Both videos angered me. Here’s why.
Video 1, understandably made to encourage tourists despite the recent storms, was somewhat over-optimistic. Sure, maybe that particular resort was able to bounce back quickly from its damage, but there is more to Provo—and more to the TCI than Provo—than one resort. There was significant damage on the islands, and pretending that one “island” on one island speaks for everyone is a bit dishonest.
While watching the video, I kept wondering about the visitor who arrived thinking all was well, only to find that many businesses outside the resort still had no power, and communication, especially the Internet, was still spotty at best. Glossing over the problems, I thought, would create unrealistic expectations.
That thought was confirmed by video 2, in which the group of visitors set off from Provo for North Caicos completely unaware that an out island after a storm in the off season would be very different from their coddled resort experience. They complained about everything: the taxi fare, wind during the boat ride, the condition of their rental car, the fact that a remote natural beach had no services, a rough road where they got their vehicle stuck, and that a damaged restaurant was closed (the nerve!). They were so relieved to get back to the pool at their all-inclusive.
“And stay there,” I thought, uncharitably. “You are not North Caicos people.” They said they wanted an island adventure, but they didn’t, really. With fantasy expectations, they were unprepared to deal with anything less than their fantasy and unappreciative of the raw beauty and appeal of North and Middle.
What do you expect? Visitors need to ask themselves what’s important and realize that expectations can clash with each other. If you want a quiet beach where your kids can safely run free, rethink that family-friendly resort, because everyone else’s kids will be noisily running free. If you want to go to a bar where you get a sense of local culture, Margaritaville is not your place. And if nature’s beauty is your thing, you’ll have to give up some of the conveniences of more developed islands.
On the other side, those promoting the islands must be honest. Let visitors know if the wi-fi isn’t reliable and that the kids won’t get chicken nuggets.
It’s the job of the visitor to either do some homework or be prepared for surprises. It’s the job of the marketer to be honest. That’s the only way to meet expectations.