Sunday, August 3, 2008

Guide al terzo

Today I went sailing al terzo (lateen sail on a traditional sanpierotta) for the second time in my life with two Venetian guides: Bruno Nogara and Laura Sabbadin. It was a beautiful afternoon and we cruised all the way to Poveglia and back to the Lido. We did run into a secca (see unflattering photo) on the way back but the sunset was magnificent, as was the company.
We discussed the future of the profession of "guide" in the internet era. Could human chaperons be supplanted by gadgets? Probably not when it comes to excorting tour groups on their whirlwind tours, nor when wealthy individuals request a private tour... But what about the budget-conscious family who will never even consider hiring a private tour guide? What about people like me (I am sure I am not alone) who think we can do fine with a guide book and some internet searches? Could some simple, intuitive device (like an Ipod?) be used to make available to the "unguided masses" the high-quality information that only Bruno Nogara can convey with all his humour and pizzaz? Could guides tap into the "long tail" of tourism and open up a new market for themselves? So, as we leisurely sailed through the southern lagoon, we decided that these intriguing questions will be explored by one of the teams in the fall, as part of the "Visiting Venice" project. More on this later.

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