The ROI (Return on Investment) Dilemma
Recently we took two semi-escorted excursions; one to Granada and the other to Seville / Cordoba. We used the same tour company and as we always do we called their main office and spoke to the owner to see if they would like to sponsor our trip. They listened politely and then told us that they had done this sponsorship thing in the past and received absolutely no ROI (Return on investment).
This is not the first time we have heard this from business owners but it’s the first time I’m addressing this issue. I’m hoping this blog entry does two things; 1. Explains to bloggers who give business owners more hype than ROI, that you are making it harder for those of us who actually give ROI to make a living, and 2. It’s time to educate business owners on what exactly is real ROI.
Based on a recommendation from another resident here in Torrevieja we used David’s Coachtrips S.I. for both trips. There is no question that the two woman who led these trips (Jane to Granada and Sue to Seville / Cordoba) had received Tour Guide training. They were both clear in their instruction to the passengers as to time schedules, hotel information, drop off / pick up points and even meal time information. They gave touristy information as we motored along of all the sites and even about the cities we were traveling too. They spaced out their little talks and kept it to a minimum.
The bus driver was excellent and took very good care of the bus and drove safely. I had no qualms about napping while he drove.
The hotel in Granada was centrally located which made the fact that this tour didn’t offer us any other excursions or coach services convenient because we could walk to everything from our hotel. The only reason to take this trip was that the bus drove us to the front entrance of the hotel. I am still trying to decide if it was worth the price for two ($246).
The trip to Seville / Cordoba was a disappointment since the hotel was located 30 minutes from Cordoba and 90 minutes from Seville. The hotel was located on the outskirts of the little town of La Carlota. We were trapped at the hotel with no place to walk to; no other restaurants to eat at; no stores to browse in; nothing to do but sit in the bar and drink. This was not a good location for any tour.
The trip to Seville / Cordoba was hailed as a special event because the spring Feria was being held. More like a reality TV show where things put forward as reality are not so, the feria, instead of being a big deal was more of a dud. We were dropped off at 2:00pm and found most of the carnival booths closed. We found overpriced restaurants open and nothing to do but eat lunch. We were told that a parade was going to take place but the only thing that happened was an Easter Parade sort of walk where ladies in pretty dresses and men on horseback walked or rode down the center road. This part of the trip was a complete waste of time and energy. What made it especially horrific was that we had been hurried through the city of Cordoba so that we could get to the feria early. In reality we could have skipped the feria completely and spent more time in Cordoba.
The trip to Granada was tainted on the ride home when our tour manager decided to play a movie. Now this is not unusual and many guides around the world will play a movie to help the passengers pass the time on the ride home. However, she showed Million Dollar Baby, a foul-mouthed, nasty and vulgar movie that I had never sat through, would never have sat through and wouldn’t even recommend. I wasn’t alone in my assessment and soon I was sitting in a bus full of outraged seniors who felt violated and insulted as the movie progressed. Why on earth would a company show a movie like this to a group of people who couldn’t turn the sound off? This was incredibly bad judgment on someone’s part but as always happens it became a he said / she said argument with the tour manager blaming their office for forcing them to show the movie.
There are two sides to the ROI dilemma. On the one hand when a blogger is given a freebie they should be disclosing that fact to their readers in the first paragraph so that readers know from where their review comes. Not being compensated means one is free to tell the truth about a company and the level of service they receive. This is a double-edged sword for a business owner.
Mike and I refuse to write reviews that are false. We give right of first refusal to every business owner as to what gets put forward and what doesn’t. For David’s Coachtrips most of what we would have written for their ROI would have been positive. Not having to deliver ROI means I can write about the negatives as well as the positives.
Real ROI also doesn’t have anything whatsoever to do with a bloggers follow numbers. If that is the only thing you as a business owner are being offered you are not being offered ROI. Many followers or readers of blogs are arm-chair travelers and they will never spend money in your company. Real ROI increases your bottom line. Real ROI means we write about you on other highly visible websites or newspapers not just our blogs. Real ROI means we share with you best practices in how to increase your business and how to advertise. We also take a look at your website and tell you what you are doing right, and what you are doing wrong. Real ROI is therefore about helping grow your business; not about inflating our follow numbers.
As in all things there is a Real ROI and an Imagined ROI. I know which one I offer. As a business owner which one would you rather have?