Friday, August 14, 2009

A Subtle Difference?

I've been reading various message forums for years. There is one forum that I've only been reading for a few months, and the people posting questions on that forum tend to be those who have never been to Isla before.

With the opening of a large resort in the heart of Centro, many of the questions have been focused on the resort itself - what amenities it offers, the food, the alcohol, the service, the rooms, etc.

Sensing that the type of tourist attracted to Isla is under-going significant change, I've been wondering what effect this resort and its 60 guest rooms might have on the occupancy rates of the small hotel/apartment/rental home business. There can't be that many visitors to Isla to keep all these places in business, can there?

But something I read today made me realize that maybe there's nothing to worry about. The poster wrote that they were off to "The Resort". For this tourist, the attraction is more about the resort than the island. This is not the type of tourist who would have come to Isla for the first time and stayed in a $35 apartment in a colonia anyway. Where they would be on their own to find food and other services, often dealing with locals who don't speak English.

The resort type of tourist might be looking for something predictable, a place where they feel secure and protected, where they don't have to try to communicate with non-English-speaking staff. Or a place where they can just eat and drink and relax and not worry about anything outside the resort.

Perhaps once they come and learn more about the island, they will become the type of tourist who will rent the $35/day apartment. Or maybe not, maybe they will always be the resort type.

I guess my conclusion is that the resorts are attracting a different type of tourist, tourists that would not normally have come to Isla were it not for the resort. So maybe they will love the resort and simply keep coming back there, or maybe they will discover Isla and branch out into other wonderful rental properties. Or maybe they won't like any of it and they will never come back. In any of these scenarios, the resort has not taken business away from the other types of rental properties - in fact, in the long run it may lead to more business for all who offer accommodation and services to tourists, because if the resort tourist ventures outside the resort and is charmed by Isla, they will likely come back and maybe even rent one of those other properties that offer a bit more adventure and local experience.

And then they will be like those posting on the familiar message forum - instead of "I'm off to the resort", they'll be posting "I'm off to Isla"!

A subtle difference maybe, but to those small establishments hoping to serve tourists, I think it's a huge difference.

10 comments:

IslaZina said...

Yes, I wonder where those bodies are going to come from and if they will laugh at the small, outfitted apartments as anyone's destination.

Karen said...

I am always amazed at the people who stay at the large resorts where you don't have to ever leave. They never experience the true beauty of the area, and what is so sad is they don't care.

Linda said...

Sue,

I think that you are correct - there is a difference between the small/local B&B approach and the resort approach and they attract different people. The difference, however, is probably not a 'subtle' one. The audience for the more local venue should grow as people gain more confidence about visiting an area and branching out on their own. So, your ability to attact people after they have been to a resort in the area - should increase. But, back to the audience point - it very well may be two different kinds of people - some want to be entertained and have everything at their fingertips and others want more time to explore on their own. Perhaps you are finding a marketing niche....

Jan said...

What I find amazing is how those "resort folks" got their knickers in a knot when it was (nicely) posted that not everyone is thrilled with this new resort. They don't "get" Isla, maybe they will when they actually go to the island. Maybe they will understand what those of us who have been going to Isla for a long time are saying and why. Maybe.......

BTW, the last review of this "resort" I read was definitely less than complimentary!

Jamqueen said...

I must have missed this latest post about " the resort" My reading the boards has been spotty lately. I don't think you have to worry about it cutting into occupancies around the island. I know I'm looking forward to the day when 1/2 my vacation isn't taken up by the BBash so we can change our habits a little.

Jackie said...

I can only echo what everyone else has said. I just don't get all inclusive resorts. If I never want to leave a resort why travel all the way to Mexico? I still laugh when I think about what a man that I used to work with often asked me why I kept going back to Isla, what was there to do there, was there a golf course and did the hotel I stayed at have room service?

Sue said...

Zina - some will definitely wonder how anyone could stay in such accommodations.

Karen and Jackie - I think some people just want to get away, and it doesn't really matter where it is. They just want to relax and have total service and not have to think - I can understand.

Linda - thanks, that was the point I was trying to make - that there is a chance to increase business for the small rentals because people may branch out and discover. And if they don't, that's fine - they would never have been potential customers anyway.

Jan - I am not thrilled with any of the big construction that is beyond 3 levels and violates what used to be building regulations. But my post was not about that, it was about losing customers to those bigger businesses, and the thought that maybe I was looking at it wrong and it really might be good for us in the long run. Time will tell.

Ann - in time you will have the chance to discover outside centro, and you may like it, you may not. If I didn't live here I'm not really sure where I'd stay as a single woman - probably centro to avoid taxis.

Leslie said...

I think there is a BIG difference, we see it in our travels...my sister is one...if it isn't a formal TOUR group with a set schedule and all amenities already in place, she panics....we like to arrive, get a vehicle and go with the wind....I hate pre-arrangements! I don't think the people who go to the resort will ever be looking to come to your place and the folks who like independence and exploration will never go to the resort - no competition!

Bennie said...

Not everyone is brave enough to get out and really discover Isla (or other countries). I had a good person introduce me to the island. I'm glad she did.

Sue said...

Leslie - I agree, I really meant the 'subtle' difference was the words used to describe where one was going for vacation. "Resort" vs "Isla". I understand those who need everything planned for them, and I understand those who just want to wing it, and all in between. Just had that 'lightbulb' moment that maybe the resorts weren't going to affect our business as much as I thought.

Bennie - you are right, especially with all that's in the news these days. People who don't know wonder how we could possibly live with all this danger around us.