Top 3 Winner of the 2011 ‘Inspiring Stories from Destinations’ Competition
A Dutch/French educator couple wanted to start an educational/adventure resort in Bintan which will benefit all stakeholders. Their vision to create a dynamic 100% locally staffed business, leveraged on the natural Indonesian hospitality catered to Singapore’s (expat) expectations. Radiah shares the journey of LooLa Adventure Resort with us.
”We finished building the resort in the year 2000 and have worked exclusively with local staff only (in our Singapore office, the staff is all local Singaporean). It’s been a challenging but always fun and interesting venture, but the happy and overall conclusion is this: our fully local staff were able to keep up with the increasing expectations of our guests, and we succeeded in becoming market leader for overseas educational trips from Singapore.
We created a win-win partnership in which we charge our clients a modest sum (typically US$ 10-20) to participate in a stimulating and worthwhile community involvement project. Challenge: to create realistic expectations with all parties on what can be achieved!
We have worked with local government; fantastic partners in Indonesia once they are assured you really seek to empower local people & staff: they have helped us all the way, teaching our staff how to obtain cheap licenses, and engaging us with every public/private partnership we proposed!
We had to slowly replace existing village and family hierarchies with horizontal democratic decision-making, and replace traditional short-term thinking with long-term thinking. Staff had to start feeling like co-owners and embrace the somewhat novel notion of pride in work. On the next and last slide, we share some of the tips and pitfalls in this journey!”
Some top tips and pitfalls in creating a community led tourism business:
- Pull women into management and all departments!
- Generate “owner understanding”, and allow staff to open their own business (shop, massage, …) on site
- Private system of health and pension benefits
- Institute a very transparent system of department and task descriptions which encourages everyone to take more ownership and enjoy transparent rewards. This system should include a transparent work calendar.
- Instill democracy & a sense of partnership between owners & staff
- Use the power of the internet (Facebook, Tripadvisor, Dropbox) to drive home the notion of ownership
- Institute transparent result-driven bonus systems.