19 September 2008

Tourism Tour(rette)

I'll be blogging over the weekend (special posts--free of charge) about Online Revealed Caribbean, where The Jenius was on the blogger panel. For now, I'll do My Jenius thing:
Where the hell was the Puerto Rico Tourism Company?

Not at Online Revealed Caribbean. But check out some monotonous show about Alaska crab fisherman and--lo and behold!--some twitchy (yes, it's a word) flash-cut shotgun collage of Puerto Rico shows up, courtesy of... the Tourism Company.

Now you may be familiar with My take on the local tourism hash, but this latest little incident is emblematic of the deep-seated, practically embedded-in-its-DNA ignorance that keeps the local Tourism Company from being anything other than a tchochtke when by all rights it should be a sculpture.

A) Time and time again, from the tech sites to business press, We hear that travelers are increasingly-dependent on the Web to research and plan their trips. So guess where the Tourism Company spends the absolute bulk of its marketing budget? TV and magazines.
Several recent surveys have indicated that TV ranks fifth as an influencer of travel plans, behind the Web, travel agent recommendations, family/friends and personal experience with the place. Now guess--just guess, you spastic Tourism Company--where you can find tons and tons of travel agent recommendations and people's personal experiences in full color? Uh-huh: the Web. It's also called the Internet. And being Online.

B) Because the Tourism Company is just a political nest, vision is very much compromised. Rather than draft a long-term plan (8-15 years) that encompasses hotel growth, the challenges We face from the Dominican Republic and Cuba (see My "tourism hash" link above for what that will do to Us), attracting more European and Asian tourists (have someone show you where Europe and Asia are, okay?), enhancing eco-tourism and other niche offers and dealing with the sorry state of taxes and service that We have now, the Tourism Company does things without volition and says things that drop like stink bombs at the cotillion ("We Do It Better"? "Discover the Continent of Puerto Rico"? Huh?)

What We have is an entity that lacks control over its muscles (actions) and speech (slogans), in essence a Tourism Company suffering from Tourrette's Syndrome. (Did you see the pun? Did you? I am funny!) Twitchy (it is a word) and liable to blurt out anything just to make noise, Our Tourism Company consistently misses the mark. Incapable of looking ahead or even seeing reality, it lets the opportunity to directly participate in both a learning and guiding experience, actions sorely needed to quickly and effectively learn what to say, where to say, when and how. And the where is--beyond a shadow of a doubt--online.

Here's a point We need to address and have needed to for decades: The Tourism Company is the only local agency that can say what it wants without ever having been interfered with by the federal government. We can market Ourselves and Our attractions any way We feel like. So instead of finding Our unique voice, instead of acting on Our behalf on a gobal scale, We ramble through Our back yard, over-tax and over-burden the strongest, freest industry We have ever had and ignore the strongest tourism communication channel ever because of fear arising from ignorance.

Action always defeats fear. Asking questions, listening and acting to learn defeat ignorance. But I guess you can't overcome these small obstacles if most of your actions are uncontrollable spasms and most of your words nothing more than thoughtless outbursts.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

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