101 Humans, 1 Review

Alexandra Craig 19 April 2016 11

Earlier this year I was selected to be one of 101 people chosen to take part in the Human Brochure tourism concept; VisitCanberra’s latest push to bring new visitors to our lovely city.

As part of the Brochure, all 101 of us were able to invite a couple of guests (number dependant on what category you were in – Adventure, Family Fun, Arts & Culture, Food & Wine) to Canberra for a weekend so we could show them around. The idea was to show off Canberra through the eyes of someone who loves it and knows it well.

I was in the Outdoor and Adventure category, so I got to invite two guests to the Capital. Everyone’s guests were put up in a hotel and each Local Human was allocated an ‘experience’ to take our guests along to. The rest of the weekend was to be filled in with our own activities.

The experience I was allocated was a visit to the AIS. I was a little bit confused because I didn’t really think that a visit to the AIS fit in with the tag ‘Outdoor and Adventure’. Fortunately we did have a nice time. We got to explore the main gym room and test out some equipment. We also got to do some basketball drills with Brad Davidson, former Boomer player, as well as a tour of the facilities and breakfast and lunch in the athletes dining hall. One of my guests even won a basketball singlet signed by Paddy Mills.

I spoke to a few other Local Humans about the weekend and many were really disappointed about the experiences and the accommodation provided as they felt that the treatment of interstate guests was a little unequal and inconsistent. For example, some people were given hot air ballooning or a zoo visit with animal encounters as their experience, while others were given museum tours. Some guests were put up in beautiful new establishments like Hotel Hotel, the Realm, East Hotel, while others were put up at the Quality Hotel in Dickson. In some instances, people actually pulled out of the weekend because their accommodation wasn’t great and their experience wasn’t anything to get excited about. It just wasn’t worth the time and money they would have to put into travelling to Canberra.

A few Local Humans also found it a little off-putting that their experiences did not match up to the groups they were in. In the Family Fun category (two adults plus kids allowed), one group was given a personal training session with the Raiders. Ordinarily this would be a pretty cool experience, but not for little kids. Another group was given a tour of the Portrait Gallery. Again, this is not something that kids would appreciate or have any interest in doing, not to mention what a nightmare it would be for the parents and the museum if the kids started running amok. I feel that more could have been done to match groups up to experiences that better suited them.

Over the course of the weekend, I took my guests go-karting at the Power Kart Raceway in Griffith, for dinner at Italian and Sons, a nice walk around the Kingston Foreshore, lunch at Brodburger and whilst it’s not exclusively Canberra; dessert at Max Brenner. We desperately wanted chocolate! My guests had a good time and really liked Canberra. They commented on how laid back it was and how much politer Canberrans are than Sydneysiders.

I’m looking forward to seeing the ACT’s tourism numbers in the future. While I think it will be difficult to determine whether or not the Human Brochure impacted the numbers, I think the concept of the Brochure is quite clever and unique. I wouldn’t be surprised if cities around the world take Canberra’s lead and hold a Human Brochure of their own.

To see what the Local Humans and their guests got up to over the weekend, check out the Human Brochure website: http://humanbrochure.com.au/

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11 Responses to 101 Humans, 1 Review
beedlebum beedlebum 10:12 am 05 Nov 14

Alexandra, I for one am very sorry that the Facebook post got out of hand. Though not surprised, as when you put a bunch of different people together in this space, these things often do (take Riot Act as another example!).

However I don’t think that it’s not appropriate to reproduce a post in a private group in full, particularly when it names specific people. I’m old enough now to realise that (sadly) people aren’t always going to agree of get along, but calling them out by name in a public forum is not the best approach. My opinion.

The reason I posted here though is simple. I wanted to give my version of the weekend; to provide my own ‘review’. Sadly I don’t get paid to post to Riot Act, so perhaps my words don’t have as much impact, but it’s important that all reviews are shared.

Alexandra Craig Alexandra Craig 8:53 am 05 Nov 14

My article was linked on the private Human Brochure Facebook group and it caused quite a stir. Nearly 100 comments so far with the majority being negative. I wasn’t going to post a response but decided to after one or two commenters got nasty and asserted that I was making the whole thing up. The response I posted is in full below. Some of it won’t make sense to RiotACT readers that don’t have access to the group and can’t see the comments I’m referring to but perhaps it will clear a couple of things up. I’m happy to clarify things further if people wish.

Thanks to all who took the time to read my article, and thanks to those who provided feedback, which was mostly polite.

I wasn’t going to leave a comment in response because I know that I won’t be changing anyone’s opinion (not that I’d expect to), and I don’t want to add fuel to the fire. However, I feel like I should clear a few things up for the purpose of being transparent.

The point was raised that tourism numbers won’t be assisted if all the experiences and accommodation are highly priced. Whilst I accept this, the whole point of the Brochure was for us to show people Canberra so that they would go home and tell their friends and family about Canberra, so hopefully they visit and tell people etc and the cycle continues. If people are being put up in accommodation that’s pretty woeful then there’s no way they’re going to recommend that to anyone. They’re going to go home with a negative view. The reason I used the examples of East Hotel, Hotel Hotel and Realm was because they were the ones I saw people talking about and the ones people referred to in their correspondence with me. I understand if not everyone can be placed in upmarket establishments like the ones listed, but I think it’s unfair for some to have to stay in a small, incredibly dingy room with a yellow light while others get to stay in fancy places. Why not put people up at somewhere in the middle like the Novotel? It’s a pretty basic place but at least it’s modern and clean.

Some commenters were also upset that I didn’t talk to enough people about their experiences. I talked to enough. I don’t need (nor have the time) to talk to 101 people. I spoke to between 15-20 people about their thoughts on the Brochure. I selected who I spoke to at random and for a 600-word post I think that’s sufficient.

There was attention drawn to my use of ‘few’ and ‘many’. I’ve obviously made a language error there. I meant for it to say that many of the people I spoke to were disappointed.

I agree with the point raised that just because something is free, it doesn’t mean that I can’t be critical of it or simply, just state the facts. None of what I said was untrue. I know a lot of people like to gush and be quite sycophantic their praise but I’m not that type of person. If someone or something is deserving of praise, I’ll give it but I’m not going to carry on and on about it.

Because so many of you came out against my views I know most people think that I’m alone in my views. You would be surprised. I have received a decent number of messages from Humans completely backing my views and no, not all of them have posted on this thread. Why would they? It”s almost like being crucified for having an opinion or for having the ‘wrong’ opinion.

Most of you were quite polite in your comments but TH, you are just so incredibly rude. You’re the classic example of a keyboard warrior obviously with nothing better to do. You claim I researched the article from my imagination. As James has come forward and said, he was given the personal training session with the Raiders and it was completely inappropriate for his family; three girls, two of which are under three years old. A one year old can barely hold their head up, let alone spend two hours outside in the sun at a personal training session. Get a grip on yourself. I can’t interview every single person to make sure my article represents the views of every Local Human and their guests. I didn’t make this stuff up %u2013 it was all completely factual.

I know some people were concerned that my personal views would be taken as the collective view of the whole Human Brochure. I don’t know why this is. It’s an article, written in the first person, with my name on the byline and the title is 101 Humans, 1 Review. I highly doubt anyone would read it and assume I was speaking on behalf of 101 people. It just wouldn’t happen. I don’t think my article was misleading and I stand by everything I said. A vast majority of articles published on the RiotACT are opinion and the people who read RiotACT know this. My article was not a press release and I’m entitled to my views, as are you all. What would people rather, an honest review of a product or a fake five stars? How can you improve if there are apparently no flaws?

At the end of the day, I am paid by the RiotACT to write articles that are interesting. If I told the story of my Human Brochure weekend without the criticism and made it all fluffy and rainbows then it would be a pretty boring and factually incorrect story. I feel like some people are way too emotionally invested in what other people’s opinions are. At the end of the day, we are all just regular people. We can’t get so upset because someone wrote something we don’t agree with. PEACE OUT.

Alexandra Craig Alexandra Craig 8:31 am 05 Nov 14

draught said :

I have to disagree that ‘many were really disappointed about the experiences and the accommodation provided as they felt that the treatment of interstate guests was a little unequal and inconsistent’.

I’ll post another clarification in a moment, but what I meant by that comment was that many of the people I spoke to were disappointed, not many of the whole 101 people. I spoke to between 15-20 people and about 90% of them were disappointed. I can’t talk to everyone, nor is it necessary for me to talk to everyone in the group.

draught draught 10:25 pm 04 Nov 14

I have to disagree that ‘many were really disappointed about the experiences and the accommodation provided as they felt that the treatment of interstate guests was a little unequal and inconsistent’.

I am one of the 101 and have heard only minor negative feedback. Yes there are people who felt that what they were offered didn’t suit their profile, and yes there are people who felt that their accommodation wasn’t right for their guests. I would not, however, describe them as ‘many’. The vast majority have been overwhelmingly positive about the FREE opportunities that they and their guests were provided by tourism and hospitality providers around town.

The purpose of the weekend was not to have an all expenses paid glitzy experience, but to see Canberra from the view of a local. It sounds like you did this. I certainly tried to do this, taking my visitors to the places that I enjoy around Canberra. Even before we got to the experience that was provided for us my guests were raving about Canberra and what it has to offer. They are planning to come back as a weekend was not long enough to see everything they heard about while they were here.

(P.S. I am also aware of guests who stayed at the Quality Inn at Dickson who thought that the accommodation was completely suitable for their weekend.)

Masquara Masquara 7:27 pm 04 Nov 14

Realm is where people who work at APH stay. It’s in a wasteland. Quality Inn is at least as good a choice for visitors to Canberra. And East has the worst coffee I have ever tasted. Alexandra I think you can be a bit of a sucker for marketing.

stirred408 stirred408 6:31 pm 04 Nov 14

how do I get in on this racket?

canberracath canberracath 5:24 pm 04 Nov 14

Nice one. As an insider of sorts for the 101 Humans experience (I don’t work for ACT tourism, but I work for one of the organisations who provided an ‘experience’ over the weekend) I got the feeling that there was a lack of options for the ‘Outdoor and Adventure’ category – what we provided probably fit well into ‘outdoors’, but certainly not adventure!

stirred408 said :

I think that my tax payers money allocated so people (who are well educated and probably well off) can have a rollicking time and a fantastic meal really pisses me off.

I can’t speak for the other organisations, but we certainly provided our experience for free. Even if there was government money spent on this generally (I have no idea if there was or wasn’t) it’s about encouraging tourism to Canberra, which in turn will raise public revenue. We’ll end up better in the long run.

I live in Macgregor I live in Macgregor 5:05 pm 04 Nov 14

Don’t take this personally Alexandra (you know I like you!) but I have to disagree with the negative sentiments expressed and say, speaking for myself, I really loved my Human Brochure experience (which hasn’t finished yet!). I also know for a fact that the overwhelming majority of participants in Human Brochure are singing its praises after enjoying a whirlwind of amazing experiences over the past few months.

I learnt a lot more about Canberra than I had known before I started and I made some great new friends and enjoyed some great hospitality from hard-working business owners, their inspiring staff and public servants passionate about their city and work.

My guests and kids had a great time over the whole weekend we spent together and the night we enjoyed at the Dinosaur Museum last Friday was superb (read my blog which I did on Sunday night at http://www.cbrfoodie.org ) …and we will continue to sing Canberra’s praises to all who care to listen.

Sure, not every single experience we had was perfect and there is always room for improvement, but this was an awesome experience that I will always be grateful to have been given the opportunity to participate in.

Also… I’ve had friends stay at the Quality Hotel in Dickson and think that it’s a pretty nice place to stay, as well as being in an awesome location if you enjoy multicultural cuisine. I’ve stayed in lots of different places in Australia and around the world and think we’re pretty spoilt when it comes to hotels and food in Canberra.

stirred408 stirred408 4:42 pm 04 Nov 14

I think that my tax payers money allocated so people (who are well educated and probably well off) can have a rollicking time and a fantastic meal really pisses me off.

Maya123 Maya123 4:14 pm 04 Nov 14

“In the Family Fun category (two adults plus kids allowed), one group was given a personal training session with the Raiders. Ordinarily this would be a pretty cool experience, but not for little kids. Another group was given a tour of the Portrait Gallery.”

I could see that both of these options could be loved or hated, depending on the family. I personally would find, for instance, the training session with the Raiders (Raiders…Who!!!) VERY boring, but a tour of the Portrait Gallery interesting, especially if that included an interesting, informative guide. It would depend on the children’s ages and interest, plus what their family’s interest (and therefore the children’s exposure) is, for what the children would enjoy. Other people would have different likes and dislikes to me. I would hope the visitors were asked were they interested in football, and/or artworks, before they were taken/subjected to either of these venues. But it sounds like they weren’t.

beedlebum beedlebum 2:19 pm 04 Nov 14

Thanks Alexandra for the article. I was also lucky enough to be selected for the Human Brochure, which I’m still amazed about, as I don’t have nearly the same exposure or local fame as many of the others selected. So perhaps that colours my experiences, but I wanted to provide my perspective as well. I did want to say that I had a completely different experience to the one that Alexandra describes, as did many other ‘Local Humans’ that I have spoken to during and since the weekend.

I jumped enthusiastically into the Human Brochure experience; as a born-and-bred Canberran who probably needed a refresh on all the city has to offer, but also as someone on the lower end of the Canberra income scale that is always looking for cheaper ways to do fun things. An open mind also helped. As we were introduced to some of the experiences on offer in Canberra, I was pleasantly surprised more than once to find interest and excitement in an activity I’d previously had no interest in. I have a feeling that not engaging in these early ‘orientation’ activities might have coloured the perceptions of some of the unhappy Local Humans that Alexandra refers to. It’s hard to create a fun weekend for your guests if you’re not aware of what’s possible…

My weekend guests were also from a similar demographic, so they were just happy for some free accommodation. I don’t think it really mattered to them which hotel they stayed at (which happened to be the Quality Hotel in Woden), as it was free and gave them an opportunity to see a city that they might not have otherwise. And really, what’s the point of putting them in a place like the Hyatt or Hotel Hotel if there’s absolutely no chance that they would ever stay there on a return visit?

We did have a lovely time on our allocated experience (a wonderful afternoon trail ride at Burnelee Excursions on Horseback), but it was only a very small part of the weekend. The rest of it was up to me to organise! Using my local knowledge (which was the aim of the campaign after all), we had a great time visiting some of Canberra’s free attractions, eating cheaply and checking out some of the ‘off-the-beaten track’ sights that make Canberra so unique and interesting.

And so for me, the campaign succeeded. My guests left excited abut Canberra and are currently planning a longer return trip. Perhaps this wasn’t everyone’s experience, but my guests and I certainly got out of it what we put in. I think there were a few other Local Humans that had a more positive experience, and it’s important to emphasise that too.

Of course, nothing is ever perfect, but time will tell about the overall success. I am also very interested in how it all pans out in terms of tourist numbers, as to me it’s a much more innovative and interesting way to spend a tourism budget than a glossy advertising campaign!

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