Hello again from the Big Blue!
We are now entering the “List” phase, as our exit date nears. If you were to write a love story about Prez and I, it could be called Love in the Time of Lists. We really are happiest when we have lists, tasks, goals, plans, things that need to be completed and checked off. Just yesterday I did my weekly house cleaning – or as Prez calls it “going crazy” – and while I was tidying the kitchen cupboards, fridge and pantry, I was making mental notes of what foods we have left and what kind of meals we should plan for in the next 24 days. I can tell you that Sloppy Joes, Eggs Benedict (x3), and something in a Greek marinade, are all on the menu.
I’ve been trying to appreciate our last days here, which isn’t easy when it’s howling with wind and raining almost every day. Today the sun came out and we celebrated by going on a long walk, watching me get sunburned, and returning home to let the newly hatched mosquitoes drink our blood. Sigh…I’m feeling melancholy already.
Mr. Boss is back on the island. He pops in from time to time and I suppose at some point we will hand over the reins. Apparently he has a girl lined up to take over a chunk of what is typically my job – cleaning huts, answering emails and doing office work. I will be showing her the ropes some time next week. It has to be done but I can’t say I’m overly enthused about it. I haven’t met her and she’s probably perfectly lovely but I know me. I am obsessive compulsive about cleaning so I just know the poor girl is going to look at my cleaning routine, (often involving moving beds to dust for cobwebs underneath), and panic. Conversely, I will be watching her work and biting my tongue to avoid speaking out, “Oh, you missed that crumb over there! It’s very small. Yes, I know it’s almost impossible to see but…"
Then there’s the whole towel folding thing. I mean, I almost go into cardiac arrest when Prez tries to fold a towel or, heaven forbid, a sheet in front of me. I’m fussy, OK, I admit it but there really is only one, (proper), way to fold towels and have them look nice and organized and most people just can’t be bothered to learn it. I remember when I worked at the animal hospital and we had a cupboard full of blankets and towels for the animals. The first thing I would do after my two days off was to go into the back and re-fold all of the linen that had been put away in my absence. It’s a sickness. I know.
Then there’s the office. Answering email enquiries is far more than just a matter of checking dates and telling the prospective guest “yes” or “no”. At least fifty percent of the job is marketing, wording your responses in a way that is never negative and encourages speedy booking. I know people are going to love it here but first I have to get them here. That job’s a lot easier these days, since we’ve developed good word of mouth and we’re number one in Trip Advisor but you can’t really, ever slack off.
Ask anyone who’s in a management position, in a hospitality job involving travel and they will tell you that a good, innate understanding of basic, human psychology is a necessity for success.
One of my favourite marketing stories was told to me by Mom II, concerning her dad. (Apologies to Ruth-Ann as I now butcher her story). Please forgive me, as I’ve forgotten many of the details but Mom II’s father, (he passed away a few years ago) – who I’ll call Mr Mom – worked for, (I think), Sheraton Hotels, in one of those high up jobs, whose name has escaped me, many, many moons ago. Anyway, it was nearing Thanksgiving and Mr Mom installed a display in the lobby of the hotel with a cage containing a rather large turkey and a sign explaining that this turkey, (let’s call him Tom), was going to be killed and eaten at the hotel’s Thanksgiving dinner.
Interesting…but it gets better.
Mr Mom then wrote, under a false name, a scathing letter to the editor of the newspaper denouncing the cruelty of the hotel owners for their crude display and how dare they kill such a beautiful bird. This caused a stir. He then wrote another letter from the opposite point of view. Soon, people were …ahem…flocking to the hotel to see the controversial bird. In the end, the hotel announced that Tom’s life would be spared, which, of course, had been the plan all along. In the meantime, Mr Mom had generated an enormous amount of free, and ultimately positive, press for the hotel. Win, win, win.
Here on the Rock, I’m not above using little twists of language to sell our own corner of paradise. For example, let’s say you emailed to enquire about booking a hut for a week in May. I then look at the reservation book and see May is, at this point, absolutely empty. Great. But I don’t want you to know that. I would email you back and tell you that yes, we do have “some” availability for that week but could you please tell me which hut you would prefer. You email back and say you’d like the Beach Hut. I email back and tell you you’re in luck, the Beach Hut is open for that week! Now, you’re feeling pretty good but I don’t want you to get complacent, so I make sure to add that if you’re interested to please let me know as soon as possible as we do fill up quickly. Well, now you’re thinking you’d better hurry because you were fortunate to find the spot you wanted and you sure don’t want someone else scooping it up from under you. Hut booked.
And it’s a strategy that feeds on itself because the more bookings we get, the more times I have to tell someone that we’re full for some of their dates but would they mind switching huts or dates, the more people get the impression that this is a very desirable place to stay. And, the fact is, despite being budget, this is a very desirable place to stay but I have to get you here so you can see that for yourself.
Answering questions is also tricky because you have to be honest without being negative.
Question: “Are mosquitoes a problem?”
Truth: Yep, they can be sometimes.
Answer: “We find that the only bad time for mosquitoes is at first and last light, and in the winter months they are not bad at all. We have a mosquito control program on our property and all huts have mosquito netting over the beds. However, there are some other spots on the island that are very bad for mosquitoes so make sure you bring some repellent.”
As you can see, I didn’t lie but I did phrase my answer in such a way that it makes things sound not so bad, (and it really isn’t that bad). I then added some reassurance as to steps we take to ensure the guest’s comfort. And, last, I showed a comparison that makes us look good.
None of these skills were taught to me. Marketing is mostly a combination of experience, skill with language, and an understanding of human nature. I’m not tricking anyone; I know that once they get here the guests are, nine times out of ten, going to have a fabulous time, even if the mozzies are biting and it howls with wind a rain for a few days. The question is: Is someone off the street, getting paid minimum wage going to have these skills and/or the drive to use them? I’ll be honest; I don’t think it’s something I can teach, especially not in 23 days.
But I’ll do my best, as always.
In other news, it looks like our old stomping grounds in Baja got a good spanking from hurricane Jimena. Miz Liz forwarded some photos of our old ClubFred, with most of the roof torn off and several windows smashed. I can only imagine the water damage to the inside. Some lots survived with minimal damage, including Liz’s old 30th Palm, which makes me question the veracity of the 3 Little Pigs story. Others were not so lucky. The place next to our old place lost the entire second floor – sheared right off. I know many of our friends have a lot of work ahead so I just want them to know we’re thinking of them and hoping the clean up goes quickly and smoothly.
And (now Ken El Club) today…
Mulegé also took a heavy beating. They are in desperate need of food, clothing and money, so if anyone feels inclined to help out, here is a link for donations: Mulegé Relief Fund
23 days left, as of today.
I am officially counting and dreaming of our long, luxurious trip back home wherein the only towels I will fold will be my own!
QUESTION: Do you know how to, (properly), fold towels?
Until next time, I hope this finds you healthy, happy & lovin’ life!
p.s. I also want to say HOORAY once again to Teri & Gary, as Gary’s CT scan results came back and he is 100% cancer free!!!