12 May 2011

Tourism? Nah. Tourrette's

The Jenius returned with a different outlook, a return to the more positive mindset of several years ago. Consciously. Deliberately. A kinder, nicer Jenius. So I read the following interview with Mario González, the current Executive Director of the Puerto Rico Tourism Company (pardon Me while I suppress a sardonic snort...there; nicer Jenius upheld) and aimed My Jenial mindset at the good points.

And aimed. And came up with: Our "Tourism" is a spew of idiocy.

Fuck nice. This "Tourrette's-disguised-as-Tourism" company shit has GOT to end. Now.

(Fell off the bandwagon kinda fast, huh? Idiocy can do that to a Jenius.)

Here's the complete interview, from which I will extract some of the more idiotic outbursts of "Motormouth" Mario.

First, note the title: "Ladies and gents, Puerto Rico speaks up, finally." I feel the interviewers' pain, because I'm sure Motormouth Mario was in "Severe Bureaucratic Avoidance" mode and delayed being available for the interview until he screwed up and couldn't get out of it. Given the end result, he was an idiot for not hiding until 2012. [Disclaimer: I have exchanged a few e-mails and tweets with Raúl Colón, but never about this interview and I've never met Nelson Alcántara in any way.] 

The interview was under the banner of ETurboNews, covering the global travel industry:

ETN: Every extension is a brand, an identity, if you may. Can you identify what's Puerto Rico's unique value proposition? 
LAFUENTE: Unique value proposition is that we are more than sun and sand, which is actually one of our competitive advantages, our mountains, our natural resources. We have a beautiful tropical rainforest. We have the Camoway (sic) caves. We have a rich history, culture. So we have a diverse offer to our visitors that is, I guess, our competitive advantage to the other islands. 

If Motormouth Mario had stood up and said shitpissturdsandwich at 94 decibels, he would have been more cogent. His answer about Our unique value proposition is sophomoric at the ultimate best and the babbling of an incompetent primate at worst. Maybe the monkeys have invaded San Juan...

Motormouth, Puerto Rico's UNIQUE value proposition is your "elevator pitch," your 20-second "hook". You've been in office since August 2, 2010 and the interview was held on April 14, 2011. Isn't 8 months enough for you to learn what Our UVP is, or should be? And "you guess" about what Our UVP is? Verbal tic, Motormouth?

Here's an elevator pitch version for the U.S. of part of A. market that you can steal from Me: In the Caribbean, Puerto Rico offers a greater variety of tropical and one-of-a-kind attractions, along with ecological and adventure travel, all within easy driving distance on the Island and without needing a passport or visa to come here.  There. Maybe you can memorize that by the time you get kicked out in 2012.  "What about Europe?" you exclaim? I got one, but I'm not going to do all your work for you.

And a shout-out to Nelson and Raúl for the follow-up question:
ETN: So exactly that was the next question. What sets Puerto Rico apart from other nations in the Caribbean? Journalism 101: make sure the question is answered.

Moving on, in a downward spiral:

ETN: On Puerto Rican crime and tourism, is there a connection? 
LAFUENTE: There is no connection... 

ETN: In the history of Puerto Rico, has there ever been an instance when a tourist or tourists have been involved in such a situation? 
LAFUENTE: Yes, yes, there has. 

Motormouth answered the first question by spewing the party line, like a baboon chewing a banana. But take a look at this: A Google search for puerto rico crime tourism that shows Me 7 of the top 10 results are clearly negative:

#1: "If you look at the statistics, it's clear that Puerto Rico has a crime problem." WikiTravel.org.

#2: "...rising crime, drugs, AIDS, and other social problems plague Puerto Rico." Frommer's.

#4: "...to have the murder rate of puerto rico (sic) it would be about 8000 by now." VirtualTourist.com

#6: "I recognize that Puerto Rico has a high crime rate but it's..." GoCaribbean.com

#7: "Meet Sara Kuszak: Pregnant American Tourist Killed In San Juan". PuertoRico Country Toolbox.com (blog) [I have exchanged many e-mail with this blogger.]

#8: "...times accused government authorities of misrepresenting crime statistics for political (and tourist) purposes."

DollarMan.com #9: "Puerto Rico's crime wave reaches Condado hotels". USATODAY.com From April 26th, 2011, not even 2 weeks after the Motormouth interview. Did a crime wave tsunami erupt April 15th or am I missing something here?

Only one result is positive, #3 on My search results: "Little crime in the tourist areas of Puerto Rico equals a worry-free visit..." It's from the PuertoRico-Guide.info. Click on the link and here's the opening paragraph: In Puerto Rico auto theft, muggings, and drug trafficking are the most commonly reported forms of crime, so stay alert, lock your car, and use any security features available in both your vehicle and your hotel. Muggings are commonly reported on the Condado and Isla Verde beaches in San Juan, so it might be wise to confine your moonlit walks on the beach to the fenced-in and guarded areas around some of the major hotels. Is this in any way a ringing endorsement?

I know Google displays geolocated results, so what I see is going to differ somewhat from what a Michigander or Iowan or Kentuckian will see, but does anyone in this Web-savvy world really think that their results will be more positive than Mine? And based on that, can anyone with any brains really think that crime and tourism are not connected when people think/search about Puerto Rico? And who is the average would-be traveler--over 83% now relying on the Web for vacation planning--going to believe: Frommer's, a neutral website, a Puerto Rico-based blog or some pseudo-official "Puerto Rico Guide"?

Motormouth, stop obsessing about the party line and party lies and party bullshit and get to work on engaging the Web as the key tool for marketing My Island. What you "think" or "believe" is buried under tons of reality checks, made every minute of every day, around the world. Puerto Rico is not the worst place in the world for crime; it's not even the worst in the U.S. of part of A. But unless We tell that to the world and help others promote Our positives, you, Motormouth Mario, will be nothing more than a feckless shill of political hyenas.

More from the mealy-mouthed interview:

ETN: What efforts are being done to entice this (the lucrative gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgendered) market? 
LAFUENTE: Well, we - although we do not have a specific promotion or marketing to any specific group, the way that our marketing and promotions are made, our marketing and promotions program are enticing to all groups. So I am pretty sure that there are hostelries here that market to that specific group. So like I said, you know, we are very open and very inclusive for all groups to come to Puerto Rico. 

Remember what he said here: "...we do not have a specific promotion or marketing to any specific group..."

Later in the interview, he says:

ETN: Customer service is sometimes overlooked as a result of mass tourism, like it's not given a priority. Is this the case for Puerto Rico? 
LAFUENTE: ...Puerto Rico isn't necessarily a mass-driven destination and should not be a mass-driven destination, but putting that aside, it's just, you know, marketing for the type of product that we have here. In terms of quality, we are very, very aware of the importance of quality and service, and we are very focused on developing that important factor. 

Did you lose your focus here, Motormouth? If We are not "a mass-driven destination and should not be a mass-driven destination," then why is that "...we do not have a specific promotion or marketing to any specific group..."? Are We "not niche-marketing to the masses to bring in no specific groups but not the masses"? Are We "mass-marketing to avoid the masses and the niches as well"? Just what the hell are We doing, Motormouth?

Here's another example of Tourrette's-masquerading-as-Tourism:

ETN: Puerto Rico Tourism Company has boldly claimed that Puerto Rico does it better. Let's make this case in terms of tourism. What exactly in your view does Puerto Rico Tourism do better?
LAFUENTE: Well, we do many things better. Puerto Rico does it better. 

Echolalia or incompetence, as shown by the rest of the rambling answer?

Marketing a destination is not an easy task. Trying to market a destination by not knowing what's unique and special about it is almost impossible. But trying to do so by not even knowing what the hell you're saying is totally impossible. You need help, Motormouth. For Our sake, you should get it. 

For when it comes to Our Tourism, Tourrette's is not an option We should have to put up with. Ever.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

[Note: 15 May 2010: Hey! Back on 19 September 2008, I wrote a post titled "Tourism Tour(rette)". The more things change... ]


The Insider said...

I watched a documentary on Casino Jack Abramoff yesterday. One segment focused on how Jack (in cahoots with his partner, Mike Scanlon) set up his "lifeguard" friend as the Director of the "Rehoboth Center" - a "think tank" setup to hide/funnel Indian tribe gambling money for the purpose of influence peddling/lobbying in Washington - and back to Casino Jack (on the sly).

Grosh, the lifeguard, was qualified only to be a lifeguard. He had no business training, no idea what he was supposed to do, and admitted this openly to the Senate Indian Affairs Committee (while giggling slightly).

Before I veer too far off topic, my point is this:

Who hired Lafuente, a man who (based on this interview) appears to be someone apparently grossly incapable of marketing AND completely ignorant to the impact of crime (among other things on tourism)?!

I'm certain that there are *some* 1st year business students at the University of Puerto Rico that could do a better job marketing Puerto Rico with a weekly assignment. By some, I mean 80% of all students who set foot in any "Introduction to Marketing 101" class.

My blog is one of the ones that ranks in those top 10 pages, and I can assure you (based on my site keyword stats) that murder and crime delivers a constant influx of people trying to find out if it's safe to go to Puerto Rico. Sara Kuszak and Julian Romero have not been forgotten.

Now I know why marketing of Puerto Rico's tourism always seems to (in my opinion) "suck hard". It appears (in my opinion) that it's because the people in roles like Fuentes might be better qualified as lifeguards? Can he swim and does he know basic CPR?

Watch PR references in movies. Analyze the searching patterns related to Puerto Rico. Check the International blogs and news that reference Puerto Rican crime, drugs, tourist killings, and animal massacres. Gil's links included "Frommer's" travel guides...

Get real. Puerto Rico needs a face lift, along with a brain and heart transplant... at least at the top.

Who does Fuentes know, who hired him, and why?

Now keep in mind that his mandate is the one that will have major influence on the success or *failure* of one of the most important industries for Puerto Rico... one that if fails will only lead to further economic and social decline, crime and destruction of Puerto Rico...

I recently had a professional start renting my home in Cabo Rojo, who had to leave his own home immediately after being robbed (in a supposedly good neighborhood) twice...

What a gem of a place to live or visit...

Is this the guy in charge with changing the world's opinion?

Ms. Conciencia said...

I can't feel more ashamed in something like right now, reading what this tourette director from my Island. OMG! Can I kick him hard with stilettos? Definitively, if someone wasn't sure that what we have up there, in the Goverment, is a group of zoo animals, now he/she can confirm it.

GCSchmidt said...

Insider, I can share with My Readers that you and I have exchanged extensive commentary on My Island and some of its more distressing aspects. But I think We both agree--and I know I feel this strongly--that Puerto Rico has much to be proud of and worthy of outside attention. As you and Ms. Conciencia make clear, people like this "Tourism Director" are incompetence-in-the-flesh where We need leaders and visionaries. I've been a harsh critic of the Tourism Company since the mid-1990s; that they are still a cesspool of idiocy is downright disgusting.

KW said...

Two things:

1. You should know what I'm about to say, but here goes. The role of the PRTC is not to sell PR it is to funnel money to supporters through "soft" corruption. Therefore, any idiot, can scratch an X on a contract and once again on the checks.

2. As a culture we are deathly afraid to talk about issues. We're afraid to tell the truth, admit there is a problem. The rationalization goes something like this, if I admit there is a problem, then we might have to do some actual work, and you know, fix the problem. Kind of like when no one volunteers to fix a problem until it blows up in their face.

GCSchmidt said...

MC Don Dees is on to it. Too many people named or working in the PRTC are ex-American Airlines executives, which makes their near-monopoly hold on Our airways harder to break/tolerate. Add to that the current Public-Private Alliance bullshit surrounding the International Airport's privatization (American has what amounts to a veto vote) and you can almost SEE the corruption coming together like a slow-motion cartoon from hell.