In marketing, researchers are often seen as number crunchers, invariably tied to spreadsheets and PowerPoint presentations. Upon joining the team here at Nucleus, that assumption was quickly corrected. Speaking from my perspective, the commonality that the Nucleus team and I share is inquisitiveness and a genuine interest in learning about a broad range of topics and people. That shared interest in people’s stories is deepened by the expertise and passion our clients bring from their fields.
Recently, we worked with a client specializing in active small-group guided tours, which provoked a reevaluation of my own long-held travel strategies. As a staunch and seasoned DIY traveler, I revel in crafting my own itineraries, from plotting routes to poring over travel guides. That said, a chance encounter with a learned professional reminded me of the value of personal expertise and insights.
Earlier this summer, while planning a trip to France with my extended family (which involved Zoom planning sessions, exhaustive expense tracking, and a color-coded task list), I booked a guided walking tour of Antibes. Normally, I would never do this, but I was inspired by our client’s passion for providing cultural education and authentic local travel experiences.
On the tour, as we approached the remnants of a 19th-century public washhouse, our guide directed our attention to barely noticeable sculptures gracing its walls. She revealed these to be the work of artist and sculptor Ho Lui, an Antibes transplant from Hong Kong, whose hundreds of near-hidden street art sculptures delighted my family. The guide told us of her first-hand experience meeting her art idol. She was guiding a previous tour, expounding on his talent and contributions to the town’s art scene and charm, when she noticed a petite, unassuming man join her group and listen in attentively. It was revealed to be the artist himself, who then regaled the group with anecdotes, posed for pictures, and invited the tourists to his art studio.
This guided tour experience changed our journey—now enlightened, we went from passive observers with cursory exclamations about mega yachts and seascapes to active participants with a fun second-hand story to tell (and a new kids’ quest to find his other hidden sculptures!). It also taught me a valuable lesson: allowing experts to lead can reveal stories we might otherwise miss. It’s an important principle to me in my profession as a research and insights professional, and now, also in my travel adventures.