[Update: Let the Vatican tours resume: the Cardinals elected Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina, as Pope.]
GetYourGuide CEO Johannes Reck doesn’t have a vote, but he’s throwing his support behind Canadian Cardinal Marc Ouellet of La Motte, Quebec, for Pope.
Meanwhile, Barrie Seidenberg, the CEO of Viator, seems to be leaning toward Cardinal Odilo Scherer, the archbishop of Sao Paulo, Brazil, in a push for a Pope from the developing world.
Reck, who lives in Berlin, where the tours and activities startup is based, has complex reasons for his endorsement, but underlying them are self-interest.
“We all know that the next one will not be a German because the Pope (Benedict of Germany) gave up after a few years,” Reck says.
“I think it would be really cool to have a Pope from Canada,” says Reck, who promises to offer a tour of Ouellet’s hometown of La Motte, Quebec (population 439) if he emerges victorious.
But, most of all, Reck wants the assembled cardinals to get the vote over with because Vatican tours are GetYourGuide’s number one tour globally, and the Sistine Chapel is currently closed to all but the chosen few as the Cardinals politic for a successor.
Vatican tours, which are “super popular,” are still running — the museum is said to be open — but with lower numbers of tourists and fewer tours because of the Papal gathering, Reck says.
Incidentally, the Eiffel Tower is GetYourGuide’s number 2 best-seller over the course of a year, although Burj Khalifa in Dubai spikes and takes the second spot during the Spring.
Vatican tours are not Viator’s most popular, but they are “among the most popular,” says Seidenberg, who concedes that the staff of the San Francisco-headquartered company “are carefully watching the ‘smoke cam.'”
“The sooner we see that white smoke the better,” Seidenberg says. “In terms of a favorite candidate, while I won’t pontificate on who might be best-suited to lead the Catholic Church, it would be quite interesting to see a Pope from a developing nation. Cardinal Odilo Scherer, the archbishop from Sao Paulo, is one of our favorites among the top contenders.”
Seidenberg notes that Cardinal Scherer has more than 30,000 Twitter followers so we might expect social media to be emphasized if he makes the final cut.
Like Reck, Seidenberg of Viator sees a bottom-line angle if her push for the Brazilian archbishop is enough to put him over the top.
“And we believe that a Brazilian Pope would have a positive impact on travel to Rome generally, especially from South and Central America, a growing market for us,” Seidenberg says. “A quick poll of the several Brazilian Viatorians supports our theory that this is an enthusiastic bunch – they seem to be watching more closely than Anderson Cooper.”
Seidenberg may not be the key influencer in the selection of the next Pope. “We have some pull in Rome, but not that much,” she says.
Viator customers are still visiting parts of the Vatican Museum, although the Sistine Chapel is off limits.
“They are still enjoying other parts of the Vatican museum which has many amazing works of art,” Seidenberg. “Plus, they are witnessing first hand a rare moment in history. Catholic or not, it must be very cool to be in Rome right now.”