life in general

Inspirations favour the prepared mind (part 3)

Source: Someecard.com


Few weeks ago, I received an email inviting me to give a short talk on “the process of creating ideas, campaigns, or innovations”. I’m a bit baffled because I don’t see myself as an “idea creator”. I see myself more as a problem solver.

I’m elaborating the content of my talk in three posts. This is the third and last post, where I share my other habits that I believe prepare my mind. I’m too impatient to idly wait for the moment of illumination. Instead, I believe by being prepared I’m in a better position to “fetch” inspirations.

***

Stick to a routine

In the previous post, I wrote about the rider and the elephant metaphor. The rider is about deliberate thinking, the one that we use when we have to make a big decision with huge and prolonged consequences. The elephant is about subconscious thinking that is instantaneous, shallow, and effortless. This is why the rider takes so much of our mental energy, and the elephant is our default mode.

At work I am paid to use the rider when I digging deeper into the client’s brief or data, and when developing strategies or presentations. This is why I try to preserve my mental energy by sticking to a routine:

I wake up at 5.45
I drink coffee while reading links from last night Twitter and RSS feeds. No emails.
I make my to-do list using Any.Do app
I shower at 7.45
On Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays I wear whites. Tuesdays and Thursdays, colours or patterns. I separate my whites and colours and patterns in my wardrobe. I pick randomly.
I start my journey to the office at 8.30. I check my emails (I don’t drive).
“Thinking work” from 9.20 till 11.30
Go to the gym at 11.30
Lunch at 12.45
“Admin or meeting or reviewing work” from 1.45
Go home at 6.
Dinner at 7.15, stop eating completely at 8.
Sleep at 10.

I’m inspired by this article about Obama in The Vanity Fair. He is quoted to say, “I don’t want to make decisions about what I’m eating or wearing, because I have too many other decisions to make.” Obama only wears grey or blue suits, and someone else decides for him what he will eat.

There’s another article about the daily rituals of the most creative minds in history or great writers. There’s even a book on it.

Exercise

Source: Someecards.com

Source: Someecards.com

If you have met me, you’ll know that I look nothing like a person who runs regularly or has finished two sprint triathlon. Yes, I can confidently say to you that for me, running doesn’t help me to lose weight. But that’s not the reason why I run three times a week (and cycle once a week).

I run because for me, running keeps me sharper. This is just not my wishful thinking, there are already lots of evidences on the effect of exercise to cognitive ability (for example, here and here).

I run also because running lets my mind wanders. A wandering mind facilitates creative thinking (read here). Plus, there were few inspirations I caught while I had my post-running showers. Again, this is not my wishful thinking (read the evidence here).

The last reason why I run is because it keeps my mood even. This is important because I become a nicer person at work. I also become less pessimistic. Again, science reveals the link between exercise and preventing depressions (read here). I don’t know what works for me. Is it the released endorphin that makes me feel good? Is it the feeling that I can affect things and that I get better —which does not come often if you work in advertising agency? Whatever, but I will keep on running.

Read or watch lots of stuff unrelated to work, especially literary fiction

Source: Someecards.com

Source: Someecards.com

If you are in the business of changing how people feel, then you’d better know how to empathise with their feelings. Reading literary fiction (and this is an important distinction) is linked with improved empathy and social skills. “Literary fiction often leaves more to the imagination, encouraging readers to make inferences about characters and be sensitive to emotional nuance and complexity”, as quoted from here.

Also make time to read nonfiction from the field that’s unrelated to your daily work. Not only it broadens your knowledge, but ideas are made by connecting two separate concepts. The wider you read, the more concepts unrelated to work that you know, and the more interesting your ideas will be.

Know when to drink your coffee and your beer

I drink coffee much more often than beer. I do remember, though, I had very productive brainstorming sessions fuelled by just enough amount of beer. Again, there’s science behind this. Look into this amazing infographic that has been famous in the interweb.

Your brain on beer vs. coffee, by Ryoko Iwata from ilovecoffee.jp

Your brain on beer vs. coffee, by Ryoko Iwata from ilovecoffee.jp

This awesome infographic concludes the mini-series of habits that help me get better at problem solving and changing people’s feelings and behaviour. I hope you want to try adopting some of them. Please drop by and let me know how they work for you. Thank you.

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behavior change, life in general, strategy

Inspirations favour the prepared mind (part 2)

Few weeks ago, I received an email inviting me to give a short talk on “the process of creating ideas, campaigns, or innovations”. I’m a bit baffled because I don’t see myself as an “idea creator”. I see myself more as a problem solver.

I’m elaborating the content of my talk in three posts. This is the second post, and it is about a new habit that gets us better at changing behaviour.

***

Most of marketing problems are about changing the way people behave. Nevertheless, when it comes to advertising, most of my clients focus on changing people’s beliefs or perceptions.

Why is this so? The saying “what doesn’t get measured doesn’t get done” explains it. Measuring changes in perceptions is easy. Measuring changes in consumers’ buying behaviour is much more difficult —and it’s not the same with measuring fluctuations in sales.

It is hard to measure consumers’ actual buying behaviour in Indonesia. This is because to properly do so, marketers will need data from a longitudinal research that involves making consumers unfailingly register whatever stuff they buy within a period of time (at least for half a year). This is a complicated and expensive. There are not many marketing research agencies in Indonesia that offer this study to manufacturers; and there are not many manufacturers who subscribe to this service.

Enough with the digression. Let’s get back on the habit that gets us better at changing behaviour.

Second habit: remember the elephant

Like the previous post, this new habit will force us to leave the old habit that has been deeply ingrained. Let’s start with revisiting that old habit before we kick it off.

Most of us still believe that to change behaviour (e.g. buying Brand X more often instead of Brand A), we have to firstly change the relevant perceptions (Brand X cleans better with less effort than the cheaper Brand A), and then change the relevant feelings (from indifferent to reassured with Brand X).

This is evidenced by clients insisting on making ads “to educate the consumers” or “highlight the functional benefits” or to “include the logical persuasions”. But then again we still see plenty of people who smoke, or live sedentarily, or text while driving, or have astronomical credit card debt with no savings. Knowledge rarely turns into behaviour.

switch__jpg
Let’s discard the old habit of thinking the linear link of “belief→ feeling → behaviour” . Instead, let’s start the new habit of remembering the elephant.

This habit comes from the framework written in the book Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Difficult by Dan and Chip Heath. What’s genius about this framework is the writers explain it clearly through a powerful metaphor: the rider and the elephant.

The rider represents deliberate thinking that is deep, extensive, elaborate, effortful, and thus exhausting (for example, deciding which mortgage to take). Yes, the rider represents the rational human with its advanced frontal cortex.

But the rider is tiny and weak compared to the huge and stark elephant. The elephant represents all the subconscious processes that are shallow, spontaneous, slapdash, effortless, and a default mode of how we all behave.

The old habit of thinking “belief→ feeling → behaviour” ignores the forceful existence of the elephant. This picture illustrates the rider and the elephant metaphor to understand human behaviour.

The rider and the elephant metaphor for changing behaviour. From Switch by Dan and Chip Heath.

The rider and the elephant metaphor for changing behaviour.
From Switch by Dan and Chip Heath.

 

Direct the Rider

Directing the rider successfully is to come up with a map that makes the rider feels it’s an easy to get to an clearly-defined place. It is about breaking down a long and abstract journey (“eat healthily”) into sets of short trips, each with a very clear destination that’s easy to visualise (“change full cream milk into 2% milk”).

There is a good example of a successful effort to change people’s behaviour from Indonesia. For the longest time, wen have been bombarded with propaganda to “preserve batik as our cultural heritage”. This poster aptly illustrates the point:

b81e0205c5359382679f5f61a8cd820a

By aforlife from DevianArt.

 

Yet the significant change only took place when somebody or some institution started with a very clear and simple direction of “please wear batik to work on Fridays”. The lofty but unclear agenda of *preserving our cultural heritage” was turned into an attainable small request most people could follow easily.

A poster from Keluarga Mahasiswa ITB.

A poster from Keluarga Mahasiswa ITB.

 

Move The Elephant

Moving the elephant is about using emotions and social identity as the forces that compel the primal side in each of us.

Below is a video about using fanaticism towards a soccer club to boost the participation rate of organ donation. In Brazil, families of the deceased often will not authorise organ donations without written wills. This program overcame this barrier by practically offering an instant way to record the donor’s wish. This program managed to increase organ donation participation rate by 54% in a year.

 

Another example is a video to use how emotions are used to solve a real and dire problem: preventing children with cancers from quitting the painful chemotherapy process. I’m eagerly waiting for the report on the success rate of this program.

 

Shape The Path

Shaping the path is about tweaking the environment. We have the tendency to underestimate the importance of environment, while at the same time overestimate the personality factor, in influencing the way other people behave. It’s human, and it’s called fundamental attribution error.

Previously I have shown examples on ideas that tweak the environment, so it’s much easier to follow the prescribed behaviour, like registering oneself to be a bone marrow donor with a kit included in bandage pack (here), or creating an app that makes it impossible to print out a file (“save as .WWF, here).

Another famous example is how schools in New York City tried to improve the grade of students by giving them rewards in terms of talk-time and other content for mobile phones. The initial results were encouraging, unfortunately this program was discontinued due to lack of funding in 2008. This is the video.

 

***

On the next instalment I will talk about other little habits that prepare my mind, so I believe I am in a better position to catch inspirations. So stay in touch.

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life in general, strategy

Inspirations favour the prepared mind (part 1)

Few weeks ago, I received an email inviting me to give a short talk on “the process of creating ideas, campaigns, or innovations”. I’m a bit baffled because I don’t see myself as an “idea creator”. I see myself more as a problem solver. 

I decided to talk about habits that help us get better at solving problems. I will elaborate the content of my talk in this blog, in three consecutive posts. The first one is about the habit of staying longer with the problem.

***

Photo: iStockphoto

Photo: iStockphoto

I want to correct the thinking that creative problem solvers and innovators have the magical ability getting profound insights and magical inspirations all the time. Nobody who works in any creative commercial enterprises can can afford to hold on to this myth. Every project has schedules and deadlines, and nobody is allowed to take their own sweet time to wait for inspirations to strike.

Someone wise once said, “Chances favour the prepared mind” (it was actually Louis Pasteur, who discovered bacterial fermentation and vaccination). I want to steal from him. I posit that inspirations favour the prepared mind.

I’m not saying that insights and inspirations are not necessary in creative thinking. Obviously we need inspirations, from big eureka moments or little revelations that widen our views. But we can hike up our chance to catch inspirations by preparing our mind. We have to turn those preparations into habits. This is how we can be creative at any given time.

I want to share with you my habits when I work to solve problems. I hope you want to try adopting them. Those habits are not so difficult because I will show you the techniques an methods. What’s going to be harder is you must stop your old habits that have been deeply ingrained inside you.

First habit: stay longer with the problem

I have written before why this habit is important (here). To start this habit, we have to kick off those reflexes to immediately seek for solutions. Believe me, jumping into solutions is a hard habit to break. I still have to remind my colleagues to not do it.

Some people are reluctant to stay longer with the problem because they think it will paralyse them. They expect they will be overwhelmed by too many questions. Worry not: there are techniques that are easy to learn. These techniques or methods make staying longer with the problem a painless and fruitful effort.

The methods I use come from this short but very useful book, Problem Solving 101: A Small Book for Smart People by Ken Watanabe. I have written before on why I highly recommend it here. In a very accessible way, the book explains the steps and the methods via simple stories and clear examples.

For example, Ken outlines the steps we take when solving a problem. Please notice that it’s only on step three that we start thinking of solutions, in the form of action plans. See below: 

Steps in solving problems.
From Problem Solving 101: A Simple Book for Smart People by Ken Watanabe.

 

Watanabe proposes many useful and practical tools that help us along the process. For example, here’s a yes-no diagram that helps us identify the root cause of the problem. In this example, the one who has a the problem is a school band who has held free rock concerts in their school on Saturdays. They want to have more people coming to their free concerts. See below.

A yes-no diagram to help us identify why there are not many people coming to see free rock concerts.   From Problem Solving 101: A Small Book for Smart People by Ken Watanabe.


A yes-no diagram to help us identify the root cause of a problem.
From Problem Solving 101: A Small Book for Smart People by Ken Watanabe.

 

Another tool is logic tree. This is useful to help us understand the situation, or to broaden our view to see possible solutions. Here’s an example of a logic tree used by a company that produces bottled spice, like bottled ground pepper.

A logic-tree to help us think about ways to increase the number of pepper that comes out of the bottle in one shake. From Problem Solving 101: A Small Book for Smart People by Ken Watanabe.

A logic-tree to help us think about solutions.
From Problem Solving 101: A Small Book for Smart People by Ken Watanabe.

 

I’ve mentioned before that some people fear they will be paralysed by so many questions. Watanabe gives us another tool that helps us to manage those questions and take us closer to the root cause. The tool is a simple table with columns of

  • “Issues /questions”
  • “Hypothesis : our guessed answer to each question
  • “Rationale”: we come up with that hypothesis
  • “Analysis/actions: what we will do to test our hypothesis
  • “Source of information”: where we will get that data or info to test our hypothesis.

See below for the example related to the low attendance in free rock concert problem.

Problem-solving design plan. From Problem Solving 101: A Small Book for Smart People by Ken Watanabe.

Problem-solving design plan.
From Problem Solving 101: A Small Book for Smart People by Ken Watanabe.

There are many more tools and techniques you can read in this invaluable book (go get this book, it’s truly worth the money and effort). But I hope you get the gist. With the right tools and techniques, staying longer with the problem is not going to be painful. So start the habit and use the tools and techniques.

***

That’s the first habit that prepares our mind to catch inspirations, and not just wait for them to strike. On the next post, I will talk about preparing our mind to solve problems related to changing the way people feel and behave. Watch this space. Yes, I really push myself to write in this blog more often.

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advertising, strategy

Using celebrities in advertising: does it pay off?

This is what we want to do when clients tell us they insist on having celebrities in their ads.

This is what we want to do when clients tell us they insist on having celebrities in in their ads.

We advertising agency workers hate, hate, hate, hate it when clients mandate us to use celebrities in their ads –even before everyone agrees on what the real problem that needs to be solved is.

As a strategist, I personally abhor this “putting the cart before the horse” thinking habit. My colleagues from the creative team feel using celebrities will castrate their creativity. Suits don’t usually look forward to wheeling and dealing with celebrities and their entourage.

Signing up celebrities to endorse a brand comes with a certain price tag. The more famous or in demand a celebrity is, the higher the price she will command. This means using celebrities in advertising is a relatively major investment. Assuming they behave rationally, clients will only invest on celebrities if they believe it will “pay off”. To reinforce this belief, many of them will point out how obsessed Indonesians are with celebrities –look at those high-rating infotainment shows on TV!

Do we have evidence to support the belief that “using celebrities in advertising pays-off”?

Unfortunately I don’t have specific data for Indonesia. I don’t know if any local advertisers have done rigorous undertakings to validate this. Even if they have, they probably will not share it with me. I also could not find open-access studies that measure the impact of celebrity endorsement in Indonesian market.

What I’m going to do here now is to put forward literature from the industry about the effectiveness of using celebrities in advertising. I get them from Warc.com, a global online database of ideas and evidence in marketing. The data and evidence that I got are not specific to Indonesia, but I believe it’s possible to intelligently extrapolate. I will try to answer the following questions: Does using celebrities in advertising really work? If it’s not always the case, what’s the best way to do so?

***

Does using celebrities in advertising really work? Does it pay-off? To answer, let’s be clear on what we mean by “work” and “pay-off”.

There are two ways to assess if an advert “works”. Firstly is by seeing it’s immediate effects to the viewers. In this case, the discussions revolve around whether the ad is noticeable, enjoyable, or emotionally-involving enough for the viewers. Can the viewers recall from which brand the ad is?

Millward Brown, a global market research company, has been in the business of testing advertising to measure immediate effects for years and years. From their global database, in 2007 they conducted a comparative study to see if using celebrities help ads perform better. The results are interesting:

  • There is very little overall difference between the performance of ads with celebrities versus those without.
  • Ads with celebrities tend to be slightly better enjoyed than those without.
  • In some countries (notably US), ad with celebrities are more emotionally involving.
    Yet this is not the case in countries where celebrity ads are more common –I extrapolate this is what happens in Indonesia.
  • In Japan, viewers can’t really recall from which brands the celebrity ads are. The study estimates this is because there a celebrity usually endorses so many brands. Again, I extrapolate that the same thing happens here in Indonesia.

From this perspective we can feel that using celebrities in advertising doesn’t guarantee success when measured by immediate effects on viewers. But what about their impact on business?

This leads us to the second way to assess advertising effectiveness, i.e. by measuring its business effects. Business effects don’t only mean increasing sales result. They also include growing or defending market share, increasing market penetration, increasing consumer loyalty, etc.

Elberse and Verleun (2012) came up with a mathematical model and test it against the data in US. To cut a long and complex story short, they came up with the conclusion:

Signing the kinds of endorsers that featured in this study on average generates a 4% increase in sales which corresponds with around $10 million in additional sales annually –and nearly a 0.25% increase in  stock returns.”
—Elberse and Verleun, 2012

So using celebrities in advertising does pay-off. Nevertheless, this study comes with a big caveat. The study made and tested the model based on celebrity athletes in US, where sports fandom is a huge part of culture. This is something that we don’t have here. Only very few athletes become celebrities in Indonesia.

Fortunately we have other data from Institute of Practitioners of Advertising (IPA) in UK. IPA has been rewarding advertising effectiveness awards in UK and from other countries for more than 30 years. They keep a database of the winners’ case studies. From that database, we can see that

“Campaigns featuring stars have done disproportionately well in the IPA Effectiveness Awards.”
Pringle, 2012

Does this mean ad agency people’s reluctance to use celebrities in adverts is unjustified? Well, not so fast. IPA Effectiveness Awards database is filled with winners, the elite group of highly profitable advertising. There are also winning adverts that don’t use celebrities, and there are celebrity ads that don’t belong in this database. For the latter, there are two possible explanations: some celebrity ads are simply not effective, or that some are actually effective but their case studies are not submitted to effectiveness awards. Therefore it is misleading to conclude that merely using celebrities will make adverts effective.

So what makes an advert effective to bring intended business effects? Combing through the database of effective advertising, it turns out that the best predictor of advertising effectiveness is fame and emotional responses.

“…Fame means more than just awareness. It’s not enough for people to just know your brand. You want people to be actively thinking about your brand, and, crucially, talking about it.”

“Fame campaigns are much more the most profitable —almost twice as profitable as other forms of advertising.”
Binet, 2012

“Campaigns that aim to get the brand and its marketing talked about are particularly effective. Most campaigns of this nature are highly emotional, but the additional element of “talk value” seems to boost effectiveness even further.”

“The more emotions dominate over rational messaging, the bigger the business effects. The most effective advertisements of all are those with little or no rational content.”
Binet and Field, 2009

What makes fame campaigns? Featuring famous people in them is not one of the characteristics.

These are the hallmark of fame campaigns (Wood, 2010):

  • They elicit intense emotional response, high levels of happiness (elevation, awe, or bliss) and some surprise.
  • They don’t rely on language to generate emotional responses.
  • They often use humour, but don’t rely on it entirely.
  • They don’t feel like “typical ads”, more like sponsored entertainment. They are very memorable and distinctive. But if they are pre-tested, they will score low on rational measures like relevance, persuasion, and intended purchase.

In short, an ad becomes a fame ad if it triggers intense positive emotions and has some unexpected elements that are surprising, so that people will start talking about it amongst themselves.

Thus, a celebrity ad is more likely to pay-off if it becomes a fame ad. This means the celebrity in the ad must be used in such a way so that the ad elicits intense positive emotional response and contains unexpected or surprising elements. Since people generally have some perceptions about celebrities, it’s actually easier to twist them in the ad to make it surprising and entertaining.

Let’s see a particularly good example of how to use celebrities in a campaign:





In these ads, we see a consistent creative idea: Nespresso is so great that it even outshines the gorgeous Clooney. This idea plays with public’s perceptions on Clooney, twists it to make it unexpected, charming, and enjoyable to watch. Using Clooney paid off, as the ads helped Nespresso to exceed its business targets and won a gold medal in an effectiveness award.

The best way to ensure that using celebrities in adverts will pay-off is by making him or her “a servant” to the creative idea. The creative idea should be “the master” that drives the ad to be emotionally powerful and unexpected. This is not unlike the process in movie production: we start with a screenplay or a story that ideally drives the casting decisions.

If the idea is primary and the celebrity is secondary, then clients can actually save a lot of money not by signing up overly-used celebrities, but by demanding the agency to produce a powerful creative idea and execute it well.

To sum up, dear clients: using celebrities in your advertising may give you a head start in terms of ad awareness (not necessarily brand awareness) or noticeability. But if that celebrity does not run properly, and she is burdened by wearing too many logos from other brands, another ad powered by a brilliant creative idea will surpass and beat her on the race of effectiveness.

***

Sources:

Millward Brown Knowledge Point, 2007, What are the benefits of celebrity-based campaigns?

Elberse, A. & Verleun, J, 2012, The Economic Value of Celebrity Endorsements, Journal of Advertising Research, Vol. 52, No. 2

Pringle, H., 2012, How to use celebrity in brand building, Warc Best Practice

Binet, L. 2009, The dangers of common sense, Market Leader, Quarter 3

Binet, L. & Field, P., 2009, Empirical Generalizations about Advertising Campaign Success, Journal of Advertising Research Vol. 49, No. 2

Wood, O., 2010, Using An Emotional Model to Improve The Measurement of Advertising Effectiveness, Brain Juicer.

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life in general

Adakah cara yang “lebih benar” untuk berwisata?

LON28012

Martin Parr, The Leaning Tower of Pisa. 1990.
Copyright Martin Parr/Magnum Photos


Akhir minggu kemarin (25-26 Mei 2013), lini masa Twitter ramai dengan komentar dan percakapan tentang bagaimana ibadah Waisak di Candi Borobudur diganggu oleh turis-turis. Beritanya bisa dilihat di
sini, misalnya. Ada juga tulisan di blog dari seorang peserta ibadah yang menceritakan kesedihan dan kekesalannya akan kejadian malam itu.

Seperti biasa, muncullah komentar yang membahas tingkah laku turis ini melalui pendekatan “mentalitas bangsa”, misalnya:

Screen Shot 2013-05-26 at 8.39.17 PM

Atau penjelasan seperti ini

Pemahaman saya sejauh ini tentang psikologi membuat saya percaya dalil:

 Behavior = ƒ(Personality, Environment).

Arti singkatnya, tingkah laku (“Behavior“) adalah fungsi dari faktor yang melekat dalam diri seseorang (“Personality”) seperti kepercayaan, sistem nilai, cara mengolah informasi, sifat; dan faktor eksternal dari lingkungan (“Environment”), baik fisik maupun non-fisik seperti kebudayaan, struktur sosial-ekonomi, hukum dan peraturan, sistem insentif, dan lain-lain.

Seringkali kita terlalu cepat untuk menjelaskan penyebab suatu tingkah laku hanya dengan melihat faktor Personality dan mengabaikan faktor Environment. Padahal peran faktor Environment sangat besar.

Contoh paling gampang adalah kita bisa membuat sebuah komunitas atau massa bertingkah laku berbeda dengan memodifikasi faktor lingkungan (misalnya peraturan, sistem insentif, pengawasan). Perubahan tingkah laku ini berlangsung tanpa harus mengubah faktor Personality.

Dalam membahas perilaku turis yang mengganggu ibadah Waisak, saya memilih tidak membahas soal “mentalitas” atau “pola pikir”. Saya akan memfokuskan pada faktor lingkungan, sebelum dan saat upacara berlangsung di Borobudur.

Saya curiga panitia tidak menyangka betapa besar minat turis untuk mengunjungi acara ini. Akibatnya, tidak sempat dibuat dan disebarkan aturan yang sangat jelas tentang apa yang boleh dan tidak boleh dilakukan, tidak dibuat demarkasi untuk turis, tidak sempat merekrut bala bantuan cukup yang bisa menertibkan pengunjung, dan kesalahan pengorganisasian lainnya.

Jika tahun depan panitia lebih siap, saya rasa kita bisa tetap menjaga kehikmatan ibadah Waisak buat umat Buddhis, tanpa menutup acara ini untuk turis. Bukankah tiap hari tetap banyak umat Katolik bisa tetap khusuk beribadah di St. Petrus Vatikan atau Notre Dame Paris walaupun dua gereja ini adalah tujuan wisata yang sangat populer?

Selain itu, harus diakui bagaimanapun juga upacara Waisak telah memberi rejeki buat penduduk di sekitar Borobudur.

Tapi apakah berwisata hanya sekedar masalah peraturan yang jelas dan ditegakkan dengan tegas di tujuan wisata? Apakah ada cara yang lebih “benar” dalam berwisata?

***

Di tengah ramainya kicauan tentang Waisak di Borobudur, ada satu komentar yang menarik perhatian saya:

Twit ini cukup eksplisit menyatakan bahwa cara yang “benar” menjadi wisatawan upacara Waisak di Borobudur adalah dengan ikut menghayati rasa damai –saya duga karena makna Waisak berkaitan dengan pesan kedamaian universal buat umat manusia.

Adakah cara yang “lebih benar” untuk menjadi pelancong, lebih dari sekedar menghargai aturan dan budaya di daerah tujuan wisata? Tidakkah “hargai aturan dan budaya di tempat kita berada” berlaku buat semua orang, terlepas ia sedang melancong atau tidak?

Kita mungkin pernah membaca kata-kata “bijak” semacam ini:

“Tourists don’t know where they’ve been, travelers don’t know where they’re going.”
—Paul Theroux.

“The traveler sees what he sees, the tourist sees what he has come to see. ”
—Gilbert K. Chesterton.

“The traveler was active; he went strenuously in search of people, of adventure, of experience. The tourist is passive; he expects interesting things to happen to him. He goes ‘sight-seeing.”
—Daniel J. Boorstin

Betulkah menjadi traveler lebih “terpuji” daripada menjadi turis? Apakah ada perbedaan yang penting yang bisa menjadi dasar penggolongan kasta pelancong?

***

Sesungguhnya pertanyaan ini sudah terngiang-ngiang di kepala saya semenjak 2 minggu yang lalu. Saya beruntung bisa berangkat ke Wina dan Praha dalam rangka outing trip kantor. Saya berangkat dengan perasaan was-was, bisakah saya menikmati perjalanan ini yang harus dilakukan dalam rombongan besar pacakaged tour?

Sebetulnya perjalanan kemarin bukanlah kali pertama saya mengikuti paket tur berombongan. Waktu saya berusia 10 tahun, orangtua saya mengajak saya dan kakak keliling Eropa dalam sebuah paket tur. Saat itu majalah tempat ibu saya bekerja menyelenggarakan paket tur bersama pembaca, dan beliau harus menyelia kegiatan ini. Karena saat itu pas liburan sekolah, berangkatlah kami sekeluarga. Dalam ingatan saya, perjalanan ini lumayan berisi kenangan menyenangkan, walau konteksnya selalu bersama keluarga dan bukan dalam rombongan tur.

Saya tumbuh menjadi orang yang senang berwisata independen, pergi bersama paling banyak bersama satu orang lain kawan perjalanan (biasanya pacar saat itu). Saya selalu bersemangat saat merencanakan perjalanan: mencari tahu apa yang menyenangkan untuk dilakukan atau disantap di suatu tujuan, museum atau pameran mana yang perlu dikunjungi. Sesenang-senangnya saya membuat rencana perjalanan, saya ingin hari-hari saya saat mengunjungi suatu tempat berlangsung bebas dan fleksibel.

Saya gelisah karena berwisata dengan paket tur berombongan menghilangkan  kemandirian dan kebebasan, yang buat saya sungguh berharga. Saya senang melihat diri saya sebagai traveler berpengalaman, yang pergi ke suatu tempat setelah mempelajari tempat itu sebelumnya; yang pergi karena didorong rasa ingin tahu dan semangat untuk menemukan pengalaman baru (discovery); untuk mencari pengalaman tak terduga yang indah (beautiful serendipity); yang mengejar pengayaan-diri dalam perjalanan.

Saya sering memandang rendah rombongan turis yang keluar dari bis besar untuk sibuk berfoto dan berburu suvenir, tanpa benar-benar ingin tahu tentang sejarah atau keistimewaan dari tempat yang ia jadikan latar belakang fotonya.

Selain itu, saya gelisah karena saya tahu saya merasa sangat lelah batin jika saya menghabiskan waktu lama dalam kelompok yang besar. Energi saya bangkit lagi justru kalau saya sendirian. Tapi karena biaya perjalanan ini ditanggung kantor dan saya belum pernah ke Praha, saya tetap ikut.

Pada awal perjalanan saya sering kesal. Bisa dibilang rombongan tidak pernah berangkat tepat waktu karena nampaknya kebiasaan jam karet di Jakarta tidak ditinggal. Akibatnya, waktu yang sudah dialokasikan ke suatu tempat harus dipotong, dan kunjungan ke tempat itu harus dipersingkat.

Saya juga jengkel sekaligus heran karena kebanyakan peserta dalam rombongan tidak mendengarkan tuturan pemandu lokal. Mereka sibuk mengobrol satu sama lain, atau   berfoto dalam berbagai pose. Buat mereka, tempat wisata tidak lebih adalah backdrop untuk foto diri atau bersama teman-teman.

Sampai suatu titik saya memutuskan untuk mengamati mereka, kolega saya yang nampak tidak keberatan bahkan menikmati melancong dalam rombongan paket tur. Saya memutuskan bahwa mengamati mereka dengan seksama sebagai bagian penting dari perjalanan. Saya berusaha keras agar pengamatan saya ini tidak dibiaskan oleh cara saya berwisata. Dan di situlah saya mendapatkan apa yang saya cari: penemuan dan pengalaman baru.

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Saya percaya berwisata adalah bagian dari proyek manusia untuk menjadi lebih bahagia (ulasan yang lebih mendalam bisa dibaca di buku The Art of Travel oleh Alain de Botton). Jika ada banyak jalan menuju kebahagiaan dan tiap manusia bebas memilih selama tidak merugikan pihak lain, maka tidak bisa diterima jika ada satu jalan yang benar untuk melancong.

Dari pengamatan saya melihat bahwa buat kolega saya peserta paket tur rombongan, berwisata adalah proyek penting untuk membuat memori visual. Kebahagiaan dari berwisata terutama didapat dari saat memori visual itu dibagi dengan orang lain (keluarga, teman, kenalan). Munculnya smartphone dan media sosial membuat proyek ini semakin mudah dan instan, sekaligus menambah pihak yang diajak berbagi.

Apakah berbagi memori visual ini suatu tujuan akhir atau untuk mencapai tujuan lain, seperti misalnya status? Bisa ya, dan bisa juga tidak: pengamatan saya berhenti di saat pembuatan memori visual tersebut berlangsung, tidak berlanjut pada saat berbagi. Saya berintuisi bahwa peningkatan status belum tentu lebih penting dari penguatan ikatan sosial yang dihasilkan dari berbagi memori visual itu.

Memori visual terutama hadir dalam bentuk foto dan suvenir.Ini menjelaskan mengapa berfoto adalah bagian utama dan esensial dalam kegiatan mengunjungi suatu tempat, lebih penting daripada menghayati “rasa” berada di tempat itu, atau memahami apa yang membuatnya istimewa. Ini menjelaskan mengapa kebanyakan foto selalu merekam diri, baik sendirian maupun bersama orang-orang lain. Ini menjelaskan mengapa penyelenggara tur berusaha cukup keras untuk memastikan foto kelompok, lengkap dengan spanduk, berjalan lancar.

Karena tujuan utama (walau mungkin tidak disadari sepenuhnya) dalam berwisata adalah membuat memori visual, maka hal-hal seperti penemuan dan pengalaman baru menjadi sekunder. Di sinilah mengapa paket tur menjadi sangat menarik: ia bisa menekan “ongkos” dari penemuan dan pengalaman baru, yakni ketidaknyamanan menghadapi hal asing dan trial-error. Selain itu, paket tur rombongan juga menawarkan companionship dan potensi dukungan sosial, sesuatu yang menjadi lebih penting di tempat asing. 

Apakah orang Indonesia kebanyakan akan menjadi pelancong pencari memori visual? Saya tidak tahu. Apa yang kita lihat dari betapa bersemangatnya turis mengambil foto saat upacara Waisak di Borobudur berlangsung konsisten dengan pengamatan ini. Sekali lagi, untuk menjamin hak umat Buddha beribadah dengan hikmat, yang perlu dilakukan adalah dengan mengarahkan semangat membuat memori visual ini. Ini jauh lebih realistis daripada menganjurkan turis mengubah tujuan utama proyek wisatanya, apalagi “mentalitas” nya.

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Kembali ke pertanyaan di judul tulisan panjang ini: adakah cara yang “lebih benar” untuk berwisata? Betulkah menjadi traveler lebih benar daripada menjadi turis? Saya kira tidak. Pembedaan (atau pertentangan) antara traveler dan turis adalah masalah estetis, bukan etis. Dan snob adalah saat kita merendahkan orang lain berdasarkan pertimbangan estetis.

Untuk menutup:

“Disdaining tourists is the last permitted snobbery, a coded way of distancing oneself from the uncultured classes.”
—Anthony Peregrine, “Are you a tourist or a traveller?” 

“Have you noticed how tourists are other people?”
—Richard Donkin, “Tourists R Us”

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