In 1960, Don Walsh and Jacques Piccard became the first humans to dive into Challenger Deep, the lowest point in the ocean on Earth.
On Monday, the 63rd of that descent, Walsh, 91, was honored at the New York headquarters of the Explorers Club. In his address to attendees, he defined “exploration” and felt it also referred to an underlying motivation for many people to travel.
“Exploration is an act of curiosity,” he said. “How do you spark curiosity, sustain it, nurture it? It gives people great joy. No. Thousands of people are quietly working, and what I want to do is get people interested in the world around them.”
If Walsh wasn’t an oceanographer, he would have made an excellent trip advisor. Advisors who have successfully matched their client’s curiosity to experiences and destinations appreciate reinforcing a fundamental characteristic of curiosity: curiosity by satisfying it. As Walsh points out, exploration brings great joy. Harnessing and satisfying a person’s desire to better understand the world is one way to maintain and nurture curiosity.
Travel products seemingly designed specifically to share experiences that, until recently, were reserved for pioneers who, until recently, ventured into uncharted territories, have accelerated.
Earlier in the day Walsh spoke, I zoomed in with Stockton Rush, CEO of Oceangate Expeditions. OceanGate has three of his five-person submarines that combine tourism and research, and is intriguing in what Rush describes as “a life-changing experience.” He referred to the “overview effect” (the profound insight space travelers experience), and said that undersea travel would produce that effect “tenfold”.
And just as some companies that take visitors into space prefer the term “private astronauts” to “space tourists,” Rush refers to paying passengers as “mission specialists.” calling. And in his case, it’s not just semantics. Every trip has a researcher and each dive has a scientific goal. “We don’t just want people to be seated,” he said.
He initially thought that the natural attractions of the sea would be the main attraction, but he soon realized that “everybody wants to go on the Titanic.” Shipwreck research is a major focus of his company. “There are still many unknowns.”
“We have been looking at the wreck ecology as an artificial reef, but last summer we discovered a natural reef within 25 miles of the Titanic. Most people didn’t know about cold coral, and didn’t know that there are more cold corals on Earth than there are tropical corals.”
A trip under the waves costs $250,000, lasts eight days, and is subject to a 10% fee. In addition to Titanic Journeys, OceanGate brings submarines to explore what lies beneath the surface of a location wherever its clients are in the world. “I hope trip advisors say, ‘You’re going to Croatia next year. Would you like to explore the wreckage of a plane submerged in 500 feet of water?'”
The experience is expensive, but Stockton said he wanted clarity on what OceanGate can and cannot offer. “This is not a luxury outing.”
Meanwhile, Space Perspective hopes next year to carry eight passengers (“explorers” in its nomenclature) in a capsule suspended below a high-altitude balloon 100,000 feet above the ground, with Promotes luxury and features comfort. Furnishings, bar, fine dining, high-speed WiFi complement the views. The company exhibited at his CES Siemens Pavilion earlier this month, and attendees sat side by side in his 360-degree theater to watch a simulation of the experience. (Siemens is our partner for capsule manufacturing.)
The physical capsule seats sell for $125,000 each, and the company, which also pays a 10% commission to Travel Advisor, has preferred relationships with Global Travel Collection, Cruise Planners and Signature.
Angie Licea, president of Global Travel Collection, said that the opportunity for advisors before and after travel, especially since launches are subject to weather delays and private astronauts may spend several days on the ground (OceanGate is in talks with Space Perspective competitor Worldview to evaluate the possibility of a “fly/dive” package, but the uncertainty of take-off timing is something that they will resolve.) That’s what I’m trying to do.)
The conclusion for the advisor is, well, the conclusion. Our ability to motivate our clients’ curiosity to action on excursions to high altitudes and deep waters also helps us set records. In other words, it’s the highest profit year. Interested in the ability to do so?