Improving The Amazing Race with Experienced Travelers

Travel reality show The Amazing Race recently wrapped its 16th edition. The critically acclaimed show (a personal favorite) involves two person teams unpredictably traversing the world following clues and performing various localized challenges to win a million dollar prize. Unfortunately, there is one fundamental problem with the show…

Watching inexperienced travelers grapple with unfamiliar foreign customs may appeal to a broad demographic of aspiring world travelers, but for those of us involved in the travel industry, the fish-out-of-water scenarios only go so far.

Amazing Race Dream Team

One understands inexperienced travelers making mistakes, but how much fun would it be to see “experts” make the same ones?

For a truly amazing race, I say pit teams of insanely experienced world travel experts against each other to see who comes out on top. Eliminate the naiveté and suddenly the sophistication of the clues, complexity of the challenges and destinations visited can be elevated to an entirely new level.

After a round of nominations, the teams have been assembled. There is an incredibly wide variety of travel experience and industry expertise possessed by the team members. The teams range from famed CEO’s to nomadic travel bloggers and highly regarded industry analysts to award winning journalists. Some teams reflect current working relationships, for others, only a shared commonality within an industry niche. All are accomplished travelers in their own right – one could do worse than traveling with any one of them.

Please note that the direct input of the individuals comprising the teams was not taken into consideration when defining the teams. There is a chance that particular individuals may not be able to stand the other member in their pairing. Hypothetically, for some, the $1 million prize might take precedence over petty differences. As for those that might encounter difficulty finding common ground, there is always the benefit of entertaining television.

So, the question is: Who would be the ultimate two-person team to race around the world for a $1 million dollar prize?

Try this link if you do not see the poll embedded above.

Voting closes at 11:59pm US Central Time Monday, May 31. Only one vote is allowed per person, so only one team may be selected.

If you feel there might be a better pairing, feel free to comment or send me a tweet at @RobertKCole. If you make a compelling point, I might make a rare exception and consider adding them to the poll.

For those who have never seen The Amazing Race and may be struggling with the concept, this year’s competition covered 40,000 miles across nine countries on five continents over twenty-two days for the million dollar prize. Here is a link to the Season 16 Finale.

With such a varied group of individuals comprising the teams, one interesting aspect is these individuals were to compete would be the question of the prize money. One would assume that the bloggers and nomads would be quite appreciative of the $1 million dollar first prize, while ideally, the CEO’s on the list would donate their winnings to a worthy charity – perhaps the bloggers and nomads :)

While this poll is not associated with the production of the CBS television series, there is an official Twitter account @AmazingRace_CBS. If you like this idea – let them know your perspective. Maybe the producers will run with the idea and beef up a future season’s competition by including some of the individuals or teams suggested in this poll…

Using a group of travel experts would not detract in any way from the entertainment value of the show. One thing is certain, due to their deep engagement with the travel industry, each would appreciate every step of their journey and recognize the value of travel experiences to enrich lives.

The only risk would be making certain the participants can resist the temptation to post or tweet for the full duration of the competition and respect the embargo until the final episode of the show airs. Many of these people have made careers in the travel industry by exploring new territories and breaking rules – that is exactly what would make them such great competitors.

Many challenges face the global travel industry. New business models, competitive marketing strategies, emerging mobile technologies, interactive customer engagement and the constant need to drive profitability create complexities that were never previously imagined by hotels, destinations, airlines or online travel companies.

Each month, RockCheetah and the Views from a Corner Suite blog will present a new poll to gauge the sentiment of the travel industry, and of course, allow respondents to comment on the issues at hand.

About Robert Cole

Robert Cole is the founder of RockCheetah, a hotel marketing strategy and travel technology consulting practice. He also authors the Views from a Corner Suite Blog and publishes the Travel Quote of the Day. Robert speaks regularly at major travel industry conferences, authors articles for leading travel industry publications, advises travel-related startups and the equity investment community. He is an evangelist for the global travel industry.

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  • Jeanne

    I see lots of GREAT teams…I would like to vote for about 6 teams!

  • http://rockcheetah.com/blog RobertKCole

    I agree with you – lots of different types of expertise. But being the mean person I am, I have made it so you must pick only one…

  • http://rockcheetah.com/blog RobertKCole

    Ah yes, but the big question is, could you survive without telling people what you were doing until the show aired? Thinking for many teams, dropping off the grid for 3 weeks would be the most difficult part of the competition…

  • http://www.djskylab.com Michael Tieso

    Great choices of teams but my ultimate decision came down to your team Kim.

  • http://twitter.com/LuxeTiffany Luxe Tiffany

    Wow. Thrilled to be paired with my luxury pal Stacy Small @elitetravelgal. I think First Class and First Place go nicely together! (wink wink) Thanks Robert for including us in such great company!

  • Mich in SEA

    I want to see real people…

  • http://twitter.com/yTravelBlog yTravel Blog

    Great idea with awesome teams. There's a few front runners there, hard to choose just one team. What about team married couple? I'd like to, through shameless self promotion, nominate my wife and I. Traveling and living around the world for the 8 years of our marriage and still going!! We've always talked about how great we'd be on the Amazing Race! LMAO

  • ShannonOD

    Love this concept and I am so going with the women bloggers! :-) Fun concept and I would definitely watch this season of Amazing Race!

  • http://UncorneredMarket.com/ Daniel Noll | UncorneredMarket

    Any room for a write-in campaign for “Team Married” – Daniel Noll and Audrey Scott of Uncornered Market? I think they'd have a shot given that they've been living a real life amazing race for the last 3.5 years — but then again maybe I'm biased.

  • http://twitter.com/EverywhereTrip Gary Arndt

    Dear Sir,

    I applaude your ability to link bait.

  • http://www.happyhotelier.com/ Happy Hotelier

    Lol Lol Lol
    And in view of the previous post that didn't get any reaction telling us a story about us…the navel gazing travel writers we are are, who are only commenting when we are mentioned…aren't we??

  • http://www.thetripchicks.com Ann

    Am spilling the beans, Believe it or not, tour manager Ann Lombardi of @thetripchicks and 72-year-old marathoner/triathlete Alpha Bennett (see @LolaAkinmade piece on Alpha written for @MatadorNetwork: http://bit.ly/bRMg34) actually made the semi-finals of an Amazing Race audition. Go, Team AA! (+AARP!)

  • Charles McDiarmid

    Team luxury really is the stealth team of this competition, they understand and appreciate high end travel of course but they are also two very practical women who can get down and compete at any level with anyone.

  • http://bettyinthesky.com Betty Thesky

    I am thrilled to nominated with this list of travel luminaries! But the really funny thing is that I came close to being on the show a few years ago but they opted for two other flight attendants who had never really traveled outside of work?! I love this idea of “celebrity travelers”!

  • http://www.danieledwardcraig.com Daniel Edward Craig

    Team Hotelier rules! We'd always get a good night's sleep. Fun idea, Robert. Pack your bags @HappyHotelier.

  • Grandma Snatch

    Wow, Gary Arndt you sound so appreciative. You–who has probably accomplished the least here to travel writing and journalism–should be grateful to even be a part of this esteemed list.

  • http://rockcheetah.com/blog RobertKCole

    Hi Charles – good to hear from you all these years after opening The Mandalay Four Seasons.

  • http://rockcheetah.com/blog RobertKCole

    Just a bit of nonsensical fun.

    As this is primarily a Twitter based poll, it normally does not provide much in the way of strong backlink value from large influential sites that would drive PageRank to the blog. Plus, I only run them for a week to avoid artificially extending participation.

    Interestingly, while it does increase my Twitter follower count slightly, I have found that the participants wind up getting a significantly larger bump in followers.

    So, in short, this winds up working like a more entertaining version of #FollowFriday tweets.

    All done in a sense of good fun, although some participants or their supporters occasionally take the poll or the competition a bit too seriously.

  • Kwestmt

    Experienced Flight attendant who will coyly find her way around any globe trotting adventures!

  • http://rockcheetah.com/blog RobertKCole

    Thanks for the suggestion – I'll add Chris Guillebeau and Matt Gross as Team Cheap – Like the ring of that!

  • http://www.kathleenely.com Kathleen Ely

    Who's funnier than Betty? I would love to see her flying this one!

  • http://www.tripfilms.com Kelley

    I think you should add Team Filmmaker! Kelley Ferro, travel host and filmmaker at Tripfilms.com (http://www.tripfilms.com/shows/Get_Lost_and_Go_…) and travel host extraordinaire Justin Weiler (http://www.tripfilms.com/users/justin) or pilot Captain John Roberts (http://www.tripfilms.com/shows/Flight_101) .
    We'd document our journey on our cameras on the way!

  • http://rockcheetah.com/blog RobertKCole

    I would tend to agree with you, but to avoid scope creep, this has been tailored down to a Twitter poll. Do the others have Twitter accounts?

  • http://www.soultravelers3.com soultravelers3

    Cool! I like the ring of that too!

    Perhaps you should also add us and the Vogel family on bikes for a frugal, overland, long term travel trailblazers? Nancy & I would bring along the whole family and educate them as we go! LOL We've got lots of experience in non-traditional styles of travel so would have an advantage when they do the family Amazing race show. ;) We've been traveling non-stop since 2006 & they have for 2 years now I think.

  • Charles McDiarmid

    Tenacity, Friendly and what can you say they look the part too!

  • Fast Freddie

    Betty's my pick!!!

  • http://www.trans-americas.com Trans-Americas Journey

    Great pairings. Glad we're not up for the married couple spot. Better @umarket , than @TransAmericas

  • http://www.RidgelineHospitality.com Diana Driscoll

    I love the Roger Smith team, but in reality, could they stop tweeting? It's in their blood – that may just make them crazy. Now, Guido is a “happy” hotelier, and right now, those can be hard to find. Add Daniel Edward Craig who is fun, imaginative, and guaranteed to find the best places to stay (and the best wine to drink along the way!), well, I'd have to go with that team (and would love to actually GO with the team!). :)
    Imaginative and fun idea!

  • http://www.theluxurytravelmom.com Kim-Marie

    Just because they're pretty (and like high thread count sheets) doesn't mean Stacy and Tiffany won't win it all!

  • http://twitter.com/fullersloane June Sloane

    Some many wonderful tweepeople.

  • Jorge

    Go Team Luxury. Please note there will be no time for shopping!

    JorgeCollazo

  • Elizabeth

    My personal fancy
    is
    Team Pamela and nancy

  • Thetripchicks

    For those who emailed me: Yes, AARPer @thetripchicks (Ann) + 72-yr-old Alpha Bennett (centuries cyclist, marathoner, triathlete http://bit.ly/bRMg34) REALLY did make the semi-finals of the CBS Amazing Race auditions. We fitness travelers can kick butt! (though we weren't listed here) Since Alpha's not on Twitter, you could've paired @thetripchicks (yours truly) with @TravelFit!

  • Beth Whitman

    What Kim Mance said! We would SO rock!

  • http://twitter.com/FloridaFlying Florida Flying

    I think the show is fine the way it is. Part of the charm is that it's people from various walks of life, not “professional travelers”, which sounds boring.

  • http://rockcheetah.com/blog RobertKCole

    You know, I really should have included @flightblogger and @runwaygirl as a team, but I was getting a bit overladen with aviation teams… With only a couple days left in the polling, it doesn't make a lot of sense to add them at this point. If I do another twitter-related travel poll, I'll be sure to include them.

  • http://rockcheetah.com/blog RobertKCole

    You know, I really should have included @flightblogger and @runwaygirl as a team, but I was getting a bit overladen with aviation teams… With only a couple days left in the polling, it doesn't make a lot of sense to add them at this point. If I do another twitter-related travel poll, I'll be sure to include them.

  • http://rockcheetah.com/blog RobertKCole

    Trust me, I really enjoy The Amazing Race in its current form. My suggestion really applies to running teams of experts for a single season. First, they could make some very difficult clues – it might be interesting to see teams legitimately get lost; second, they could open up the transportation options to have teams strategize on the best methods & routes to get from point A to B; finally, it would be interesting to see who can really handle the demands of extemporaneous travel as opposed to passively writing or commenting about it. Some on the list are very comfortable with their plans being handled by others, with a large support system – it would be great to see them fending for themselves.

    I would think the one aspect that would be consistent regardless of the experience of the travelers – the luck of getting the right cab drivers will always be a major factor in the outcome.

  • http://twitter.com/artofthespa Candy Silvasy

    Love this idea – TAR is one of my fave shows, but this season the racers were the worst ever. What about Team Spa? LoL. Candy @artofthespa

  • Danielle bka @EscapeArtistLLC

    Wow…great teams but I had to go with Team Luxury! Good luck ladies!