Puerto Rico needs to find that one thing that makes it authentic to be able to compete against — and move ahead of — other tourist destinations that offer the same basic travel experiences. And that one thing, according to a branding expert, is the “mofongo factor.”
Bruce Turkel, executive creative director of Turkel Brands, a Miami-based firm that is working with Meet Puerto Rico to position the island as the go-to place for business and leisure, said Thursday Puerto Rico must tap into what is truly authentic to sell itself.
“As you go to market your properties, your attractions, your restaurants, your businesses what I hope is that you market the ‘mofongo factor,’ because when you do, you will find you have no competition, no alternatives,” said Turkel, referring to the island’s signature plantain-based dish that is a cultural staple.
“I’m not suggesting that ‘mofongo’ is the only thing [Puerto Rico has to offer,] but ‘mofongo’ is authentic, it’s something people know they will find in Puerto Rico, and they will have to come here for that,” he said.
Turkel was one of two speakers present for the first monthly luncheon of the year sponsored by the Puerto Rico Hotel and Tourism Association.
The executive noted that providing that authentic experience will help set Puerto Rico apart from other destinations that offer “warm weather, palm trees, beaches and sunshine” to tourists.
“You could be in Jamaica, Cancun, Miami, Bali, Southeast Asia, the Dominican Republic. Or you could be in Puerto Rico,” he said.
Meet Puerto Rico overhauls biz model
During the luncheon, Meet Puerto Rico President Milton Segarra announced the organization’s transition to a new business model resulting in a complete overhaul in the way it does business.
Modeling itself after newly identified industry trends and strategies, Meet Puerto Rico will now market the destination’s ability to host major city-wide conventions through three key areas: traditional sales efforts, branding and strategic partnerships, he said.
“Puerto Rico is once again becoming a popular global brand — known for its culture and authentic experiences as well being a technically savvy destination,” said Segarra, who sported a traditional “guayabera” shirt, typically worn in the Caribbean, to the luncheon in keeping with the pursuit of that genuine feel.
The changes to Meet Puerto Rico’s business model are:
- Creation of national sales managers whose focus will be on securing large, city-wide and convention center groups. The expected result is increased business to large and medium size hotels and support to the traditional sales model.
- Branding — A team of brand sales managers will seek traditional and creative opportunities in key markets, to increase visibility of Puerto Rico as the destination for meetings and conventions. This is expected to result in new qualified leads and demand, the group said.
- Strategic partnerships — Meet Puerto Rico will work closely with members and new business partners to formulate creative programs to generate demand and increase the closing ratio for the destination.
The new business model will be implemented in phases, starting with a transition period from January to June 2015 and full implementation by July 2015.
“We are excited to implement this new 360 approach whose components will increase our opportunities to market the destination as never before,” Segarra said.