20 January 2010

Old World, New Look

In what is deemed a bold move by the Tourism Company, Puerto Rico's equivalent to the Cops of Keystone City, We are now--gasp--trying to attract European tourists.
Gee. Finally.
Now We could look at this as a bad move since the last time We went whole-hog for European visitors, Our natives got killed.
I'm kidding. They were raped, then they were killed.
But that's all water under the bridge, or in Our case, water that washed out the bridge built for 265% actual costs. The bottom line is this:
1) Puerto Rico is no longer the #1 tourist destination in the Caribbean, having been displaced by the Dominican Republic in 2008.
2) The Dominican Republic received a little over 2.4 million European tourists in 2009; We had "about" 200,000, which given the accuracy of El Nuevo Día's future burger flippers masquerading as journalists could mean 2,450.
3) The average--average--European stays two weeks in the Dominican Republic. Two. Weeks. The average European stay in Puerto Rico is called "layover."
Local dingbats affiliated with the tourism industry, like the Puerto Rico Hotel and Tourism Association and the Tourism Company's acephalic "programs" whine that "We can't compete with the Dominican Republic's all-inclusive packages, 70,000+ rooms and cheap labor."
Boo-hoo. Have you crybabies in smelly diapers ever imagined where the D.R. would be if they had the same attitude back in the 1960s and 70s? "We can't compete with Puerto Rico's infrastructure, no-passport access to the U.S. of part of A. and massive marketing efforts." I  bet you never heard that from them. And that's why their kicking polvo in Our faces now.
Before I paint My buns with nitric acid, here's three points that the dingbats mishandling Our tourism efforts need to get into their gullets (since We've established that they have no craniums):
1) Tourism is intrinsically a geosocial experience. I made that word up, but it makes sense, so it is now an official word in the English language. One travels to Venice to explore its canals. In Vegas, a traveler gambles and takes in shows. In other words, a tourist visits a place to encounter a location and a set of experiences that are unique. Therefore what We need to focus on is not "price" or "rooms" but "unique experiences." And that, My Brethren, goes far beyond beaches, El Yunque and tacky Chinese gewgaws in Old San Juan.
2) You don't advertise to would-be travelers, you engage them. Where? On the Internet.  More than 68% of travelers explore their potential destinations by surfing the Web, and on the Web, We rank somewhere between goat liver recipes and toejam remedies. In short, We are not web-savvy. We--or rather, the whiny headless dingbats--spend Our money on TV ads aimed  at folks older than Mount Rushmore and ignore the thousands of active travelers on the Internet that We can reach for pennies a day. Here, try this experiment: do a travel search to Puerto Rico and check out the comments people leave about hotels, services and amenities. Tally up the negatives and positives. Note how many comments are addressed by the owners or tourism-related personnel. Than you'll have your proof on why I call these people "dingbats."
3) Why advertise blindly in Europe when you have 2.4 million Europeans a 25-minute flight away? You mean to tell Me that, if given the chance, some 200,000 of the Europeans spending 2 weeks in the D.R. wouldn't hop over here and spend a day or two doing something geosocial? (See? I told you it was an official word.) If We did that, We could double Our European influx and gain some additional voices in the Old World to talk about Us.
Granted, We'd have to work on Our sorry (oh so very sorry) service skills and on Our sorry (oh so very sorry) language skills, but at least We'd be making a start. Otherwise, We face dropping to #3 when Cuba flings open its doors to rampant capitalism...and it will. You can bet a dingbat's ass on that.
Hell, We already have.

The Jenius Has Spoken.


The Insider said...

Want some Brits?

Organize a Ricky Hatton - Miguel Cotto PPV, and bid to keep it in Puerto Rico. Make sure HBO does its 24/7 series again.

Then bring in 2,000 Brits, all expenses paid, who agree to work at local restaurants as fish and chips experts. They also get free tickets to the fight (nose bleeders). Import 100,000 barrels of England's top selling beer - and have it ready on tap.

Then organize a week long, island wide pub crawl that takes the pale, toothy ones from beach to bar, leading up to the big fight.

Fly the British flag on all major highways, every 5 miles to make them think they own it (no place like home).


For a more international audience, set up a government funded resort network, where International bloggers (with large reach/audience) are comped to visit in one week intervals with the only commitment being a summary of their trip w/ a feature on a previously uncovered aspect of Puerto Rico of potential interest to world travelers.

GCD said...

What you are talking about sounds too much like work and different from what they have been doing for God knows how long. Is there no room any longer for innovation, taking a fresh look at things, thinking outside the proverbial box? One would think that as new people move into positions that could actually have influence things would change but they are just interested in keeping their jobs and not making waves. Spineless.

Scylas said...

and its not like service in the DomRep is anything to write home about..

Ray said...

I agree that information on the Internet for visitors to Puerto Rico is abysmal. And many of the sites that are out there contain out-dated and just downright wrong info. That's what got us started on our own blog and why we're doing our part to get fresh, accurate info published on an ongoing basis.

James said...

Sadly it's true. I think you really nailed it with the engagement and experience thing.

We pitched community experience websites to the tourism company under both PPD and PNP administrations and there was interest until we started talking price. They'd rather drop $250,000 on a TV ad than less than half as much on a series of living breathing (work 24hours/day) web portals where one could aggregate the stories and experiences of guests and hosts. So we have a one time ad campaign, print and media that costs 500,000 and bam, it's done, gone, and forgotten. OR we could have a decent web presence which would operate continually 24/7 drawing in visitors with a more intimate engagement.

Bah! It's makes me so mad, my teeth hurt.

When we've had guests, we've done things like the Ruta de Lechón, the Plaza Mercado en Rio Piedras, Rio Grande, El Viejo San Juan, El Yunque (everybody has LOVED it), beaches all over the place (except Luquillo - dirty), Ponce, Ciales etc. People have loved the roadside food, the nooks and crannies, the big resorts, the small bungalows.

In Puerto Rico, we have variety, general lawfulness (outside of the drug wars), and some unique things that most Americans have never experienced. Wrap it up in a foreign country destination that's not, and it's a win win as far as I am concerned. You can't do that in DR. Stick to the resorts if you value your life. Here, at least, you can travel around, get lost, experience serendipity, make new friends, get rescued by a local family, get invited to dinner, swim in a warm tropical sea, and eat some awesome food.

Now, trying to earn a decent living in PR... that's no panacea, let me tell you :-) But vacationing, if you don't expect glitzy shit, is pretty nice in my opinion.

GCSchmidt said...

Crikey, folks, you're making Me feel popular!

Insider, you do provide a good idea: targeted event marketing. We could set up a soccer tournament for top European clubs (8-12) and hold it in February. Why clubs instead of national teams? Because club fans are more loyal and more likely to have a blast.

GCD, if innovation were oxygen, We'd either be plants or dead. I vote that We are closer to plants.

Scylas, in My visits to the D.R. I have invariably been treated with courtesy, hospitality and even style. But I understand there can be instances of poor or bad service there as there could be instances of good and excellent service here.

Ray, your website, Puerto Rico Day Trips, is absolutely spot on. I commend you for three things: having it, bringing it to My attention and for blatantly placing an Aguadilla attraction as the top post, since, as you and everyone else knows, I was born there. Keep up the good work and let me know how I can help.

James, your "gov cred" is solid with Me, so I share your frustration. Here's My challenge to the dingbats: Split your marketing budgets 80/20, keep the 80% and let Us use the other 20%. Compare results after 12 months. After We win, We'll hire you to paint Our houses.

Thanks to all of you. You've made My day.