Travel consultant faults VI tourism

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The VI tourist economy is not managed to deliver a good vacation experience, according to Berkeley Young of Randall Travel Management

The consultant who advises resort areas and resorts how to improve conducted a workshop for local business people in which he urged them to make it easier for travelers to find out what’s going on and how to take advantage of it. Young said the tourist economy is organized for the convenience of its employees, like cab drivers, not visiors.

"People are willing to give you their money, but no one wants to take
it," Young said as he encouraged resorts and even villa owners to
deliver more services, even if at higher prices.

In the second part of an audio interview which you can hear on your PC, Young explains why St. John’s eco-friendly image makes it a high-demand tourist destination.

Would you be willing to pay more for your villa rental if you were a concierge met you at the airport, helped you get to St. John, had the villa stock with foods you’d ordered, and had arranged your first three days of activities, per your request? Higher price, greater comfort?  Good deal/bad deal? Comment here.

Ipod_2

Listen to the second part of our conversation with travel consultant Berkeley Young.

You can also download or hear the program by clicking here.

Listen to the first part of  Young’s interview here.

Subscribe to News of St. John’s weekly podcast at the Apple iTunes Music Store and search for "news of st. john,"
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26 thoughts on “Travel consultant faults VI tourism”

  1. >>>Would you be willing to pay more for your villa rental if you were a concierge met you at the airport, helped you get to St. John, had the villa stock with foods you’d ordered, and had arranged your first three days of activities, per your request? Higher price, greater comfort?
    ABSOLUTELY NOT! If I wanted those things, I’d go somewhere else. None of the things listed are appealing to me at all, and that is part of why I love STJ 🙂

  2. No! If I want food , I go to the market. That is a part of the fun of being in a “different” place. I think the consultant entirely missed the point of the type of people who like to come to St. John.

  3. Absolutely not. Think villa rentals are already getting too expensive never mind additional charges for shopping, stocking. Keep it simple. That’s what we like about St. John. Sooner than not the only visitors will be the very rich because everything from villas to car rentals to restaurants is becoming unaffordable. Sad.

  4. No Way! I’ve been visiting St. John for several years now. Higher prices have stopped us from thinking we could purchase an existing home & someday retire to St. John. If you think higher pricing & concierge will bring more people. I think not. Real people, the middle income won’t be able to enjoy the beautiful ways of being & getting to St. John. And half the fun is getting there! Villa companies I’ve used have always been accomadating to me & our friends & family. We tell everyone on what a special place you have. St. John people have always been nice to all of us~

  5. No. I don’t want additional villa services. I’ve been renting on St John for years and the rental rates continue to go up each year. At the same time, the airport taxi situation leaves much to be desired. I always warn first timers-the taxi drivers can be rude-refusing to speak to you until you have your bags and insisting on filling the van for multiple stops while you wonder if you’ll ever make the next St John ferry. It’s not the best introduction to Paradise, and people do have choices. I’d like to hear some ideas for making the transfer less stressful.

  6. No, definetly not worth it. Part of the attraction for us to St. John is the the lack of of all the Fru-Fru resort like pampering. We’re adults, we can take care of ourselves, it’s nice to be able to step onto the island and step into the island life.

  7. We are long time visitors to St. John. Villa prices are priced accordingly. Ah, but the TAXI drivers, leave much to be desired. It is almost a cattle call at the airport. Most tourists do not understand the person removing your luggage from the taxi at Redhook DOES NOT bring it to the ferry. This creates confusion. It is still wonderful….how about some parking in town??

  8. Agree – do not need or want. Would be nice if they could do something about the locals in Cruz Bay who spit on my car as I am driving, wield iron rods in threatening fashion, pretend to shoot me from a passing by Jeep as i stand outside church on Easter Sunday, and generally patrol the town in threatening fashion??? How about a smile, huh? Just once in a while. Could a concierge summon that up for us?

  9. I defintely do not want any of those things…….I was drawn to St. John’s because of the simplicity of it and because it was reasonable to stay in a villa there. I haven’t been back since 2003 (my 25th anniversary) because the rates keep climbing. I don’t want anything extra that could add to my cost. I pray that St. John’s will stay simple and not give into the pressure of all the other resort type islands. We love it just the way it is.

  10. No way…..most recently visited the beginning of March….loved the island and villa just the way it was. The island is small enough to find your own way around, as well as the information available and locals. The biggest problem we encountered was tipping for someone helping us with our luggage. To the cab in St. Thomas, onto the ferry, off the ferry and if we took a cab on St. John, another tip….The cabs are out of hand at the ferry. PLEASE no concierge and NO MORE TAXIS!!!

  11. Have been coming to St. John for several years now and love the island the way it is! We don’t need or want all the fru-fru things. I leave home to come to St John for the simplicity, quiet and beauty of the island. The people who call St. John home have always been wonderful and accommodating. The rates are high enough – anything more is going to change the completion of the people who can afford to come to the island. I think the consultant “missed the boat,”

  12. We have been coming to St. John for 15 years, dedicated campers at Maho–but have stayed at the Westin a couple of times for conventions. Part of the charm of making your way to St. John is getting there, over the hills of St. Thomas across the channel on the ferry, into the cab to get to your St. John destination. Compared to many other Caribbean Islands, St. John is really laid back without people accosting you at ever turn to sell you something. Leave St. John the way it is, there doesn’t seem to be any shortage of visitors!

  13. NO. St John should stay the way it is. I must add-the airport taxi on Thomas was a weird experience, slightly confusing. After that it was fine, our villa rep met us at Cruz bay dock, we had to follow her to our villa, she gave the run down of the island, and that was good enough! We “winged” it through for 2 weeks after that and had the time of our lives. That guy you interviewed had many good points, BUT that isn’t St. John or it’s visitors. We came to avoid the package deal stuff and wanted the adventure. Things are fine the way they are. Thanks.

  14. DEFINITELY NOT!!! I agree with the others that it will ruin St. John (which already is becoming too commercial!). In the past 10 years we have been coming there, I can’t say all the changes are good – too much development. I also think the problems with the locals needs to be addressed – I know personally of people who have had some scary threats from some. This can’t be good for the image of “paradise”.

  15. Prices are high enough – don’t need additional “services” or “development” – this from a family that has been visiting St. John for 30 years. Two most annoying things: lack of parking in town, and the seemingly unlimited damands for tips every time your luggage is moved. You are charged for every piece of baggage on the van from the airport to Red Hook – then are charged for every piece again on the ferry – why must one tip from the van to the ferry, and from the ferry to the base of the dock in Cruz Bay? The “requests” for tips are almost threatening. And can’t they come up with a better system for picking peoople up at -and leaving them off at – the dock in Cruz Bay? Policemen seem determined to alienate visitors and are very gruff rather than helpful. Berkeley Young was WAY off the mark.

  16. So far you’ve gotten all “no way-not needed” comments. Hope the right people are reading this and listen to those of us who love and keep returning to St. John instead of some overpaid Madison Ave. type.

  17. Norma …
    Yep, lots of negatives. I plan to copy them and pass them along to Berkeley for his comment.
    I think what he sees is a large travel market that’s going very upscale … and as it happens, and those people visit St. John, they won’t come back if the experience is not more comfortable.
    If prices have risen, and moderate priced vacations and family trips are less available, then the island could face the prospect of much less business for all …
    Frank

  18. definitely NOT! We have been visiting St. John for 14 years and what makes it unique and loveable is that it’s NOT just another St. Bart’s or Peter Island. Tell the travel consultant they are VERY much wrong about the wants/needs of those who visit the island on a regular basis. Wouldn’t St. John want to keep its regulars?

  19. Please No! We have been coming to St. John for 15 years and love it. Part of the fun is getting there. I love going food shopping in St. John, it is an adventure that I look forward to. I agree with everyone who says if we wanted those things we would go someplace else.

  20. Bad idea. cost of staying on St. John is high enough. We have stayed on the island the last 5 years. We know how and where to shop, and where to eat out.

  21. Having just returned, I agree with most comments. The taxi situation on St. Thomas and the baggage situation in Red Hook and Cruz Bay need to be addressed. During our stay, we had to get from STJ to the St. Thomas hospital with a sick infant. The taxi in Red Hook charged us $60 for that short trip, knowing it was an emergency.

  22. Those services are already available if you want them-offered by the villa rental companies. The VI Tourist Authority needs to address the access issues that, for people visiting for the first time can be daunting! We’ve just returned from our 15th visit to STJ and never before have we experience the checkin chaos that we encountered at the airport-lines snaking the entire length of the terminal and doubled back causing flight delays, children exhausted, people cranky. It took us two and one half hours to get from the taxi to the gate! and, I can’t imagine the stress for people who are elderly. Why, after checking in with the airline, are passengers required to carry their luggage through customs? In fact, why go through customes on the way off the islands? In other places throughout the world, including the mainland US, customs are cleared on arrival. We’ll continue to return to “our” beautiful St. John unless the hassle begins to override the pleasure.

  23. Yes – absolutely. While I agree the SJ experience should be preserved, the real hassle is on travel day. Getting there is certainly part of the adventure but I felt ripped off after paying per-head, per-bag tallying to hundred$$ for our group of 14 just to get to the SJ dock!! The baggage-Nazis at RH ferry demanded payola for moving our stuff less than 100 feet and we never even asked for porter assistance?! My friend stepped foward to double the payment to $60 just to avoid a brewing confrontation. This is the USVI, NOT Jamaica mon!
    I believe the consultant has valid points about bettering the experience to the benefit of tourists and SJ business owners.
    We avoided going into town most nights choosing to pay for in-villa dinner services rather than trying to find parking for 3 vehicles. My guess is the restaurants would have loved for us to dine with them. This was in June and parking was/is a hassle. I can’t imagine what high-season would be like. Now I see a number of restaurants for sale. Just coincidence?
    After dining, we tripped around town to walk off some dinner and do some shopping only to find many places already closed at 8:00pm. Is this just off-season times? The consultant’s point was we were trying to spend a few dollars but couldn’t.
    As for all-in-one guides, forget it. I’ve had to do lots of internet research building my own lists of restaurants, day-trips, etc. Again, the point is the convenience of the traveler needs to be addressed in order to attract more bizness to the islands. I, for one, would pay for a pre-arranged airport greet-n-assist without having to have a wad of small bills in cash just to get to my villa (and back).
    Of the 750,000 ST visitors in 2006, how many passed thru to SJ? Enough to build a low-cost shuttle service STT to RHFerry? How about a kiosk at STT to buy SJ ferry tickets complete with land & sea trans with a “hands-free” baggage policy to avoid baggage schlepping, tipping?
    It seems like it would be helpful to the SJ experience to reduce the travel stress. I’m sure the villa rep’s would appreciate improved attitudes when they meet us at the dock.

  24. The problem with travel consultants is that they are employed by the various players in the travel/tourism industry to maximize profits. Therefore they recommend ways for those players, including government, to maximize revenue which happens in 2 ways – more volume of tourists and each one spending more. So naturally the consultant focuses first on the target market (those with the most money to spend i.e. well off high income and net worth individuals), then on how to attract more of them (pampering and frills) and then on how to get more of them through the turnstiles (airport, ferry dock, taxis) quickly and easily and then get them to buy more high profit services while on island.
    From most of the comments it would appear that the people who love St. John as it is are not the new target market for an island whose very uniqueness has transformed if from remote backwater to the Hamptons of the Caribbean. The realtors/developers love it, the tax collectors love it, the villa owners and brokers love it, the restaurants/bars/gift shops love it.
    The people who don’t love it are those who put it on the map in the first place as they get priced out of the market. Nothing new happening here that hasn’t happened in every newly gentrified inner city neighborhood.
    This is one area in which government ineptness and deeply ingrained inefficiencies in the tourist system will slow down the march of St. John to its ultimate destination of being an overbuilt, overcrowded, polluted and expensive enclave for the wealthy. Get there soon and enjoy it while you can before the 15 year backlog of construction projects gets completed.

  25. What the consultant said makes perfect since to me. We have been coming to the island over the past 10 years, and, in my opinion, the island does not currently have the nice feeing it used to have. Visiting the island for the past three years has been a HECTIC, not a relaxed, experience. It has become WORK to not get pissed off and frustrated with the experience. The island is already over-crowded (given existing infrastructure), and, like anywhere that crowds of confused people are stuck waiting in line uncertain if they are actually where they need to be, forced to drive in circles around town looking for a place to park, or being seized by baggage handlers bullying you into paying for services you do not want or need, or dodging construction trucks barreling through town at 40 miles per hour, tempers and attitudes rise.
    Sure, if you’re super-rich you can avoid all of the mess by having the villa rental agency deal with it for you and make sure that you do not have to look at any of the ugly realities. But is this really what you want for the island? Why not clean up the mess leading to the aggravation, so that people need not pay extra to avoid these parts of the experience. The logic reminds me of the article I read in Tradewinds about the Out-of-Control construction truck careening into the schoolyard. The article suggested that the accident highlighted the need to move the school of town to be safe from the trucks. What kind of logic is this? Why not make the town safe for schools, churches, pedestrians, etc, by controlling the grotesquely aggressive truck driving? Do we really want to ignore the problems of overcrowding and an infrastructure designed for at most a few hundred visitors a month?
    We are not going to get back the quiet little island to escape the hustle and bustle of big-city life, but we can make it feel a lot more like the island we nostalgically remember (and make it a great deal safer) by bringing the infrastructure up to date to match the “new reality” of the island. We can make the post 2003 tidal wave of development work for us as best we can, rather than wish it never happened in the first place.
    Also, it seems fairly obvious that someone solicited and organized the initial comments in this thread as they are all the same and are totally out of touch with reality of St John post 2003.

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