovative effort lies in understanding the needs of your user.
The most effective means to garner an understanding is through direct observation. Rather than simply listening, it is important to observe what, why and how people are actually doing things. How are they using and enjoying the spaces you have in existence? This direct correlation develops a point of view and provides inspiration for ideas. Why? Because it assumes that the people who will ultimately become the idea’s users are always central to how it is developed.
In turn, design thinking must not only synthesize functionality and aesthetics, it must represent thought processes and emotions. Design innovation means no longer designing previously specified programs, but deciding what processes, products and/or systems are needed for the users. The underlying premise is that people don’t just buy utility, they buy emotion and symbol. For the average person, choices are made by balancing the need for evolution with the force of habit. Finding the proper symmetry, well, that’s the essence of innovation.
Leading companies are in touch with their own humanity and the humanity of others. They listen to consumers, employees and investors and respond to the messages they receive. They want to know how people really feel, they gather input and use it to drive innovation and they realize that there is a lot to be learned from the wisdom of crowds. Likewise, great designers create value by exploring without limitation. They assemble teams of individuals who see the world through different eyes and ascertain what should be as opposed to what is. They show discipline in doing more with less. By combining forces, we can create new business opportunities and pathways to manifest consumer needs, emotions and aspirations.
PROPERTY AUDIT – NOW OR NEVER
A self-evaluation of one’s real estate portfolio can be eye opening. How can you be sure that your property is poised to meet and exceed market demand and consumer expectations? Are you fully utilizing the strengths of your existing property and capitalizing on the overall experience? In today’s marketplace, differentiation is crucial as your real estate assets are distinguishable not only by price, location, and size but by the service provided and amenities offered.
To assist in this evaluation, EDSA has developed a Property Audit which brings to light a number of considerations before engaging property upgrades, enhancements and/or expansion plans. While every property is unique, the following is a summary of EDSA's time-tested criteria for proposed developments and/or property improvements:
Competition and Demand
• Have you reviewed the competition in your market and do you have the ability to broaden your market base?
• What local/regional attractions exist that can serve to enhance your project's location?
• Is the entry and arrival experience on par with your company's commitment to service?
• Do all elements of the arrival sequence work in concert to create a seamless flow?
• Do landscape/hardscape treatments properly accent nodes, solve visual challenges and express the unique personality of your property?
• Is self-parking easily viewable and is there an adequate pedestrian walkways to entrances?
• Does your current wayfinding system help visitors easily navigate through your property's environment?
• Is there an established consistency in sign placements and graphic layouts?
• Are there direct routes to amenities and gathering spaces with memory points along the way?
• Does your wayfinding system integrate with surrounding architecture, landscape and interior design?
• Do your common areas function as living rooms and can they accommodate groups of varying size?
• Are your outdoor spaces animated, well-connected and do they address climatic concerns?
• Are there exterior focal elements to create interest, set mood and orient people to their surroundings?
• Do you have a series of "stage sets” and multi-use spaces for social interaction and recreation?
• Does your property celebrate the history, art, heritage, and beauty of the region in which it resides?
• Does your property have a mix of amenity offerings that will draw and hold your guests/users?
• Are you properly addressing the wellness requirements of your guests/residents?
• Have you provided amenities to meet the needs of multiple ages (i.e. adult/family pools, playgrounds etc.)?
• Do you have programmed events that offer cultural enrichment and educational/learning experiences?
• Are there adventure-based activities available on site or nearby? Do you provide transportation?
• Is there an opportunity to partner with local/regional attractions/historic/holistic venues?
Alternative Revenue Sources
• Have you considered the addition of water play areas and/or parks to increase revenue?
• Would retail shops, dining alternatives, spa services or marina facilities enhance the appeal of your destination?
While this checklist is meant only to stimulate thought provoking possibilities, there is no disputing the importance of land-use and property upgrade decisions in creating high performing destinations. For additional information or to speak with an EDSA team member, please call 954.524.3330 or email us at email@example.com.
Spaces that Change Behavior
We’re experiencing a sea of change in the way designers engage with the world. Instead of aspiring to influence behavior from a distance, we increasingly want the spaces we design to have a more immediate impact through direct engagement. In support of our ambition, much research by environmental psychologists has confirmed that one’s surroundings can and does have a significant effect on the way individuals feel and how they likely respond. So it stands to reason, that we aim for an engaging, aesthetically-pleasing environment that ultimately has a positive effect on the moods, opinions and behaviors of the visitors, residents, students, tourists and patrons that interact with our projects.
Part of the challenge in understanding how to design for behavior change is to fully recognize what actually motivates someone to change their behavior. Traditionally, design has focused on what people do, and why they do; where landscape architects choreograph experiences that support existing needs. However, we must be mindful to focus on the ‘future’ view of how we want people to behave within that which we create. So while we can’t change a person, we can influence the way they behave by shaping the environment they function within.
When designing any space, we have to take into consideration the purpose of that space and who is likely to be using it. In doing so we need to understand what influences behavior. What is it you are encouraging users to do? To what extent does the user want to perform the action? How easy is it to perform the targeted action? For example, there would be little point in putting expensive luxurious site furnishings and elaborate lighting in a child’s playground. Similarly, we wouldn't want to create a busy distracting environment for an outdoor learning space if our intention is to have peace and harmony.
So apart from the practical considerations what else do we have to take into account when designing spaces that can change behavior? Simply put, all of the peripheral elements that create sensory experiences. Things like lighting, color, comfort, balance and unity as well as the appropriate use of textures, hues, shapes and proportions in providing for a distinct experience and crafting a specific story.
Let’s focus on color for a moment. On a very basic level, red is intense and attracts attention; it is also associated with passion. Blue is more relaxing and evokes feelings of trust and reliability. Green is linked with nature and is easy on the eye as opposed to yellow which can strain the eye but at the same time can increase concentration. The secret is to incorporate a color palette that is perfectly in tune with how you want people to respond.
What we sense in a space, consciously or unconsciously, affects how we feel about ourselves, the people we interact with and the bricks and mortar housed in that space. Through the skillful space arrangement and other visual cues, EDSA designs render a look and feel that influence how a space “speaks”. When applied strategically, these skills can be used to create spaces that contribute to organizational goals, influences consumer purchasing, and impacts client confidence.
EDSA designers understand not only how to create great looking spaces but how that space impacts the people who use it — your clients, customers, residents, visitors, employees and associates. By capturing the spirit of each setting and understanding consumer needs and wants, EDSA designs are revered for the way they engage and integrate the human senses and ultimately influence behavior change.