A series of talks upstairs and George Town Public Library facilitated by Michel Powery, General Manager of Cayman TourJobs, a local recruitment and human resource company, has been taking place on Saturday mornings. Mr Powery has been showing some of the opportunities and ideas in starting your own tourism-based business. Tourism is the second pillar of Cayman’s economy, and there are many gaps presently in the marketplace which can be filled by people who have a dream, and have the tenacity to carry it out. During the presentation Mr. Powery shared many of the ideas as well as practical tips and pitfalls, that those who are interested in being their own boss and running a successful tourism business would encounter: “It’s most important to think outside the box; don’t follow anybody else’s model. Don’t be afraid to think of crazy things that people have never done before,” he said.
Sharing some tips, he stressed the importance of cooperation: “Cayman Islands is a very small destination. We are too small to have such rough competition. Competition is good because it keeps you on track, but here (in Cayman) we need to mostly cooperate with each other.”
Mr Powery went on to outline some great ideas for people to start up by themselves, with very little cash outlay. One gap in the market could be started by just about anybody, and that was a ‘walking tour’ business, he said: “For people don’t want to go to the beach, they just want to go around George Town, know about the history and culture. You can take them to Heroes Square, talking about history, talking about heroes, the Courthouse, the library,” he said.
There were lots of other ideas up for grabs, too. How about starting an Air B&B business? If you have a spare room in your house, (and provided you meet the government criteria). Other ideas around Air B&B included management and maintenance of other people’s properties, or subletting them.
Mr. Powery took people through the stages of business startup and development, from the initial inspiration phase, to the nitty-gritty of making it work, sticking with it, and then evaluating it to make improvements. He stressed the importance of sound financial planning so that businesses are not left high-and-dry with expensive rentals to pay, but not enough customers. But these days, you can also run many tourism operations from your phone, such as a travel agency, Mr. Powery said, or get paid for making videos about destinations on Youtube. Savvy use of new technology opens many doors in the tourism sector, especially for those who have little capital.
Beto Anglin was pleased with the presentation. Like many of the people there, he was already involved with tourism, but felt he needed to update his knowledge: “I wanted to feel what’s out there and get a different perspective on it. It’s been finding out more on the information side of things; where I can go and if I am in the right direction,” he said. “I think the biggest problem that we have here really is really the loss of customer service that we have around here and there are a lot of people jumping into it for the sake of getting a dollar, but not offering a quality product at the end of the day. I mean if you are a visitor here and I take you on a tour, I want you to go back feeling you had a great Caymanian tour. I’d want you to have a true Caymanian experience,” he said.